“The gullible believe anything they’re told;
the prudent sift and weigh every word.”
—Proverbs 14:15, The Message
“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.”
—Proverbs 16:20, ESV
To find out what a person values most, there’s little need to ask him or her. Just watch what they pursue.
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
—1 Timothy 6:11-16
Even in run-on sentences like these, Paul never uses religious jargon, and none of his words are wasted in charges like these. The weight of the words is not so much in what Timothy was to do in response. The gravity is found in who God is: the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kinds and Lord of lords,” who alone will never die (is eternal and immortal). He dwells in unapproachable light and deserves all honor. He is the perfect benevolent Monarch; no need for democracy in his kingdom, as He always gets it right and richly provides for even the least in His land.
Often we look around the room to find the most talented, successful, charismatic, and powerful person, and then almost like clockwork get set in motion trying to earn their approval. (Paul describes those kinds of people — the rich, powerful and famous — in the verses that follow.) We strive to be noticed and go to great lengths to earn distinction before that person. There’s no need to do that. Only the One described above has words weighty enough to be obeyed. Through the generosity and integrity found in His character, He can compel us to follow hard after Him. Flee the old life. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Become famous for those attributes.
(Maybe it should be called Pure Words instead. Read on.)
[John 17] Jesus is about as calm as the eye of a hurricane as He awaits an inevitable betrayal, arrest, conviction and crucifixion. So He intently goes to a familiar place to pray. An urgent conversation awaits Him. His closest friends are oblivious to the weight of the scene; the only weight they feel is their eyelids shutting as they sleep instead of watch. I would chide them expect for the fact that I would have done the same.
What Jesus prays is both shocking and re-assuring. He wrestles with the Father, resigning His will to what must be done. (For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame [Hebrews 12:1-3].) Then His prayer takes the tone of a man giving his final resolution, a battle cry of certainty. Jesus doesn’t say much after this, at least not for a few days. The risen Christ had much to say on the other side of the grave.
He had just said His peace to His betrayer, Judas, who would come onto the scene soon after this hour of prayer. Earlier, at the Last Supper, celebrating the substitution of the Passover Lamb, Jesus told His adversary to get on with what he intended to do.
What Jesus needed to say next He said to the only one who did not betray Him. Though the Father would soon turn His face away, He is the only One in Jesus’ life who would keep all His promises.
This was a moment of sweet communion and a glimpse into the most pure conversation to ever take place on planet earth. No pretense or manipulation. No one ‘winning,’ and getting his way through whining or verbal abuse. The strength of Their wills is unfathomable, their rights as Deity immeasurable. But — check this — neither asserts His rights.
Here’s what I am meditating on these days:
17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.