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WISDOM WILL LEAD US SAFELY ALONG THE PATHWAY OF LIFE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

11 SEPTEMBER 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Proverbs 1:20-33
Matthew 7:13-14
James 1:2-8

Over the past several weeks we have done quite a bit of discussing about how God encourages our Christian growth; but beyond His encouragement, there is a responsibility on our part to work at it.

Many people fool themselves into thinking that they have no responsibility to God, and many even go so far as to deny the existence of either evil or hell.

That is what our preparation verses for this morning (Matthew 7:13-14) are speaking about.

13. "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.

14. "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

In these verses is a simple key to help us understand a fundamental difference between good and evil, and heaven and hell.

If something in our lives is destructive to either ourselves, other people, the animals, or the environment, it leads to the ultimate destruction.

If everything is our way of life respects and preserves all life, whether human or non-human, it leads to eternal life.

All we have to do is look around us, or read a paper, or watch and listen to a broadcast, and we can see why the path to destruction is so broad, for very few people seem to be walking on the path that leads to eternal life.

Another of the passages of Scripture that tells us how to find the correct pathway is Proverbs 1:20-33.

Let's take a look at the passage.

20. Wisdom shouts in the street,

She lifts her voice in the square;

Note the female attribute being attributed to God. The Wisdom of God is expressed in the female gender.

And the Wisdom of God shouts out everywhere and to everyone, whether or not they choose to listen.

21. At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;

At the entrance of the gates in the city, she utters her sayings:

Then even more pointedly She cries out to those who haven't previously listened, or to those who slipped away after other pursuits.

22. "How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity?

And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing,

And fools hate knowledge?

23. "Turn to my reproof,

Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;

I will make my words known to you.

Note the loving forgiveness of God's call for those who respond, but also note the judgment for those who don't.

24. "Because I called, and you refused;

I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention;

25. And you neglected all my counsel,

And did not want my reproof;

26. I will even laugh at your calamity;

I will mock when your dread comes,

God's laugh and mock is more of a sob and an "I told you so!” than anything else; for God desires to lose no one, but that all would come to repentance.

But if He also accepted the unrighteous and unrepentant, He wouldn’t be just to the righteous who have repented and sought with all their heart and soul to serve God.

27. When your dread comes like a storm,

And your calamity comes on like a whirlwind,

When distress and anguish come on you.

28. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;

They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me,

29. Because they hated knowledge,

And did not choose the fear of the Lord.

30. "They would not accept my counsel,

They spurned all my reproof.

31. "So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way,

And be satiated with their own devices.

In other words, we reap what we sow, either for good or for evil. And there comes a time of no return, when God says, “I’ve had enough.”

32. "For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them,

And the complacency of fools shall destroy them.

33. "But he who listens to me shall live securely,

And shall be at ease from the dread of evil."

If we are willing, Wisdom will lead us safely along the pathway of life.

All over the world there are people who, for one reason or another, have chosen to reject Wisdom, and live in the Peace of Jesus Christ.

Many of these people are even of a Christian background.

One such case is that of the people of the former Yugoslavia. The Slavs and Croats are "Christian" societies.

Yet because of past hatreds and fears, they fought with each other and with the Moslems of Bosnia.

In Rwanda, Africa, which was considered a haven of Christianity, the same thing happened after the assassination of their president.

And from reports coming from witnesses of the carnage, many of those killing their fellow countrymen were Christians, even some Christian leaders in the church.

What happened to these people?

First of all, they never really had the Wisdom of God within them.

For if they had God’s Wisdom, their love would have overcome their fears and hatreds.

They would have forgiven other peoples’ past sins, as Jesus Christ forgives us.

They would not have lost their joy under trial, as James tells us in 1:2-4:

2. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

They lacked a whole lot.

And because they lacked a whole lot spiritually, they lost almost everything physically.

They chose the path of destruction, and rejected the path of love and life.

Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives.

For what? Their pride?

Such carnage is never excusable.

And, as a very important side note, the carnage being inflicted upon billions of farmed animals every year is not excusable, either.

We need to learn to live in peace and harmony with the whole of creation.

Then in verses 5-8, James picks up on what our Proverb passage was talking about.

5. 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.

6. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

7. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

8. being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Those people obviously lacked Wisdom.

And they equally obviously were double-minded.

For while professing Christ, they would not receive or pass on His love and compassion.

They sought revenge, and thus brought destruction for themselves.

But what does all of this have to do with us?

What can we do to stop their carnage?

Unfortunately, the answer is very little, other than praying.

But we can learn a whole lot from their and our past mistakes.

Not very long ago, in historical time, we fought the bloodiest war this nation has ever experienced.

Our Civil War was a war between Christians, fighting over hatreds and fears and bigotry.

And even today, I don't believe I go more than a week without hearing people express their fears of other people, through bigoted gossip and unfounded hatreds.

Some of these people are even church-going Christians.

It is here that we must make a stand.

It is here that we can hopefully make a difference.

It is here that we are to call upon Wisdom to lead us.

It is here that we, who know the difference, can and must be seen as the Christians Jesus Christ died to make us.

It is here that the pathway of life begins.

So let us examine ourselves:

Is Wisdom part of my life?

Do I take a stand against the destructive nature of the world around us, or do I support it in some way?

What pathway am I walking on?

Do others outside the church see me as the Christian I show myself to be in the church?

Do I need to do some changing in my life?

And if any of us are not doing as we should be doing, if any of us lacks wisdom, then call upon God to send His Wisdom to guide and lead us.

For God's Wisdom will surely lead us safely along the pathway of life.

And perhaps many of today's scoffers and naive and foolish ones will follow with us.

The choice is ours.

Let us pray!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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