What makes a gift ‘perfect’? After all, that’s really what you’re looking for this Christmas season, right? You want to hand that special someone the ‘perfect’ gift. Or, maybe you would like to receive the ‘perfect’ gift. So, what are looking for? What makes a gift ‘perfect’?
Perhaps three qualities stand out. (1) It fills some physical, emotional, or mental need. A chore becomes easier. A friend is happier. A child knows he is loved. (2) Whoever receives this ‘perfect’ gift will benefit. Life gets better, not worse. (3) Finally, the receiver understands just how much he will benefit from this gift. Let’s summarize those points like this: What makes a gift ‘perfect’ depends on how prepared a person is to receive it. If you see no need for this gift to fill, then you will not understand why you need it or how it benefits you. That gift is not appreciated. It’s rejected. It’s forgotten. If you identify a need, then you understand how this gift fills a void in your life. You will appreciate it. You will treasure it. You will hold it up for all the world to see it as it really is: the ‘perfect’ gift.
Preparation is key in receiving the ‘perfect’ gift. So, God prepares us for his perfect Gift. He wants you to fully appreciate just what it is Jesus comes to do. So, he sends a special messenger to Prepare Your Heart for the Lord! You get ready for this gift by straightening out the rough places so that you can see the salvation of your God.
When you think about, not many were ready for the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph were really the only ones expecting Jesus to arrive soon. Angels had to broadcast the good news to a handful of shepherds (Luke 2:8-15). The Holy Spirit leads an elderly prophetess (named Anna) and lifelong believer (named Simeon) to Jesus (2:25-27; 36-38). A star guides wise men (Matthew 2:1-12). Really, Jesus’ birth is almost a well-kept secret. In fact, from age 0 to 30, you hear very little about him. He has not started his ministry. He does not have disciples. He has not performed miracles. No one knows the Son of God has come to earth! If no one knows he has come, then no one is looking for him. If no one is looking for him, then no one will pay attention when Jesus preaches. People would consider him as just another great teacher.
Enter John the Baptist. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that John is the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’
Isaiah pictures an old practice. In ancient times, kings sometimes traveled from their country to another country. Yet, you did not cruise down concrete highways or graded dirt roads. You had an almost impassible trip across an untouched desert with boulders, cliffs, and valleys. So, an official went ahead of this kingly procession. He hiked through cities and villages, trumpeting: “Hey! The king is coming! Get ready for his arrival!” Citizens prepared by clearing a path through the desert. They pushed aside boulders. They filled in swampy areas and low-spots. Steep inclines were leveled. They removed obstacles so the king could come to them.
John the Baptist is that forerunner of Jesus; his ministry starts first. Yet, John does not live in the desert to clear away boulders. Instead, he Prepares Hearts for the Lord. He clears out spiritual boulders, fills in despair over sin, and levels off arrogant pride. He straightens out the rough places [of the heart]. He gets us ready to appreciate God’s gift of a Savior.
He does this by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. To ‘repent’ means “to turn”— much like making a U-Turn. So, imagine you are driving north on US-127. If you make a U-Turn, then you have completely changed direction; you are now heading south. That’s why John trumpets: “Repent! Look at your life. Turn from what is wrong. Face what is right!” That is the only way you will ever be prepared for Jesus. Because repenting means you must turn. It means you are not as perfect as you might think. It means you need a Savior.
Stand before the mirror of God’s commands. How do you measure up? Have you loved God with all your heart, mind, and soul? (Matthew 22:37-39). That means, you never once worried about your financial picture, about your health, or about the future because you trust you heavenly Father always provides and protects. Have you respected God’s Name? That means, you never cursed out of frustration; you never used the Lord’s Prayer as a good-luck charm for success. That means, you brought every single anxiety to God in prayer because God is capable of handling it. Have you made time with God a daily priority? That means, you made an honest effort to be in worship every opportunity— even if it meant skipping Sunday sports because they interfered, even when it meant waking up and you really wanted to sleep in, even when it meant turning off the television for a 5-minute devotion. Have you shown respect to your government officials— including the ones you did not vote for? Are you treating your body as the temple of God? Do you guard your heart from greed and give generously the work of your congregation? Are you free from jealousy and willing to admit when you are wrong? God demands that you be holy because he is holy (Leviticus 19:2). That does not include a “Yes, but…”
That’s the automatic impulse. We often think we are morally better than we really are. That attitude flourishes when we bend God’s commands. We know we should be in worship, but we make up the excuse: “God knows what’s going on in my life. He understands.” We know God’s blueprint for marriage, but we still say, “Well, God just wants me to be happy.” Maybe you feel you could give more generously, but still comes the thought, “Well, I have that trip and this new gadget. I just have nothing.” The heart constantly pumps out exceptions to God’s commands. It enters God’s courtroom, sits in his judge’s seat, and begins interpreting the commandments God set down. Then it acts as though God must approve our interpretation.
The devil has done such a good job of getting us to believe just that. That in the end, God will listen to us. That we have more authority than God.
That kind of attitude really does not want a Savior. It says, “God, there is nothing wrong with me or the way I live.” To live in the wrong piles up boulders of excuses. Pride carves out low-spots and hills so that God cannot live in us.
That is why John preaches: Prepare Your Heart for the Lord! Your God is coming. Yes, he came once as a little baby and conquered sin. Soon, he will come in his final victory march. Prepare Your Heart for the Lord. Straighten out the rough places. How does John straighten out those rough spots? With God’s Word. That is the tool God gives him. [T]he word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. John preaches law and gospel so that all may see the salvation of your God.
God’s law Shows Our Sins. It holds you (and me) up to God’s holy standard and says, “You have fallen short. Close enough is not good enough. Nor am I asking what you think. I am telling you what you must be.” (Roman 3:23) Stare at that law and you reach the conclusion that you can never approach God by yourself. The law Shows Our Sins, but God’s gospel Shows Our Savior.
“Gospel” means “good news.” John tells us good news: “Jesus walks into spiritually devastated hearts.” He lifts us from the valley of despair over sin. He removes the boulders of guilt. He levels towering hills of shame. Jesus, with his life, has made straight our hearts. With his Word, he carries the good news of salvation.“Salvation” simply means “to deliver” or “to rescue.” Jesus has rescued you (and me) from the hell we deserve. Look at Jesus and you see this is the One God has sent for your future. Jesus is God’s salvation.
How does Jesus’ work enter your life? Through baptism. [John] went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. So, why does John baptize? For what purpose? For the purpose of forgiveness. John’s baptism washed hearts clean; it flooded life with forgiveness.
You see, baptism is not something you are doing for God. You are not declaring your commitment to be God’s follower. Nor do you have to be re-baptized because you were too young to remember it. Baptism is something God does for you. God comes to you. God enters your heart. God smoothes outs sin and paves a road that welcomes the Word.
Your baptism has marked you as God’s child. If God’s child, then different from those who want nothing to do with him. It means you will stand out. You might be the only one in your family who worships. You might feel a little uneasy when Christmas concerts intentionally omit any mention of Jesus. People might look at you weird because you have a church home. You may feel out of place. You may feel this pull to behave more like the world, than as God’s child.
Martin Luther wrote in his 95-Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” Remember, “repent” means “turn.” Each day you compare your words, thoughts, and actions to God’s commands. When you do wrong, you see it. You admit it. You confess it. You hear God’s forgiveness. God’s Word turns you from what is wrong and faces you to what is right. You turn to see the salvation of your God; and you see that God has delivered you from hell and soon will deliver you into heaven.
That makes a ‘perfect’ Gift. Yes, Jesus is ‘perfect’— and remains perfect, regardless of what anyone thinks of him. Yet, he is your perfect gift. God’s law reveals our sin. We see the need for forgiveness. We see the void of life. The good news is that God has straightened out crooked hearts and has smoothed out the rough spots.
Preparation is key in receiving the ‘perfect’ gift. So, God prepares us for his perfect Gift. He wants you to fully appreciate, to grasp just what it is Jesus comes to do. So, he sends a special messenger to Prepare Your Heart for the Lord! Keep clinging to this perfect Gift. Straighten out the rough places so that you can see the salvation of your God.
Let’s start with a question. Now, you do not have to raise your hand, stand up, and share your answer out loud; keep your answer in your mind. Since your answer remains yours, don’t worry about someone laughing at you. Don’t fret if you cannot answer the question. Form the best answer you can. Alright? Here it is: What is the first sin?
Remember, God creates a marvelous paradise. The days are never too hot or too cold, never too humid or too dry. Streams water every plant, preventing drought. Prey and predator live together. No aches. No death. No arguments. No division. No fighting. No bickering.
Yet, you know what happens next. The devil slithers up to Adam and Eve. He points at the God-forbidden tree and hisses: Did God really say, ‘You cannot eat?’ How do the two respond? Eve eats! Adam watches! (Genesis 3:1-6).
So, returning to the question: What is the first sin? Eating the fruit? Nope. That action exposes disobedience, but dig deeper. Touching the tree? No. Listening to the devil? Close, but remember, being tempted is not a sin. (Jesus is tempted, but does not sin [Matthew 4:1-11].) The first sin is Eve deciding that she possesses the right to step out from under God’s command and eat. At the same time, Adam decides that he possesses the right to stand by and say nothing. Simply put, the first sin is rebellion.
That’s how the Bible defines ‘sin.’ Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The rebellious nature of Adam and Eve have trickled down through the ages, through every human heart, and remain the inherited rebellion we still struggle against today. Our rebellious sinful nature remains self-serving— pitting you (and me) against others and against your God. The remedy? Submit Yourself to God. Because God destroys the proud and God exalts the humble.
That’s what James says, Submit yourselves, then, to God. ‘Submitting’ sounds so restrictive, something maybe considered negative. That you lose freedom to make personal choices. That someone else controls your life. That you lose self-identity and all the unique, individual characteristics that make ‘you,’ you.
The devil does such a tremendous job to sour the word ‘submit’ so that we carry a misconstrued understanding and do not want to embrace it. You see that, don’t you? He hisses to Adam and Eve: Did God really say? The question is his method to lure people out from under God’s command, evaluate its fairness, and then form their own conclusions. So, both Adam and Eve step away from God’s command. They evaluate if God might be withholding something beneficial from them. Then they conclude that God’s command is ‘wrong’ and their choice is ‘better!’ They sit in authority over God.
Even when they are caught, that un-submitting heart goes through such great lengths to defend and justify its independence. God approaches Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11). How does Adam respond? Slander. Speak poorly of Eve’s character. “Hey, God, that woman picked the fruit. She put it into my hands. She made me eat it. She did the wrong!” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” (3:13). How does Eve respond? Judge. Determine what aspects of God’s command do and do not apply to her. “God, never mind me. Let me tell you what the serpent did wrong. He lied to me. He’s the one who told me to do wrong. Punish him.”
James says, Anyone who speaks against [slander] his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. Adam & Eve find fault with God’s expected applications of his command. Then they form new exceptions for their behavior. Yet, When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. The created exalt themselves over the Creator. They tell God what they will obey. Then, they hold each other to their own manmade standards.
You do not have to search long for more examples of the created exalting itself over the Creator. That same puffed-up heart of pride is the natural condition of our hearts as well. God’s command is clear: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Matthew 22:37). How is that treated? The devil lures us to step out from under Jesus’ expectation. Then we evaluate if Sunday worship fits into our weekend schedule. If it does, then we go; if it does not, then we put God on hold. You see, we, the created, have just determined how we will execute God’s command. We have determined how and when we will obey. (Maybe more shocking, is when defend our choice!)
Or, Christians are people who follow Christ. They love Christ; they cherish his Word. You (and I) have countless opportunities to spend moments with God outside of worship. We have two Bible class times. You carry home devotions. You have Bibles at your house. Yet, out of the heart comes all these excuses as to why God does not fit into your schedule! We can make time for friends at a moment’s notice, but know in advance learning opportunities— and then we just cannot commit. Even when the heart’s excuses are exposed as the excuses they truly are, then turn on the one who exposes it in the first place. “Pastor’s wrong! My Christian parents are wrong! The church is wrong! But never me!” Why is everyone else wrong? Because the heart steps out from God’s command, evaluates it, and decides to reject inconvenient truths for its own pleasures!
You see, that sinful nature is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law (Romans 8:7). It leaves you (and I) daring to stand before God, open up his Word, point out what it teaches, and then say, “I don’t want to listen.” You might believe in your heart of hearts that you can somehow deceive God. That does not see your hidden faults. That he is unaware of your secret, underlying motives. You might believe you can dupe God into believing something not true. That God actually thinks you do have a legitimate reason to ignore him. That God actually condones worldly living. Yet, James sounds the warning: There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. That person is not you. That person is not me. When you leave this life, God will take the seat as Judge and he will execute his authority to punish every lawbreaker. Those who fail to Submit to God will find God destroys the proud.
James does not mince words. He stresses the seriousness of our behavior so that we step back, evaluate our own actions, and approach our God with the right heart. Because those who Submit to God will find God exalts the humble.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Remember, James speaks to you (and me), Christians. The only reason we would ever want to come near to God is that God has already made us his children. He has put his name on you at your baptism (Matthew 28:19). When we have wandered from his Word, it is the Word that shatters pride. The Word reveals that without God, we are forever lost.
Submit Yourself to God and God will draw near to you. How? God approaches you through his Word. There, he shows you (and me) Jesus. The One who has come to obey his Father (John 6:38). The One in whom there is no deceit (1 Peter 2:22). In the Bible, you again hear the Father say, “Jesus has amputated your wild heart and has placed his obedient heart inside of you. You want proof? This new life became yours in baptism. Baptism has washed your guilt away (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism created faith; baptism gives you a new way of life. You want more proof? Then approach the altar. Receive Jesus’ body and blood that was broken for you, that was poured out to make the payment you could never make.” Draw near to God, turn your attention to the Word, and the pride comes down, and God again assures you: “I remember your rebellion no more. You still have full rights as my child.”
And when you (and I) stumble and fail again, when the Word convicts and crushes you as the lawbreaker you are, draw near to God and God will draw near to you. In the front of our hymnal, in the ‘Common Service,’ how does it begin? “Beloved in the Lord: Let us draw near (or approach) God with a true heart…” an honest heart that will not hide or distort the facts. Wash your hands, you sinners. Wash away, remove the actions you know are wrong. Remove the excuses you create to stay away from the Word. Throw away the excuses as to why you can knowingly embrace the wrong. That is moral filth and God has washed you holy.
[P]urify your hearts, you double-minded. Until the day you enter heaven, you will struggle between two choices: For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing (Romans 7:19) Yet, Jesus has purified your heart (and mine). Look to the cross; see him wipe away every blemish, every stain. God sees you as pure and holy in his sight. This love is the motivation to serve with happy and willing hearts.
Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. No, not that God wants you to stop laughing or to mope around. Rather, do not rejoice or embrace the sin you know is wrong. Instead, Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. And he has. Christ has set you free from death in hell. He has set you free from seeing his commands as slavish bondage. Now, he has transformed your view of his commands. These Words form a loving God that preserve your life to heaven.
As you live under him, you resist the devil. The devil will still hiss his seductive whispers: Did God really say? The question is his method to lure people out from under God’s command, evaluate its fairness, and then form their own conclusions. Yet, submit to God’s Word and the devil flees. Why? Because God’s Word exposes the devil as the liar he is. It tells him that his promises are empty and that you do not want empty promises.
Submission is not enslaving. It does not strip away personal freedom or remove self-identity. Rather, living under God means you share in his heavenly victory. You remain close to him. You purge the sin that seeks to snag you into death. You live exalted as an heir of heaven.
That carries implications. The first sin is Adam and Eve appointing themselves as god. No matter what sin exists today, they all remain the same at their very core. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It declares the self-appointed right to be God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You (and I) have one God, one Law-Giver who obeys. One Judge who declares us “not guilty!” through the life of Jesus! So, what does that mean for you? You are not condemned (Romans 8:1). Instead, you are free! Free to lay aside pride. Free to wear humility. Free to serve the needs of each other. Our rebellious sinful nature remains self-serving— pitting you (and me) against others and against your God. The remedy? Submit Yourself to God. Because God destroys the proud and God exalts the humble
Last Sunday I shared two phrases, phrases most had little trouble answering. So, since they were so simple, let’s review. Like before, I will start the phrase and if you know it, then finish it. (You can even say the words out loud). Okay? Alright, here they are:
Both phrases present two realities: (1) Actions reveal appropriate character and (2) Words reveal appropriate actions. Ducks have feathers, waddle around, and quack. Put those sights and sounds together and you can determine this creature must be a duck. Actions reveal appropriate character; the actions of this duck reveal it to be a duck. Or, a football player brags that he can outrun and out-jump any defender. He must prove the truthfulness of his words with actions because words reveal appropriate actions. What is inside must agree with outside actions.
That is why James said [last week]: Faith without works is dead (2:17). Christianity is more than just having knowledge of Bible teachings; Christianity is a lifestyle. Christians learn the Bible’s teachings and then put those teachings into practice. Faith inside is revealed with outside actions.
Today, you gain proper perspective for Christian living. You Sow peace and reap righteousness from the Real Wisdom that Comes from Above.
That’s where James directs our attentions this morning. Up. “Who is wise and understanding among you?” he asks. We often hear those words in the Bible: ‘wisdom’ and ‘understanding.’ Yet, “wisdom” and “understanding” is more than having good advice or being smart. “Wisdom” is knowing by personal experience (or from the experience of others) what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ “Understanding” means putting knowledge to work. So, for example, experience teaches that touching a hot stovetop is dangerous. You prove yourself wise if you know this truth. You demonstrate understanding when you take this knowledge [stovetops are hot] and properly apply it [do not touch hot stovetops].
So, James asks, “Are you wise in knowing what behavior pleases God? Do you put that proper knowledge into action?” By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness [or, humility] of wisdom. There it is again! Your faith reveals itself with actions. Usually we boast about what we know with diplomas and certificates, with success and experience. Yet, Christians do not boast about behavior, they prove wisdom with actions. Those who know God’s Word, know God’s command to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (James 2:8). That command is applied by laying aside self-importance and humbly serving the needs of others.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Just let those words sink in for a moment. This is how the world tends to operate. A wife exaggerates her emotions in order to manipulate her husband into satisfying her demands. If someone gets cut off on the road, blast the horn and flip the finger. Shred reputations so that you can promote yourself. Bitter jealousy treats others with anger and resentment. Selfish ambition does not consider the needs of friends, family, or strangers. Instead, jealous selfishness fights for personal advancement.
Compare that worldly behavior to the Godly wisdom described in verse 13 and you realize selfish jealousy is the opposite of humility! This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. God does not equip you with gifts of jealousy and selfishness. Jealousy and selfishness comes from the devil!
And you realize which wisdom you adopt when you compare your actions to God’s Word. You (and I) live in the world. That means, you (and I) will constantly encounter this attitude of self-promotion. That means, you (and I) will face constant temptations to adopt that attitude of self-promotion.
Little-by-little the devil curls you onto yourself, and he begins inflating this effort to protect your pride. The first step to protecting pride starts by creating a list of expectations. You crave (1) kindness and respect. You demand (2) unquestioned obedience to your wants. You expect (3) your plans to always happen! Your chief goal becomes getting your way. So, step two controls others in order to fulfill your demands. If you want your daughter’s attention, then call her. Gripe. Complain. Selfishly promote your desire for attention by questioning her commitment to you. If you’re jealous of your neighbor’s wealth, then attack him. Criticize his character. Label him ‘greedy,’ a ‘cheat,’ ‘uncaring.’ Take away his reputation so that you appear mightier in the eyes of the world. If your sibling attacks you, then hold a grudge. Stop talking— no— do not even try to make an effort to talk. Ignore her; pretend he does not exist. Selfishly refuse the need to admit your fault. Instead, force them to come to you!
You see, the devil tempts you (and me) to look inward. The sinful nature elevates itself. The world preaches to guard for your needs above anything else! That earthly sermon has been preached so long that eventually you (and I) get used to it. But God sounds the alarm: “This earthly wisdom is not from me!” If you care only about your needs, then you are embracing a wisdom that comes from the devil. You embrace a wisdom that rejects the words of others and only cares about the words of you. Left unchecked, you will eventually ignore God’s Word. Try to cover up your intentions if you want. Yet, your actions will prove if you lie and go against the truth— that in reality selfish jealousy rules the heart.
James draws a clear distinction between two kinds of wisdom. (1) One lines up with God and his Word by serving others. (2) The other partners with the devil by serving the all-important demands of self. Look up, and you will find the Real Wisdom that Comes from Above.
That ‘wisdom’ is knowing what pleases God. As you look up, you naturally stop looking at your own needs. You look up at the Son of Man who did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). He sees selfishness reign among his disciples, selfishness that only seeks self-promotion. Instead of reminding each one of his title as the Almighty, Eternal Son of God, he wears a crown of thorns. He allows nails to be pounded through his hands. He hangs from a cross while crowds turn their noses up and shake their heads, thinking themselves so much more moral than Jesus. Yet, Jesus’ perfectly moral life spills over our immorally self-seeking lives. Jesus looks so lowly on the cross, but rises in authority. He has the authority to give you a pretty powerful title as well: ‘Heir of the kingdom.’
Real Wisdom Comes from Above. Jesus has the knowledge to (1) know God’s commands. He has the understanding to (2) put those commands into perfect practice. Then he serves you. With his life, he satisfies God’s anger. With his life, he removes any need for self-promotion.
[T]he wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. From where does this wisdom come? From above. Look up and realize you own the most priceless object of all. Heaven is something you could never earn. You are not entitled to eternal life. This is a gift— won and handed to you from the most significant Person of all time. That wisdom comes down into your life from the Word, that is, the Bible. When our attentions drift from the Word, our hearts will begin drifting into worldly wisdom that only divides and destroys. Remain in the Word and gain the proper perspective for Christian living. Sow peace, reap righteousness.
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Take that verse piece-by-piece. First, you see the results: a harvest of righteousness. Imagine riding on your tractor, cutting hay, but instead of hay, you harvest righteousness (that which is ‘right’). You will gather up all this good stuff and it will benefit you. How did this “righteousness” get there? People of peace planted seeds of peace. Those who carry the peace and patience of God in their individual lives, reflect it to the world. They Sow peace with their words and actions; they reap righteousness.
Sow peace among your relationships and reap righteousness. Yes, some of you have been wronged. Relationships within your family are strained. Conversations are awkward. You feel forgotten. Thinking about your sibling makes your blood pressure rise. What do you do? Remember: Sow peace, reap righteousness.
Begin with you: identify if the anger is really valid. Are you holding grudges because your friend took something away from you, and so now you will take something away from her? “She crashed my car, so I will never forgive her!” “He called me names, I will never forget that!” “They gave me no inheritance, I will sue for something!” The world says, “Get revenge!” Your sinful nature screeches, “Make them suffer!” The devil hisses, “Get even!” That is not wisdom, that is foolishness. Holding onto grudges only sows anger; you will deal in anger and people will respond in anger. That will only make life more miserable, more lonely, more empty— and more importantly, it tarnishes the patience with which God deals with you.
So, if a grudge festers in your heart, reflect on it. If you are simply defending your pride or wrestling for control, then look up and find wisdom from above. See how God does not defend his pride, but humbles himself to die for you. See how God does not wave guilt over your head, but forgives freely. You know that wisdom. Loved by God, you love others. Sow peace in your relationships, and reap peace in relationships.
Yes, sometimes you must address a painful issue. You may have to address verbal attacks and hurtful actions. If so, remember: sow peace. You are not trying to win an argument, you are trying to win a person. Be gentle with words. Sometimes well-meaning things come out wrong. Be gentle and patient. Be wise to know some issues are better addressed another day with better opportunities.
Damage done will never be undone. Yet, your sowing of peace seeks to repair the brokenness of that damage. Sometimes hurt is put in the past— and if it is, then good! Keep it in the past! Nothing good comes from dredging up past wrongs. The only reason it will be brought up is to stoke selfish ambition. Sow peace to reap peace. Sometimes hurt festers. The other person does not listen and you recognize that. Deal with each other in peace. If anger starts simmering, then move yourself out of that situation. Keep peace by not letting anger get a foothold in you. Real Wisdom Comes from Above. Look up, and you gain motivation to sow peace and reap righteousness.
Christianity is more than just having knowledge of Bible teachings; Christianity is a lifestyle. You put Bible’s teachings into practice. Your faith inside is revealed with outside actions.
It’s not always easy to do, is it? Honestly, it’s difficult. Humility is difficult if our eyes remained locked on self-seeking interests. That’s why God gives you his Word. So that you can look up. Look up and you see what you have gained. Forgiveness and freedom from hellish consequences. Forgiveness and the freedom to live for God today. Forgiveness and freedom for eternal life. Look up and Gain proper perspective for Christian living. Motivated by God’s love for you, Sow peace, reap righteousness. You know this. You are understanding. Look up and find that Real Wisdom Comes from Above.