James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. [ESV]
GK Chesterton said “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.” I don’t know if he had meekness in mind when he penned that sentence but it seems like the reality that explains the “meekness of wisdom.” My heart longs for absolutes based on God’s Word but I am not immune to the paradox Chesterton referenced. My absolutes are just that – “my” absolutes. They comfort me in a world of division, and hostility where even another believer’s faith can feel like a weapon of attack unless I agree with their absolutes. That’s when the “meekness of wisdom” reminds me “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
I’ve learned a lot over 40+ years as a believer in Jesus Christ but my faith is still just a small glimpse into the mind of God. That glimpse has only become faith because of my confidence in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I don’t know it all, but the grace of Jesus has made certain that what I don’t know will not separate me from the Sovereign God who really does. Some may doubt everything else I know but I have no doubt about that at all!
Remember Matthew 5:5? “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The “meekness of wisdom” for today might read ‘Blessed are those who don’t know it all but know the one who does, for the promises of their inheritance begin right here where they live now. Absolutely!’
NIV Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his REST still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that REST, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my REST.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God RESTed from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my REST.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that REST, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Rest is apparently something more than lack of activity. That’s a good thing to know because lack of activity often seems impossible. There are schedules to keep, projects that need doing, places to be and people to care for. One of the first questions I asked as I began to write was why? Why did God sound so peevish when he said “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest’” and then He even repeated it?
I looked at all the modifier words and phrases for “rest” in the 11 times it’s mentioned in the 16 verses of this chapter and here’s something I found that’s worth noting. I’ve been looking at ”rest” as a break from activity when in reality every single mention of rest in Hebrews 4 indicates it’s God’s rest, not mine that’s involved. God swears on an oath He will jealously guard the heart, soul, mind and strength of “we who have believed” and entered the rest He’s completed for them. The reality is God’s rest ”still remains for some to enter.“ In that rest lies His peace, His promises and the priceless value of ”the good news proclaimed to us.”
“God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear . . .[v6-7 MSG]”
Promises from Chapter 6: “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” …I will welcome you and be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.” [NIV]
II Corinthians 7:1 Having such great promises as these, dear friends, let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to him alone. [TLB]
There was a day when we understood those promises of God, turned away from our sin and believed his words: “I will welcome you and be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” That first “turning away” brought us the life-changing relief of grace. It was a spectacular beginning but that’s exactly what it was…the first day of the rest of our life.
The relief of grace is God’s gift of courage to look at the challenges of the rest of our life and be willing to confess we still need courage to “turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves… giving ourselves to him alone.”
49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.
ז Zayin – Weapon
Look at this definition of weapons: “a means of gaining an advantage or defending oneself in a conflict or contest.”
Our recent history of events has given us terrible images of the reality of weapons used for violent and random destruction. Even in the midst of that murderous mayhem and death “defense” is the cry for the need to have personal weapons. That choice is our mistake but it may well be a metaphor of Zayin.
Many have decided the “means of gaining an advantage or defending oneself in a conflict or contest” is to justify those weapons. The Psalmist writes of recognizing the need to depend on a defense that’s much harder to recognize and accept; a radically different list of defensive weapons that justifies us instead…God’s law.
That “law” is the Word that gives hope and promises that preserve life and give comfort in suffering in the midst of this human conflict. Those are the Psalmists’ weapons. They can become the defense of our life too; wherever we are and whenever we need them because we remember and practice them.