Wisdom & Successful Living
Quality and Span of our Lives. It seems life gets increasingly complex as we modernize and move into the 21st century. Take medical alternatives for example. Now we know we have options not considered beforehand. Mortality is still inevitable – one out of one people die – but we can forestall the inevitable by a series of medical interventions, and for that, we are generally fortunate. But what does a longer life span bring? Certainly quality of life issues for the senior citizen, and a whole host of financial and family support and involvement questions for the extended family. In his book Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande speaks to this, explaining that medical schools do not train our physicians well in mortality issues. Extending life – yes. But less so on the questions of quality of life, family involvement, etc. This excellent book also gets personal, where the author addresses the dying condition and reality of his own father. A good read for all.
Continuing in Wisdom. We have learned so far in this series that the life banner ‘Wisdom’ is a standard and measure replete through instructions on life. In the Old Testament, this Hebrew word ‘Hockma’, means skillful living. It means winding your life with skill around the circumstances you face with good judgment and sober thinking and knowledge.
Making Good Life Judgments. Moreover, I find myself evaluating virtually everything I hear, see and read. You can’t read a book or listen to a news broadcast without asking the questions, “Is that right? Does that make sense? Is that person accurately representing the facts?” It used to be that the exclusive and generic Christian instruction was, Matthew 7:1-2. Do not judge, or you too will be judged.2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Being translated, it was understood that we could not evaluate and analyze others, or their proposals, positions. But that is not what it says. The context of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7 is hypocrisy. Matthew 7:3-5. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. It is actually not possible to not evaluate everything around you, and the standard is to first apply your critique to yourself, in self-judgment, as we explained last week. Galatians 6:4-5. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,5 for each one should carry their own load.6
So where does that leave you and me? Rather than snap judgments, particularly self-serving judgment intended to criticize others in order to inflate ourselves or promote our point of view, listen more than you speak. And when you judge, judge with the right standards. You and those around you will be wiser and more successful as a result.
– John Moore