Dec 30 2018 A Year of Wisdom - Making Knowledge Acceptable
6th January 2019
Lord, thank You that someday we will experience eternity with You in a way we can’t fathom. You love us so much and You want us to love You back. Thank You that we are beloved children with whom You are pleased.
We are ending our year of wisdom today – that doesn’t mean that you can stop being wise!
Today we are wrapping up Advent – so I’ll do some refreshing in Luke – and then we will continue in Luke until Easter.
27% of the New Testament is from Luke. 23% from Paul. Luke wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
Luke 1:1 Now many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 like the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning. 3 So it seemed good to me as well, because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know for certain the things you were taught.
Luke tells us right at the beginning why He is writing it – and maybe more importantly and something we don’t think about – HOW he wrote his gospel. It is valuable to us. He tells us that there are many accounts already compiled. Experts believe that he may have used thoughts from Matthew and Mark in compiling things. They put these things – through oral tradition – into their memory. We think how accurate is that? It is VERY accurate! They could memorize so much – today, we don’t have to remember anything because we have these phones in our pockets! They remember everything for us! Anyone older than me can vouch that they knew ALL KINDS of phone numbers back in the day!
There were also women involved in Luke’s accounting of the gospel – there are things that only Mary would have known.
I think that it is really important – to understand the inspiration of scripture – to understand this. I used to think that people would write with dazed eyes with their hands scrolling across the paper. Scripture is a divine thing and a human thing. If we don’t get that, we don’t get Jesus. God works through people and no other way.
God, in His wisdom, chose to inspire very specific people in very specific times and circumstances and used their intellect and personality to write His inspired word – so we could enter into relationship with Him forever. We are the little rulers – that is what it means to be an image bearer – of His kingdom.
When you go back to the stories of the gods in history – people were created to serve the gods. That is why they offer food and stuff. But not our God. He created us to pour out His love into us. He doesn’t need anything from you except to receive His love. I am so glad it is that way and that I don’t have to perform for Him – because I wouldn’t do very well. I don’t do very well. We need to appreciate that there is an incarnational aspect to the Bible we read.
After Jesus was born – after Jesus’ circumcision – is this man named Simeon:
Luke 2:25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;
Jesus is the fulfilment of the story of Israel.g
Luke 2:30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."
Simeon quotes Isaiah 49:6 (?) – Isaiah talks about God’s people not only being the people of Israel, but of all the world. Luke is revealing God’s mission to the entire world through Jesus Christ – a light to the Gentiles.
33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—
Now we see two things through this prophecy of Simeon – Judgment and Salvation. When it came to Jesus, there is a great divide how people will respond. Some will oppose – but others will accept – this divide of judgment and salvation.
35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul-- to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
Luke reveals the suffering servant of Israel from Isaiah 53 – the Messiah must suffer – and the people of Israel could never accept that – even the apostles – couldn’t get their heads around the fact that the Messiah would suffer and die. This tells us that great blessings and ministry opportunities also sometimes come with pain. For Mary – it was to see her Son redeem the world through death.
For us – sometimes the pain comes first – and then the blessing and ministry. Other times, it is the other way around.
We all long for no pain or suffering and things are clicking on all cylinders – and that might happen for 3-4 seconds! Enjoy those times!
But Jesus promised us that we WOULD have trials and tribulations – but it is in understanding that that we are blessed. Even Jesus prayed, if this cup could pass, let it pass – and often, we get the same response – the cup can’t pass and we have to endure it.
Luke 2:40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
He says this here and then again in about 12 verses – this gets into the wisdom part of the message. Up until this point, so much emphasis is on the divine birth and identity and calling of Jesus – angels ,and prophecy – yes, Jesus is God, but now he is saying – Jesus is Man. Like any other kid – He had to learn and grow and become strong. How could God increase in wisdom? I don’t understand it. It was critical that Jesus have a wholly human experience on earth – so He could be our savior, and sympathize with us.
41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day's journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.
Nazareth was a small town – and every year they would go to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover – so there could be 100-200 relatives and friends traveling together in the caravan.
46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Do you want to grow in wisdom? Listen and ask questions. This grows into a pattern for how Jesus teaches – listening and asking questions! We could all learn from this.
47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You."
We all give Mary a pass here. We would all feel the same way – imagine if one of your kids stayed in Columbus for a few extra days as a 12 year old and you thought he was in the van!
49 And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"
We know nothing else except for this one little story for another 20 years. Simple. Mundane. For a Jewish boy, that would include studying and memorizing Scripture. That is an encouragement to us.
50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
His training program – was being in submission to His parents. You know how all teenagers think their parents are crazy? Jesus knew his parents were crazy – they were just parents. “No, that’s not what that verse means, Dad!” – He would have never said that – but He might have thought it. I think God probably had a lot of fun being human!
52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Favor with God and men. What we will find: His wisdom as a child found favor with man – but we will also see – as He grows to be an adult, He loses all favor with men. His first opportunity of ministry – He goes into the synagogue and reads from Isaiah – and they reject Him. It was cute when He was 12 – but then when He is 30, they want nothing to do with it.
But we know His wisdom found favor with God and with people.
I want to look at how we can make wisdom favorable – wisdom we gather, to make acceptable and attractive to people as we share it – giving opinions and advice.
The wise make knowledge acceptable. It is easy to make wisdom ugly – lots of people do that – opinions and advice – and that is not wisdom.
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. NRS)
When you offer your wise opinion – test what you are saying and how you are saying it through this verse – first – is it from a pure motive – completely for the other person’s well-being? Is it peaceable? Does it create peace in the relationship? Is my wisdom creating peace? God is a peacemaker. He brings peace to the world.
Is it gentle? Hammers aren’t gentle! Is it willing to yield? Reasonable? Maybe I don’t HAVE to be right. That is just humility.
Full of mercy? Is that who I am? Good fruits – without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy? Am I living the advice I am giving?
It is also good to check your anxiety and fear level when you give advice – especially for ones you are close to, like your children and spouse. It is toughest with the ones we love. Of course we are concerned about their decisions – but we can be overly concerned – and there needs to be a balance. We need to trust God, even when we think – why are you doing this.
Seven practical things on how to give advice, share wisdom, give counsel, in a way that is attractive and appealing.
1) make sure it never comes across as a quick fix or easy answer to someone’s pain and problems.
If you just do this – that will happen. Proverbs makes it clear that is not true! We have looked at that all year, so we won’ t go back there. Life is complex
2) wisdom would never suggest that my experience will automatically be everyone else’s experience. I did it this way and if you do it that way it will work for you. The worst way of saying that – it did not work for you because you didn’t do it my way! There are all kinds of people offering advice and seminars on parenting – and it doesn’t work the same for everyone.
It is okay to share your experience and example – but do it in humility as you don’t have a corner on God’s truth in that area. You have some wisdom on some things – but none of us has all wisdom on anything. And if you have lived long – every year, you might realize maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought! Maybe that can be your new year’s resolution – to discover that you don’t know as much as you think you know. The only one who knows everything lives in an echo chamber! It happens in theology and church ministry and living the Christian life and parenting! People only hear what they say.
There are a lot of Christian people who love Jesus just as much as you do – and their perspective is different from yours. If there is anything I need to do – it is to learn from others who are different. Cross pollination, Dennis Knable used to say – makes things stronger and more healthy.
3) Withholding wisdom is also a bad thing. Don’t withhold when you have good stuff to give. I am scaring you on one side – I want to scare you on the other. We have so much wisdom to offer. Ask – would you like my advice? Someone was yelling at Jesus who was blind – Have mercy on me! What would you like me to do? You wouldn’t think he needed to ask. Whose Image is on the coin? Who do you say I am? He asked questions – getting their permission to speak. No one asks for permission to speak anymore.
4) Never use wisdom to manipulate people to behave the way you think they should. Like casting pearls before swine – the problem is not with the swine – it is with the caster. We need to help people discover what God wants for them.
5) never use your wisdom to meddle in an argument that doesn’t belong to you. Stay out of it – it just causes damage! I was talking to someone this week who did that – and they had to get off social media entirely. It is like grabbing a wild dog by the ears.
6) Wisdom gets both sides of the story before offering wisdom. Proverbs says that one sounds right until you hear the other! We tend to get on someone’s side after hearing their side! But we should go talk to the other person to find out what was really said or meant. This is a simple thing, but so important.
7) Finally – I encourage you to learn like Jesus did. He grew in stature and wisdom with God and men.
The way of wisdom is a long journey and we never truly arrive. If Jesus had to grow in it – it is always a journey
The walk will come with trial and error. Plan on making unwise decisions – it will just happen. We all make mistakes – maybe in simple or significant ways when we thought we got all the advice and it just didn’t work. If you are not prepared for that you will be disappointed and give a warped view of God.
Keep growing in wisdom.