I have this distinct picture of me in my earlier years of marriage, getting into a rhythm of going back upstairs to finish an argument. My wife and I would have argued about something. I would go downstairs to cool off (or to be dramatic). After not too many minutes I’d think of a few new points that needed to be made or a previous point that required bolstering with more of my keen reasoning. Most of what I added only added to the heat, not to any understanding or peace!
I finally learned to stop bounding back upstairs. Anger and the almost desperate need to make clear how right I was contributed to this ugly habit. But the main culprits were the lack of self control and the lack of wisdom. I remember how compelled I felt. It was such an un-useful, foolish decision each time.
Giving short drift to wisdom is always a factor in using too many words, making a terrible choice of words, general dumb actions and foolish decisions. Not being wise always sets up cloudy days of decision of what to say and when to say it; when to act and how to act. Discernment, understanding, insight and prudence are firmly in the tool kit of a wise person.
The truly wise person sees Jesus as the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
When I’m being too stuck on being right I’m subject to acting like a fool (“…there is no God” Psalm 14:1) or minimizing the power and wisdom of Christ!
The longer I breathe the more I see that I don’t need to be “right” about as much as I need to discern the non-negotiable verses that for which there is the necessity to reach conclusions and make humble and wise decisions.
On one hand, we are left to trust and be obedient. God created the heavens and the earth. Jesus lived, died and rose again to redeem man-kind. We are indeed sinful and we do indeed need individual redemption. There is time and eternity. These are matters that for Christians leave only room for faith and obedience. We accept the wisdom of God on such essential things.
On the other hand, we are to be wise and courageous. We need both wisdom and courage to operate in our times, to be both pleasing to God and mankind.
In my role as a pastor in an urban community here in Baltimore, and because we are choosing to engage our geographic neighborhood to work on needs that exist for justice, equality, access, engagement, etc., I have found myself constantly questioning where to act, how to be and what battles are ours.
This was not quite the same at the church I pastored in El Segundo, California before coming to Maryland. There, it actually took both wisdom and courage for our congregation to see that since these types of life issues were not a challenge for us directly, the challenge in part might be how we could make sure our eyes and hearts were open to be at witness to God’s love in those neighborhoods near us where justice and these other subjects were in need of being championed by the church. Where could we boldly, courageously and wisely then be the presence of Christ doing justice and mercy in His name?
In one locale, it wasn’t that hard to concentrate on “just us.” In another there’s the danger of concentrating on “just needs.” Serving in instead of dropping in requires wisdom regarding the quality of our relationships. El Segundo – not difficult to marginalize the power of meeting needs as an avenue for expressing the love of Christ. Baltimore – harder to not see surrounding need. In both cases the journey of how to follow and represent Christ requires faith & obedience and wisdom & courage.
There is alway some type of tension to working out our salvation. May we consistently re-assert that which He has declared we are to believe and also be sensitive to the nuances of the manner He has commanded us to act.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.
Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.