Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Wisdom: The Decisions of Life

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wisdom: The Decisions of Life

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:13-17).

The book of James is about change; change from the world’s way of living and relationships to God’s way of living and relationships. Repentance is the Bible word that describes the desire and determination for that change.

A Sunday School teacher once asked a class what was meant by the word repentance to which one student replied, “It is being sorry for your sins.” The teacher saw another student thinking deeply about the question and asked her what she thought repentance meant, to which she thoughtfully replied, “I think it is being sorry enough about sin to quit.”

Repentance is an attitude that reflects itself in a promise to God to join yourself in a partnership with the Holy Spirit to overcome specific sins and bring about the necessary change in our life through the enabling grace of God.

Most people would rather change jobs, friends, even husbands or wives rather then change what really needs to be changed, themselves. James 4:12 is a reminder that God will not allow injustice and improper behavior to continue. In addition, He asks the question; “Who do you think you are anyway, taking on the role of God?” No human being has the wisdom or attributes necessary to the spiritual micro or macro management of another person’s relationship with God. The only thing we can do is instruct people from God’s instruction book for living.

We think of justice as a blindfolded woman holding the balances of evidence in her hand.

In reality, God holds these balances. He is not blindfolded and He will weigh the evidence without partiality or prejudice. You will be judged on the basis of His evaluation, not your own. The wise person learns to look at himself through God’s eyes and not his own. Anything less is hypocrisy. Job said:

“Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity” (Job 31:6). (opposite: joke)

In James 4:13, we continue on with the person who knows the right things to do, but just never seems to get around to doing them (or refuses to). People continue day after day to presume on the future. They make plans for tomorrow while continuing their injustices against God and others presently. Only the obedient have any right to be optimistic about the future! People who know what is right and refuse to do what is right, and then make plans for tomorrow, presume upon the grace of God.

No one knows if they will have a tomorrow (James 4:14). The only opportunity we have to do right (that we can count on) is this present moment.

The brevity of life does not allow for the foolishness of a wasted moment in willful disregard for God’s will for your life. Our own pride and selfishness do not want to live in constant consideration of God’s will.

The spiritual reality is this: when a person leaves God’s will out of his daily planning and considerations, it shows the hypocrisy of his relationship with Him. THIS IS PRACTICAL ATHEISM.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:16). Here is the extreme that pride and selfishness takes us to.

1. James 4:11, it disparages others with slander, ridicule, and false accusations

2. James 4:12, it presumes on the role of God

3. James 4:13-15, it makes plans for the future without considering God’s will and presumes on His grace

4. Not only all of this, but they set themselves up as spiritual giants (James 4:16) while continuing to refuse to do what they know God wants them to.

“Rejoicing and boastings,” these terms are not intended to reflect verbal actions, but attitudes of disregard for God’s will in the matters of doing what is known to be right. This is the whole essence of the matter God calls The Pride of Life. This refers to a life lived in the knowledge of God’s will, but the prideful existence that fails to consider it for every decision and moment of living. That is why James concludes, “All such rejoicing is evil.” This epistle of James is directed to the Christian, not the pagan world of which this attitude would be expected.

There is the story of a little boy who just refused to do what was right. One day after an argument with a friend, he shouted some mean and hurtful things at one of his playmates, who went home very hurt and crying. The boy’s father heard what went on and stopped his son on the way through the front gate into their yard. The father told him that every time the boy did some thoughtless, mean thing that the father would drive a nail into the gate post half way, and each time the boy did a selfless act of kindness one of these nails would be pulled out.

Months passed and each time the boy went through the gate he was reminded of the reasons for those ever increasing line of nails in that post. The boy finally decided he would make the necessary changes in his life to get those nails pulled out. At last, the final one was removed. As the father pulled the last nail from the post, the boy danced around proudly shouting; “See daddy, the nails are all gone.” To which the father replied as he stood gazing intently at the post; “Yes son, the nails are all gone, but the scars will always be there.”

Wisdom understands that sin can be forgiven, but wisdom also understands that sin always leaves a scum mark on whatever it touches. Sin always leaves scars on our life, even when we stop, even when sin is forgiven. Eternity is negatively effected by sinful things we do. Eternity is also negatively effected when we fail to do what is right. Both sins of commission and sins of omission are serious failures in obedience to God’s will for our lives that cause us to waste our lives in the purpose for which we exist; bringing glory to God.

Life is a vapor; don’t blow it. At best, all of time is but a minute parenthesis in the vast and never-ending circle of eternity. One lifetime is just a tiny, minuscule fraction of that time line. However, the eternal value and potential of that one lifetime properly invested to the gory of God is almost immeasurable. The impact of the life of one person touches upon the lives of millions of others. Like a rock thrown into a lake, every molecule of water in the lake is impacted to some degree. Those with an eternal perspective of life will do all they can to impact this “under the Sun” world to the glory of God.

Those with an “under the Sun” mentality have another perspective of life. The “under the Sun” mentality is reflected by what I saw on the back of an old man’s tee shirt (just under his grey ponytail): “It is not that life is so short, but that dead is so long.” The “under the Sun” mentality then adduces that we must get as much out of life as we possibly can in the short time allotted. The person with the eternal perspective of life makes the opposite choice. He understands that the best way to get as much as possible out of life is to invest one’s self in the lives of others, to help them get saved and begin living their lives to the glory of God.

For many people (including Christians), activity is confused with progress like wealth is confused with success. In all the activities of life, there is a certain amount of expectation of joy. However, almost all activities where self-fulfillment is the goal, very little fulfillment is found and what little is produced last but for a few short moments. That kind of life is like opening the largest package under the Christmas tree only to find it full of old newspaper. For the person willing to invest himself in the lives of others, it is like opening the smallest gift under the tree, only to find the greatest and most precious of all God’s gifts to His children; joy.

Finally, in the waning years of life when our bodies grow old and wanting for strength, it is the joy that comes from knowing your life has made a difference in this world of billions of souls that makes the struggle all worthwhile. The joy is in knowing that we have been used of God to make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Then we can look upon the horizon of the setting Sun of our days on this earth and conclude with Solomon; “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

We will find no fulfillment in our golden years when our youth has been wasted on selfish pursuits. When our lives have been wasted, all that is left is the fleeting memories of yesterdays’ small moments of pleasure, instead of the joy of life where our last days are spent longing for tomorrow’s hope.

“As the outward begins to crumble away, the inner person needs more than a party hat and the illusion of youth and beauty.” (Kiddie, Looking for the Good Life)

Life’s ultimate consummation is death. The man who stands at death’s door without knowing by faith, and with certainty, what is going to be on the other side of that door once it is opened, is one of the greatest of all fools on planet Earth. A person needs to make decisions about eternity early in life while he still has strength and the mental and physical faculties for serving the Lord.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days {old age} come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened {Springtime}, nor the clouds {pain & gloom} return after the rain {expecting the Sun to shine}: In the day when the keepers {hands} of the house {the body} shall tremble {shake}, and the strong men {legs} shall bow themselves, and the grinders {teeth} cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows {eyes} be darkened, And the doors {lips as the opening of the mouth} shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low {due to the loss of teeth}, and he shall rise up {be awakened from sleep} at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick (voice and hearing} shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high {fear of falling due to difficult terrain}, and fears shall be in the way {even on level ground}, and the almond tree shall flourish (i.e., blossom; white hair among the dark haired youth like the white blossoms of the Almond tree against the dark green of the forest}, and the grasshopper {little things} shall be a burden, and desire {for life and its pleasures} shall fail: because man goeth to his long home {the grave}, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed {spinal cord}, or the golden bowl {skull cap containing the brain} be broken, or the pitcher {Vena Cava; right ventricle of the heart} be broken at the fountain {the heart}, or the wheel broken at the cistern {the heart no longer functions correctly}. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7).

What do these verses tell us? Our “under the Sun” existence is lived within eternity. Just as there are evidences for our beginning in life (conception and birth), there is evidence that our “under the Sun” existence is ending. Middle Age is really nothing more than half way to the end. Old Age tells us we are closing in on the Finish Line. No matter how optimistic we are about life, death is an inevitable consequence of life. In fact, life is not about our “under the Sun” existence at all. Life is gift of God’s grace given for us to prepare for eternity, get saved and invest our lives in the lives of others to help them do the same. We can take the short view of existence “under the Sun” or the long view of existence under Heaven. Which view do you think the Deceiver would like us to take?

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