It’s a grandfather’s prerogative to tease his grandkids a little bit, right? So when one of my young grandkids is first learning math, I quiz him about his newfound knowledge. “Do you know about math yet?” I ask.
“Sure, Papa, I know math.”
“Well then, what’s two plus two?”
Beaming up at me, he quickly and proudly replies, “It’s four!”
“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong. Two plus two is 22. You take one two, put it next to the other two, and you have 22. And,” I continued, “one plus one equals eleven. Three plus three is 33. Don’t you know that? Who’s teaching you math?”
Invariably, eyes roll, and I hear, “Oh, Papa, you’re wrong—2+2 is four!”
“Are you sure?” I say.
“Yes, I’m sure!” is the confident reply.
Thankfully, my grandkids are getting a good handle on the fact that truth can’t be played with. Even though I’m older, an authority figure, and a loved one, they are ready to challenge me if I don’t have the facts straight. The truth stands, and they can quickly spot (and point out) the error of my “logic.”
As Christ’s followers, we need to get a better handle on that reality. You don’t play around with truth. In fact, as John is telling us about Jesus, he assures us that we know that Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
People don’t have much trouble with the grace part. Of course God’s grace is amazing, unlimited, lavish, and actively demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. He forgives sins, restores lives, and pours out countless blessings that are neither deserved nor expected. No arguments about His grace.
But when we hit the “truth” part, the world walks out in protest. Truth, in so many minds, is a pliable commodity, so flexible that you can have “your truth” and I can have “my truth,” even if they are completely contradictory. Illogically, in the world’s eyes, every claim can be equally valid and, in fact, we are quickly written off as intolerant if we point out the wrongheadedness and false thinking of a worldview that does not line up with God’s Word.
John reminds us that Jesus came not only to demonstrate God’s unlimited grace but also His absolute truth. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the only way, in fact, to the Father. He told the crowd gathered at the temple that He and the Father were one. His truth claims can be rejected or received, with eternal consequences, but they cannot be altered or spun to a more politically correct alternative. They do not sync with false worldviews and are not simply one option among many.
So, the question for you and for me is: “Are we playing around with truth?” We wouldn’t be among the first to bend the words of Jesus to fit our own dreams and misplaced desires. And, I should ask, are we able to spot false truth claims and erroneous thinking as quickly as my grandkids spotted my flawed mathematical theorems? And, just as importantly, are we willing to speak out for the truth, graciously yet firmly exposing error for what it is? We can and should be agents of the grace of Christ. But let’s remember the rest of the verse and be agents of His truth as well.
It would be really great if 2+2 could be 22 when I am balancing my checkbook, but it is still and always will be four. The truth is the truth and that never changes. Thank God that He has given us truth to keep the balance of the checkbook of our lives in good order.
- How have you responded to the claims of Christ? Have you embraced Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Read Acts 4:12 to see Peter’s affirmation of Christ’s exclusive claims.
- In what ways is the world trying to play around with the truth? How do many people view God’s Word and the truths found in it?
- In your time at home, at school, at work, or in your neighborhood, how can you be an agent of God’s grace and His truth this week?
God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, wait until it does, or seek to find out why it is not coming. If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. This shows no unity with God or confidence in Him. The spirit of simplicity, clarity, and unity is born through the Holy Spirit, not through your decisions. God counters our self-willed decisions with an appeal for simplicity and unity.
My questions arise whenever I cease to obey. When I do obey God, problems come, not between me and God, but as a means to keep my mind examining with amazement the revealed truth of God. But any problem that comes between God and myself is the result of disobedience. Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems.
This week’s Torah portion starts with a dream and so does this week’s Haftorah. In the Torah portion, Pharaoh had a dream, and in the Haftorah, King Solomon had just awoken from a dream. But that’s where the similarities end. Pharaoh’s dream left him feeling confused. But Solomon’s dream, in which God offers to grant him one wish, left Solomon wiser. Because when given the choice, Solomon had asked for “a discerningheart” (1 Kings 3:9), and God had granted his request.
The rest of the Haftorah recounts one of the Bible’s most famous stories. Two women came before Solomon, both claiming to be the mother of the same infant. Solomon demonstrated his divine wisdom by suggesting that they cut the child in half. As he expected, the true mother pleads for the life of the baby and offers to give the child to the other woman, while the lying woman was content to have the baby split in half. The real mother is revealed. Solomon’s keen understanding of human nature allowed him to uncover the truth and to govern with justice.
So what is the connection to the Torah portion? Just this. After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he made a suggestion. Given that there would be seven years of abundance and then seven years of famine, Joseph advised Pharaoh to stockpile the surplus grain during the good years so there would be a supply of grain during the lean ones. Joseph also suggested that Pharaoh find “a discerning and wise man” (Genesis 41:33) to oversee the project. Like Solomon, Joseph understood that it takes wisdom and understanding in order to be a leader. It was a lesson that he had learned the hard way.
Joseph’s problems began because he didn’t understand human nature. If he had, he wouldn’t have been so insensitive and blunt with his brothers when it came to sharing his vision of being a ruler over them. Even though Joseph’s vision was true and his brothers would eventually bow down to him, he didn’t deal with it in a wise way. If he had, their jealousy would not have been aroused and he would never have been sold.
The Torah and the Haftorah both underscore the importance of what has now been dubbed ‘emotional intelligence.’ It’s one thing to know math and science, but it’s another to understand human emotions and human nature. Just as we sharpen our minds, we also need to hone our people skills. We can do that by practicing sensitivity, understanding, and empathy in every relationship that we have, every day of our lives.
Ryan Anderson and Andrew Walker for National Review Online retorted, “Despite our youthful reluctance to disagree with Will, we do.”
“As the 28-year-old executive of the Manhattan Declaration, I join my 20-something colleagues Ryan Anderson and Andrew Walker of the Heritage Foundation in echoing Twain‘s famous line, ‘the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’ Both the polling and the voters have demonstrated time and again Americans’ strong support for marriage. What future voters may decide obviously remains to be seen; however, beating a retreat because the victory of the anti-marriage movement seems inevitable is a sure-fire way to guarantee precisely that result,” Teetsel said.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/young-conservatives-to-george-will-traditional-marriage-supporters-not-dying-86537/#GcvefssXP6GXmWrb.99
After the death of Joseph and his brothers, the Israelites increased so rapidly and became so many and powerful that the land was filled with them. But a new king who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt. He said to his people, “See, the Israelites are becoming too many and powerful for us. Come, let us deal wisely with them, for fear that they become so many that, if war is begun against us, they will join our enemies and fight against us and leave the land.”
So the Egyptians set taskmasters over them to put burdens upon them. And they built for Pharaoh the store-cities, Pithom and Rameses. But the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more numerous they became and the more they spread everywhere, so that the Egyptians dreaded what they might do. And the Egyptians were cruel and made slaves of them, making their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and brick, and by all kinds of hard work in the field. Pharaoh also gave this command to all his people, “You shall throw into the river every son that is born to the Hebrews, but every daughter you shall save alive.”
Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a woman of the same tribe, and she had a son. When she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took a basket made of papyrus reeds, daubed it with mortar and pitch, and put the child in it. Then she placed it in the reeds by the bank of the river Nile, while his sister stayed near by to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile, and while her maids were walking along the river’s bank, she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her waiting-maid to bring it. When she opened it and saw the child, the boy was crying; and she felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew children.”
Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother, and Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will pay you your wages.” Then the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child had grown up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
One time, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people; and as he was watching them at their hard labor, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own race. He looked around and seeing that there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
On the next day Moses went out, and saw two Hebrews struggling together; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow workman?” The man replied, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “What I have done is known!” When Pharaoh heard what had taken place, he tried to put Moses to death; but Moses left the country and made his home in the land of Midian.
As he was sitting by a well, the seven daughters of the priest of Midian came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock, but the shepherds came and drove them away. Then Moses stood up and protected the women and watered their flock.
When they came to their father, he said, “How is it that you have come back so early to-day?” They replied, “An Egyptian protected us from the shepherds, and besides, he drew water for us and watered the flock.” Then he said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why have you left the man? Ask him to eat with us.” So Moses made his home with the man; and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. She had a son, and Moses named him Gershom.
The literal translation of this verse gives a startling emphasis to it, and makes it speak for itself with a force that we have probably never realized. Here It is: “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, in insults, in being pinched, in being chased about, in being cooped up in a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, then am I dynamite.”
Here is the secret of Divine all-sufficiency, to come to the end of everything in ourselves and in our circumstances. When we reach this place, we will stop asking for sympathy because of our hard situation or bad treatment, for we will recognize these things as the very conditions of our blessing, and we will turn from them to God and find in them a claim upon Him. —A. B. Simpson
George Matheson, the well-known blind preacher of Scotland, who recently went to be with the Lord, said: “My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross; but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory.
“Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows.”
“Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through the cypress trees.”