Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 4 March 2019

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV).

No doubt, Paul is talking here about material wealth.   He says as much just a few words into the verse, then throughout it.  May I submit there’s more that makes us arrogant?

Politics make us arrogant.   “Our hope” is a wide path to hell, if we let it be.  Our differences of opinion put a wide gulf in-between us, so wide the perhaps only civil war can bring it together.   Yet before we go to such a drastic end, let’s consider that our politics – left, right, and indecisive – stem from where we put our hope.   If we put our hope in ourselves, we’re arrogant.   Nothing can stop us because, well, us!

Knowledge makes us arrogant.   This one is a stretch (from the verse) yet, if you think about it, is inherent to the verse.   We can’t put our hope into something of which we know nothing.   To put our hope in money means knowing what the accumulation of wealth can do.   It’s the knowing, not the ‘thing,’ that makes us arrogant.   The farther back you stretch it, the more you see that knowledge is at the heart of idolatry, of knowing (or think we are knowing) the difference between one thing and another.   Or right and wrong.  Take it to its academic extreme and knowledge breeds human arrogance.

The in-crowd makes us arrogant.   Got the perfect house; got the perfect school for the kids; got the cool car; got the new clothes.   The suburbanites have this in common with the urban hipsters:   they’re part of the in-crowd who have “it,” whatever “it” is.  If you don’t, well, God bless you but you just aren’t part of our party.

Ever met an arrogant preacher?   You’re a sinner who hasn’t been educated at a seminary, given knowledge that members in your church haven’t received.   Years ago, I belonged to churches where that was the case, where the pastors were arrogant and condescending.   One used to say he was just the son of a pig farmer, and he then usually expounded on seminary talking points to drown out whoever was challenging him.   Not very loving.  My friend, if I ever come off to you that way, please bring me up short.

What’s the common denominator in all this?   You know.   It’s you.   Or me.   The man (or woman) in the mirror who forgets that wealth, politics, knowledge, status and religion are fleeting.  They aren’t God, and there’s nothing any one of them – or us – can do to provide the JOY of the soul (in “enjoyment”) that God does.   Everything else isn’t God; everything else is arrogant.

For further reading:   Psalm 62:10, Jeremiah 49:4, Luke 12:20-21, Acts 14:17, 1 Timothy 6:13-21.

Beautiful God, only You are God.   Bless You.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 30 December 2014

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.  When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea. Mark 3, verses 7-8.

The folks in Judea had heard about Jesus performing miracles. And about how He confronted the Pharisees.   And about how His words were compelling yet caring, about how He spoke of the Kingdom of God as a place of real love and brotherhood.   Many of them had seen or met John the Baptist, who spoke about Jesus.   The people of Judea had heard about how people just like them had dropped everything to follow this new rabbi, just to hear what He said.

In 2000 years, what has changed?

I mean, the stories of people who follow Jesus and whose lives are transformed by Him are astounding. One of my heroes is Billy Graham, who has personally preached the Good News of Christ to millions of people in stadiums, churches, and meetings all across the planet.   How many untold millions, maybe billions, of people in history and alive even now had their hearts changed by listening to someone like Mr. Graham, or to a local preacher, a minister, or a servant of the church and then letting themselves ask that question:   “what about all that?”

Yet far more people learn about Jesus from folks like you and me.   It’s the Holy Spirit acting through us in moments of kindness.   Last night, while driving along a narrow highway, an old man driving a motorhome in front of me hit something on the road.   I don’t know what he hit, but it seriously damaged his RV.   When I finally got to the scene of the accident, amidst all the honking, broken pieces, and careless frustration, a young man had stopped his truck and was gently walking the frightened old man around, helping him sort out what had happened.   The vehicles had different license plates, so I can only surmise that the old and young men weren’t acquainted; they were strangers.

Jesus was walking with them.   In a practical moment of fear and need, Jesus reached out through a stranger and helped another stranger.   That happens far more than conversions in a church service or even by people reading a blog like this one.   Yes, those things matter and they can help, yet it is Jesus’ Holy Spirit living out through each of us that most effectively spreads His good news today.

There’s my Facebook friend who turned her life of alcoholism, drug addiction, promiscuity, and desperation into one of serving others with her practical work, her practical words, and her testimonies in a growing Florida church: all because someone reached out to her in her need with a caring hug from Jesus.   There is another friend whose heart was cold towards God for decades yet has only recently begun to warm to Him when she witnessed the real love of believers at a wedding then soon after a funeral. There is the fact that the world’s largest Christian nation is now the People’s Republic of China.   Communist China, where the pagan communist government has worked to stamp out all worship except that of the state and yet the church still grows underground to over 100 million active members.

It’s not about me or you.   It’s about Jesus: just like it was 2000 years ago. It’s Him living through us.

Lord, help me to always see how all in life is about You.   Live through me to reach others.

Read ahead in Mark 3, verses 7-12.