The words ring through my ears as the clock tower rings at the bottom of the hour “take no thought”… as the bell rings twice at the top of the hour “take no thought, for your life.” Some people would say, not thinking comes easy to me, but the part “for your life,” is what gets me! As time rolls by, it’s not that I’m not thinking; my mind is constantly occupied with thoughts of my life. What should I have said or shouldn’t have done, rather than what is the job at hand? Jesus said if you want to find your life you must lose it! How can I do that when I feel that’s all I have? Give it away! It’s like a prideful thing; like I can and must do everything myself. Which is a dead end, when life is about trusting. If you need a friend, be a friend. If you are worried about making ends meet, buy a gift for your wife, or your kids, or a complete stranger! It sounds wild and unreasonable! But so do the words of Jesus “take no thought for your life.” (Matthew 6:25) When I sit and think about it, I was given everything that I am, in some way. Did I do everything to build a house or did it take the trees to make the lumber that gave me a roof to have shelter from the storm? Was it me that made my marriage or did it come from my wife giving me her heart? As a baby did I care for myself or was it my parents that gave the care? Did I work to get a job or did my boss give me a job? Now I work to keep it.
God gave us the gifts of the spirit, and it’s an uneasy thing to be competitive when you are given the gifts! “Pride goeth before the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) King Nebuchadnezzar said, “look at this great kingdom I built by my mighty power,” and the Bible says the words were still in his mouth when a voice from heaven fell and said, “the kingdom has departed from you!” He (King Nebuchadnezzar) lost his reasoning and became a beast in the field all because of his pride. I have to wonder if Charles Darwin’s theory “survival of fittest” stemmed from kings, rulers, and dictators acting and treating people as animals, like the Nazis trying to force their prideful view of “The Superhuman” and killing those who didn’t line up with them! Not until King Nebuchadnezzar looked to the heavens did his understanding return and he blessed God the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever (Daniel 4:28-34). No man is an Island; we need God and each other.
Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Why would pride lead us to destruction? The arrogance of excellence! Out of all those things given to me, did I make them? The tree, my wife, my job, the gifts? No, I didn’t! But if I think I did, I believe I would disrespect those things and others as if they owed me. We all have heard it’s a dog eat dog world, but that is a far cry from the royal law of God, to “love God so we can know how to love our neighbor as ourselves!” (James 2:8)
The actor, Denzel Washington’s parents, split when he was in his teens, even though his dad was a preacher. The years passed, he was failing college, and he didn’t know what to do. One day he was at his mom’s beauty shop, and a woman he never met before prayed for him and that prayer has stayed with him till this day. It causes him to say “That everything that I have has been given to me by the grace of God! Understand that it’s a gift.”
You might say, the only thing that given to you was a bad hand. I can’t answer that. But what I can say is by putting God first and being faithful and thankful, working hard at that relationship, God will take what was “meant for bad and turn it around for your good!” (Genesis 50:20) Through the good and the bad times. “Faith without works is dead!” (James 2:20) “Casting all your care upon Him (God), for He cares for you.” ( 1 Peter 5:7)
Giving all that we are, will bring us to be what God intended us to be. Albert Einstein said “ God does not play dice with the universe.” Some say that Einstein didn’t believe in a personal God but I would have to ask if God didn’t play dice with the universe, do you think He would play games with our souls? You can believe in God or not. It doesn’t change the fact that Jesus said what He is said! “It is written” in the book of books, The Holy Bible. If we are brutally honest we can see the everlasting effects Jesus has and is having in this world. “For the wages of sin (pride) is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” ( Romans 6:23). What will we do with what has been given to us?
The writer is a husband, father, preacher, writer, artist, musician and songwriter. Ben and his wife, Missy, reside with their three sons in St. Marys.