Getting A Handle on Life
1. A middle school was faced with a unique problem. A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirrors leaving dozens of little lip prints. This made the custodian very unhappy.
The principal addressed the girls and urged them to stop doing this because it created more work for the custodian. She also tried several other approaches, but nothing worked. Finally, the principal and custodian conspired.
She called several of the girls to the bathroom along with the custodian. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every day.
To demonstrate how much work they were making for the custodian, she asked him to clean one of the mirrors while the girls watched. The custodian took a long-handled brush, dipped it into the nearest toilet, and proceeded to scrub the mirror. From that day on, the problem of lip prints on the mirrors was completely eliminated.
2. Whether this really happened or not, I do not know. But it does illustrate the importance of being wise and practical — and knowing how to deal with people.
3. Most of life’s issues are more serious than this, however. Choosing a vocation, a school, or a mate, for example, have long-term consequences. Handling money or dealing with troublesome people stretch us and greatly affect how happy we are. Whereas wisdom does not fix everything, it is one of the most important tools to minimize wrong and promote right, to experience good instead of bad.
Main Idea: Life is more than bowl of cherries, and God wants us to take life seriously. He gives us specific hands-on instructions about how to do this in his Word. Today, we will examine three principles that summarize how to get a handle on life as believers.
I. Seek A Good Name ABOVE Riches (1-2)
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon refers to wise sayings as nails we can hang things on, hooks
A. More valuable in that it brings FAVOR
1. The Yiddish/Jewish culture recognizes two kinds of social people: machers and schmoozers
2. The word “schmoozer” sometimes implies manipulative, but it really doesn’t mean that
3. The mechanics of this seem to come from Proverbs 3:3-4 — Kindness and truth
4. Favor with both God and people
B. More valuable in that it brings RESPECT
1. What is the name of man who led Israel out of Egypt?
2. What was the name of the Pharaoh?
3. What was the name of the Savior who died on the cross?
4. What was the name of the Caesar, the Roman Emperor? (Tiberius)
C. God views the rich and poor as equal, so their REPUTATIONS distinguish them (2)
Webster defines reputation as, “overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general… a place in public esteem or regard…”
1. It is wise to plan ahead for a career — college/trade school/business
2. It is even wiser to develop character so you attain a good name
II. Discipline Yourself to Be Alert: Avert the Miseries of the OBLIVIOUS (3)
A. The alert person NOTICES danger coming
B. Being alert is a DISCIPLINE and the result of many specific choices
C. The alert person ACTS in light of that coming danger
1. Israelites prepared their houses with blood to dissuade the destroying angel, as did others
2. The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah – proved wise
3. David hid from Saul, Elijah hid from Jezebel; they did not just say “I am going to trust God”
4. Many Christians use the sovereignty of God as a justification for passivity
5. Are our leaders properly addressing the dangers of ISIS?/ Huston
6. Some folks do not think of the condition of their soul & hereafter until on their deathbeds...
D. The oblivious habitually chooses to keep his head in the SAND
1. He is not alert as to what is happening
2. Blind optimism vs. faith
3. People with ailments live in denial and do not see the doctor until too late...colonoscopy
4. In New Orleans, many chose not to evacuate....
III. GUARD Your Soul (4-5)
A. Inward: view yourself through the lens of HUMILITY
– humility is simply adjusting to reality; it seeks God's view of ourselves –
Moses is held up in the Torah as the most humble man on the earth in his time. The Jewish Encyclopedia comments: “… humility … stands between the two extremes of self-deification and self-effacement... Moses' greatest virtue was humility (Num. xii. 3). … But the humility of Moses shows best what this term means. While Moses at first does not wish to accept his great mission to redeem his enslaved people, because he mistrusts his ability to do so, after he has accepted it he is full of courage, energy, and decision. Yet he listens to the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law, and acts on it. When Joshua asked Moses to prohibit Eldad and Medad from prophesying in the camp, Moses answered: "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets" (ib. xi. 29).
B. Upward: take God seriously: REVERENCE Him
1. Many believers use God's name in vain, lightly
2. Others partake of the Lord's Supper with no focus or carefully
3. Others yet refuse to hate what God hates and call evil good...
4. We respect God most by obeying him; to obey is better than sacrifice
C. Outward: choose ethical RIGHTEOUSNESS above expedience or consistency
1. Righteousness sometimes makes for a disadvantage; lying can be good for business...
2. But, by and large, the righteous save themselves many long term miseries
3. Think of all the scandals we have read about in the paper...
4. I'm from Illinois where the tradition is governors finish their terms in jail...
5. Others are more concerned about consistency than justice; since we let one murderer go free, we should let them all go free…exceptions are a big part of Biblical ethics…
• Do you guard your soul?
• Are you alert to reality, or living in denial?
• Are some of your most valuable assets you — your character, your name? Or are they the shallow trinkets of this world?
• Do you check yourself, monitor your behavior?
• Or are you driving recklessly on the road of life?
• Do you get your cues from society, or do you walk to the beat of a different drummer, God?