Summary: Message series in book of James: “Extreme Makeover: What Really Looks Good to God”Get God’s view of a good life.
Message in “extreme makeover” series
Happy Mother’s Day! Ah the good life… Mothers, actually, all of us dream of the good life, don’t we? Our culture is big on it, especially now powered by the popular “Extreme Makeover” TV series and all its clones. And it seems, as our culture indicates, the way to the good life is painful expensive plastic surgery, an elaborate designer wardrobe, with hairdos to die for, paralyzing debt from elaborate home renos. Is that really the “good life”?
What really is a “good life”? Is a good life, the one that is defined by Oprah, Martha Stewart, hit TV shows, glossy magazines such as our fashion magazines, Good Housekeeping, the glitz and glamour society page in our local newspaper? To have life defined by the glitz and trends of the rich and famous, well, isn’t that just a bit shallow? Is a good life possible without going out and selling your soul to the bank or creditors? What do you visualize a good life to be?
Let me share with you what the Bible says about a good life…
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. Jas 3:13-18 (NIV)
If you read the Bible with me, you’ll find that James defines a good life as this “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom”. I think mothers personify that verse.
One person once said, “I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note, which said, “Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.” Mrs. Edison wrote back, “You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself.” And she did, with results that are well known” (Morning Glory, January 8, 1994).
Is this a mother or what? Mrs. Edison is an embodiment of what a good life is all about. She did not live in the time where Hollywood or our morals challenged media defined what a good life is all about. Mrs. Edison showed here what the Bible describes in James 3:13 as “deeds done in humility”, that is taking a supposedly “dumb boy” sent home in shame from school, and then patiently through persistent hard work and heart work, undo the damage Thomas Edison’s teacher had done. Isn’t Mrs Edison a good life?
With so much to do, that seem unrewarding, in a day without the aid of electricity, no washing machines, no microwaves, no instant noodles, dreaming of a good life, she could have said to young Edison’s teacher “Thank you and I can’t stand that dumb boy too.” Yes, she could have easily given up on dumb Thomas, recoiled in shame, and lay defeated, while mouthing “oh poor baby” like a mantra, harbouring bitter feelings, perhaps blaming God for giving her a moron and wishing ill for the teacher. But we know instead of doing something foolish, she took action. She performed deeds done in humility. She came to the level of her child, she believed in her boy, she loved her boy, she knew her boy’s inclinations and the special way he was put together by God, and she had him home schooled, now that’s a mother’s dedication, what wisdom!
Let me quote what Thomas Edison said about his mom, “If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should very likely never have become an inventor.... I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of a different character I should have probably turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness, were potent powers to keep me in the right path. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me." (adapted from Utah State office of Education website).
The Bible asks: “13Who is wise and understanding among you?“ To that, we can safely say one answer is; wise mothers such as Mrs. Edison, who through their good lives demonstrate loving deeds done in what the world deems as small and insignificant, unmemorable, minor and unglamorous. But the Bible itself says that’s what a truly good life is all about: Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.