Wherever light is, there is no darkness. That almost sounds silly and maybe a little obvious. Light and darkness in the Bible often depict the concept of good and evil but nowhere is the impression given that the dark is equal to light. In both the Old and the New Testaments, we find the concept of light and darkness. It represents the believers and the nonbelievers and it also represents good and evil. Biblical writers understood God to be the ultimate Light— the ultimate goodness of the world. When John refers to Jesus as “light” in his gospel this is the concept that he is trying to get across. Jesus is pure. He’s a beacon of hope— he is Light. Strangely, scientists are still baffled by light. NASA spent a mountain of money attempting to come up with a color so dark that it could even consume light but it just isn’t possible.
No darkness can stifle the light of Jesus.
To this day He is shining bright through His followers to ensure that this dark world can see Him and that means we have an important job to do. In gospel of John, we find this profound statement, “…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). At this point John begins another section on light and more is revealed about the two contrasting realities. There is the light, who is Jesus, and those who did not love the light because their deeds were evil. The reason they rejected the Light was because they were separated from it by their own wickedness. Evil is done with ease in the dark and we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that we are hidden and secure under its cover.
Alaska’s crime rate significantly drops in the summer because the sun shines continually, but in the winter months the crime rate is much higher. It’s easier to get away with evil in darkness. Notice the bold statement following this, “Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20). Light exposes the wickedness, and exposure is not something an evil person desires.
Today lights are used by doctors to shine down your throat, in your ear, and to expose any potential problems. We have automatic porch lights and flood lights as well as “brights” for those backroads. Jesus is here to expose the sins of others and welcome those that come to Him. This also goes to show that an individual can claim to love the Light, while living in darkness— this person hates the Light. Action speaks louder than words and in a spiritual sense this could not be more accurate. Do your actions reflect that you love the Light?
The concept of righteousness is quite similar to holiness; both terms refer to a state of being morally upright and emotionally attuned to God’s will. It comprises all that we term justice, honesty, morality, and affections of the heart; in a nutshell, it is true religion. And while there is this type of righteousness to emulate, there are other types of righteousness to avoid.
The first type of righteousness we need to avoid is that which originates in a person’s mind, which is distinct from the righteousness that originates in God. We identify this type of righteousness as “self-righteousness.” Self-righteousness, often born out of pride, is when a person relies on his or her sense of morality to judge right and wrong.
Another example of false righteousness is John Calvin’s teaching on imputed righteousness. By imputed, Calvin meant that God credited the elect sinner with Christ’s righteousness. As a result, God shifted His attention away from the sinner and toward Jesus, whom He acknowledges to be sinless. Consequently, Calvin believed that a person God has chosen for salvation does not need to worry about living a good life. When God looks at him, he can only see Christ. (As a side note, it is expected that the one chosen by God will seek a life of righteousness. But the truth is that according to the doctrine, it’s possible to be a willful sinner and still have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.)
There are seven occurrences of the word “impute” in the KJV. None of these verses suggests that a person can appropriate Christ’s righteousness as their own. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows for the transformation of sinners into saints through forgiveness. Entrance to the heavenly kingdom is granted only to those who do God’s will (Matthew 7.21–23). Thus, while imputation suggests that God finds one without guilt and blame, it does not mean that a person can take on the righteousness of Jesus Christ and expect to gain entrance into heaven.
A sinful man becomes righteous through faith in God, not through any meritorious works he can perform. But faith does not exclude human participation. Man must do something. James 2 and Hebrews 11 remind us that faith works the works of God (Ephesians 2.10). A sinner becomes righteous, sanctified, and justified by God’s grace. God gave him his righteousness, and God counts it as his righteousness, not on account of the goodness of Christ or anyone else, living or dead.
Abraham is a great role model for how to achieve righteousness. First, Paul says that Abraham believed in God, which God credited him as righteousness (Romans 4.3–9, 17–22). Second, it is also important to note that Abraham’s righteous status was independent of his being circumcised (Romans 4.10–12). Third, Abraham’s faith was active, working by grace (Galatians 3.6–9; James 2.21–23).
So, it was Abraham’s faith in God rather than Jesus’ own sinless life and obedience that God credited as righteousness. Even though Abraham’s efforts would have been futile without Jesus’ perfect life and obedience, he could not leave everything to be accomplished by God. This truth meant that God gave Abraham the tools he needed, but Abraham was the one who had to use them.
We must do as Abraham did. And just as God will not credit us with Christ’s righteousness, neither will He credit us with the righteousness of anyone else (e.g., a parent or spouse). Our evaluation before God is personal (2 Corinthians 5.10). We must avoid doing as Paul did before his conversion, seeking righteousness contingent on anything other than Christ (Philippians 3.9).
Nineteen kings sat on the throne of the northern kingdom, from Jeroboam (931 B.C.) to Hoshea (722 B.C.), and Jehu was the closest any of them came to being righteous. His “righteousness” was the zealous way he fulfilled the mission God gave him in destroying the house of Ahab and the followers of Baal. In fact, the Lord speaks directly to him and says, “Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel” (2 Kings 10:30). God recognizes and rewards him for his commitment to His cause. He enjoys a 28-year reign, second only to his great-grandson Jeroboam II. He is remembered for his deeds and his might (34).
Yet, after the lengthy chronicling of Jehu’s extermination campaign, the Bible says little else good about the man. Here’s the summary in 2 Kings 10:
He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin (29,31).
He kept the golden calves at Bethel and Dan (29).
He was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart (31).
He suffered the loss of significant territory to the Arameans (32-33).
His excessive bloodshed would draw divine retribution (Hos. 1:4).
Essentially, he lacked the moral and spiritual resolve to effect religious restoration. He lacked the conviction necessary to be fully obedient to God. He did not purify his heart to align with the heart of God. He was reckless regarding God’s law.
For over 200 years, Jacob’s descendants in the northern kingdom were spiritually adrift. Their best chance to turn that around was after Jehu purged the capital city of Samaria of the temple of Baal, its priests, and its worshippers. A hopeful start was overcome by the general spiritual trajectory of an entire people who did not have God in their hearts.
My daily life is aimed in a general direction. It is important for me to do more than conform outwardly to some of what God’s Word commands. I need to begin in my heart and conscientiously strive to follow His will and demonstrate that in my outward dedication and my inward devotion to Him. I want it to be said of me that I did what was right in His sight (30) AND that I was careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all my heart (31)!
A woman is again the embodiment of Wisdom in Proverbs 8. And we find language similar to what we saw earlier in Proverbs 1.20-23: Wisdom desires to be heard by men (8.3-4). Not unlike other women, Wisdom craves attention and acknowledgment. However, Wisdom isn’t shy about raising her voice to get people’s attention.
In contrast to the harlot in the previous chapter (Folly?), Wisdom does not play coy. Instead, she chooses to be in the spotlight. As a result, she is the center of attention. She perches herself on the rise overlooking the gateway to the city below (8.3). Wisdom does not want to be heard by a select few; she wants to be heard by everyone, whether the sons of men (8.4) or the fools (8.5). She hopes to impart wisdom to anyone open to hearing it.
Wisdom gives us praiseworthy and righteous counsel (8.6), words of truth and righteousness (8.7-8), and a straightforward and virtuous way of thinking (8.9). The benefits of wisdom are priceless, far exceeding the value of any material possession (8.10-11).
Thus, Wisdom implores everyone to listen so that she may impart her excellent knowledge. But even if that weren’t impressive enough, verse 12 shows that she is wise, knowledgeable, and has good judgment. Consequently, Wisdom hates conceit, lust, and evil because she respects God (8.13). That’s why she’s a reliable source of guidance, wisdom, and resolve (8.14).
Wisdom delights in providing these things to everyone, including those to whom God has given earthly authority. Wisdom will bestow riches, honor, righteousness, justice, and wealth on those who love her (8.15-16). She makes it possible for kings, princes, nobles, and judges to rule justly (8.17-21).
Wisdom testifies that she was God’s companion even before He made the world. Therefore, she existed before the cosmos (8.22). So, according to Solomon, Wisdom is eternal (8.23). Indeed, Wisdom is “older than dirt” (8.26), existing before the oceans, mountains, and hills (8.24). So, Wisdom was present to see the Lord at work, creating the universe. Wisdom saw God create the heavens and the world (27-29) and stood beside Him as a master craftsman, rejoicing in His creation (8.30-31).
Those who are open to Wisdom’s advice will prosper (8.32). Therefore, instead of disregarding her message, we should listen to her advice and act wisely (8.33). Those listening to her with care will be blessed (8.34a). They’ll sometimes have to wait for her (8.34b), but she’ll bring those who are patient new life and the Lord’s favor in return (8.35). However, those whose sins bring dishonor to her suffer spiritual damage (8.36a).
Those hating Wisdom demonstrate a desire to die (8.36b). This mindset means that people who like death will get what they want. Thus, wisdom implores us to listen to her so that she may impart wisdom, knowledge, truth, and righteousness; and endow our lives with wealth and glory, especially as the Lord bestows.
To quote Wisdom:
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life And obtains favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8.34-35 NASB1995)
In the first chapter of Proverbs, Lady Wisdom was shouting at the crowd in the town square. From our last article, we know that she was looking for simpletons, mockers, and fools to warn about what would happen if they didn’t listen to her advice. In Proverbs 2, we meet another set of three people, but these are servants of Lady Folly who are ready to lead people down the path to eternal damnation. But first, we are told to find wisdom once more.
Lady Wisdom is not always in plain sight. If she were, you wouldn’t have to dig sometimes to find her, just like a miner who digs precious metals and ores out of the ground. One can, thankfully, also cry for her (2.3-6; cf. James 1.5). Crying is a good way for a baby to get food (1 Peter 2.2), and it works just as well for people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness (Matthew 5.6). God will not only feed us, but He will also tell us what to do to please Him.
Lady Wisdom also helps people deal with their neighbors fairly and correctly (2.9). She shows us what God’s justice looks like so we can do the same thing when dealing with others. This example is critical because people don’t always see things as God does. But her advice is also helpful when dealing with risks posed by others. God’s wisdom, which Lady Wisdom represents, is great because it acts as a shield and watchman (2.7-11).
But here is where our triplet comes in. We have a perverse guy, people who walk in the dark, and the adulteress (2.12ff). God’s wisdom is helpful because it tells us more than just what to avoid. It gives us what we need to do. So, when our triplet comes, we know how to send them away. This wisdom comes from letting God’s word into our hearts, where it guides us. As David said, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119.11 NASB1995).
But we must do more than say no to evil. We must take charge of being good. How does that happen? When you don’t hang out with bad people, you hang out with good people instead (2.20-21). Paul told the Corinthians that the people they hung out with could change their morals (1 Corinthians 15.33). Lady Wisdom helps you tell the difference between good and bad people so you can be a good judge (Matthew 7.20).
The end of Proverbs two is a warning. Those who aren’t looking for Lady Wisdom or calling for her will be led astray by our trio. Once a person is lost, God will take them out of His garden like he would a dead branch or tree. No one wants this to happen to them. In the meantime, let’s also remember what Jesus said about seeking, asking, and knocking:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7.7-8 NASB1995).
Last week, we looked at our syllabus for Wisdom 101. Professor Solomon has outlined the aims of our course. And now, Solomon will introduce us to the “texts” we will be studying. The primary “text” will come as no surprise to the believer. That source is God (Proverbs 1.7). But there is also a secondary “text’ that Solomon encourages us to study. We will examine this more in a moment.
Wisdom begins with the “fear of the Lord” (1.7). That fear is the primary text. But what do we have in mind when we say “fear?” It cannot mean that God causes an unpleasant emotion making us apprehensive to approach Him. If God were scary, how could we entice another to listen? In their commentary, Old Testament scholars Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch give a superb definition. Fear is a “reverential subordination” to God.1 In other words, when you recognize the superiority of God, you stand in awe of Him. Who better to learn wisdom from than the One you admire? You should desire to hang on His every word. God, for His part, is glad to impart His wisdom to us. As James reminds us, if we ask Him, He will generously give us wisdom (James 1.5).
Yet we know not everyone esteems God highly. Those disrespecting God are called “fools” (1.7). But by calling them fools, we are not suggesting that such people lack the intellectual capacity for growth. Rather “fool” demonstrates their disposition. In the original Hebrew, the word translated as “fool’ is “evil.” No, not our English word, evil, but a word transliterated as such from the Hebrew language. Hebrew scholars Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Bridge observe that the word always denotes one is “morally bad.”2 Confirming this interpretation is the Septuagint version of the Scriptures. The 70 or so Jewish scholars translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek used the word “asebēs” for “fool.” That Greek word means “impious.”3 Thus, one who is impious (i.e., morally bad) despises wisdom and instruction. Such foolish persons might echo the pharaoh who asked, “Who is God that I should listen to Him?” (Exodus 5.2). So, if we were to cite a secular maxim to explain this part of our proverb, it might well be that “you can lead a horse to water but cannot make him drink.”
Yes, God can boost your wisdom, but you must desire to sit at His feet, develop a relationship with Him, and learn from Him those words leading to eternal life (John 6.68). But since I used the plural form of source in our title, you know there must be at least one other source. Indeed. You have probably heard of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is essentially an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is supposed to be an unbiased source of information, but a quick perusal of hot-button topics often reveals the bias of Wikipedia editors and publishers. At best, though, Wikipedia is a tertiary source of information. The word “tertiary” is from the Latin tertiariesmeaning “of or containing a third.”4 So tertiary is a fancy way to say that Wikipedia provides third-party information (i.e., information twice removed from its source). But what sources come before the tertiary one? The educational field gives us a clue by using the terms “primary” and “secondary” when describing its schooling. Primary is the category coming first and takes youth through to the age of 12, or 14, depending on the country. Following primary education, a child enters secondary education. Secondary schools will see the child through graduation from high school, the highest level of compulsory education. From there, a young person may elect to pay for “post-secondary” education in college or university.
So, for the believer, God is the primary source of wisdom. And though we can learn wisdom elsewhere, before listening to those tertiary sources of wisdom, Solomon reminds us of our secondary source of wisdom in Proverbs 1.8. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Note that God makes parents the secondary source of wisdom. Hence, parents become the secondary “text” for Wisdom 101. Recall the first institution created by God in Genesis 2.18-24. That institution was the home, the family.
Despite causing great harm to the family by signing the so-called Great Society Legislation, Lyndon Baines Johnson nevertheless stated that “the family is the cornerstone of our society.”5 Indeed, Johnson’s “reforms” helped break the home. He bolstered single-parent households and turned birthing children out of wedlock into a cottage industry. The State stepped in to fill the vacancy left by the absent parent, and education became the responsibility of the public-school educator. This innovation was never the intention of God.
Solomon was aware of the Law given to Moses. Fathers were to instruct their children at every opportunity (Deuteronomy 6.1-8). What we observe today in our society is that which played out countless times in Old Testament history. First, you would have a faithful generation that failed to impart wisdom to the next generation. God’s people would then enter a decline, followed by apostasy. God would then punish them using the military might of their pagan neighbors until they repented and cried out for mercy. Finally, God would bring a deliverer who would lead the people into a new righteous era. This period would persist until a new untaught generation arose, and the cycle would begin again.
Though we are not a theocracy, righteousness still exalts a nation (Proverbs 14.34). And this democratic republic is buoyed by the faith of its citizenry. As a result, we have noted prosperity resulting from periods of “goodness” (e.g., the post-WWII boom). And times of difficulty that seem to result from times of “excess” (e.g., the “Roaring Twenties” and the Great Depression). One wonders where we are within our cycle of apostasy and renewal when he hears news stories of public-school teachers confusing children about being oppositely gendered or talking openly about their perverted lifestyles. There is a significant disconnect between what parents would teach their young and what some teachers teach in schools. That was, at least, one blessing from the COVID pandemic shutdown. Parents overheard what teachers were teaching their children and would have none of it.
So, what happens when you have children who do not have a trustworthy secondary source of wisdom (i.e., parents)? Tertiary sources step in and instill man’s wisdom, which arises from man’s dark heart (Romans 1.21ff). The children worship the creature rather than the Creator. And these progenies ignore all authority: God, parents, and even the civil government (Romans 13.1ff). There can be no substitute for the wisdom mom and dad are to instill. You cannot even delegate instruction over to the faithful brethren of the church. The Bible school teacher can be a trusted tertiary source, it is true, but he or she does not have the amount of time with the child given by God to parents. Christian parents must stop abdicating God’s role in their children’s lives.
And the result from having the proper primary and secondary source for wisdom? Wisdom becomes one’s attractive accessory, like a graceful wreath upon one’s head or a necklace around their neck (Proverbs 1.9). We observe this in Peter and John. We trust the secondary wisdom imparted to them by their parents was adequate but take note of the primary wisdom they received spending time with Jesus. As they stood before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders noted the confidence with which they spoke. They concluded these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4.13).
So, what are the reliable sources you have that boost your wisdom? First and foremost, it is the fear of God. The second source is the godly instruction you receive from your parents. But wherever you are in your journey to find Lady Wisdom, whether one who is still learning from his parents or who may soon be the secondary source of wisdom for a child or grandchild, remember the words of our Lord to those feeling deficient. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7.7-8 NASB1995).
Jesus wasn’t going around just trying to make enemies of anyone, but He was fearlessly living and telling the truth no matter the circumstances. What we read in Luke 11:37-54 is how the scribes, Pharisees, and experts on the Law were living by the gospel according to self. They looked really righteous and knowledgeable on the surface, but of course Jesus can see below the surface at what’s actually going on in the heart and mind. It seems that there are several reasons why Jesus offended these religious leaders on this occasion.
He Exposed “Surface Spirituality” (37-41). They were so obsessed with appearances, doing things to look good to others. Yet, Jesus said they were full of corruption and wickedness in their hearts. They knew how to look spiritual without being godly, a deadly condition!
He Exposed “Majoring In The Minors” And “Minoring In The Majors” (42). He doesn’t rebuke the attention to details, but says they neglected what really mattered when making gestures that appeared to show how scrupulous and careful their religion was. True religion is supposed to stand on huge pillars like divine justice and love. Operate from those qualities and you are well on your way to true righteousness.
He Exposed “Appearance-Driven Actions” (43-45). Jesus called them on their love of the chief seats and respectful greetings. Surely most people appreciate being appreciated, but such can never be what drives or motivates us to do praiseworthy things.
He Exposed “Hypocritical Holiness” (46). They were good at making rules others needed to follow while not bothering to live by those same rules. Beware holding others to a standard you do not submit to yourself. Here, these appear to be their own convictions which they bind on others rather than God’s laws.
He Exposed “Artificial Admiration” (47-51). They seemed to conclude that revering long-dead prophets was the spiritually acceptable thing to do, but they rejected and hated the greatest man in history–God in the flesh. While decorating the tombs of men their ancestors had slaughtered throughout the Old Testament, from Abel (Gen. 4) to Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-21)–like saying A to Z, they were actively fighting One even greater and ready to do the same to His disciples.
He Exposed “Wicked Watchdogs” (52). Jesus’ last accusation is as piercing as they come. He says they took away the key to knowledge. They refused to enter the kingdom, but they actively hindered others who were trying to enter. They made themselves the gatekeepers to God, a presumptuous but also misguided effort.
And did they humbly repent and change their ways when the Son of God called them out? No. Their pride overrode any other impulse, and they grew more hostile, plotting how they might trap Him in something He might say. They became more critical and vicious. They had hardened their hearts that much. The takeaway for me is abundantly clear. What do I do with Jesus’ will? Do I take to heart His admonitions and challenges, or do I allow sinful pride to eclipse my view of it? Do I dig my trenches deeper or do I allow His will to shape and influence me? I pray that I will choose the latter!
Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” What is a holy sacrifice? Holy means, “to be set apart.” It’s living free of moral filth and being devoted to God. A holy sacrifice is one who is devoted to the service of God. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
God’s agenda comes first. We are now used as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13 says, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” We should want to be useable in the hands of God! We should also look to accomplish that which is pleasing to God.
Ephesians 5:6-10 says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Who are we trying to please? If we want to be a holy sacrifice we must be aiming to please God.
People make sacrifices all the time, but think about something or someone you love. It’s easier to sacrifice for family. God is our family, so why do we not sacrifice for Him? If anyone is deserving of sacrifice, it’s God. I once had a pet squirrel when I was 11. My older brother Gary and I saved it from falling out of a tree. Every day I used an eye dropper to feed it milk and nurtured it into an adult.
It would be with me during school, and at night I’d have to stay up super late feeding and caring for it. Stuart the squirrel was great, but to nurture him back to health and care for him took a lot of sacrifice on my part. But I was willing to do it. I loved that squirrel.
Love makes sacrifice easier. How do you feel about living the Christian life? Do you feel like you are sacrificing other pleasures in order to live a life for God? How much does your sacrifice take from you? Be a holy sacrifice when others around you are unholy. Imitate Christ around your coworkers, your kids, your spouse, your friends. Be holy in your service to God and wholly sacrifice your life.
I stood at the doorway of her humble apartment in a small Kentucky town. This Christian woman in her mid 80s, mother of three and newly-widowed, was adopted by the local church and seen after especially by a son who lived in the same town. I had received a sweet letter from her, expressing her appreciation for the great work being done by especially World Video Bible School. Her former preacher in the 1990s had introduced it to her, and she told me that she gave their DVDs away all the time.
Between the time I received her letter and dropped by her home, I talked to another lady in that same, small congregation. She praised the character and good works of the woman who wrote me the letter. I was told of the various hardships and challenges faced by my penpal. She was raised in religious error, but learned the truth from her husband’s family. The husband never obeyed the gospel and did not encourage her faith. Despite being subject to cruel treatment, she was not only a faithful, submissive wife, but she was full of righteous works. She became a walking Bible, the fruit of tenacious daily Bible study. She has written, supported, and encouraged missionaries all over the world for over 40 years. For decades, she has graded Bible Correspondence Courses.
The woman I met had the humility and sweet spirit of a child. She bore the marks of hardship, having undergone hip replacement and other maladies of aging and falls. But the thing that struck me was the twinkle in her eye and the genuine joy she has in being a Christian. As she talked about her life and as I had ultimately heard about her life from a few of her church family members, I could not help but think that this woman has suffered so much physically and emotionally. But you could not tell it from her attitude and disposition. The gentle enthusiasm I first read in her writing translated to a winsome smile and zeal face to face.
She had been weathered and battered by life, yet she had all the marks of a triumphant overcomer. Still faithful to meet with the saints every time the doors are opened, she lives Christ in her daily life. I could not help but think of the woman Mark tells us about in his gospel, the one who anointed Jesus’ head with “an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard” (14:3). In praising her “good deed” (14:6), Jesus summed it up by saying of her, “She has done what she could” (14:8). No one knows this dear sister across our brotherhood. She’s not an author, public speaker, gospel writer, or appointed church leader. But she epitomizes greatness as defined by Jesus.
I left my visit doing some serious self-examination. How’s my attitude? What am I doing with what God has given me? How am I blessing the lives of others? When others have been around me or speak about me, what characteristics come to mind? Every life is given a variable amount of resources and opportunities (Mat. 25:14-30). We will account for how we used them. Have we tried to tell others about Jesus? Have we reminded others of Jesus? Helen reminded me of my Savior! I left resolved to be more like her, trying to imitate her as she so clearly imitates Him (1 Cor. 11:1)!
Christianity is important to us. Making sure we live the right way is important to us. Because our loyalty to God is important to us, and because our lifestyle is characterized by avoiding evil, many believe that our mission in life is to defeat evil. Some Christians believe that this involves social activism or influencing public opinion. Nothing about this is intrinsically wrong, but it cannot be our primary focus.
Evil exists, period. Humanity introduced evil when we disobeyed God. As we noted last week, evil is on borrowed time thanks to Jesus, but it will exist until the end of time. So, what’s our job if fighting evil isn’t top of the list?
Christians are people who decide to follow God. That means living based on his moral code, not on humanity’s. That means we avoid practicing morally evil things. We recognize the influence that evil has on the world. We understand the consequences of choosing evil over God.
Christians are recruiters! We’re a tight knit group of people with shared goals, views, and struggles. Part of our job is to keep each other strong (Gal. 6.10; I Pet. 1.22; Heb. 3.12,13). The rest of our job is to recruit people to populate heaven (Matt. 28.19; Acts 20.24; Jn.15). God also expects us to be good citizens and live quiet, peaceful lives (Rom. 13; I Pet. 2.13; I Tim. 2.2; I Thess. 4.11).
Jesus defeated evil (I Jn. 3.8, 4.4; Col. 2.15), and he will personally destroy it forever at the end (Rev. 20; II Pet. 3.7). For now, though, evil is inevitable (I Jn. 5.19). Our job is to share God’s hope with those who don’t have it. By avoiding evil ourselves and helping others escape its influence, we help diminish its influence on the world!