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SOME PEOPLE WANT TO BE GREATER THAN THEY ARE; WITH GOD, WE CAN BE MORE THAN WE THOUGHT WE COULD BE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

10 SEPTEMBER 1995

By Frank L. Hoffman

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Proverbs 3:13-35
            4:1-18
John 1:3

One of our early Christian leaders was a man named Augustine, who later in life became bishop of Hippo in North Africa in the late 4th century.

As a youth, he stole some pears from a neighbor, an act he regretted for the rest of his life.

He said he stole them, not because he desired them or because they tasted good (they didn't; they were fed to the hogs), but because the act of stealing made him seem important among his fellow youths.

Reflecting back upon that time in his life, Augustine said that it was as if he could have the power of God, for he wanted to be looked up to and be important, but in the end it only brought him sorrow.

What Augustine was really looking for was to have a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, but he didn't realize it at the time, and he never felt truly fulfilled until he came to have that relationship.

This is the problem facing most of our youth today.

They don't like others making fun of them.

They want to feel important.

They want to have others look up to them.

And every youth and adult can have just that; but we have to work at it, and it only begins when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts.

Sure, some people may still tease us and make fun of us, but that will be their problem, for what they do will not hurt us, for we will know who we are and the importance God places upon us.

This is wisdom, if we are willing to acquire it.

Listen to what we are told in Proverbs, beginning at 3:13.

13. How blessed is the man [or we could say woman or youth] who finds wisdom,

And the man who gains understanding.

14. For its profit is better than the profit of silver,

And its gain than fine gold.

My wife and I have earned a fair amount of money in our lifetime, but I donít remember anyone praising us for our money.

We only seem to have received praise for the wisdom we acquired and were able to express in some form, and then pass it on to others.

And the wisdom we acquired is a gift of God; thus, any praise we received is really due to God, for Whom we are both grateful.

And Wisdom is for every one of us, if we are willing to receive her.

15. She is more precious than jewels;

And nothing you desire compares with her.

16. Long life is in her right hand;

In her left hand are riches and honor.

17. Her ways are pleasant ways,

And all her paths are peace.

Some people think they have to be mean and ruthless in order to be seen as important.

But really important people always take the pathway of peace and love.

Who is more important than Jesus?

All His ways were peace and love.

18. She [Wisdom] is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,

And happy are all who hold her fast.

19. The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;

By understanding He established the heavens.

20. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up,

And the skies drip with dew.

We are told in John 1:3, "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

Thus we could conclude that Wisdom and Jesus are One and the same.

21. My son, let them [wisdom and knowledge] not depart from your sight;

Keep sound wisdom and discretion,

22. So they will be life to your soul,

And adornment to your neck.

23. Then you will walk in your way securely,

And your foot will not stumble.

24. When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

25. Do not be afraid of sudden fear,

Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;

26. For the Lord will be your confidence,

And will keep your foot from being caught.

Do you hear what we are told?

The Lord will be our confidence, if we seek Him.

This is true confidence.

This is true security.

This is true comfort and satisfaction.

But, as we mentioned last week, such status requires our responsibility.

27. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

When it is in your power to do it.

28. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back,

And tomorrow I will give it,"

When you have it with you.

29. Do not devise harm against your neighbor,

While he lives in security beside you.

30. Do not contend with a man without cause,

If he has done you no harm.

31. Do not envy a man of violence,

And do not choose any of his ways.

People only behave this way when they feel inferior to someone else, and they falsely think that such evil acts make them important; but all it does is let others know how small and unimportant they really are.

32. For the crooked man is an abomination to the Lord;

But He is intimate with the upright.

33. The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,

But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.

34. Though He scoffs at the scoffers,

Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

35. The wise will inherit honor,

But fools display dishonor.

Wisdom lets us understand these truths.

But without wisdom, we become as nothing.

Proverbs 4:1-17 says,

1. Hear, O sons [and daughters], the instruction of a father,

And give attention that you may gain understanding,

2. For I give you sound teaching;

Do not abandon my instruction.

3. When I was a son to my father,

Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,

4. Then he taught me and said to me,

"Let your heart hold fast my words;

Keep my commandments and live;

5. Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!

Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

Not every father and mother teaches sound wisdom, nor does every teacher; but built into each and every one of us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the power to discern the truth.

If something doesn't make sense, if it is not loving and compassionate, if it is different from what the Bible teaches, it is not true wisdom.

Parents, teachers, we have a grave responsibility. Do not forsake it.

God has given us the power to acquire true wisdom and knowledge. When you have acquired it, live there, and pass it on.

6. "Do not forsake her [wisdom], and she will guard you;

Love her, and she will watch over you.

7. "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;

And with all your acquiring, get understanding.

8. "Prize her, and she will exalt you;

She will honor you if you embrace her.

9. "She will place on your head a garland of grace;

She will present you with a crown of beauty."

It's all true for those who are willing to listen.

10. Hear, my son, and accept my sayings,

And the years of your life will be many.

11. I have directed you in the way of wisdom;

I have led you in upright paths.

12. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;

And if you run, you will not stumble.

13. Take hold of instruction; do not let go.

Guard her, for she is your life.

14. Do not enter the path of the wicked,

And do not proceed in the way of evil men.

15. Avoid it, do not pass by it;

Turn away from it and pass on.

This is sound advice.

Don't think you're so strong that playing around evilness cannot affect you, for it can.

Stay away from it and from the people who live in it.

16. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil;

And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.

17. For they eat the bread of wickedness,

And drink the wine of violence.

18. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,

That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

Not too long ago, a youth came to me, and he was very sad because his animal companion had died.

He loved that little creature, and he missed him very much.

Yet the father of this youth takes his sons hunting, to take the life of another creature who is also loved.

My beloved, do not destroy the tears of our youth by making them hard of heart, for violence of any kind only leads to more violence and to more pain and suffering.

And where there is violence, Wisdom cannot abide.

The sensitivity of a young child is the light of the world.

It is this unconditional loving and compassionate nature that is the basis for making us more than we thought we could be.

It is this quality that can make one into a truly great person.

Do not try to put this light out.

Instead, help it get brighter and brighter.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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