April 26, 2015

The Path of the Upright

Posted in Humility, Teaching tagged , , , , , , , at 8:51 pm by tclickenger

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is paved.”

The inspired words of the Lord are so beautiful and rich with meaning and truth.  In Hebrew the phrase “… but the path of the upright is paved.” is only three words.  But, my goodness, the depth of meaning contained in just those three words is incredible.

In Hebrew it reads, “v’orach yisarim s’lulah.”  “Yisharim” is the plural form of the word “yashar.”  So literally it would be upright ones.  Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century Jewish rabbi, describes an upright one as “an individual whose thoughts and will are directed exclusively upon the aim which has been set for him by his sense of duty and destination.”  Now compare his words with those of the writer of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:2

“Looking upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I’d say according to that definition, Jesus would definitely qualify as an upright one.

“Orach” means path or way.  The upright ones, their path or way of life  is “s’lulah” or always even, going continuously straight and upwards.

The upright one is contrasted with the lazy man.  A lazy man completely shuns this sense of duty.  When difficulty comes, he gives up.  When the difficulty he faces is just the fact that he doesn’t feel like it, he has the laughable faculty for inventing excuses to shirk responsibilities.  “There is a jackal in the way, a lion in the street.”  Because of this way of living, the lazy man’s life is increasingly difficult.  Like trying to walk a path through nothing but hedges of thorns.

The upright one is a person of fierce resolve.  When the real difficulties come, and they will come, he overcomes.  Difficulties become increasingly easier to conquer.  Laziness is always in the way, no matter what you wish to do for yourself or for other.  It is a hindrance that God, as your loving Heavenly Father, will chasten you to overcome.  Are you having difficulty in your life?  Does it feel like you are trying to walk a path through the briar patch?  Do some inventory.  I am not saying that you are certainly being lazy but we (me included) need to consider the possibility.  We are called to disciplined spiritual work.  And even if you are physically a hard worker, you could be spiritually lazy.  Are you studying your bible?  Are you being disciplined in your prayer life?  If you are going to my church right now, you are being exhorted to pray more and pray with more understanding.  Get your thoughts and will directed, resolved on this aim.  If you’re having trouble disciplining yourself, find a partner.  Meet together every morning until you have the discipline to continue on your own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

Remember, “Nothing of eternal consequence (eternal significance) happens apart from prayer.”

Prayer is but one spiritual activity we can be lazy in.  There are others to consider while you are doing inventory.  Prayer is meaningful spiritual work though and must not be neglected.

My Father and my King,

I pray that I am ever reminded of the duty and destination set before me.  Help me to maintain a fierce resolve, keep my undistracted attention on my example, Jesus, so that one day where He is, I will be also.  Help me to overcome the hindrance of the flesh and it’s tendency to be lazy.  May I rest when you tell me to rest and be active when you desire me to be active.  Help me to realize the rewards of: rest for my soul as I yoke myself with Your Son; a way of life that is always even, going continuously straight and upwards; and the privilege to hear you say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

Amen

May 17, 2010

Is Christ Divided?…Continued

Posted in Unity tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:09 pm by tclickenger

As I finished my post on the division of the church (Is Christ Divided?), I asked the questions “So what is the remedy? In all the many voices claiming to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a lock on the truth, how do we recognize God’s wisdom?” What is the way to unity? I have read a number of messages that insist that unity must be based on truth. It seems to me when someone is saying that, they are just trying to insist that their beliefs are “the truth.” I went on in my post to quote James 3:17-18.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

To put this in context we need to go back a few passages and read James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

So he is describing the qualities of the character and temperament of someone who has a mature measure of Godly wisdom and understanding. What I feel God is telling me in these passages is that we are to not only consider the message of the speaker but also examine the speaker himself. The verses 14 through 16 explains some attitudes and qualities that indicate the message is not from God. Then 17 and 18 some attitudes and qualities that indicate that it is.

As a disclaimer, note that when examining the speaker you cannot base your discernment from a first impression. You need to get to know the speaker, examine his conduct out of the pulpit as well as in it. Not just when he is speaking about God but in his everyday communication. A red flag should go up if he is talking more about himself than about God. Is he so convinced of his doctrinal views that he wouldn’t even consider hearing something that is in opposition to his current beliefs? In writing this I recognize that I am not exempt from this examination and welcome it.

So lets look at the qualities of one, as James said “Who is wise and understanding among you”

  • He is first of all pure – Pure in motivations. Without a hidden agenda.
  • Peaceable – They are more interested in the relationship they have with you than that your views are in agreement with their own. They don’t become angry or argumentative over a different belief.
  • Willing to yield (submissive) – Willing to yield to good reason. If the view they are presented is more reasonable than their own, they are willing to abandon their previously held belief for a better one.
  • Full of mercy – The individual that is wise with the wisdom of God will be more spiritually mature than those they are teaching. The spiritually immature are always getting offended about something and usually respond with offensive behavior. You will find that the one who has the wisdom of God is always extending mercy to everyone. I have personally received that mercy many a times.
  • Full of good fruits – The fruits this is referring to of course the fruit of the Spirit. Those qualities are pretty self explanatory.
  • Without partiality – Receives all people where ever they are in their development. Knows that truth can come from any of God’s children.
  • Without hypocrisy – You will find this person consistently displaying these characteristics. In the best of circumstances and in the most difficult. With their best friend, with their harshest critic, with their persecutor, with someone who has made themself an enemy to him.
  • Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    So again, what is the way to unity? Of course, we should all work toward being unified in “faith and knowledge” but from my understanding of the scriptures, unity is established and held together by peace. How is unity established and held together by peace? Is it our job to put peace in our hearts or does Jesus do this without any effort on our part?

    May the peace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, be with you and may he prepare our hearts to receive his truth.