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(Part 39)


February 17, 2020

Today’s readings:
James 1:1-11
Psalm 119:67-68,71-72,75-76
Mark 8:11-13

The words of God give us wisdom. God’s wisdom shows us the way to build our house on Rock. Since this is what God wants to happen in our lives, He does give us wisdom. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.” (Jas 1:5). God wants us to live our lives for Him and in Him, and He will certainly show us the way to go.

But this should not just be a mindless or rote asking. Rather, it must be about complete belief and trust in God. “But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.” (Jas 1:6). The one who does not listen to nor act on God’s words is buffeted by the wind and the waters. It is the same for the one who doubts God’s words. His house will not stand. “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:7). We cannot both believe and not believe. We cannot put our faith in God’s words but still doubt. We cannot build our house on both rock and sand.

Then there are those who want to believe, but who also want some kind of proof or sign. This was the way of the Pharisees, who argued with Jesus, “seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.” (Mk 8:11). To have to seek a sign is in effect not to believe in the testimony of God’s words, or to doubt those words. What we need to do is to recognize that God has spoken to His people and believe His words as contained in His word, the Bible. To seek a sign is to test God, and who are we to test God? So Jesus rightly rebuffed the Pharisees. “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mk 8:12). Rightly so.

God has already given us His words and His laws. We just need to listen to and act on them, in complete faith. Now what we need and should ask for is wisdom. “You are good and do what is good; teach me your statutes.” (Ps 119:68).

Now here is one major way by which we get to understand God’s commands and ways. It is through suffering and affliction. “It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes.” (Ps 119:71). Why is that so? Well, the cross was the chosen way of the Father for His Son, to win salvation for the world. It is the same path for us as well. Further, the cross makes us think not in terms of worldly concepts and values, but on God’s inscrutable ways, which are oftentimes totally contradictory to the wisdom of the world. When God allows us to suffer, that is already the way to godly wisdom. “For you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jas 1:3-4). Let testing by affliction lead you to be founded on Rock.

If this is so, then such affliction should bring us joy. Here we again see the difference between human and godly wisdom. In the world, if we are afflicted, we are sad and dejected. In the Lord, when we are afflicted, we rejoice. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials” (Jas 1:2). What is the wisdom here? “I know, Lord, that your judgments are righteous; though you afflict me, you are faithful.” (Ps 119:75). We know that God is faithful and will always be there for us. Whatever He allows to happen in our lives will be right for us. We also know that He is good and merciful, and promises to be with us to sustain and strengthen us. “May your mercy comfort me in accord with your promise to your servant.” (Ps 119:76).

So to be founded on Rock is to listen to and act on God’s words. We put our faith in God and on His words, which give us wisdom. Let us wholeheartedly seek out and value God’s words. “The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.” (Ps 119:72).

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