Patrick’s definition of Biblical wisdom in today’s sermon stopped me cold. Our pastor has begun preaching through the book of James in view of the many trials to befall our church family in recent months. He has sensed, rightly so, a need for us to know HOW to think properly about what God has sent.
I’ve always joked about being a member of the ‘pure joy club’ as in:
- Consider/Count it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds...James 1:2
But when you are suffering, it’s nothing to laugh about. No matter the flavor or extent of pain and difficulty, we all require good teaching and counsel in how to deal with the trials. James’ instruction, therefore, directing his listeners to ask God for wisdom in the suffering makes sense.
But here’s the new wrinkle: I had always thought that praying for wisdom meant asking for guidance in what TO DO! Today, Patrick took a different angle. He explained that the kind of wisdom we need is help in thinking correctly/truthfully about the trial. If we can’t imagine how to view this current suffering as falling into the category of ‘complete joy,’ then we are to pray for the ability to take what we know about God and his Word and apply both to our circumstances.
In essence we are begging God:
- Father, help me to understand and trust that you are working in this awful circumstance! Help me TO THINK correctly!
From THAT new definition of Biblical wisdom, it occurred to me that Knowing WHAT TO THINK is more important than knowing WHAT TO DO. And since our actions or lack of actions affect our emotional state, right knowledge must rule our feelings.
So here’s a question? In your life is your knowledge more important than your feelings?
God, speaking through the prophet Hosea, says: My people perish for lack of knowledge -Hosea 4:6
and in Isaiah 5:13, God warns: Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.
And in this teaching from Philippians 2:5, Paul counsels – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
What he means is THINK, or DIRECT YOUR MIND…about a certain topic.
A recent conversation with a close friend provides an appropriate illustration of the importance of correct thinking. This dear gal has been suffering from what I call:
ADHD – Anxiety, Despair, Hopelessness and Depression
Like all of us, she is pulled in many directions as a mom of 2 under the age of five as well as being pregnant with her third child. Her self-chosen priorities feel like burdens because of some INCORRECT thinking.
Here is one example of the unintended consequences of false ideas. Her life presupposition has been:
- I am what I do. Therefore, if I’m not doing, then I don’t exist.
In her case she has chosen to define herself as the kind of mom who:
- cooks healthy meals for her kids
- spends time reading to them and homeschooling the eldest
- exercises every day
- keeps an organized house
So when circumstances (aka God’s providence) interfere and block her ‘doing’, then she has felt herself coming undone, like she doesn’t exist.
She has been living off of, feeding on her emotions with NO input from God’s word. She truly is perishing for lack of true knowledge.
The only solution is to throw herself onto God’s mercy and ask Him for wisdom in how to think correctly, that is Biblically about her circumstances, given accurate knowledge of God’s character, ways, past rescues and promises of future grace. The right kind of knowledge trumps feelings.
Here’s one final bit of evidence that our God considers true knowledge vital.
The apostle John comforts us in the most important knowledge or reality that any Christian wants – assurance of one’s salvation. The good news is that our feelings do not enter into the facts. Listen to his words in 1 John 5:13
- These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
We all know the source of this life-giving knowledge – God’s written Word. Don’t starve! “Mangia! Mangia!” as all good Italian moms exhort! Let us taste and see that the Lord IS good. Why do you think I named this blog, “Feed on Him”?