Gentle Wisdom

The Bible speaks of two different kinds of wisdom, one that is of the world and one that is of God. In his epistle, James gives us a list of characteristics that describe “the wisdom that is from above.” he says that it “is first pure, then peaceful,” two characteristics we talked about in posts titled “Pure Wisdom” and “Peaceful Wisdom.”The next characteristic on this list is “gentle.”

Intelligent people often have a reputation for having a cutting wit and a low tolerance for those who don’t see things their way. Wisdom doesn’t act like that. It is gentle in a fitting, proper, and unassertive way

Defining gentleness

There are several Greek words you can translate as “gentleness.” The one James uses is epieikes. This word has to do with legal fairness and indicates moderation, clemency, and equable dealings with others. It involves being “lenient, yielding, and unassertive.” The closely related word epieikei expresses “the virtue that rectifies and redresses the severity of a sentence.”

This type of gentleness is about actively choosing equity and justice in our dealings with others, even when you could assert your legal rights against them. Gentleness keeps us from “the danger that ever lurks upon the assertion of legal rights lest they be pushed to immoral limits” (Spiros’ Zodhiates’ The Complete WordStudy Dictonary: New Testament, entries 1932 and 1933). Read more

How Do You Hold on to Hope When You’re Fighting Anxiety and Depression?

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses, and they often occur together. Just because its relatively common, though, doesn’t make dealing with both feel any less weird. Exhibit A, this image I ran across on Pinterest:

It’s overly simplified, of course, to say “depression is when you don’t really care about anything” and “anxiety is when you care too much about everything.” Still, these comments capture part of how strange it feels to simultaneously (or alternately) deal with depression and anxiety. “Having both is staying in bed because you don’t want to go to school and then panicking because you don’t want to fail. Having both is wanting to go see your friends so you don’t lose them all, then staying home in bed because you don’t want to make the effort.”

Anxiety and depression are going to show up a bit different for everyone who struggles with them, but for me it’s like one day I’m on-edge, jittery, and so distracted by my inner anxiety monologue that I struggle to remember how things actually happened. Then the next day I feel like a weight’s pressing down on me snuffing out all motivation and hope. And some days, the smothering feeling is there but I’m also anxious about stuff I should care about and there’s this weird fight going on in my head. It’s exhausting.

Holding on to hope isn’t easy when you’re fighting a struggle inside your mind that tells you the worst could happen and there’s no point in trying to do anything about it. But we’re also not helpless victims of our own minds. We can change the patterns of our thoughts. We can choose to hold on to hope even when there seems no reason for it, and the easiest/best way to do this is with the Lord’s help.

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Do I Love God Enough To Obey Him?

The apostle John had a particularly close relationship with Jesus. Though Jesus loved all of “his own who were in the world,” John is identified in particular as a disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:1, 23; 19:26; 20:2, 21:7, 20-24). If we want to know Jesus — and we do, because that’s part of salvation and eternal life (John 17:3; Phil. 3:8) — then who better to learn from than John?

We’re taking a short break from our series on godly wisdom because I really felt like this was the topic I should be studying this week. Love and relationship are so important to God. Knowing Him and being known by Him are central to salvation, Christianity, and our eternal hope. We have to know Him in His way, though. Jesus said there will be people at the end who think they know Him and yet never had a relationship with Him (Matt. 7:21-23). That’s a scary thought, but John makes sure to leave us guides in his writings for how to love Jesus and how to tell whether or not we truly know Him.

Knowing God is Essential to Life

John’s writings are among my favorite in the New Testament. He highlights Jesus’ power and divinity — the things that make Him so much higher than us — more than any other gospel writer, yet He also highlights Jesus’s love and His longing for relationship — the things that make Him closer to us. The way John talks about Jesus and the Father makes it clear that the powerful, eternal, creator God longs for a relationship with us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. … The Word became flesh, and lived among us.  (John 1:1-4, 14, WEB)

Jesus came here not just to die for our sins and reconcile us to God, but also to get to know us. He is the good shepherd who knows His sheep and is known by His own, who choose to follow Him (John 10:14, 27). He calls us His followers, friends, chosen, and beloved (John 15:12-16). And He reveals that knowing Him and the Father is key to eternal life (John 17:3). The importance of knowing and being known by God cannot be overstated. Read more

No Life for the Wicked: Looking at Redemption in The Rise of Skywalker

As many of you know, I’m an avid Star Wars fan. As such, you can imagine my excitement going to see The Rise of Skywalker last month wearing my ’50s style Anakin-inspired dress. I’ve seen the film twice now, and both times left the theater in tears. I hated the ending, for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment, and found it a heartbreaking, hopeless conclusion to the Skywalker story that I’ve been following my whole life.

Many people love this film and I don’t want to take away from their enjoyment of it or criticize them for disagreeing with me. I’m glad for those who could enjoy it, and saddened that I cannot since it’s the first Star Wars film that I haven’t loved despite whatever flaws it might have. I do, however, want to talk about a choice made regarding one character’s fate. And since I’m a Christian blogger, I want to talk about how much it relates to some Bible scriptures I happened to read the night I saw The Rise of Skywalker for the first time.

Warning: major spoilers follow for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

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Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is It True That Only Intuitive Can See The Big Picture?

One of the ways that we often talk about the difference between Sensing and Intuitive types in the Myers-Briggs®system is by saying that Intuitives are big-picture thinkers who recognize patterns and think abstractly, while Sensors are detail-oriented thinkers who rely on sensory information and think concretely. Those descriptions are, broadly speaking, true. But it’s also important to note that this does not mean Intuitives always ignore details or that Sensors are incapable of seeing the big picture.

Your Myers-Briggs® personality type describes your preferred mental processes. If you’re an Intuitive type, that means you prefer to take in new information and perceive the world using an Intuitive mental function. Sensing types prefer to use a Sensing function when they’re learning and conceptualizing the world. Intuitives also have access to Sensing and Sensors can also use Intuition, just not as comfortably. (If you’re not familiar with Myers-Briggs® functions or want a quick refresher, click here.)

As with most of my myth-busting posts, this article is basically about not judging people based on stereotypes. Preferring a certain function doesn’t mean you use it exclusively. Having skills in one area doesn’t make you incompetent in others. Personality types describe how our minds work — they don’t limit what we’re capable of. Read more

Peaceful Wisdom

We’ve been working on a study of godly wisdom, as described in James 3:17. Last week, we talked about how “the wisdom from above is first pure.” James goes on to say it is “then peaceful.”

In what way is wisdom peaceful? We might say that wisdom avoids strife, but that can’t be all there is to it since peace in the Bible goes far beyond lack of conflict. It’s a state of tranquility, harmony, and wholeness that comes from being in a relationship with God. And since God is the source of true wisdom, it’s not too much of a surprise that wisdom and peace are linked.

Paths of Wisdom

There are not many verses in the Bible directly talking about the link between wisdom and peace. Searching for those two words turns up a verse in 1 Kings 5:12 that says “Yahweh gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon.” Other verses talk about wise people who hold their peace, but that phrase means to keep silent rather than to have shalom (Job. 33:33; Prov. 11:12).

As usual when studying wisdom, the best place to find what we’re looking for is in Proverbs. This book of wisdom has several things to say about peace, and one of these passages is found in a lengthy discussion of wisdom. Read more