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Posts Tagged ‘righteousness’


Jo 12Have you ever noticed how some English words that have an unpleasant, negative kind of meaning seem to sound unpleasant as well? Take for example the words ‘gloat’, ‘brag’, ‘skite’ and ‘boast’, with their rather hard, guttural consonants. Or does the meaning of these words merely colour how I hear them? Would someone unfamiliar with English still think they sound unpleasant?

A few months ago, I spoke at a meeting in a club. My topic was focussed on the lessons we learn throughout our lives and how, as we grow, we hopefully become more of the person we were created to be. While talking about my own school years, I showed a photo of an old report card of mine and mentioned my determination to come first in every exam in primary school—which I managed to do. But then I heard a lady at a nearby table say in quite a nasty tone, ‘Well, why don’t you skite about it!’ Now I had not meant to boast in any way. In fact, my aim was to point out how foolish I was to try to impress others with my academic achievements and thus make me more popular. That night, that little word ‘skite’ I overheard sounded particularly ugly to me. And, rightly or wrongly, I decided to respond.

‘That’s the very point I’m making,’ I told this lady, who now seemed just a little embarrassed. ‘Why skite about such things? There’s so much more to us than what we can achieve or do well. And it’s foolish to depend on these things to win friends and impress others.’

Maybe I should have let the comment pass, but words like ‘skite’, ‘brag’ and ‘boast’ do not go down well with me! And that might be why some words Paul wrote on the topic caught my eye recently:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the word to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Paul then quotes the prophet Jeremiah:

Therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (31)

I then checked out the passage in Jeremiah where these words come from—and what treasure I found there!

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24

Wow—what a wonderful Lord we are privileged to know! Who else could ever treat us with such perfect justice and righteousness or delight to show us such kindness? Only our Lord—and I’m happy to be accused of boasting about him anytime.

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P1040005Our grandson discovered an exciting new pastime at Nanna’s and Granddad’s this week—washing up! He did it as if his life depended on it—he washed those plates and cups of his at least twenty times over. I could not help but smile when I saw his look of deep concentration as he went about the task at hand. Obviously, Zain felt quite important and was determined to do the best job he could.

Afterwards, we read one of his favourite books, Noah and the Big Boat, together. When we had finished, Zain opened the book again, pointed to something on the page and nodded wisely.

‘That’s God!’ he said in a very definite tone.

I looked and saw he meant Noah, depicted in this book as a man with white hair and a long, white beard. Not wanting to endorse a stereotype many people still seem to hold about God, I hastily corrected him.

But our little man was not daunted.

‘That’s God!’ he said then, pointing to one of Noah’s son’s working on building the ark.

When I again shook my head, he changed his mind and pointed to one of the women carrying water to the men.

At that point, I realised I had failed big time in communicating who God is. I had blundered on, all the while assuming his little two-year-old mind would somehow understand what I meant. But no—the concept seemed beyond him.

‘No, that’s not God either,’ I floundered. ‘You can’t see God anywhere.’

Even as the words left my mouth, I sensed how inadequate they were. There was no opportunity to continue the conversation, however—our Zain had run off to the latest thing that had captured his attention. All I could do was try to be a little clearer about who God is next time we read the book.

But then I began to think more about what Zain had said. No, Noah was not God—but God could be seen in him and in the way he lived his life. In Genesis 6:9, we read:

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

In the midst of the corrupt world around him, Noah stayed true to God and ‘found favour in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8).

Even though Zain has a few misconceptions about God right now, I hope, when he grows up, that he exhibits the same zeal for the things of God as Noah did. I hope he gives his all to follow God’s ways, with the same wholeheartedness I saw in the way he tackled that washing up. Yes, that’s only a little thing and he’s only a little child right now. But as I looked at Zain at that kitchen sink, I caught a glimpse of God in him in his beautiful appearance as well as in the way he approached his task. And I also caught a glimpse of the man of God he could become—strong and determined for the Lord.

May others see more and more of God in our Zain in the years ahead.

May others see more and more of God in me as I seek to walk with God, just as Noah did.

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