The Bible tells us about two craftsmen named Bezalel and Oholiab, Israelites given the work of creating finely-made furniture and utensils for use in the brand-new Old Testament tabernacle. What an honor to design and build things for the nation’s first structure in which God would meet with His people. If it were me, I’d be worried that my work would not be good enough building such precious items to be used for centuries. But these two men didn’t have to rely totally on their own ingenuity. God “filled them with the Spirit in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:1-11) Perhaps they had been trained in Egypt as craftsmen, which would be an asset. Nevertheless, they turned to God for help and insight. They succeeded.
Sometimes we are faced with tasks that seem too big for us, and we wonder if we can muster the skills we need to do them well. God may not give you special abilities from the Holy Spirit in the same way He did for these two men, but we can turn to Him for help and wisdom. In this way we can become adequate.
Later in the Bible, the apostle Paul spoke of this in regard to preaching. “And such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5) Some men may earn impressive degrees to hang on their walls, and others may boast of great accomplishments in far-flung places, but they may not really be adequate in service to God. Degrees and experience may help, but real adequacy comes when someone humbly turns to God for help and wisdom. This is the secret of confidence and skill in the kingdom.
Got big things to tackle? Take a lesson from Bezalel and Oholiab.
– Tim Johnson
As we struggle to live in a morally loose society, we need the examples of great men and women to encourage us. James pointed out that the prophets of the past serve in this way. “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:10) Many prophets come to mind: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. All of them lived exemplary lives in difficult circumstances. Many other great prophets are mentioned, but we don’t even know their names.
In our Sunday a.m. Bible class, we have been reminded of the difficult life of Daniel. He quickly gained the respect of Babylonian kings. Belshazzar said of him, “…illumination, insight, and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you.” (Dan.5:14) When Daniel’s enemies attempted to find some condemning flaw in his life, “they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.” (6:4)
Here is the amazing thing about these prophets: while they were well known as great, godly people, at the same time they were despised and hated. They suffered violence and attempts on their lives. Yet they insisted on living righteous lives in their difficult surroundings. It would only be until future generations that they would be acknowledged for their patience and godliness, as James and Jesus later testified (James 5:10; Matt.5:12).
So, what is the lesson for us today? While it may be useless to live in an upright manner when nobody around us seems to care, God cares; people you may not know may care; people of the future may look back and care. Above all else, you are to care. Like the prophets of old, you are to live your life the way God wants it lived, not to please everyone around you.
This may be hard to do, but when has it ever been easy?
– Tim Johnson
A photographer decided to travel the world and find the oldest living people, recording their wisdom in a book. He interviewed about 50 “supercentenarians,” people 110 years old or more. While he certainly found some wise people – such as a 110-year old Tibetan who earned a university degree at 106, has all his teeth, and has never seen a doctor in his life – many others have been a disappointment.
One would think that the extremely old would have learned some profound things, but great age does not guarantee great wisdom. Genesis 4-5 briefly records the lives of the world’s longest living people, few of which were wise or godly. By Noah’s day, when men still lived at least 300 years, man was so selfish and untrustworthy God said, “I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen. 6:7)
I’ve met many people who’ve lived longer than most, but they made such a mess of their lives they ended up miserable, vengeful, and alone. But it’s a treat to know elderly Christians who’ve spent their days serving Jesus, and then ended their lives with sweet attitudes. What makes some people very wise and happy, yet others become foolish and pitiful?
To put it simply, the godliest people among us have literally given their lives away. They decided early in life to obey the gospel of Christ and spent decades serving Him. They have a sense that their lives could end at any time, and they want to serve as best they can for as long as they have. Didn’t James tell us this in Jas. 4:14? Instead of striving for the longest life possible, which can be rather selfish, it’s better to make the best of the time we do have.
Setting healthy goals is a wise strategy for life. What excellent and noble goals do you have to make this year the best possible? Why not decide to encourage people; be more thankful; urge people to consider Jesus Christ; tell the elders they’re doing a good job; be a giver, even if you don’t have much; pray daily for the church; maybe even prepare for leadership?
You don’t have to be extremely old to be wise. God can help you start right now.
– Tim Johnson
Real wisdom is misunderstood today. Many think it exists only in the realm of aged people, impossible to have while young. Wisdom is mocked by those who live impulsive lives. Some think it can be attained by education alone.
One is considered wise if he can offer sound financial advice, legal expertise, or even counsel the jobless. It’s as if wisdom is equated with skill alone. But a person skilled in one area is often foolish in another. A respected TV personality, known as a sage, made a mess of his marriage and saw his personal life collapse. As Jesus said, “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Mt.11:19). Wisdom is more than skill.
How can one really be wise and at the same time deny that God exists? The writer of Proverbs said in his very first chapter, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (v7). True wisdom involves dependence on God.
The Scriptures come down very hard on the wisdom of the world. Paul said, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor.1:20). Therefore, one must consult with God before he can enjoy real wisdom.
James declared, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (1:5). God is pleased to bless anyone with wisdom, and He doesn’t tire of our requests for it. Young king Solomon requested it when God offered to give him what he wished. Instead of asking for greatness, he knew he needed wisdom to rule the kingdom well. God gave it to him, and greatness too.
Develop skills and insights that will help you in life. But each of us needs to get down on our knees and ask God for real wisdom.
In a single verse Luke describes the 30-year upbringing of John the Baptist: “And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Luke 1:80). Nothing is said of the hard work of his parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth. But those of us who are parents know there is a world of work in that verse!
What an unusual child he was. His father had been told of John’s future work as the forerunner of Jesus, and that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” (v15). Knowing this, how did they take their newborn baby and raise him to become such a great preacher, as God wanted? He must have prayed every day for wisdom, and talked with his son regularly of what God had in mind. They lived in the hill country of Judah (v39), and it was in these deserted areas that John lived. He became a rugged outdoorsman and could exist by foraging. He would need these skills later in life because he would preach to crowds away from towns and cities.
We must admire his parents – both of whom were senior citizens – for their fine work raising John. They challenge us to work hard and sacrifice to raise our own children wisely, teaching them about Jesus Christ and what they can accomplish for God in this world. Our work doesn’t end when they move out on their own; they will need us for advice and encouragement for decades to come.
Years ago a teacher in Europe was asked why he bowed down to his students before class every day. He said one never knows who they will become.