Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Treasure of Your Heart

by Michael C. Garrett

Well, King Solomon was inspired to write many things about the concept we call wisdom. Back in Proverbs chapter 1, verse 1 he said, “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: 2) To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding, 3) To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity; 4) To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion – 5) A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, …” And then he said in Verse 7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And over in chapter 4, he says, verse 1 – “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding.” Verse 4 – “He also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. 5) Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 6) Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.” Verse 9 – “She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.’” – and I think that crown of glory might be a crown of eternal life!

Well the dictionary says that wisdom is 1) the intelligent application of knowledge. It also says, another definition: the ability to make intelligent choices and to reach intelligent conclusions or decisions. There are some synonyms: sagacity, insight, sageness, judgment. And I think from a Biblical perspective, you might take those definitions and tweak ‘em just a bit. The first one wisdom could be called the intelligent application and understanding of spiritual knowledge. And the second definition you could tweak it just a bit – wisdom is the ability to make intelligent spiritual choices and to reach intelligent  spiritual conclusions and decisions.

Well, when I arrived on the campus of Ambassador College in Pasadena, back in the Fall of 1969, and for four years I heard Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong speak many times, in sermons, Bible studies, in the classroom, at forums and assemblies. And there are two statements which were constant refrains of Mr. Armstrong. And they still echo through my mind and memory after all of these years and decades. And one of them – that he said over and over – “Do the Work!” Back in Little Rock, last weekend, I pointed out that: I think the first couple of years that I was in Pasadena, was at the tail-end of what I call “the golden years” of the Work of God of the Worldwide Church of God. And literally, everyone that you met had one concept on their mind, “Do the Work.” And there was an emphasis on whatever job you had, do the best you were. I was a landscaper for two years, and the impetus was be the best landscaper that you can be. Because when you do honor to these gardens and lawns you are also indirectly honoring God. And that was the pervasive mentality of most of the people. “Do the Work.” The other thing that Mr. Herbert said over, and over, and over. And I still think it’s the wisest thing I’ve ever heard Mr. Armstrong say. And, it still sticks in my mind, and, will hopefully be there till Kingdom come. “Stick to the trunk of the Tree.” How many of you from back in that era remember Mr. Herbert Armstrong saying that!? Raise your hands. He said it over and over. And, it got a little redundant, but, he just flat had it right! He would say, “Don’t get stuck out on the small little lateral branches, and whatever you do don’t get out on the little twigs – the little bitty branches, the acorns at the end of the twig.” And yet, there are so many people in the churches of God who have seemingly lost that vision of “Do the Work.” And who seemingly have become distracted by what I call some “shiny new bobble.” Some new spiritual curio. Some new spiritual novelty. Curiosity, toy, trinket. And, it’s like the situation Paul encountered in Athens in Acts chapter 17, verse 21 – “For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” And there are people out on the religious landscape now – in the churches of God – who, people at one time had an association with the Church of God, and they seem that they want to get distracted into little bitty issues that in the long run – in my opinion – do not amount to a hill of beans. And why they do this, I don’t know. It’s like in an attraction, a little child seeing something shiny and trying to grab it. “O’ that’s new, let me play with that. Let me touch it. Let me wear it!”

Well, my strong advice to all is to not become distracted by some new tradition, fable or myth. And especially those traditions and myths which seem to have a Jewish or Hebrew flavor, essence and scent. And, that’s what I’m seeing out on the landscape.

My advice would be the same as Mr. Herbert Armstrong. “Stick to the trunk of the Tree,” and “Do the Work.” That’s what his advice would be. It was good back then, it’s still good. And back in those early days of my church experience – especially being out at Ambassador College – Mr. Ted Armstrong often made a statement about human nature. He would say it in his sermons, he would say it on the radio, and television show, he would say it at Bible studies. He would say it so often I thought it was a Biblical statement. So one day I got curious and I thought, well I’m gonna go research this and see – was this Paul, was this Jesus, who said this!? Was it one of the Old Testament prophets!? And after searching and searching, I finally figured out that Mr. Ted had coined this phrase himself! And I think he really hit the nail on the head. Sure wisdom about the nature of human nature. He would say, “Human nature is a collection of vanity, jealousy, lust, and greed.” And being aware of that, understanding that knowledge, has allowed me to really have an insight into people. In all areas of my life. Whether it be the church situation or out officiating a game, or just interacting with family or friends and associates. When you understand that the basic nature of all people is to be vain, jealous, lustful, and greedy! Then it helps you to understand what their doing and why their doing it. And it sort-of takes the frustration out of it. Well, it’s really helped me over the years and, Mr. Ted, I say thank you, because that has been a really big help to me.

And it is obvious and readily apparent that Jesus Christ had many profoundly wise and insightful things to say. The following Words are some of the things which I have used over the years, and they’ve been so valuable to me – in helping me to understand people I meet. To almost be able to read their minds. To understand what’s going on inside their head, their motivations. And, you can apply this to any setting. It’s not just a “spiritual” thing. It’s any activity and any endeavor which involves human beings. He said in Matthew chapter 7, and also Matthew 12 – “’You will know them by their fruits.’” That is such a powerful statement! If you just allow that statement to work in your favor. If you simply want to know – you meet somebody (you’ve never met them before) and you want to know, is this a person I can trust!? Is this a person I can believe!? Is this a person I want to associate with more!? And if you ask the question: ‘You shall know them by their fruits.’ Look at the fruits of their life.

If they smoke five packs of cigarettes a day, drink two six-packs of beer, finish it off with a fifth of whiskey, talk about gambling and going to the stripper bar, and on and on and on. You can pretty well figure out these are some characters I don’t really want to be around. Now, you think I’m joking, but I know some sports officials that fit that description! Perfectly! And I’ve learned with time, I just don’t want to be around them! It’s not worth it. And in one sense it may cause me a little trouble, I might not meet up to their expectations, but I don’t want to meet their expectations. And, ‘you’ll know them by their fruit.’ If you want to know what someone is like, examine the fruit of their life. Examine their marriage. Examine the way their children behave. Examine what they eat – you know if they go to a smorgasbord and come back with four plates of food – it helps you to understand why they have a diabetes problem or a high blood pressure problem. It’s really not all that difficult to find out, if you simply apply that term – ‘you shall know them by their fruits.’

Another one that Jesus said, He said it in Matthew chapter 12, also Luke 6 – and boy this one, this one to me is maybe the best one I’ve ever learned! Just the Words of Jesus Christ – pure, shear, wisdom! ‘Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth does speak!’ You wanna know what somebody is thinking, just listen. Just shut up, open your ears, and listen to what they have to talk about. What are their jokes!? What are their stories!? What are their thoughts, their plans, their wishes!? They will tell you exactly who they are and what they are! It will give you an ability to evaluate this human being. And this can be applied, as I said, in any setting where there are human beings. “’For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’” Matthew chapter 6, He gave another treasure of a little gem. He said, “’For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” You can ask yourself that question. I can say, “OK, Michael C. what do you treasure!?” Because that’s really where my heart is. Or, if you’re evaluating somebody that you meet, what is their treasure!? If it’s like that guy who just can’t wait to get to the bar, you pretty well know what his treasure is. He worships at the altar of his alcohol. Or, his drug addiction. Whatever it is. All the different things you could get into. You can find out where a human heart is – and if you meet a church person, you just wanna know, can I trust this person!? How sincere are they!? Just ask yourself the question: What is their treasure!?

If they spend all of their time talking about their new car, their new house, their new this, their new physical whatever it is, you pretty well have a clue that their heart is not tuned in to the things of God. It just speaks for itself. “’For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’” And then in Matthew 6 He also said, “’No one can serve two masters; …’” – that’ll give you insight into people. If on one hand you meet somebody and he’s talking – blah, blah, blah – and then a few moments later, in that presence, he’s talking to somebody else and he’s singing a totally different tune. He can’t be on both specters! There’s a certain duplicity about that individual. There’s a simply – you can’t trust them. Every-so-often I have these imaginary warning bells, I’ll meet somebody (Stan and I were talking about this earlier), hear a story, and all of a sudden my warning bells – brrring, brrring, brrring – warning, warning, warning – and it says to me, “Michael, be careful!” “Don’t let yourself get too involved with this person, because they’re gonna be trouble or they’re gonna hurt you or hurt themselves.” “’No one can serve two masters.’” And then Jesus had something to say over in Luke 6 – which is a powerful statement! I guess if we would all apply this to our lives, how much better off we would be. Luke chapter 6, verse 36 – “’Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37) Judge not, and you shall not be judged.’” – O’ my! If we as an organization could simply put that into effect and have it at the root of our spiritual DNA, what a much finer and more powerful organization we would be in the service of Jesus Christ! And yet that often is not the way things go. He says, “’Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’” – and what’s the counterpart of that!? If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven! If you hold that grudge, that sense of vengeance in your heart, you are far from doing the will of God and it will cripple your heart and it will poison your heart and it will calcify your heart. And for those people who always want to point fingers – you’ve always been around them – they can’t wait to tell you the latest story about some piece of bad news on somebody else. It’s the old saying, that if you find somebody pointing their finger at somebody, three fingers are always pointing back. And what I’ve found in my life, the people that accuse other people harshly, and many times falsely, they’re actually describing themselves. They’re actually describing their own problems. He goes on to say, Verse 38 – “’Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.’

And this idea of judging people, you don’t often get to work Michael Jackson into a sermon, especially when you’ve quoted Herbert Armstrong, Ted Armstrong, Jesus Christ, and if I get time, the apostle Paul. But, Michael Jackson was part of a song. It wasn’t written by him, it was co-written by a woman – her last name is Garrett! But the song I hope some of you have heard. “The Man in the Mirror.” How many of you have heard of this song!? It’s got as much wisdom in that song as just about anything I’ve ever heard. As a secular song. And the chorus of this song goes –

That's why I'm starting with me.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror. 
I'm asking him to change his ways. 
And no message could have been any clearer. 
If you want to make the world a better place, 
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror.

Instead of worrying about somebody else’s problems or foibles, maybe you should look in the mirror, or better yet – the spiritual mirror of God’s Word – and ask yourself: How do I meet up to what I should be!? Am I the man or the woman I’m supposed to be!? Or is the picture looking back at me extremely flawed!? And if you’re honest, and if God helps you with that sense of repentance, you’re going to find out that worrying about yourself – in terms of changing and growing – is a full-time job! You really don’t have a whole lot of time to worry about sticking your nose in other people’s business. Look at the man or the woman in the mirror.

And the apostle Paul, he has so many profound things to share with us. It’s just pure condensed wisdom. Philippians chapter 3. Obviously you could spent hours talking about the things Paul said, or hours talking about the things that Jesus Christ said. But just picking a few of them out and saying, “These are items really worth thinking about!”

He said in Philippians chapter 3 that his main goal was focused on being a part of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says in Verse 10 – “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, …” Verse 11 – “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” And then he says in Verse 13 – this is a piece of wisdom I wish we could all live by; I know people who don’t. I know people who allow things in their past to haunt them – they simply cannot let it go! And they would be better off if they could simply take it to a spiritual toilet and flush it and get it out of their lives! “…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” – worry about the future, worry about the Kingdom of God! Not the stuff that happened 30, 40, 50 years ago, that you can’t change. He said, Verse 14 – “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15) Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this in mind …” – and then he said in Philippians chapter 4, verse 4 – these are ideas that I think we should read on regular basis. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving [don’t forget that part! – you have to be thankful!], let your requests be made known to God; 7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things.” – don’t worry about finding mistakes that people in your environment has made. Think about the positive things. That is in that person’s life or your life. He says, Verse 9 – “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” – wouldn’t all of love to simply have peace to be a part of our life!?

And then he says in the Book of Colossians. Colossians chapter 3, verse 12 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on the tender mercies, …” – this is something all of us should strive for. And if we do, we’ll be a part of the Kingdom of God, and if we can’t get this down we might not make it!

“…tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” – and then he says, Verse 15 – “…be thankful.” And then Verse 16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, …” Verse 23 – “And whatever you do, do it heartedly, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Let us remember what King Solomon said, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.’”

May all of us grow in grace and in knowledge, and may all of us grow in wisdom – to make you wise unto salvation and eternal life!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be sure to leave a comment and tell us what you think.