The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

Psalm 111: 10

 

This verse from Psalm 111 starts off with one of the most repeated expressions of faith that is found in the Old Testament; it means that it is essential to have a level of respect, reverence, and awe for God. This is an attitude that recognizes the Lord as the foundation, the creative initiator, of all that stands up over time as wise in this universe. We can not hope to think, believe, and act wisely if we do not begin to look toward God as the one who brings true wisdom into clear view and focus.

 

The Lord wants us to model after His approach to acting on this wisdom; for, He is never still, silent, or absent; God is continually engaged with His Creation, and He is especially involved with His people. Likewise, God wants us to seek wisdom; then, He wants us to use it. I believe that the concept of commandments as expressed here is much broader than any formalized list. It seems to me that everything that the Lord has told us about living in His Word, through His Spirit, and by the gathered understanding that is developed by His body equates to God’s commandments.  We are to be people who seek to act wisely from God’s point of view, and we are to be people who demonstrate His wisdom in this world through the way that we fearlessly love others.

 

People who know the Lord intimately and follow Him passionately bring great joy to God’s heart, for they bring Him into daily contact with multitudes of others, and they are tangible sources of the sort of loving wisdom that everyone needs in order to live in peace and with real joy. This is an important part of the process that God uses to be bring about the redemption of the lost in our world. The greatest form of worship that we can give to God is expressed by lives that are lived in a state of actively seeking His wisdom in and for all things. We enter in sincere worship and express true praise to the Lord when we take that wisdom and make it the foundation of the way that we engage with and treat others just as Jesus commanded us to do.

 

And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17

 

We live in a world that seems to understand distance a lot better than it does intimacy. Some of our strongest cultural aspirations involve striving for total independence, gaining control of our own destiny, and becoming strong individuals. Although there is value to be found in the self development that is at the center of this process, and each person should set goals to pursue, too many of us also make ourselves the central focus of this effort and lose sight of the importance of caring for and of serving our community. Also, as we do this we move away from Christ and His central role in making real strength possible.

 

The sort of strength that can withstand the forces that come at us in life is not found individually, and although people seek after security and economic advantage through national treaties and alliances, these are doomed to the failure that mistrust and self-interest create. Christ provides us with the only effective answer to all of the need for community that we have, for He works in the depths of our souls to transformatively change us. This newness that Christ brings about is neither temporal so that its solely external quality is readily washed away by the tides of fortune, nor is it temporary so that it can be set aside when the current situation becomes less comfortable. Christ changes us into beings who are more like Him, and He desires to bring people into the committed relational unity of His body.

 

When we are not at peace with others in the body of Christ, we need to seek the Lord’s wisdom, understanding, and insight into the causes for the distance. Then, we should seek to move together to resolve the differences. As long as we are staying close to Christ and are following His will, there is no room for discord in His family. This doesn’t mean that we will all agree on everything, for we are created to think and to hold our positions passionately, but it does mean that we need to be able to love and to care for and about each other absolutely regardless of these differences. Christ takes each of us from where we have been in life, and He moves us together, and the rallying point for that coming together is Christ, Himself.

 

 

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 26: 24-26

 

These are words that God instructed Moses to convey to his brother Aaron so that the priests of Israel could repeat them in the form of a regular blessing pronounced upon the people. The thoughts contained here are an expression of God’s enduring desire to bless His people with a quality of life that is deeply and profoundly good. This is a short statement about the result that we will enjoy when we live lives that are committed to Christ and that are focused upon following His will.

 

That is not to say that these words contain a magic formula or an incantation that will bring about a perfect life. In fact, the problem with the absence of perfection in this life is found in our own lack of understanding of what God views as such. If that optimal state is to be achieved through health, finances, family, status, or other external and temporary means, then these are not specifically included in God’s definition of a life well lived. Although God may grant any or all of these things to us out of His love and grace, none of them are essential to His blessing of our lives. The Lord simply sees things differently than we generally do.

 

God looks upon the way that we live and upon the attitudes that fill our hearts. He hears the thoughts that our minds form, and He knows the intent behind our actions. He also counts to our favor the times that we thought angry or fearful thoughts, held them close inside as we listened to His Spirit’s counsel, and spoke words of love and understanding instead. God does seek to bless the moments of our days with the peace and the joy of His unceasing presence. Our part in making His presence real and tangible comes by way of continually surrendering our wills to Him, meditating upon His word, prayerfully seeking the Lord’s wisdom and understanding, and responding to Christ’s call to love all as He does.