Thursday, June 29, 2006

God-Given Wisdom? Or Not?

I found a really good article through a post link by SharperIron. Matt Walker takes issue with blogs and, as SharperIron points out, "The internet is basically a two-edged sword with the ability to both harm and help."

That may be quite true, but isn't it true of most kinds of communication in this world? The difference in the blogosphere is that people of differing opinions, beliefs, and worldviews can post and counter what the original authors have written. Previously, all that the general public could do to combat the liberal media bias was write 200 word letters (which may or may not get published), submit guest columns to newspapers (which may or may not be published) or, the most unproductive method of all, yell at their T.V. screens. Blogs have opened up a new kind of communications world that previously was severely lacking for the average, every-day American.

As I look forward to attending this year's GodBlog Conference 2006 in August, I recall that how Christians communicate in the blogosphere was front and center in many panel discussions last year. I came away with the view that if we worried about everything that we say (as Christian Godbloggers), then we probably would end up writing nothing! Is there such a thing as the perfect Godblogger? Of course not. However, Matt Walker shares some tips that we could all keep in mind to help us do a better job of representing Jesus Christ, the gospel, and His Word, the Bible.

Matt writes:

Thinking about this more in depth I personally counted four concerns I have over the nature of blogging as it stands now.

Posts are limited in their ability to communicate. What is lost in translation is the nuances of facial expression and vocal pitch. I have friends who might call me a moron (and they would be joking . . . I hope) to my face and I wouldn’t think anything about it because I can see their face and hear their voice. Posts do not give us that luxury. One is forced to read into the words and give the writer the benefit of the doubt.

Posts shroud the age and respectability of the writer. One thing that is virtually lost in a blog is the age of the writer and therefore the respect that should be afforded a post. I know some older men who have posted on blogs only to have their comments dismissed out of hand by much younger men who “know better.” That is a serious concern to me. We would not do that to their face but are willing to do that on a blog.

Posts offer instant responses. The lesson of being slow to speak is almost completely lost on a blog. How many times I remember my father’s advice about writing a letter, especially one that was critical. “Let it sit overnight and then re-read it in the morning. If you still feel that way then send it.” Usually, when following that sound advice, I destroyed the letter the next day. That is a much harder principle to follow when blogging.

Posts offer an atmosphere of much talking and little listening. Reading through a blogroll I am astounded by how many posts demonstrate that the original post text was not actually read. The sheer number of people talking is overwhelming. I wonder if anyone is actually listening.

These four concerns forced me to turn to Scripture for help. I immediately sought out the advice of Pastor James. His book on Spiritual Maturity seems like a bottomless well offering the best on the subject of how to deal with the blogosphere.

James offers his theme of spiritual maturity in 1:4 and closes his first chapter with three tests of maturity (in case any thought he had arrived) 1:26-27—the controlled tongue, compassion on the less fortunate, and separateness from worldliness. Chapter 2 lays out the arguments for the second of these tests. Chapter 3 lays out the arguments regarding the first test on the tongue. James says that the spiritually mature Christian will have a controlled tongue (which principles obviously apply to the blogosphere).

I like what James says about his own struggles in this area (3:2).

I also like his picturesque illustrations—the horse’s bit and the ship’s rudder, the fire and the poisonous animal, and the fountain and the tree. We find in vs. 3-4 the tongue’s power to direct; in vs. 5-8 the tongue’s power to destroy, and in vs. 9-12 the tongue’s power to delight. I thank Warren Wiersbe for this simple outline.

It is the next section though (3:13-19) that I find most helpful in discerning posts on the blogosphere, particularly vs. 17.

What James gives here is a simple formula for reading a post and determining whether it is full of true, God-given wisdom or not. If a post is filled with God’s wisdom then it will have a quality about it that pushes it above the rest. What are those qualities? Is it the skill in framing a question or controlling the argument? Is it the ability to smith words together? Here is what James says essentially in James 3:17 (my own paraphrase)

But the wisdom that comes from God is, first of all, innocent and chaste; then peaceable; appropriately mild and open to reason; it is considerate and humble; compassionate and beneficial, impartial and sincere.

There is no verse that describes the perfect post better than that one. It may be that the post is humorous or confrontational, light-hearted or serious, but it must have these qualities about it or it is just the wisdom of man. Being right about an issue does not mean that one is right before the Lord.

James chapter 3 is all about the "untamable tongue." Does the following not explicitly show why the clash of worldviews via blogs is currently raging strong in the blogosphere?

James 3:1-12

The Untamable Tongue
3My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 *Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? *Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Then, look at how James contrasts "heavenly vs. demonic" wisdom:

Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

3:3 NU-Text reads Now if.
3:12 NU-Text reads Neither can a salty spring produce fresh water.

Wow! There are weeks worth of study in these verses! Did you know that the term "wisdom" in the KJV of the Bible occurs 234 times in 222 verses? I'm not going to list them all, however, I will quote several verses that may help people to realize and recognize from whence their type of "wisdom" doth come.

Ask yourself, is the wisdom you are sharing of God or of man?

1Ki 3:28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God [was] in him, to do judgment.

1Ki 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that [is] on the sea shore.

1Ki 4:30 And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

1Ki 4:34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

1Ki 5:12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together

1Ki 10:24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

Pro 4:7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Pro 4:11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

Pro 8:11 For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

Pro 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

Pro 10:31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.

Pro 11:2 [When] pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom.

Pro 11:12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

Pro 12:8 A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

Pro 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.

Pro 14:6 A scorner seeketh wisdom, and [findeth it] not: but knowledge [is] easy unto him that understandeth.

1Ch 22:12 Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God.

2Ch 9:7 Happy [are] thy men, and happy [are] these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.

Job 12:16 With him [is] strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver [are] his.

Speaking of Jesus:

Mat 13:54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this [man] this wisdom, and [these] mighty works?

Luk 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luk 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute:

Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

Godly wisdom given to the apostles and believers in Christ:

Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Act 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Col 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Col 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The supremacy of Christ's wisdom; the Holy Spirit indwelled in the believer teaches the wisdom of God:

1Cr 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1Cr 1:20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1Cr 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1Cr 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1Cr 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1Cr 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

1Cr 2:4 And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

1Cr 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

1Cr 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

1Cr 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Jesus Christ, the only one who is worthy:

Rev 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Rev 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

HT: SharperIron
Pastor's Corner


Christinewjc said...

Speaking of wisdom (or, in this case, the lack thereof) I have been motivated to share today's Most Ludicrous Item of the Day. I really wanted to use the word "asinine" (because what you are about to read really is asinine!) but thought that perhaps I shouldn't use such a term on a Christian blog. Next, I thought that "preposterous" sounded good and would be more acceptable. Then, the term "ludicrous" came to mind and I settled on that. Here we go...

Email newsletter I received:

"There has been a lot of hullabaloo in the past few weeks over statements by Linda Hirshman on feminism and child-rearing. Ms. Hirshman believes it is a waste of intelligence for women to forsake careers to stay home and raise their own children.

“Ms. Hirshman’s words are an insightful look at extreme feminism,” said Karen England Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute. “It’s not about what is good for women – or even what women want – it’s about an agenda to reconstruct and nullify the family.” As the article states: “Some of the women [Ms. Hirshman] interviewed confirmed her worst fears: they liked being mothers.”

It’s interesting to think about the flaws in Hirshman’s reasoning – if all “intelligent” people are supposed to be in the work force, that means that Ms. Hirshman is suggesting that the next generation should be raised by stupid people.

This is an especially odd opinion since, here in California, there was recently a huge push (Prop 82) for preschool workers to have higher education.

So, under the liberal perspective, we can only suppose that babies and toddlers should be raised by stupid adults for the first several years and then, when they are three or four-years-old, they should be suddenly thrown into an environment with the really smart ones!

To read an article about Ms. Hirshman’s opinions, click here."

Excerpt from the LifeSite link:

"The article ignited a blaze of online outrage from feminists and traditionalists alike. Bloggers and editorials in print and online editions of a number of magazines have run comments blasting Hirshman.

In an op-ed at the online edition of the political magazine, the Huffington Post, Ann Coulter wrote that Hirshman and those who think like her, are “expressing an intolerant world view that women who don't work are losers.”

“Hirshman isn't just expressing an opinion about what she thinks is best, she is saying that any woman who makes a choice different from what she espouses is unequivocally ‘wrong.’”

Coulter writes that feminism is losing its sway in public because it focuses on “problems that hardly exist…while spending precious little energy on issues that indisputably have a negative impact on women: pornography, sex trafficking.”

“If [feminists] spent a fraction of the time on these issues that they spend trying to get women to get their men to vacuum the living room, the world would be a better place.”

Mark said...

I enjoy tossing the word asinine in the mix. I like saying preposterous better than writing it. Ludicrous is ok, but asinine really brings it home!

You'd be surprised how often I come to your site to pick up these bits of wisdom, especially the related Biblical verses! thanks!

Ancient Clown said...

A most excellent post. As I define it;
"WISDOM" is not the 'Accumulation of knowledge',but rather the proper 'Application of knowledge'.
I invite you to share in more Ancient Meanings and feel free to add to the list.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

Susan Smith said...

Shabbat Shalom Christine:

The words of Matt Walker are full of sound wisdom. Thanks for this post about James, one of my favorite books in the Bible. This is delightful reading for a peaceful Saturday here in Jerusalem.

One sentence Mr. Walker wrote caught my attention: “Is it the ability to smith words together?” “To smith words” is a neat phrase. I like it for some reason...

Your prayers mentioned before are appreciated. Thank you. God bless you and much love from East Talpiot. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Hi Susan!

So glad to hear that it is a peaceful Saturday in Jerusalem! Prayers answered!

I had a link open to to get definitions for some words in my latest post so I decided to type in "smith."

Here's what it said:

1. A metalworker, especially one who works metal when it is hot and malleable. Often used in combination: a silversmith; a goldsmith.

2. A blacksmith.

3. One who makes or works at something specified. Often used in combination: a locksmith; a wordsmith.

As Christian bloggers, I guess we work at being Bible-based Christian "wordsmiths"!

In Jesus with much love!

Christinewjc said...

P.S. to Susan,

When I read the following part I immediately thought of you and your advice to me!

"Posts offer instant responses. The lesson of being slow to speak is almost completely lost on a blog."

Being "slow to speak" isn't one of my best virtues...but I have my great "big" sister from Jerusalem to help me in that area! There has been many a time where I needed that great advice, too...

Lots of love,

Susan Smith said...

Your humility ministers to many, Christine.

I am privileged to call you my "little" sister in Christ on the West Coast. You are a gift from God in my life. So your readers will understand… the "little" refers to our age... NOT our spirituality! God has used you mightily to minister to my needs. We enjoy the journey of growing together in Christ. We are members of the one Church body and Jesus is the head.

It is a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning at 72 degrees here in Jerusalem. What a day to worship our King. This is a day He made and we will rejoice in it! Love to you from the City of God. (ss)