January 26, 2011

Day 26: Turning Order On Its Head

Black Or White Thinking
So, I struggle with black-and-white thinking, and with it comes an insatiable need to put things in order. If I do a word study, I typically start with the first reference that's listed in my concordance. I set out this afternoon and found myself thinking, "Where do I start? I know, I'll start in Genesis, where it all began."

There was another voice in my head saying, "You always start at the beginning. You always have to know the end before you know the beginning." Yes, that voice sounds very accusatory, and really it doesn't matter where I begin as long as I begin.

However, this whole month the theme has been changing one small thing to see bigger change in the rest of my life. This is what I have now come to recognize as the "wisdom" of fasting. When I fast I have the opportunity to see my life through a different lens. I have an opportunity to see where I have been allowing my routine to camouflage sneaky habits and mindsets that otherwise wouldn't be exposed to the light of introspection.
Furthermore, in light of the heaviness my writing has taken on, I really want these posts to be spontaneous rather than having a plotted destination in mind. I'm going to focus on the theme of wisdom, but I don't want to get locked into a regimented study of it. I want to sit down at my computer and start fresh with each post. In order to ensure that I carry this out, I want to break my pattern of going "in order."

Perhaps in working "out of order," I will find divine order in the area of wisdom. I have a feeling that wisdom is the opposite of black-and-white thinking, and I'm excited to see where I have made strides toward it and where I need improvement. So I've done a random search of four verses dealing with the subject of wisdom. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.
Corinthians Wisdom
1 Corinthians 1:19
(NIV) "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'"
(NLT) "As the Scriptures say, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.'"
(ESV) "For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'"

Standing alone, this verse implies to me that God will frustrate man's ideas of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Certainly, I've had Him frustrate my ways of thinking and understanding. So many times I believed I knew what was right and wrong, only to find that when faced with an individual in front of me needing counsel, my rules and regulations didn't quite fit their situation. It is from my own wisdom and intelligence that I usually form my judgments of others.

In looking at the broader context of this verse, I see that this is the exact topic Paul is addressing. In the verse right before this one, he declared that Christ sent him to preach the gospel, but not with words from human wisdom. In fact, he warns that preaching the gospel through our lenses of human wisdom will rob the cross of Christ of its power! It is in the power of the Cross that we find the power of God, not in the rituals, rules, and regulations of men and women.
Jesus Grew
Luke 2:52
(NIV) "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
(NLT) "Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people."
(ESV) "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man."

This verse has been such a comfort to me so many times throughout my life. First, it tells me that Jesus grew into His role as Savior of the Universe, even as I am growing into the call He has placed upon my life. If He had to grow in wisdom, that means I have to grow too. This means that mistakes are inevitable. I will make mistakes, but will not be condemned by them. It also says that God grew in favor with people as well as with God. This is my goal too.

I know that not everyone will agree with me, and I understand that living for the radical truth of the gospel can get a person into a lot of hot water (or hot oil if you lived back in Bible times). However, it is still my goal to live at peace with all people as much as it depends on me.
Joseph Before Pharaoh
Acts 7:10
(NIV) "...and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharoah king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace."
(NLT) "...and rescued him from all his troubles. And God gave him favor before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. God also gave Joseph unusual wisdom, so that Pharaoh appointed him governor over all of Egypt and put him in charge of the palace."
(ESV) "...and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household."

As you can imagine, Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. His life is filled with betrayal, suffering, and loss of reputation. Yet, he continues in an unwavering steadfastness of faith that I find inspiring. I love the first part of this verse, which is in the middle of a thought. God rescued Joseph from all his troubles and afflictions!

He did this before He endowed him with an unusual wisdom. I find comfort in this as I am knee-deep in a refining process that feels like a dark dungeon of never-ending battles sometimes. I trust that because I've cried out to God for wisdom, He will be faithful in not only giving me wisdom, but that as He infuses me with His wisdom that I will know how to partner with Him in dismantling the foundations upon which my troubles and afflictions rest.
Lady Wisdom
Proverbs 5:1
(NIV) "My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight..."
(NLT) "My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel."
(ESV) "My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding."

The intimacy of the Proverbs is something I have missed in the past. The majority of these wisdom sayings are written from a father to a son. This makes me think of the part in 1 Corinthians 13 that says if I operate in the gifts of God but do not have love, I am useless.

Even though wisdom isn't expressly mentioned here, I realize that I must be careful who I share with and why I'm sharing with them. It is appropriate for me to share my wisdom with my children. They know that I love them and that I have their best interests at heart.

But I have to ask myself, Is it appropriate for me to share my perspective with someone I don't know? Even if I have insight into their situation, perhaps I will be like a gonging cymbal if they do not receive my words in the spirit of love.

I know that I've taken liberties with the whole "speak the truth in love" verse that were not intended to be taken. I've found that true wisdom is often knowing when to keep my mouth shut, when my pearls will be trampled and misunderstood, thereby rendering them useless at best and harmful at worst.

It is my prayer that we will grow measurably in wisdom and favor with God and man in the weeks to come. Don't worry, I won't be praying that we will be growing in stature. I know most of us do not want that.

Peace & Joy,


  1. This is one that I need to read again when I have time to really ponder and pray about it. Lots of great wisdom! And as you know, God has strongly spoken to me about the fact that I don't always have to share "the truth", even with those I love.

  2. Very nicely expressed! Wisdom is so a rich topic that it's wise to explore it from any angle!