Monday, September 14, 2009

Where Does Wisdom Start?

Do you crave wisdom? Have you ever wished that you were wise so people would come to you for your sage advice? Have you ever thought about what it is that makes people wise? Is it the number of our years here that makes us wiser than those who are many years younger and haven’t experienced the things we have?
Wisdom speaks to us from the first chapter of Proverbs and is a little miffed that no one pays any attention to her. Can you understand what that feels like? It’s a little bit like when we used to try and teach our children by telling them what they should and shouldn’t do and they didn’t seem to hear what we were saying. They went ahead and did the very things we warned them against. It was pretty frustrating. So you can understand why Wisdom is so perturbed that no one is paying her any attention as she tries to warn people about what they’re doing with their lives. It’s as if their ears were plugged up like the deaf man in last week’s gospel lesson.
I suppose God feels that way most of the time with us. We let his words of wisdom go in one ear and out the other. We do what he wants as long as it fits into our plans. God must be pretty frustrated with us. Doesn’t that worry you, just a little? It does me and I think it should everyone else.
There quite a few folks in the world today who have a very high opinion of themselves. They spout words of wisdom all over the place, in newspapers, on television, on the radio, and now on the internet in blogs, live videos, you tube, Tangle, twitter, Facebook, and text messages on cell phones. Wisdom is just zipping through the Ethernet. With so much wisdom flying through the air we should all be so stinking wise that we could solve all the issues in the world just like that. Right?
I don’t think it works that way but there are quite a number of people who think they have all the answers to the problems of the world.
There is power in language. And that’s what James is warning people about in his third chapter. He’s talking about the tongue but words are what the tongue creates. It puts the words together to make sentences and puts sentences together to make paragraphs and paragraphs create books, and voila, words of wisdom are right there in front of our eyes.
But is it really wisdom. Is everything heard and read true? Even if it’s true is it always necessary for everyone to hear it or read it? Some would have you think so.
James urges his readers to use caution. For something as small and seemingly as useless looking as our tongue it’s amazing how much trouble and grief it can cause. When used without restraint it can do more damage than the fires in California.
I imagine there are many of you sitting here this morning who could give examples of how words have hurt or destroyed you. Or maybe you have never been hurt but you could give us examples of how words have lifted you back up from the pit you had fallen into. These simple letters that are put together to make words are way more powerful than many people imagine.
Jesus is called the Word, Logos, by John. God created everything when he spoke the Word. The sun, moon, stars, planets, the whole universe was created out of the chaos when God spoke the word.
Jesus used words to teach the disciples who walked with him in Galilee. He used words to tell stories, to ask questions, and to heal people.
The question is do we use words to build up or to destroy human lives? Do we share the powerful wisdom of the good news of Jesus Christ with our family and friends and neighbors? How do we use our tongues?
When folks hear us speak can they tell that we are Christians? What do our tongues say about us? Do they tell people who Jesus is? Do they show love to others by the words that roll off them? Are the words that come from our tongues words of wisdom or are they the sparks that ignite fires that cause catastrophic damage before they can be extinguished?
Friends, there is so much to chew on in these words from scripture today, wisdom, language, the Messiah. What do people say about you? Who are you?
Who do you say Jesus is? How do you speak about him to those you meet? Peter got it right when he said Jesus was the Messiah but in the next instant he spoke words that caused doubt within the group of disciples. And Jesus rebuked him.
Our words can do so much good one minute and cause so much harm the next. If we would always keep that thought in our minds we would save ourselves so much grief.
There is wisdom and power in words. That’s the reason we all need to be very careful how we use them.
As technology continues to progress faster than thought we move further into an age of disinformation as well as information. Think about how many different emails you receive warning you about one thing or another that prove not to be true. They are just works of fiction that people send out there to cause people to worry and fret.
Everything that’s written is not the gospel. Everything you hear spoken is not the gospel. The good news is God loved us enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for us and defeat death by rising from the grave. The good news is God still cares. Jesus is our intercessor who prays for us and stands in for us with all the right words all the time. The good news is we are forgiven for all the sins we have committed and for those we will commit through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
The true power is in Jesus, the Word that gives life to all who hear it and believe. There is wisdom in the living Word.
You are wise if you hear, read, pray, and live the Word every day. And share that wisdom with those God sends your way everyday.
Thanks be to God for his gracious inspiring Words. Amen.

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