8/20/2000, P10, Year B
young executive was leaving work at 6:00 p.m. when he spotted the CEO standing helplessly in front of the shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. "Can you make this thing work?" asked the boss. "Sure," responded the young man! He hit the "on" button, stuck the piece of paper into the intake slot, and as he heard the blades shredding the document, the boss said, "I just need one copy."
Today's text is about wisdom, and mature spiritual discernment, not about common sense, education, or IQ. Many of us are already too "smarty-pants" for our own good; but; God wants us all to allow Him to instill in us His gift of true wisdom anyway. However, sometimes we wish for all the wrong stuff.
You may have heard about the country boy from Alabama who was walking on the beach and found a beautiful bottle. When he pulled the cork a Genie popped out and granted him just one wish. He thought for a minute and then said that he always wanted to go to Hawaii, but was afraid to fly, so he wished for a land bridge to Hawaii. The Genie shook her head and said, "That's even too much for a Genie, you must have some other wish." The fellow shook his head and said, "I wish that everybody in Alabama could become at least smart enough to complete the eighth grade." The Genie furrowed her brow, scratched her head, and said, "Did you want that to be a one lane bridge or two?"
Let me hasten to say that these "Dumb as an Alabaman" jokes are told on Georgians by my cousins in Birmingham. In fact, when the person that told me this Genie joke began, I said, "Be careful now, my mother was from Alabama." And he said, "Then I'll tell it real slowly."
Even wise kings eventually do all die, and smart politicians someday must leave office. Therefore, even King David, the greatest king of the Old Testament, "...slept with his fathers..." and was buried in, "...the city of David...", Jerusalem. (I Kings 2:10). David's young son, Solomon, was God's choice for his successor. Solomon was Bathsheba's second son, born during her marriage to David. Her first son, born out of her mutual sin with David, died as an infant. David's other sons, by other wives, were not chosen because they did not have an open heart sensitive to a closeness with God. Eventually, Jesus, the Son of God, would be born out of the lineage of David, Bathsheba, and their son Solomon. The fact that the Messiah would be born out of the Davidic royal family is a great illustration of God's forgiveness of major sins, and of His justification of the forgiven sinner.
After Solomon's coronation, the Lord appeared to him in a dream inviting him to ask for the fulfillment of any wish, "Ask what you wish me to give you." Presumably, he could have asked for anything, but since he recognized that he was "...but a little child and did not know how to even go out or come in...", the boy king asked for, "...an understanding heart to lead Your people and to discern between good and evil." (3: 5-9, NASB).
God granted Solomon his one wish for wisdom; but additionally, since it was such an unselfish desire, the Lord also granted him great wealth, honor as a king of kings, and a long life. However, the promise was contingent upon Solomon's continued faithfulness to the Lord.
Today we too find ourselves as people blessed by God. We live in a prosperous time of full employment. We are surrounded by great universities and the freedom to fulfill great aspirations. But the contingency still remains and the challenge is ours to decide what we will do with the opportunity.
If we could have any one wish granted what would it be?
The Good News is that the God of the New Testament wants to grant our wishes, "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:14). However, wishes are still conditional upon our cooperation with His grace. We must study, work hard, and most of all remain in His will. God will never force His way into our lives. Yet, if we will do our part, He will never fail us. As the obsessive compulsive author, played by Jack Nicholson, said to Helen Hunt in the motion picture, As Good As it Gets, "You make me want to be a better man!" That was God's will for young King Solomon, and it's His desire for everybody everywhere today, IF we will get with His plan.
The Boy King Solomon had a great opportunity with his one wish, and God's extra gifts granted; but sadly, he squandered them all. His wisdom led him to develop allegiances with foreign empires, but he did so by marrying women from many conflicting cultures and faiths. In time they turned his heart to their gods and soon he was constructing other altars. He began to take advantage of his own people with high taxes and conscripted labor to build great buildings that were more for his honor than for God's. He became corrupted like his father David, and as his own successor, King Rehoboam. As a result of his falling from grace Solomon did not live a long life, only reigning for forty years, (11:41).
How can we live optimally as wise, and mature followers of the Messiah in a complex society that we only partially understand?
Wisdom begins when we begin to wish for it. We get on course when we realize that spiritual discernment is more of a gift than an attainment. It does not come with aging but with obedience. "There is no fool like an old fool!" Likewise, there is no one we admire more than a Saint of God, advanced in age and in true wisdom. Wisdom is found in the follow through. Solomon began with a right choice but soon got off course; but not us, you and I are on our way to Glory, and He will go with us all the way!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor