January 23

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible

Introduction
Reading schedule

Matthew 7:24-29; Acts 9:20-31; Psalm 18:30-36; Genesis 41

Matthew 7:24-29 proclaims one of the central tenets of Christianity: wisdom comes from the words of Jesus. Because he is God, his words guide us in wise living. Human reflection and philosophy are valuable, but the ultimate source of wisdom comes from beyond human thought. Secular philosophy wanders like a meandering river and changes as the cultural winds blow. God offers a solid foundation for our thinking because he is the Rock described in Psalm 18:30: His way in perfect; his word is flawless.

This does not mean that Christians should claim to be perfect or flawless in their views. The Bible gives guidance as we develop our views. Applying biblical ideas to current situations and issues can be difficult and requires careful thinking. Christians will differ between one another on some issues, as today’s passage in Acts 9 reveals with Saul. But when given a chance to explain ourselves, as Barnabas facilitated for Saul, we should be able to agree on many items.

Jesus also reminds his listeners that wisdom is not just about knowing his words, but it is about putting them into practice. We might know the right thing to do, but it is in doing it that we develop wisdom. Practice and experience help us learn in a deeper way the wisdom in biblical principles. We develop the confidence to act on what we believe to be right. Without that experience, we can remain unsure, wavering in our commitment to do the right thing, especially when the high road is also the hard road. It may easier to hide our convictions, or not stand up for someone. But if we have practiced the right thing, we will not be blown off course as easily.

This is exemplified by Joseph in Genesis 41. Earlier he refused to sleep with his master’s wife, in spite of her repeated advances. That landed him in jail for years. He refused to get bitter, but helped his fellow prisoners when he could. Eventually the chance arose for him to help Pharaoh. He refused to take the credit for his insight, but gave God the credit. All his time in jail must have led him to reflect on how God seeks to guide and direct, if we are willing to listen. Such an attitude helped him to continue to treat others with respect, even as he was treated with injustice. In the end, Pharaoh recognised the wisdom of Joseph as something coming from God.

We are not given a guarantee that the outcome will be as positive as for Joseph. What we are promised is that if we build our beliefs on the word of God, and put them into practice, we will have stability. In these days of being blown this way and that by the shifting sands of various philosophies, a solid foundation is highly attractive.

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