“Wising Up” 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14, Ephesians 5:15-20
Delivered to Church for the Highlands Sunday, August 15, 2021 Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost,
Rev. Dr. John Henson
When was the last time you said “I don’t know”? If you are like most people, it may have been a while if at all. Our world favors people who know things and so we tend to excel in the art of bluffing our way through life. In their book Think Like a Freak, economists Steven Levitt and Stephan Dubner state, “It has long been said that the three hardest words to say in the English language are I love you. We heartily disagree! For most people, it is much harder to say I don’t know.” They are right, aren’t they? We think admitting we don’t know something shows weakness when doing so is actually a sign of wisdom.
“I don’t know” is what King Solomon said to God one day, as we’ve heard in our first reading this morning. Solomon knew that he needed wisdom in his life. As he says in his prayer to God, “I do not know how to go out or come in.” He asks God to give him wisdom to govern and to be able to choose between good and evil. Asking for wisdom was the wisest thing Solomon would ever do. And God answered his prayer and gave it to him and it would be his as long as he walked in God’s ways and followed God’s laws.
Paul wanted the Ephesian church to be wise about what they were to do in the world. He has just written about the contrast between darkness and light, foolish and wise in the world. He makes the point here that they were to choose correctly in order to be imitators of God. Doing so would enable them to know and do God’s will for them. God had a plan for them but if they didn’t seek it out then they would be like a drunk who can’t think clearly, loses bodily control, stumbles around, and suffers the consequences of poor choices. They were to be the opposite; fully in control of their faculties and living out their purpose in the world.
Like the Ephesians and King Solomon, we have a choice to make in our lives about which path we will take. Will we choose to live for ourselves and our plans or will we choose to live for God and God’s plan for this world? Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But we know it isn’t that easy. If we read on about Solomon, we see that choosing wisdom isn’t a one and done decision. Life presents us with a series of choices between those two options. Solomon didn’t always choose correctly and neither do we. Sometimes wisdom is just seeing that we’ve made the wrong choice and then committing to choose correctly the next time. God has great things for us to be and do in this world and graciously shines the light on the correct path for us to take even when we have chosen the wrong one. As a church and as individuals within it, we must seek God’s wisdom in all things.
How do we do that, though? What else Paul writes to the Ephesians here helps us know. One way is through worship. He first mentions singing. Yes, that’s right, singing is a guide to wisdom! Singing spiritual psalms and songs and making music to God would enable the Ephesian church to be filled with the Spirit. This would happen as they sang to God but also to and with each other as a congregation. And worship would also involve thanksgiving. They were to give thanks for all things to God in the name of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As they thanked God like this, the Holy Spirit would fill them and guide them into wisdom.
Now if that’s not a good reason to be here this morning in Worship and to get you singing and giving thanks, I don’t know what is. The donuts and fellowship will fill you up, but not like God’s Spirit that comes to and in us as we worship. The hymns and songs we sing in church are full of meaning, truth, encouragement, and healing. Sometimes they express the joy we find in God, the grace we experience in our need, and, at other times, the lament we feel in loss. As we sing them, we not only connect to God but to each other as well. In all of this, we find that we are filled by the Spirit and, therefore, we are also filled with wisdom. When we are filled with God’s wisdom, we are able to discern what God’s will is for us as a church and for the world we live in. That’s why it is so good for us to do this at the beginning of every week, that we would start it off with what we need to make wise choices. We need this, don’t we?
Our time together in worship is enhanced even more by our time alone singing and thanking God throughout the week. As you look at the days of your week, are there times when you sing spiritually to God? Maybe in your car, in the shower, or just in your head? And are there times throughout your day and week when you stop to give thanks for everything God provides and does? If you’ve answered these questions with a yes, then you are growing wiser in life. You are better understanding what God’s will is for your life and for this world.
As we think back to Solomon, we hear what happened after he asked for wisdom: “It pleased the Lord that Solomon asked for this. . . ” and he gave it to him. The same will be true for us today as we say, “Lord, I do not know. Please give us wisdom.”