The Wisdom of Heaven

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” -James 3:17-18 (NIV)

Often, what is advertised as wisdom in the human realm is not actually wisdom. The purpose of wisdom is to set a person on the path to fulfilment and happiness. It is supposed to keep people from harm and preserve them when calamity strikes. But wisdom found in our realm only seems to set us on the path to destruction. I once remember a classmate of mine explaining what she was being taught at a business training session. Sound business advice, as thought by the session speaker, involved crushing the “little guy”, trusting no one, and essentially treating the business world as a battlefield where the strong survive and the weak perish. Such is the world’s advice. It has not only been applied to the business world, but to every realm of modern human life. When we are taught only to look out for ourselves so that we would not be taken advantage of and prove ourselves to be weak, we become corrupt and violent oppressors; with no qualms about trampling over those who are struggling, and manipulating and sacrificing meaningful relationships for the sake of advancing our own position.

Is this supposed to be the natural order of things in this world? If it was, both the practitioner and victim of such a philosophy would enjoy living under such a system. But the truth is that those on the receiving end are usually saddened and indignant that they must live only to be crushed by those deemed their “superiors”. In addition, even if they don’t admit it, those who are at the top and have everything in terms of material wealth and possessions feel incomplete; living in the regret of obtaining everything they have at the expense of wholesome and fulfilling human relationships. Life was not meant to be lived this way. We were created to pursue justice, purity, and peace because the God who has created us is the manifestation of all these things. We were created to live together in mutual and equal harmony and service towards one another because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity which has brought humanity into existence, works together in community. We were created to love unconditionally because God is a God of love, and He loves unconditionally. Humanity can never understand these ideas in the purest sense because their minds have been clouded by the destructive force of sin. Thus, even if humanity tries to reach for these qualities on our own strength or understanding, the noble ideologies we create often get hijacked by human corruption. Only when this cloud of sin is removed from the human mind as a result of truly accepting and believing in Christ redemptive sacrifice can humanity understand the wisdom which comes from heaven and put it into practice in the world. Not on our own comprehension, but with Christ working through us.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Taking Shortcuts

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13 (NIV)

Shortcuts are dangerous. We have all had times when taking the shortcut seemed like a good idea at the time, only to have to pay the consequences later. Whilst navigating through the chaotic railway terminal in Tokyo and close to missing my train, I had thought I had found a shortcut. Logically, it seemed to work out for my benefit as I reconstructed the map of the terminal in my head. As it turned out however, my shortcut took me to a completely different platform! The subsequent backtracking to my original route cost me half and hour of travel time when I could have easily taken the long route and still make the train, even if I did so by the skin of my teeth.

Humans love to look for shortcuts. Anything that reduces effort and makes things convenient and easy for us is the route that most of us would like to pursue. In some respects this is not necessarily a bad thing. The love that humans have for shortcuts leads them to become innovators and inventors. Many of the technological advances we have today stand testament to the love we have for finding the easiest and quickest method to get done what we need to get done.

However, this cannot be applied to the Christian life. Many of those outside the faith, and even those within Christian circles, feel that the key to fulfillment and happiness in life is the path of pleasure. Is the pursuit of pleasure wrong in itself? No, but it becomes wrong once it has replaced the pursuit of Christ. Yet many who do not want to subjugate themselves to the rigors of the Christian life but still call themselves Christians end up paying only lip service to Christ and following the path of comfort at the expense of living as His true followers. By the time they realize that they have taken a wrong turn, it is already too late. Those who have been able to realize their mistake before it destroys them find that they had wasted precious time pursuing the fleeting pleasures of this world over the eternal pleasures of pursuing Christ and interacting with the world through His eyes. The Christian life was never meant to be easy. In fact it should cause more discomfort than ease because it challenges us to critically look at the world and its assumptions we have grown to become accustomed to. However, the rewards of following Christ far outweigh the suffering and challenges of the narrow path in light of a truly fulfilled and happy life both in the present and into eternity.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Eternal Treasures

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” – Proverbs 28:6 (ESV)

When the wicked seem to prosper and have it all together, we often wonder why this is the case. Why do the unscrupulous, despite their decadent lifestyles and questionable ethics seem to get fame, fortune, and success beyond their heart’s content, whereas the honest and diligent end up with nothing but misery? In light of this reality, it often leads people to question whether God is blind to this injustice. However, He is not. The very fact that God does not include wealth in His requirements into heaven, rather faith and obedience to Him and His Son, is indicative of the fact that material prosperity is immaterial to Him. For all the wealth they may have gained in this present life through deceit, the wicked will not prosper. If they are not punished in this life, they will be in the life hereafter. Money cannot buy you into heaven and thankfully so. Otherwise, it would make heaven a very corrupt place.

However, this does not necessarily mean that living a moral life would get one into heaven either. No one can truly claim to live a pure life because all have sinned against God in some manner, be it in word, deed, or thought. The strict standards of God on what constitutes as sin contain no loopholes. Only through a relationship with Christ could man hope of entering into heaven. But it comes at a price. Once we enter into a relationship with Christ, we are obligated to serve Him and follow His ways and standards. Since it is hard to let go of our sinful nature, we constantly need Christ to help us in our decision to choose integrity over dishonesty. Thus, for the Christian, he should not be concerned over the material pursuits of this world. He should not use underhanded methods to gain profit. Rather, should he pursue integrity with Christ as his Guide, he will be blessed even in his poverty and these blessings will be far more satisfying than those of an ill-earned material lifestyle. The comfort of eternal rewards in heaven for his obedience of Christ should be enough of an impetus for the believer to pursue integrity and righteousness.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.