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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A hammer in God's hand

11 The words of the wise prod us to live well.
   They're like nails hammered home, holding life together.
   They are given by God, the one Shepherd.
(Ecclesiastes 12:11)

Solomon authored the Book of Ecclesiastes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in what was likely the end portion of his life.  Within the pages of this short book, we find reminders of many of the wise proverbs he had expounded upon in what we call the Book of Proverbs.  To many, this book seems a little negative - like he was bemoaning his life.  Yet, in the recesses of the verses that seem to be a little "negative", we find tidbits like the one above.  

The words of the wise - oh, how hard it is to find those words at times.  We are inundated with all kinds of "words" - surrounded on all sides with opinions, propositions, and proposals of hope.  In the end, if we are faithful to turn back to the Word of God, we will find balance in what we are hearing.  Wise words are those which give counsel, steady a course, and redirect us when our purpose may be a little self-centered.  Solomon reminds us that they "prod" us to live well.  Words that stem from relationship with Christ are those which stimulate others and excite them into action.  They are words that trigger action - rousing us from our spiritual, emotional, or physical slumber.  They are words spoken at the right time, in the right spirit, with the right intensity to get our attention.  As such, they "prod" us - stirring us up.

Like nails hammered home - they hold our life together.  Nothing provides stability or soundness in the midst of chaos as well as a well-appointed word from a godly man or woman with a listening ear for what God would have them say.  Some messages we hear from the pulpit are like that - they are nails hammered home.  We almost sense that God "aired our dirty laundry" to the pastor that morning, and the message was directed right at us!  Yet, in embracing the "prodding" of that message, we find exactly what we needed.

So many times we feel like life is falling apart around us - nothing seems or appears stable.  In those moments, a word aptly spoken provides great comfort, wise direction, and purposeful plans for our life.  Learning to be the one God uses to bring such words of wisdom in the right season is what each of us should strive to see developed within us.  There are probably things God has shared in your life (in your time of study, in your opportunities of worship, or in your moments of personal tragedy), that if you'd just take the time to share them, would be like a spiritual hammer driving a much needed nail home to a listening and hungry heart.

Some of us think we have no ability to "teach" another.  Read this passage again.  Have you the desire and ability to "prod" another to live well?  Then ask God to open doors of opportunity to share the wisdom he has given you - someone will benefit from what you have learned in your walk with Christ.  Open doors are the first step to your words "hitting home" just where they are needed.  Ask God to give you the ability to share his truths that you've tucked into the recesses of your heart - with a clarity of speech that touches the heart of the hearer.  As you begin to walk through the "open doors" God provides, trusting him to bring the "right words" in the "right season", he will.  

The words of the wise are not always the words of the "learned".  Book learning and higher education just go so far.  The words that influence are those that are spoken from a place of relationship - relationship solidly founded on truth, growing in grace, and triumphant in testing.  The truth you stand upon, the grace you have embraced, and the triumph you learned in the midst of testing are but a few of the "words of wisdom" that are like "nails driven home" when they are ignited by the passion of the Spirit that lives within you.  We don't do the "hammering" ourselves - the Spirit of God places the "nail" - he allows our words to drive that nail home.  Words spoken in the right season, in the right spirit, act as a "hammer" in God's hands.

Let's learn to be "hammers" in God's hands.