Thursday, 11/11/21 – Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470 BC–399 BC) is credited with the comment, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Enduring wisdom to which many present day scholars and philosophers agree. Even actor Dwayne Johnson, double negatives aside, notes, “The one thing that I keep learning over and over again is that I don’t know nothing. I mean, that’s my life lesson.”

To both Socrates and Johnson the “one thing” that was primary was this intellectual humility. Others hold other “one things” in top spot as the following quotations demonstrate.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…” – Neil Gaiman
“…the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education.” – Michelle Obama
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” – Jerry Seinfeld
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.” – Barbara Jordan
Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.” – J. Edgar Hoover
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a cruel, cruel world.” – Danny DeVito
“I think one thing I’ve learned over the years is just that you’re not going to ever please everyone, and the most important person to please is yourself.” – Jeremy Scott
“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” – Ryan Gosling

Well OK, some of these may have been spoken with tongue in cheek, but they do reveal something about the individual. Jesus also recommended “one thing” as primary above all others. He demonstrated it in His lifestyle, habits, and ministry, and it reveals very much about His character and the kind of people He longs for each of us to become.

He shared this priority with Martha: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” He told her, adding “Mary has discovered it” (Luke 10:42, NLT). What was it? It was what Mary was doing… what she had set as her Number One focus: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught” (v. 39).

Elsewhere in scripture Jesus urged “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38). Even prior to this He commanded “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Socrates was condemned to death for his method of questioning. Jesus became “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.” (Rev. 13:8) so that we could once again know Him as we ought. The Apostle Paul made “to know Him” his one great quest (see Phil. 3:13), and so may you.

Press on…

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Monday, 5/31/21 – Pressing on… Gracious You!

Gracious You!

Merriam Webster gives no less than 17 definitions and sub-definitions for the noun “Grace,” but for the Christian one simple 2-word definition will suffice: “unmerited favour.” God’s grace toward us is demonstrated in this, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). And because of this grace to us, we ought extend grace to others.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15, KJV)

As Christ is gracious in bringing salvation to we who do not deserve it through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, so we ought to be gracious in kindnesses toward others who by their behaviour and attitudes do not merit it. We must be diligent in this, not allowing a fleshly bitterness toward them to creep up and take root in us, but remembering that they too are lost souls for whom Christ died – and that now we are the only arms of His grace upon this earth through whom He can yet reach out to them.

Not only for their sake do we guard ourselves, but also for our own, for bitterness can defile our own hearts too. As Solomon warned by the superior wisdom God gave him, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23, NKJV).

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Prov. 4:23, NIV

God has every right to be bitter against us. He created us, gave us paradise, and forbad us only one thing. But we spat in His face, defied Him and did that one thing. He ousted us, for He had no choice. God is light and cannot mix with darkness. Light is what it is, and by its nature must disperse all darkness; God’s very Presence expelled us.

But God is also Gracious. Though banishing us He must, still He makes a way for us. He sends Christ among us, within those who will give Him entry, and He illuminates us. He makes us light again, that immediately we may rejoin our Maker… He gives us also promise of a new Paradise… an eternal communion.

In the prologue of his gospel John writes, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (John 1:16, NIV), ”grace for grace” as the KJV has it. To the humble of heart* God gushes grace, fills us…. overflows us. From that overflow we are to extend His grace to others. To refuse, carries a fearful consequence. The author of Hebrews continues…

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29).

More tomorrow…

 * see James 4:6.

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.