Monday, September 7, 2015

An Excellent Spirit

"He that hath knowledge spareth his words: 
and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit." 
Proverbs 17:27

   Have you ever wondered how Joseph could keep his attitude right all through being hated and completely rejected by his own brothers, sold as a slave because of their pride and greediness; then thrown in prison after being falsely accused and given no fair trial and then forgotten by his only hope of release before he arrived to the position of being second in command over all Egypt? 
 How could Moses lead that whole throng of griping and complaining people through the wilderness for forty years and still have the patience enough to intreat the Lord to spare their lives multiple times when God, Himself, was ready to start over again? 
 What about Daniel? We talk about things getting bad here in America, but Daniel was a captive. None of his family, that we know of, was there with him, probably because they were all killed. He went through four complete government hand-overs and then was thrown in the lion's den because of a rash law that was made... And still, he was known throughout all the kingdom as a man of an excellent spirit!

   We all dream about having that perfect disposition of a big sister who is adored by all who see her, or of that big sister who "never gets in trouble"; the unaffected attitude that can easily roll with the punches, or that we can talk to any time of day about anything and receive encouraging, unassuming guidance and exhortation. And nothing is so inspiring than seeing a person who is of an excellent spirit despite the chaos and troubles around. What exactly is it that makes that so idealistically attracting? And why does it seem forever unattainable?

   The reason is this: satan is the father of lies and he is so cunning in deceiving us into believing that every good and perfect gift is completely out of our reach, and we've already blown it anyways... therefore there's no hope even trying to match up and amount to anything in our own family. True success can only happen "out there". So, may as well send our siblings on their way (because they won't listen to us anyway) and not weary ourselves over trying to meet their criteria of being a big sister to them. 

   But before we get too caught up in that train of thought, let's take a moment to consider a few things: If we are born again into the kingdom of Christ, redeemed by His atoning death on the cross and received into the family of God as heirs of God through Christ, then He has given us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these [we] might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (1 Peter 1:3b-4). We have been given the grace and strength to soar above the "normal" state of captivity into the marvelous freedom of walking with Christ. As our relationship with Him is strengthened, so will be the other relationships He brings into our lives and He will take us by the hand and teach us to nurture them as He nourishes us.

   That's a mouthful to read, and a stake to chew on, so let's take a deeper look into how our relationship with Christ affects our relationships with others. We really do desire to have strong, thriving relationships with those He has placed in our lives, and we do long to be the sisters we know we ought to be, but where do we start?       

     If you are familiar with gardening, you would recognize this term as essential to the strength of all plants: The root system. This is what obtains the majority of nutrients and gives the plant stability. In our lives, the tap-root in this root system to spiritual growth is the fear of the Lord:

 "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28:28)

 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: 
but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

   The fear of the Lord is not being scared of God. Imagine that you were suddenly placed on a tight-rope walk 200 feet in the air, with nothing more than a small cord connecting you to the anchor rope that extended above where you stood. Some may identify more than others, but consider that you had a fear of heights. Would it be the high rope you stood upon that made you afraid? No; your fear of heights would not be directed at the place of hight, but at the ground. You would be afraid of even thinking of the possibility of slipping from where you were anchored and crashing in a devastating heap on the hard ground situated quite opposite from your perch. So is one that has the fear of God. She is not scared of God, but rather shudders at even the thought of slipping away from Him, for she knows that her life would surely end in destruction. 

   So, how do I get the fear of God? Take heed to the words of the wisest man on earth, King Solomon: 

 "My [daughter], if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."  (Proverbs 2:1-5)

   You must come to the place of knowing that you don't have it all put together, and you must set your heart to seek Him with everything in you. You must purposefully search for God. Then, you must soften your heart to hear what He says. And when you have found Him and have made Him your hearts abode, then He will teach you what it is to walk in a manner that will glorify Him and edify others--He will instruct you in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. 

   These three sisters -- Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge -- are the three keys that open the door to having flourishing relationships with others. And having them will enable us to be people of excellent spirits. In the next three posts, we will be covering each of these three keys individually, and asking God to open our eyes and hearts to see others the way He sees them. He is the giver of life, therefore He holds the secrets of how to live it. 

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;
and he will show them his covenant." (Psalm 25:14)

"For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path." (Proverbs 2:6-9)     

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