What the Lord Hates

June 17, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Sanctification, Tongue

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)
16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

While many speak of the importance of love, we often fail to realize that he who loves much must also hate much. He who loves his wife must hate him who would steal her away or injure her. He who loves his children must hate him who would lead them astray or hurt them. He who loves the Church must hate him who would disrupt her peace or divide her. As Jesus tells us, “One cannot love God and mammon. He who loves the one must hate the other.” Similarly, the Lord who loves and cherishes righteousness necessarily hates and despises wickedness.

Consequently, in the course of his instruction to his son, Solomon takes a moment to remind him that there are certain things which the Lord despises, which He hates. Solomon arranges these sins in couplets. The first and last go together; the second and second to last, and so on. Let us consider each in turn.

The first and last items have to do with arrogance and pride – a proud look and one who sows discord among brothers. These exhortations describe the one who fancies that his way is always right; the one who cannot appreciate the wisdom and insight of others; the one who is haughty and domineering, crushing others. Haughty people inevitably cause discord because they have to prove that they know best – and the only way they can prove they know best is if they eliminate the competition. So, Solomon warns us, “Beware pride.”

The second couplet addresses lying and deceit. The Lord despises the lying tongue and a false witness who utters lies. He hates the tongue that pours forth honey but under which is found poison; the tongue that plots the destruction of others while securing its own advantage. So, Solomon warns, “Beware lying and deceit.”

The third couplet exhorts those “whose hands shed innocent blood…whose feet are swift to do evil.” The Lord despises murder, violence, evil plotting, and destruction. Our hands have been given to protect the innocent, but the wicked man uses his hands to slay them; our feet have been given to walk in the path of life, but the wicked man walks in the path of death. So, Solomon warns, “Beware violence.”

At the heart of these couplets is the heart. That which the Lord hates is a “heart that devises wicked plans.” Earlier Solomon had warned his son – “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the issues of life.” So here, in his arrangement of sins the Lord despises, he returns to the heart. It is our heart that makes us proud, that treasures lying and deceit, and that leads us to scheme and plot and destroy others. So, Solomon warns us, “Beware an evil heart.”

Reminded that our whole being – our looks, our speech, our actions, and our hearts – are open and laid bare before the face of Him to whom we must give an account, let us confess our sins to Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. And as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess.

A Word Fitly Spoken

April 8, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue, Truth

Proverbs 25:11–12 (NKJV)
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. 12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

Last week we celebrated Easter. But lest we think we can exhaust the glory of Easter with one day of worship, the Church has historically celebrated this period of time as Eastertide – today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus’ resurrection is far too significant an event to be celebrated only one day – it inaugurates a season for rejoicing! Jesus has risen from the dead! And this means that all those who believe in Him shall likewise rise from the dead and that even now, by the power of the Spirit, we can walk in newness of life, empowered by Christ to live in such a way that we please our Heavenly Father.

Two areas where we are most in need of Christ’s resurrection power are our tongue and our ears. James exhorts us, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (1:19). Our ears are to be open and our tongues are to be circumspect. We are to listen attentively and speak carefully.

In our study of John’s Gospel two weeks ago, Jesus condemned the Jewish leaders for their failure to listen to what He was saying. “If I speak the truth,” He had said to them, “why do you not listen to what I say? He who is of God hears the words of God; therefore, you do not listen, because you are not of God.” Jesus’ words remind us that the child of God cultivates an ear for the truth. He wants to hear the truth even if it is uncomfortable and even if it comes in an inglorious package. As I said at the time, better to receive a diamond wrapped in cow dung than cubic zirconia on a shiny band.

When we consider our calling as listeners, therefore, it is to cultivate a willingness to listen even when others are speaking unclearly or unkindly. We want the truth. Solomon urges us, “Buy the truth and do not sell it” (Prov 23:23).

Corresponding to this duty as listeners is our duty as speakers. While the godly listener does his best to overlook style and to grasp the substance of what another has said, the godly speaker is to do his best to communicate clearly. Better to present the diamond on a shiny band than wrapped in cow dung. And it is this calling that Solomon highlights in our text today:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

While the duty of the listener is, in our text, to have “an obedient ear,” the duty of the speaker is to be a “wise rebuker” and to utter “a word fitly spoken.” The calling of the speaker, in other words, is to display the truth in all its glory – to make it like an apple of gold, an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold such that it is easy for a listening ear to accept it, that it is displayed in settings of silver.

Solomon’s words remind us that effective communication takes hard work. It takes skill to craft golden apples, earrings and ornaments – and learning to speak clearly requires no less skill. It takes years for silversmiths to learn their craft – and developing a listening ear takes no less time. So what of you? Are you learning to communicate more clearly and to listen more carefully? Husbands, are you studying your wife so that you can live with her according to knowledge? Wives, are you studying to communicate clearly and listen obediently to your husbands? Parents and children, do you regularly evaluate your tongues and your ears to make sure that you are communicating well? Singles, do you place a higher value on others than on yourself and study to understand them well and communicate to them lucidly?

Reminded that Christ rose from the dead to empower us to be faithful speakers and listeners, let us confess that we are often lazy and sin regularly with our tongues and our ears. And as we confess, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Wise People Store Up Knowledge

March 11, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Education, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:14 (NKJV)
14 Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Our proverb today once again contrasts the wise and the foolish – a common theme in Proverbs and so a thought that should never be far from our own minds. We should daily, hourly be asking ourselves, “Am I being wise or foolish? Am I exhibiting the characteristics of the wise man as he is described in the Word of God?” If you aren’t asking that question regularly, then might I suggest that you are most likely a fool? The fool is the one who fails to consider his life, fails to reflect on his own character, and constantly justifies himself whenever he gets into trouble.

So let us note this contrast in our text. Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. On the one hand is the character of the wise. The wise store up knowledge. They are careful to listen, eager to learn, and thirsty to imbibe as much knowledge as possible. While wisdom and knowledge are distinct, the wise man knows that the more knowledge he possesses the better able he will be to make wise decisions and to give counsel that honors the Lord and reflects the way that He has made the world. Wise people store up knowledge.

In contrast, the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. Whereas the wise are eager to open their ears and learn, fools are eager to open their mouths and pontificate. They already know all there is to know and there is very little that others can teach them. And so, because fools refuse to listen so as to understand how the world works, they are always near destruction. Financial disaster courts them, spiritual disaster pursues them, and relational disaster follows them. The mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Solomon’s contrast reminds us that the wise man is the one who listens well, learns well, understands well, and does all these things before he speaks. James admonishes us, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Consequently, Proverbs frequently urges us to restrain our lips. Solomon will comment in verse 19 of this same chapter in Proverbs: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Again Proverbs 17:27 exhorts us, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” The wise man learns far more than he teaches.

So what of you? Are you storing up knowledge? Christian, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound theology so that you are prepared to weather the storms of life and to offer solid counsel to others? One reason so many Christians founder under trial is because they lack a robust and solid grasp of the Word of God and so do not know the character of God. What about you?

Husbands and fathers, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound books on the family so that you are equipped to lead your families in the fear of the Lord? As a husband, your calling is, like Christ, to wash your wife with the pure water of the Word that she may be pure and spotless. It is to live with your wife according to understanding (1 Pet 3:7). How are you doing? As a father, your calling is, like Joshua, to teach your children the fear of the Lord. How are you doing?

Children, are you storing up knowledge? Are you taking your studies seriously? Are you learning to read well so that you can read the Word of God more faithfully? The things you learn now are equipping you to lead your families, your churches, and your communities in the future. So what kind of leader will you be? Are you storing up knowledge or are you despising knowledge? The wise child does the former, the foolish child does the latter.

And so reminded this morning of our calling to be wise and not foolish, to store up knowledge and not to despise it, let us confess that we are often lazy, often disinterested, often rebellious, often foolish. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Do People Just Want to Hit You?

March 4, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:13 (NKJV)
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

As our Creator, God did all things well. The creation that spun forth from His hand was good. And man, the pinnacle of that creation, was glorious. As we consider what it means to be created by God, therefore, it is important to note that God fashioned us with tongues. God fashioned us with tongues in order that we might speak words – words that reflect the eternal Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. God fashioned us with tongues in order that the words we breathe forth might give life to others – life-giving breath that reflects the life-giving and eternal Spirit of God. Our tongues, in other words, are a chief part of our glory as human beings.

It is the part of the wise man, therefore, to recognize that his tongue is a gift from God and to learn to use that tongue well. Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding. The one who understands the world rightly will use his tongue to convey wisdom to others. He will use his tongue to speak truth, to worship his Creator, to bind up the broken hearted, to oppose injustice, to expose wickedness, to honor authority, to express thankfulness, etc.

However, because we humans rebelled against God, that which was a chief part of our glory has now become a chief part of our shame. James, the brother of our Lord, reminds us that the tongue is a fire, a very world of iniquity. Among the various members of our body, it is the tongue that often gets us into trouble – with God and with others. With our tongue we slander, we boast, we gossip, we berate, we lie, we corrupt, we complain, we grumble, we destroy and so we bring upon ourselves dire consequences: a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

I once had an acquaintance who served as a police officer. Though he loved police work, his mouth routinely got him into trouble. He repeatedly spoke ill of his superiors to his fellow officers. He was convinced that he knew better how to run the department and how to make police work effective. But despite his appreciation for his own wisdom, no one else seemed to appreciate it. He was passed over for promotions and urged to seek a position in another department which he eventually did – and then another and then another. For no matter where he went it seemed that no one appreciated how much he understood about police work.

So what of you? Does your mouth keep getting you in trouble? Do employers keep encouraging you to seek other positions? Do your parents wonder if your ears operate as well as your mouth? Do people hang on your lips, treasuring the flow of wisdom, or do people just want to hit you when you start talking? Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

Reminded that we are called to be men and women of understanding who convey wisdom to others, let us confess that we often need to be corrected instead. And as we confess, let us kneel before the Lord as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Mouth as a Well

February 12, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:11 (NKJV)
11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.

After Ishmael mocked the young child Isaac, he and his mother Hagar were cast out of Abraham’s tent and wandered for a time in the wilderness. Soon their skin of water was used up and the two were dying of thirst. So Hagar placed Ishmael under a shrub and went away from him a short distance lest she see him die. Then she lifted up her voice and wept.

The Angel of the Lord heard their cry. He spoke to Hagar. “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She filled her waterskin with water, and gave the lad a drink and they lived. This well in the wilderness was a well of life.

As that well in the wilderness was to Hagar – preserving her life, rejuvenating her strength, and restoring her hope – so is the mouth of the righteous to those who hear him. The mouth of the righteous is a well of life. As those who live in a fallen world, the paths we travel are often dry and thirsty. We face doubts, discouragements, disappointments, and even death. Scattered throughout the world are wells, put there by God to refresh our souls. As a follower of Christ, you are to be one of those wells. Paul commands you, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph 4:29). Be a well of life.

Because wells are so precious in the wilderness, because they are the only places where one can obtain water, they were often chosen as a place of ambush. Thieves and marauders would prey upon unsuspecting travelers, pillaging their property and often taking their lives. Wells were often places of violence.

So too are the mouths of many. Violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Travelers come seeking water, seeking refreshment on the journey. But what they find instead is violence. They are confronted by bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. Their souls are ravaged, their hope diminished, their dignity destroyed.

So what are you? Are you a well of life? Or are you a bandit? Do your words bring refreshment, strength, and hope? Or do they rob others of dignity and hope? How do you speak to your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your neighbors, and your friends? Do you build up or do you destroy? The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.

Reminded of our calling to use our mouths to bring life to others, let us confess that we often use them to bite and devour and destroy. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Prating Fool Will Fall

January 14, 2018 in Authority, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Meditations, Parents, Tongue

Proverbs 10:8 (NKJV)
8 The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall.

Wisdom is a commodity that has often been in short supply. Praise God, therefore, that the Spirit whom the Father poured out upon Jesus and whom Jesus pours out upon His people is, according to the prophet Isaiah, “the Spirit of wisdom…” (Is 11:2). Hence, Paul prays for the Ephesians that “Father of glory may give to you the Spirit of wisdom…” (Eph 1:17). God pours out His Spirit upon the Church in order that we might become more wise.

So how does the Spirit grow us in wisdom, how does He impart His wisdom to us? One of the chief ways He does so is through instruction in the Word of God including the Proverbs of Solomon. The Proverbs guide and teach us that we might be full of wisdom; that we might govern our lives in a way that glorifies and honors our Creator and Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. So today Solomon gives us one of the evidences of wisdom: The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

There are two parts to Solomon’s exhortation. First, Solomon tells us that the Spirit of wisdom teaches the wise to receive commands. In the words of James, the brother of our Lord, the wise in heart is”quick to hear” (Jas 1:19). The wise in heart recognizes that God has created a world in which there are proper authorities – parents, elders, employers, bosses, governors, kings, etc. Hence, the wise in heart receives commands, he listens to what these authorities tell him and, so far as he is able, he honors and obeys them in the fear of God.

Solomon contrasts the wise in heart with the prating fool. Who is a prating fool? To “prate” is “to talk much and without substance”; it is to “talk tediously about something.” The prating fool, therefore, is one who is so fond of his own opinions and desires that he refuses to listen to others. He goes on and on and on and on, sure that he is the fount of wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. He is not, in James’ words, quick to hear and slow to speak. No, the prating fool is so fond of his own opinions that he refuses to listen to instruction and he will fall. Why? Because the prating fool is proud and God is opposed to the proud.

The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall. Solomon’s words have particular relevance for the young. One of the great temptations of youth – listen up you teens – is to refuse to listen to your parents and instead to blather on about your own opinions. “Mom, I shouldn’t have to walk the dog because it is Susie’s turn to walk the dog and it isn’t fair that I’m always walking the dog and sometime last week Georgie stole my pencil and I think that I sprained my ankle last night and…” That is an example of a prating fool. But the wise in heart knows that when mom gives a command, it is time to be quiet and obey.

But Solomon’s words apply not only to the young; they apply to all. Solomon tells us that the wise in heart is humble, the wise in heart knows how to submit. So, wives, do you receive the commands of your husband? He is your lawful authority, do you listen to him? Men, do you receive the commands of your employers, bosses, and elders? They are your lawful authorities, do you listen to them? You see the same temptations that confront teens, also confront you. Do you too make excuses for your pride, are you too a prating fool, or are you wise in heart, humble, and inclined to receive commands?

And so reminded that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, gives grace to those who receive commands, let us confess that we have often been proud and refused to receive commands. And as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The 3rd Commandment – Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

September 30, 2013 in Baptism, Bible - OT - Exodus, Covenantal Living, Law and Gospel, Meditations, Mosaic Law, Ten Commandments, Tongue
Exodus 20:7 (NKJV)
7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Commonly the third commandment is taken as a restriction on profane speech – and while it does have implications for our speech, the commandment is much broader. The third commandment is a stirring warning against hypocrisy.
The word translated “take” in the commandment can also mean to bear or bear up. Shortly after its use in the third commandment, the same word is used to describe the high priest “bearing” the names of the sons of Israel upon his shoulders. In other words, he stood as the representative for the tribes of Israel, taking their sins upon himself in the Day of Atonement and lifting up their prayers on the altar of incense.
To “bear the name” is, therefore, to represent another. So when God warns Israel about “taking” or “bearing” the name of the Lord your God in vain, he is warning them against representing him to the world in a way that is unfaithful and slanderous. Even as a wife takes the name of her husband and can no longer act as though unmarried, so those who take the Name of God are to live in light of that identity. This, of course, has application for one’s speech; but it actually addresses everything – starting from the heart and working its way out to the tongue.
When God chose Abraham and gave him the covenant of circumcision, he marked out Abraham and his descendants as His representatives on earth. It was through Abraham and his offspring that all the families of the earth would be blessed. God chose Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob and his twelve sons to be His special possession, a people called by His Name and who bore His Name. Israel was the people of God.
In the New Covenant, it is we who have been baptized into Christ who bear the Name of God and whom God now calls to bear His Name in truth. For how are we baptized? We are baptized “into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And having been baptized into the Triune Name, having had the Name of God placed upon us, we are to live lives that represent that God to the world. When we fail to represent Him faithfully – either through the worship of other gods, or through unrighteous living, or through the practice of injustice, or through the misuse of our tongues – then we bear His Name in vain.
We also see in our text that God takes this hypocrisy and deceitful bearing of His Name very seriously – He will not hold Him guiltless that takes His Name in vain. Repeatedly in the history of Israel and in the history of the Church, we see God vindicating His Name in the face of the unfaithfulness of those who bear it. And so this is a reminder to us, an admonition to us to fear the Lord and to serve Him sincerely, free from hypocrisy and double-mindedness. We are to represent God faithfully to the world.

One of the ways we do this is by acknowledging that He alone is holy and exalted and free from sin. The way we demonstrate this, publicly and privately, is by routinely confessing our sins and seeking His forgiveness in the Name of Christ. So this morning let us confess our sins – and in particular, the way in which we are tempted to bear the Name of God in vain and fail to represent Him faithfully to the world. Let us kneel together as we confess.

Know When Not to Listen

March 3, 2013 in Bible - NT - 1 Thessalonians, Meditations, Politics, Sexuality, Tongue

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
If you’ve lived long you no doubt have come to learn that effective communication is difficult. Not only is it challenging to explain things to others, we frequently find that the one to whom we’re speaking just isn’t willing to listen. This is especially true in times of conflict. We speak to the best of our ability and it seems that our words just bounce off our hearer.
It is this dullness of hearing among his audience that Paul will rebuke in our text today. They were in danger of not understanding him – not because the subject matter was overly challenging but because they were unwilling to listen to what he was saying.
When we come to the text we will highlight the problem with this attitude when faced with the biblical text. As human beings made by our Creator, we are to listen to the Word of God and pay heed to the voice of wisdom.
But as Paul indicates in 1 Thessalonians, there are times when we should close our ears. “Test all things,” he writes. “Hold fast what is good.” We are called upon to listen carefully, understand honestly, and then test what is said, clinging only to that which is good. This implies, of course, that we are to reject that which is evil. So how do we distinguish? We assess what we hear in light of the Word of God. God has revealed that which is good in His Word and as we feast upon His Word we will be enabled to recognize falsehood when it rears its head, no matter how alluring it may appear.
Solomon describes this benefit of gaining wisdom in Proverbs 2. “When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, To deliver you … From the man who speaks perverse things… [and] From the seductress who flatters with her words,” (Prov 2:10-12, 16). Gaining wisdom protects us from folly, from giving heed to that which we ought not. It protects us from the man who speaks perverse things and from the seductress who flatters with her words. It teaches us when it is appropriate to close our ears and refuse to listen.
I was reminded of these things while attending a debate this week between Doug Wilson and Andrew Sullivan over the resolution Is Civil Marriage for Gay Couples good for Society? Mr. Sullivan professed to believe in Jesus and serve him while simultaneously living as a homosexual in union with another man. He was very winsome, very passionate, very articulate. But if we know the Word of God; if we know what God has to say about the abomination of homosexuality; if wisdom has entered our soul, then it delivers us from the man who speaks perverse things, it enables us to recognize the folly of the position.
Our calling as God’s people, therefore, is twofold. It is both to listen and not to listen. Our calling is to listen to God, give heed to what He says, believe it and embrace it for the good of ourselves and our children after us. Simultaneously our calling is not to listen – not to listen to the subtle or not so subtle temptations of those who would turn us from Christ and teach us to listen to some other god.
This reminds us that as human beings we frequently fail to listen to the right voices and instead listen to the wrong, And this is certainly becoming increasingly true of America. We are shutting our ears to the voice of God and listening to the voices of others. Reminded of this, let us kneel and confess that we have become dull of hearing.

Epiphany and Miscommunication

January 9, 2012 in Bible - OT - Isaiah, King Jesus, Meditations, Tongue

Isaiah 60:1–3 (NKJV)
1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Communication is a good thing. As creatures made in the image of God, spoken into existence by the Word of God, one of our most god-like capabilities is the ability to communicate – to articulate with words our thoughts, feelings, desires, longings, ideas, fears, etc. Words make us human.
Ideally when we communicate both parties get the same message. But sometimes – either because we forget to speak with one another or because the person speaking communicates something other than that which the other hears – our messages just don’t get across. And this is what happened last week with our service of worship.
You see Epiphany in the church calendar, the day that celebrates the revelation of Christ to the Magi and, many years later, His baptism and His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, is celebrated on a fixed day, January 6th. Churches in the west that don’t celebrate Epiphany itself but who celebrate Epiphany on a Sunday instead have to decide which Sunday on which to celebrate. And while Carrie and I were treating last Sunday as Epiphany, Jim and Cassandra assumed we would celebrate this Sunday. Miscommunication.
So what do we do when we have a miscommunication? First, of course, the one responsible for the miscommunication should take responsibility for it. So, mea culpa – I should have communicated better. Second, knowing that our God is sovereign over all and that He intended this miscommunication for our good, our next calling is to be thankful. One of the glorious things about miscommunications is that they frequently result in multiplied blessings: we got to sing additional Christmas hymns last week and we get to sing Epiphany hymns this week and what’s wrong with that? Praise the Lord! After all, the church calendar is just a tool, a means to enable us to focus our lives on the life of our Great King Jesus. The church calendar declares that his life is the pattern for our own – and Jesus was routinely misunderstood and yet continued to give thanks to God.
And it is the centrality and magnetism of Christ which we find celebrated in Isaiah’s vision today. What happens when the light of the world comes? When the glory of the Lord rises and shines upon His people? The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.Men are drawn to that light, to the character of Christ, like moths to a flame.
Today throughout the world, millions of people will gather to worship Him and to pay Him tribute. Why? Did he march forth into battle with sword and shield, scimitar and daggar, battle axe and hammer? No; he did something far more fearsome. He faced the wrath of the thrice-holy God in order that he might pay the penalty for our sin. He went through the fiery furnace of judgment in order to bring us to safety and peace. He loved us and gave His life for us – upholding justice by causing justice and mercy to kiss in peace. He has conquered millions by His love.
And it is into this image that we are being transformed. So should we strive to communicate well? Yes for Jesus is the Word of God and faithfully communicated all that the Father had given him to say. But when we fail to communicate well, what should be our response? To acknowledge that we are yet fallen creatures in need of the grace of God and to give thanks that despite our miscommunications God has taught us to love one another and is enabling us, by His Spirit, to become more like Jesus.
So what miscommunications have dogged you this week? Have you and your spouse failed to understand one another? Have you and your children been like ships passing in the fog? Has your boss failed to hear your suggestions or your employee failed to implement what you thought you communicated so clearly? Whatever the miscommunication, God sends it as a reminder of our frailty, a reminder of our need for the sacrifice of Christ, and so let us kneel and seek His forgiveness for failing to respond to these miscommunications in a godly fashion.