Was blind, but now I see.

4 : 9 September 2005




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Copyright for the journal © 2005
M. S. Thirumalai

Pastor Al Bishop


There is an old Arabian proverb I am going to share with you. It says there are four kinds of people in the world when it comes to wisdom.
  1. He who knows not and knows not that knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
  2. He who knows and knows not that he knows, he is asleep. Awaken him.
  3. He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is a child. Teach him.
  4. He who knows and knows he knows, he is wise. Follow him. I thought of another one.
  5. He who once knew but ignored what he knew has become a fool once again.

It breaks your heart when you see something like that happen. It happened to Solomon and the results were felt kingdom wide. And it could have all been avoided by simply following the wisdom he already possessed.


In the minds of many people, there is no distinction between facts and intelligence or intelligence and wisdom. They think it is all the same thing. The more facts one can memorize and recite the more that person is viewed as intelligent and 'smart'. To simply possess a number of facts is an accomplishment that anybody can do. If you are a tape recorder or computer, you are just a warehouse of facts. And facts for facts' sake are really not very valuable.

Intelligence, on the other hand, goes a little further. Knowledge or intelligence has the ability to classify facts and information and to know how they relate to one another. Scripture tells us that wisdom is the supreme thing to seek. Wisdom enables us to see reality and to understand values and spiritual precepts. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. It is the ability to use knowledge to meet the problems and the issues that come to you, successfully.


James 1:5 says.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe without doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything of the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Is wisdom a worthwhile goal? Ask Solomon, Proverbs 4:7:

Wisdom is the principal thing. Get wisdom. And with all of your getting, get understanding.

Ask Paul.

"From a child Timothy," he writes to Timothy, "you have known the Scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation." James tells us that God wants to give us wisdom and He wants to give it to us generously. He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him.


Growing is not easy. How many times have you heard about "growing pains?" And how many times have you read something in Scripture or Oswald Chambers or Beth Moore, some spiritual teacher, and you say, "That is tough. I cannot handle that right now." Well, take a look at the Sermon on the Mount. There are some difficult challenges in those eight statements by Jesus and He says we will be blessed if we pursue them. Jesus uses the word "machario" or "blessed" eight times and then finishes off with the word "rejoice." It sounds unappealing, difficult, and at odds with what the world tells us, but Jesus assures us that in the long-term it will be good for us.

Turn to Matthew chapter five. Look at verse three. It says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Jesus is saying that to be poor in spirit means giving up selfish pride and recognizing humility is the only sane and worthy response before the God of all things. Paul says, "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of Christ." Next one: "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."

What are we to mourn about? "To mourn" in this context means to be truly penitent to the point of willingly choosing to give up the pursuit of sin and self-satisfaction in order to follow the will of God on a daily basis. Do you ever weep over your or another person's sin? "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." "Bless are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled." God told Jeremiah, "You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart." But you have to search in the right places. How are you doing? Verse 7: "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." You do not want to sin over how you are going to get even. Do not recompense evil for evil, rather show mercy as God has shown you mercy.


"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Heart purity comes from a singleness of commitment to Christ and a willful rejection of the impure influences that bombard us and would like to move into our hearts. A quick glance at James 1:6-8 reminds us to be strong in our faith and commitment because it talks about single-mindedness versus double-mindedness. One thing is drawing you one way and another is drawing you another way. And the double-minded man does not choose or commit to a way. "But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do."


Next one. "Blessed are the peacemakers. They will be called sons of God." A maker of peace is not just the person who really wants to get along or who is a lover of peace. A maker of peace is also the one who in any difficult situation is willing to take the humble initiative to go to the other person that is involved and say, "I am sorry, I do not know how we got into this, maybe I do know how we got into this, and my part in it but I do not want this to keep going this way. Please, forgive me and let us work this thing out." That is the peacemaker.


Now here is the last one and by this time you ought to be saying, "Hey, Al. If such a saintly person is able to do all of these things he or she certainly should not have any problems in this world, should he? After all, you put your goodness into the slot machine, you pull down the handle, everything comes out 'blessing.' Right?" Not always. Not in this world. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

In other words, blessed are those who are willing to pay the price to live according to all that Jesus has instructed them in all of the previous verses. And probably no fact of life is more a testing to the real problem of man's nature than to see the way there is innate resentment of God's ways by people who are pursuing evil. It does not seem right. And it isn't. But doesn't that give testimony to just how lost this world really is? It was lost enough that the Son of God had to die on a cruel cross 2000 years ago. That is just the way it is. But as Jesus Himself said in John 15, "A servant is no greater than his master." He was persecuted, and if you follow His ways, you will be persecuted, as well.


Now, if we are going to get wisdom, how are we going to go about it? What must we know? What must we do? We have to know some things about ourselves. First of all, we have to recognize that God is the source of wisdom. Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments. Who has known the mind of God? Who has been his counselor?"

Wisdom is an attribute of God. He has all wisdom and He is wisdom's authority. Do not rebel against what God says because He is wisdom. And to gain wisdom we have to be honest with ourselves and in being honest with ourselves, we have to ask and get the answers to a few questions. Question one--who am I in relationship to God? Question two--what am I doing here? In other words, what does God expect of me? Third question--am I living up to His expectations? Will I hear His "well done" when my earthly life is over?


We were created by God with a freewill to choose our eternal destiny. We can either accept His will and His eternal guidelines or we can reject them. The eternal Son of God said, "I tell you the truth. Whoever hears my word and believes on him that sent me, has eternal life." It only makes sense, that to know and be rightly related to the God that made us and sent His only begotten Son to die for us is the beginning of wisdom-"The fear (to recognize that He exists and has a right to our lives) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

In matters of the spirit, wisdom only comes through a living relationship to Jesus Christ. Paul tells us, "The person without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God because they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned." You want proof of that, just look at the proverbs the way the natural man would preach them. Here are a few. "Blessed are the aggressive for they will dominate the earth." "Happy are you when you dictate the peace because you play the role of God." "Happy are you when you are sophisticated and sharp of mind because you can pretend you will never need God and never meet God." Their mindsets and going in other directions. And ours is not to judge, ours is just to share what we know and to continue to lovingly and patiently share what we have and what we know about God with other people. That is what we are about.


What do I do with this wisdom I have? Wisdom is practical or it is not 'wisdom'. Mark Twain said, "It is not the things I don't understand in the Bible that bother me, it's the things that I do understand." If you read it and it hurts, that is what he is talking about. I find two challenges when it comes to wisdom. Challenge number one is to be more like Jesus and challenge number two is to do what Jesus would do. Both of these require wisdom. That is what life is about. To be like Jesus is the hallmark of Christian living. It is proclaimed throughout Scripture. Jesus said, "Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest." "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Jesus says, "Go make disciples (students, learners) of all men, teaching them to obey everything that I have shared and commanded you." And Paul says, "I want to know Christ and become like him. Let his mind be in you." Hebrews 12:2 says, "Fix your mind on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Lay aside all those things that stand in the way of that." Could anything be more important than to be like Jesus?

Secondly, what would Jesus do? Christians are not supposed to be living in isolation from others. Christians are not supposed to be living as if God meant nothing to them, as if His 'opinions' mean nothing. Because He is all-knowing and full of wisdom, His 'opinions' are not opinions but instructions and commands given to us to guide and direct our lives. Do you treat what He says as if it were just an opinion like any other opinion men and women give you. Or does what He says carry extra weight in your life?

This lady I know of had a couple sons who were really bothering her, but one son talked to me one time and he said, "Do you know what my mother prays every night? She prays that God will take her out of this world and away from her miserable, misbehaving sons." And he hears this prayer. "Thanks a lot, mom." Isolation. Jesus did not live that way. He showed up at every special event that there was and He made it better. He sat and talked with people the Pharisees would not even come close to. This lady was at home isolated from the world, and her two sons, having no positive impact with her life.

Remember the beatitude, "Blessed are you when men persecute you for righteousness sake." Jesus was persecuted Himself. Herod tried to get rid of Him when He was born. Pharisees and religious legalizers went after Him and harassed Him all the way to Calvary. And they said all manner of evil against Him. They tried to slander Him. "Hey, you know what He does? He dines with sinners." Hey, you know what? I think that would be fun.

Think of what you find out when you dine with sinners. You find out what other people are thinking. You find out what is going on in the world. You find out what attracts them or what their problems are and maybe you can be of some help to them. We are in the world, we are not to be like the world, but we are not to be trying to run away from the world. And Jesus prayed in John 17, "My prayer is not Father that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, even so I send them." We are to walk in His steps.


We are to have a relationship to the world. Matthew 5:13 says, "We are salt." Salt is good as long as it is salty. And the point is clear, if you are a Christian, in this metaphor, if you have lost your 'saltiness' you cease to fulfill your purpose. Salt has three possible functions. Number one, it preserves. It keeps things from spoiling. Can you imagine our world without a church or without a Christian in it? Paul talks about that. He talks about the restrainer. And if there is not a Christian witness in the world, what a mess it is going to be. It is bad enough as it is.

Christians are salt holding back the corruption that would more quickly spread had they not been present. Are you having any kind of preserving effect in the lives of those around you? If not, you are not fulfilling one of your key Christian functions. Salt also enhances. It brings a positive zest to the flavor of something it touches. It enhances what is already there. It does not change one thing into another but makes it better. And as Christians we should make our relationships, work places, and societies better. Salt also irritates. We are called to move people from their complacency or easy acceptance of sin. We are not called to be irritable. But I do think we are obligated to speak out against evil when we see and hear taking place. Many times a Christian can be mocked in a particular situation and later on, after the incident is over, some of those who mocked will think back about what has taken place there and have a change of heart.

If you know who you are, what you are supposed to be doing, why you are here, and where you are going, you have wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the gateway to a healthy relationship with God. You can be the most intelligent person on earth but if you deny God His rightful place in your life and walk away from His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ, how wise are you? How wise is it to gain the whole world but lose your own soul? It is foolishness! The mere beginning of wisdom is first admitting that there is a God and that what He says matters.



Al Bishop

Sharing Your Faith with a Buddhist, a book on evangelism by M. S. Thirumalai

Short Term Missions, a book by Roger Peterson, et al.

Solitary Poet, Poems of Reflection by Stan Schmidt.

Sharing Your Faith with Hindus by M. S. Thirumalai.

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