December 5, 2015

Knowing and Understanding God

Jeremiah 7:30–9:26, Colossians 3:18–4:18, Proverbs 13:1–25

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

In light of this verse, I tried to make a list of the things I have boasted about and felt ill. I am not wise, mighty, or rich, yet still manage to find things to boast about. Even when I’ve said, “God did this for me” has sometimes been a tag on the boast – just to make it sound better than it really is.  

But what can be better than knowing and understanding God? Just reading the daily news shows how much all people need a relationship with this One who “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” — attitudes and actions that are tragically missing because God is left out.

Some might think such knowledge makes no difference, but Proverbs 13 tells why knowing God and not knowing God is important. Solomon writes that those who know God hate falsehood. Those who do not know Him bring shame and disgrace. Further, the wise (who know God) take advice, but those whose boast is in other than God are insolent and produce strife.  They bring destruction on themselves, while those who revere the commandments of God are rewarded. Solomon also says that “the teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” but “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction.”

In much of the world, those who put their faith in God through Jesus Christ are mocked or ignored, yet Solomon (the wisest man ever known) says people who heed God’s reproof are honored, and those who spend time with those people will also become wise. (Proverbs 13:14, 18, 20)

However, I understand how the wisdom of God can look foolish to those who do not “understand and know” Him. The NT instruction for marriage and working relationships actually enrages many women, at least the first part, because they do not understand God or His reasoning . . .  

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:18–25) For many men, women, children, and those employed by others, submission is a bad word.

Another instruction regards prayer and thanksgiving. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2) Prayer speaks of dependence on God, a challenging concept to those who do not know Him, or have a false concept about Him. Thanksgiving speaks of trust, and declares that no matter what happens, a good and wise God is behind it and has a good and eternal purpose for it. These are also high hurdles for anyone that would rather boast in their own wisdom of how life should work.

Further, those who boast in God also need to tell others about Him, making it clear, and letting our speech “always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”  . . . . also praying for others, that they “may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:3–6, 12)

When my boast is in the Lord, His commandments are not a burden, but when I want to toot my own horn and be recognized for what I do, then I tend to push Him out of my mind. That is why I understand the struggles of those who do not know Him, for just like them – I am also a sinner.

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