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Bringing Wisdom to Work

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2021 12:00 am

Bringing Wisdom to Work

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 7, 2021 12:00 am

God gives you practical wisdom for the workplace and helps you navigate your work and work relationships well. God gives you wisdom to respond to those in authority over you. God gives you wisdom to know that whatever happens, God has reasons, and those reasons will lead you to new depths of character and trust . . . and even more wisdom.

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Solomon is essentially saying that even in the lives of those who have everything, they cannot get away from the battles of life.

Even the person that seems to be at the top of the food chain, even that individual who seems to have their way, if you get behind the curtain, you'll discover they're facing the battles of life. In fact, that's good to remember when that supervisor unloads on you, it may be nothing more than an indication that they have other battles they're failing in. For many Christians, the hardest place to pursue God's wisdom is in the workplace. Sometimes the workplace is hostile to biblical wisdom. Sometimes the culture of the business is based on a worldly form of wisdom. God gives practical wisdom for the workplace and helps you navigate your work and work relationships well. He gives you wisdom to respond to those in authority over you and the wisdom to know that whatever happens, God has his reasons, which will actually lead you to new depths of wisdom.

Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey has a message for you called Bringing Wisdom to Work. Years ago, the devotional magazine, Our Daily Bread, illustrated the need for the believer to face their problems and their challenges with greater deepening trust in the Lord's provision, who was at work behind the scenes during World War II, which is where the illustration comes from. The family in Sussex, England, sent some money to a missionary society and enclosed a letter that they would like it to have been more, but the harvest on their farm was being threatened by the lack of rain water, unable to irrigate their farm. And they were fearful of German bombs adding to the problem being dropped in their area, putting their farm, their crops at risk, not to mention their own lives. They asked the staff of this mission to pray specifically that no bombs would fall on their land. The director of the missionary society wrote back and wisely responded that while they didn't believe they could pray that exact prayer, they would indeed pray that this family would trust the Lord as his will unfolded in their lives. And when you know it, shortly thereafter a German bomb landed on their property, exploding. No family member was hurt.

The livestock were fine, the barn still standing. But that bombshell created such a crater in the ground that it liberated an underground stream, and that stream yielded enough water to irrigate their entire property and the other farms in their area. The Daily Bread ended the illustration by writing, sometimes even bombs are blessings. Yes, they seem to fall from heaven and make a lot of noise and create confusion and chaos, but ultimately they liberate within us a new stream of trust and faith in the provision of God. God has a way of using inconveniences and trials and difficulties to draw us to trust him even more. Perhaps one of the more difficult areas of life in which we trust him and we have to carefully navigate through life is on the job.

Even working from home, perhaps, there are still challenges with staffing or authorities. Maybe you've come in here with some rather explosive problems, combustible, unreasonable demands, difficult assignments. Individuals in your world that may have authority over you, trouble you, make life difficult for you. How do you take wisdom to work with you? How does wisdom work, so to speak, from nine to five?

How do you respond to those in authority over you? Well, God through Solomon is going to address the issue, so let's go back in our study to Ecclesiastes, the writings of King Solomon. We're in chapter eight and in verse two is where we pick up our study. The Bible reads at verse two, I say, keep the king's command because of God's oath to him. Now, since Solomon is a king, he's going to illustrate the principle of responding to authority to this kind of level of authority. He's going to start with the king and move on down. He starts at the top. This is the highest power in the land. That's really a great place to draw insight from because if you know how to respond to the higher authority in the land, you'll know how to respond to all the lesser authority in your life.

And everyone, of course, is at any time surrounded by authority. It might be a teacher. It might be a parent. It might be some governing official. Might be a coach.

Might be a supervisor or a CEO. And the first principle he lays down here for us is this. It's the principle of obedience to authority. Solomon raises this fundamental issue that the king's command, you could translate that Hebrew phrase, from the mouth of the king, the word of the king is to be obeyed. Solomon writes this, on account of God's oath to him.

That's why. In other words, the king's authority happens to be delegated, given to them by God. We're obeying the king's commands because ultimately God is commanding the king.

It might not look like it. It might look like the king isn't representing God and he might not immediately, but indirectly we're told that God is moving the heart of the king. Proverbs 21 and verse 1 is where Solomon reminds us that the heart of the king is in the hand of God. It might seem like you're obeying an earthly supervisor, but ultimately you're obeying God. In fact, Paul will reinforce this to the Colossians.

He says while you're serving earthly masters, earthly supervisors, earthly authorities, know that you are serving, you're actually serving the Lord Christ. Now that doesn't make it easy, by the way. That doesn't mean it's going to be convenient, especially as it relates to your Christianity at work. But just as an ordinary individual, you might be summoned for jury duty and you plan vacation. You might have to pay more taxes than you wanted.

You might have to submit to some zoning authority or ordinance. That's costly. And inconvenient.

And you might even argue unnecessary. We're meeting here today on this campus because we're evaluated annually by the fire department and we receive a permit. Those doors have to be a certain thickness or we can't be in here. All of those windows in our facility have to be a certain width or they don't pass code. They have to have glass with a certain thickness. Hallway doors have to be expensively wired so that they automatically shut if there's a fire. Classrooms on the second floor cannot be used for children under the age of two.

Do you know how expensive that makes children's ministries? Parking spaces have to be a certain width. A certain width.

If it were up to me, they'd be about this wide. But you got to make them wide enough to get in and out of, which is a good thing. And then every so often in that parking lot, they require that you put in an island.

And then you have to plant greenery and you got to plant trees along the road. Those are demands and ordinances of our authority. That church sign out front could only be so tall and so wide, which is why that sign is absolutely useless.

People think that we're some university or college. Paul writes, let every person be subject to the ordinances of governing authority. And then he adds in Romans 13 one, for there is no authority except from God.

It might look like a governing authority is in charge. He calls believers to go one step further. This is Jesus before Pilate. And Pilate says, why aren't you answering these questions I'm asking you? Because don't you know I have authority to put you to death? And Jesus speaks and he says, the only authority you have is the authority delegated from a above. You might think, oh, well, these are terrible days. I've heard believers talking about, well, now's the time to stop paying taxes.

I'll visit you. We're not where the early church was 1900 years ago where believers were covered with tar and used as torches to light the garden parties of Nero. We're not where the Anabaptists were 500 years ago who said, you know what, we're going to follow the scriptures and the scripture says that baptism isn't for babies, it is for believers. And the word means to immerse as in Jesus died, was buried and rose again. So we're going to be baptizing again.

And the governing officials said, well, if you love water that much, we'll put you in it. And they drowned many of the Anabaptists for doing what we do here without any thought of persecution. There are some countries to this day where being a Christian is a matter of life and death. One of our problems, I believe, as believers, especially in a free country, is that we forget we're in exile here. We think we're home.

We're trying to get comfortable in the wrong living room. We're citizens of heaven assigned to the embassy of earth for the time being. There's a second principle here. It's the principle of patience in the process. Notice the first phrase of verse 3, be not hasty to go from his presence.

Let's stop here. Solomon is referring more than likely to a culture of respect, and that will change from culture to culture. It's patience being shown by the subordinate as he endures his authority. He says here, do not be hasty to leave his presence. He's not telling you how fast you're supposed to leave that place of authority if they call you in. If your supervisor calls you in or that authority in your life demands your audience, he's not telling you, you know, don't run out of there, only so fast should you walk. He's saying stick it out, be respectful, bide your time. He's not telling you how fast to walk away from the White House.

Be careful, be respectful, wait for an opportunity to speak with wisdom. So he isn't talking about physically moving slowly. He's talking about respectfully responding slowly.

Thirdly, there's this principle of loyalty to the office. Notice the last part of verse 3. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he, that is the authority, does whatever he pleases, for the word of the king is supreme. Who may say to him, what are you doing? Now, Solomon is essentially reminding us here that on a very practical level, if you don't like the word of the king, you might be tempted to talk back. You might be tempted to say, well, what do you think you're doing?

Who do you think you are? You show respect for the office of that authority, that coach, that teacher, that governing official. Notice he says here at the beginning, don't take up an evil cause. What he's telling you to do is in whatever way you choose to respond to the authority, it's not going to be right to strike back by taking up evil. You don't strike back at sin by doing sin. You don't strike back at evil by doing evil. Your supervisor says or does something unkind, you don't look for an opportunity to give it back to him. Your neighbor yells at you, that doesn't mean you get to yell back. Somebody throws mud at you, that doesn't give you the right to throw mud.

That's the point. By the way, this is the way the power brokers of the world launch their agendas. This is the way the world works. This is the way you demonstrate power. You're able to yell louder.

You're just a little higher on the food chain. Now Solomon reinforces his comments about a wise person responding to authority. And I'm sure you're wondering, yeah, but what about this and what about that? Well, he's not going to answer all the questions. But he does give a couple of prohibitions that are helpful. Number one is the prohibition of sinning against God. Verse 5, whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing.

He's going to be related to evil. He reinforces this. This is sort of a fundamental principle here of obedience to the commands of your authority.

There is a boundary line. There is a line you will not cross. And that is you will not obey the command of your authority if their command requires you to disobey the command of God. This is where you will be like those early apostles in Acts chapter 5 where they said to their leaders, we will obey God rather than man.

Relationships have ended. Careers dissolved because a believer would not violate the Scriptures. There is this principle, this prohibition of not sinning against God. Secondly, Solomon reinforces what he said earlier now, the prohibition of speaking out of turn. Notice verse 5 and moving forward. He says, the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way, the right way, the right time. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavily on him. For he does not know what it is to be.

For who can tell him how it will be? In other words, you're in the middle of a dilemma. You're under authority.

You need to say something, but what? You pray about it. This is where you ask God for wisdom. There's got to be the right time and the right message and the right motive. You're going to have the right spirit because you're ultimately representing a higher authority. You're representing God.

A wise heart ought to know that you probably ought to choose at that moment silence and then remain that way, asking the Lord for the right moment and the right message in the right manner to deliver it. This comes really from an understanding and a trust, a statement of faith of what Solomon says here in verse 7 that we do not know what God is planning in the future. We don't know what he's doing. We know what it looks like right now, but we don't know what he's doing. I sort of live, don't you, with an anticipation of, I wonder what God's doing now.

Look around. I wonder what God is, how is he setting the table for ministry? What is he doing for the Gospel's sake? How is he moving along his purposes?

There is this sense of patience based on trust. We have no idea how the Lord is preparing us for the days to come. You might think right now, Lord, you know the worst thing that could ever happen is for a bomb to fall on my farm and it falls and a stream of water emerges which God had planned all along. Solomon now ends this discussion. He's going to remind us that there are limitations to power and for those of you who are in authority, these are good reminders.

For those of you who are under authority, these are also good reminders. There are limitations to power and Solomon rattles off four of them fairly quickly. Each of them in the Hebrew language begin with a little negative no or not so we know that they are progressing proverbs, so to speak.

Here's the first limitation. Number one, no one can control the wind. Notice the first phrase of verse 8. No man has power to retain the spirit, which I think ought to be translated wind. Context decides that Hebrew word for wind and spirit is the same word, ruach. Since many assume that this phrase goes with the next phrase about death, then it must be a reference to someone's inability to control their death. Well, that will be true and he's going to talk about that in the second one, but let's not miss the impact of this one. Hebrew scholars refer to these progressive proverbs and one of them says more than likely Solomon is simply referring to the weather.

He says no matter how powerful that person is in your life, guess what? Remember they can't move one cloud in the sky. They cannot make it rain. They can't make it cold. They can't make it hot. They can't do anything as it relates to the weather except report it. That's it. In other words, the most powerful person on earth can't make the breeze blow, can't make that hurricane stop. They look powerful.

They can't even change that little breeze out there. Here's the second limitation. No one can determine their lifespan. The next phrase reads no one has power over the day of death. No matter how powerful, no matter how authoritative, no matter how many people bow the word or command of this individual, death does not bow to their command. Death is in the hand of God.

He determines life and breath. I thought it was interesting in my study to come across the illustration of King Louie the 14th who was a powerful king but on his deathbed he called his son into the room and his last words to him were these. Listen son, profit by my errors and remember kings die like every other man.

Here's the third reminder of the limitation of power. No one can get away from the battles of life. He writes here in verse 8, there's no discharge from war or you could render it from the midst or the middle of battle.

This can refer to a war or battle you might think of in a traditional sense or it could refer to something broader which I think would be correct to this context. Solomon is essentially saying that even in the lives of those who have everything they just cannot get away from the battles of life. Even the person that seems to be at the top of the food chain, even that individual who seems to have their way, if you get behind the curtain you'll discover they're facing the battles of life.

In fact that's good to remember when that supervisor unloads on you it may be nothing more than an indication that they have other battles they're failing in and they're taking it out on you. There isn't any way you can get around or away from the battles of life. Fourthly, no one can get around the consequences of sin no matter how powerful. Look at verse 8, the last part, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it, who are given over to it. It's woodenly translated, wickedness will not deliver its masters, those who master evil, those who master sin, those that seem to control everything by the dictate of their power and people in power often become masters at wickedness.

Nobody steps up, nobody seems to ever speak, they live unaccountable lives, they have their way. Solomon is saying don't forget, even they will face the day of judgment coming. By the way, the only hope for any of us is the forgiveness of our sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, right? The only hope any of us have because all of us have hurt others. All of us have probably at some point in time some authority we didn't use righteously or wisely or kindly.

So we, after reading something like this, let's make sure we just don't point fingers. Our hope is in the grace of God through Christ who pays for our crimes and sins. He not only gives us the gift of salvation which we could never earn, James chapter 1 tells us he gives us the gift of wisdom to know how to live now that you belong to him. This is wisdom you take to work, this is wisdom 9 to 5, this is wisdom in responding to those in authority over you. This is wisdom to know that even if a bomb falls on your farm, your life, God might just be opening new streams of deep water, new depths of character and your greatest statement of faith will be to trust him and to continue to honor him and walk with him.

And who knows, maybe that supervisor, maybe that coach, maybe that parent, maybe that teacher will see in your response something so distinctively different they will have to say, that person has something I don't have. They know a God I do not know. May God give us wisdom. I hope that as you go about your everyday life this week that you'll find ample opportunity to pursue God's wisdom.

Thanks for joining us today. This is Wisdom for the Heart, the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Today's message is entitled Bringing Wisdom to Work.

It's part of Stephen's series called Pursuing Wisdom Under the Sun. You can listen to this message again or learn more about our ministry at You'll be able to access the complete archive of Stephen's Bible teaching ministry as well as each day's broadcast. Wisdom for the Heart publishes a monthly magazine called Heart to Heart. Each issue features articles written to help you grow in your faith and a daily devotional guide to keep you rooted in God's word. We send this as a gift to all of our wisdom partners and we'd be happy to send you the next three issues absolutely free just to introduce you to this resource. Sign up online or call us today at 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-482-4253 and you'll receive the next three issues that go out. Thanks for joining us today. Be with us next time for our next message here on Wisdom for the Heart. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-04 09:58:32 / 2023-12-04 10:07:16 / 9

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