By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As a child, my parents made it clear I was to live in a manner that would not embarrass my family or me. My dad would go a step further and say, your name is all you have at the end of the day. They can take your job, they can take your friends, and they can take your wealth; but they cannot take your name. The writer of Ecclesiastes is expressing the same sentiment. He wants the reader to understand dying with a good name is better than being born in wealth.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 (ESV): A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
We already know the writer of Ecclesiastes believes that life on this earth is a life “full of vanity and misery”. It stands to reason that the writer is reminding us that the indulgences of the flesh are not beneficial in the long-run. As a result, it is better to mourn at a funeral than it is to celebrate at a wedding. It is better to find sorrow than it is to find laughter. Notice that those who are wise (because they are living a life that is pleasing to God) are in the house of mourning. The wise can see the “vanity and misery” of the world, so they do not indulge in the pleasures of this earth. It is only the fools who are focused on short-term pleasure, while living in a world of corruption and misery. Maintaining a good name in spite of the ability to prosper through wickedness and corruption, shows one’s ability to focus on God and His ultimate reward on Judgment Day.
Proverbs 22:1-4 (ESV): A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
The apostle Paul speaks on the love of money being the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). People are willing to steal, cheat, and make decisions based on personal gain when they love money. However, when you are focused on maintaining a good name, you are humble and live a life of respect to the Lord. You are focused on spreading the name of God and furthering His kingdom, even if that is at the expense of your well-being. In addition to the fact that people will find it difficult to speak ill of you, you will not be tempted by all the world has to offer. You will stay clearheaded, understanding that the precious ointment of the world comes at a great cost. Focus on humbly maintaining your good name in the Lord and everything else will take care of itself.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Every Christian should have the goal to save the lost. As with any goal, you are going to face setbacks and challenges because everyone is not interested in obeying the Gospel. Keep in mind that there will be those who reject your message and never become a Christian; but other times, the seed you planted will one day save their soul.
When trying to help someone see the light, Jesus shows us the importance of emphasizing God’s love. To ensure everyone understands the meaning of God’s love, Jesus shares that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to save it. Jesus wants to make sure everyone knows that love is not being defined by loose worldly standards, but by God’s divine measure.
John 3:16-18 (ESV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Jesus balances God’s love of the world with the fact that He is righteous and therefore consistent. As a result of the wages of sin being death, there will still be those who will perish (although no one should perish). This is important because there will be some who see God’s love as an unconditional relationship, without any expectation of us from God. God expects His people to be holy because He is holy.
John 3:19-21 (ESV): And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Jesus draws a clear distinction between those who obey the Gospel and those who ignore it. Those who are not pricked by the love and righteousness of God are considered evil. They are seen as people who would rather hide in the ignorance of darkness than come into the light of truth. It is imperative to understand all of your evangelism efforts will not bring everyone to Christ, and that does not mean you did something wrong. It is also true if dozens of people are pricked and turn their life over to God, that does not mean you did everything right. The most important aspect of evangelism is a willingness to share your faith with others. If you have done everything you can to help bring someone to Christ, you need to be content with the results. On the other hand, if you are not following Jesus’ pattern of love and compassion, make an effort to add it to your evangelism repertoire.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Those who are humble are often portrayed as someone who is unsure or lacks confidence. The prideful person is seen as a go-getter and someone who gets things done. In actuality, the humble person is going to be the most effective. It is the prideful person who is wasting a considerable amount of time appeasing their ego. Have you ever met someone who found it difficult to admit they were wrong? Instead of simply acknowledging the truth and moving on, they find themselves trying to defend the indefensible.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV): Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
On the other hand, when you are humble, you are more focused on outcome than you are on who gets credit. This is important because you have to remember all good things come from God. Throughout Scripture, God makes it clear that is important for us to acknowledge Him in all of our endeavors. To aid us in this task, God looks for the humble to elevate. The humble will not accept credit, nor do they seek praise.
Another method God utilizes to help us spot His mighty hand is to uplift the “weak”. We see this with King David, who was seen as the smallest and least threatening of his brothers. When David killed Goliath, everyone immediately knew that it could only be accomplished through the hand of God. A similar situation occurred with Joseph, when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph went from slave to second in command of the most powerful empire of that time.
Numbers 20:11-12 (ESV): And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
God knows it is human nature to give credit to what we can see and to ignore what we can’t. Moses lost his ability to enter the Promise Land because he did not speak to the rock. As a result, the Hebrews were going to give undue credit to Moses. While it may not seem like a big deal to us, it is of the highest importance to God. So important, that everything Moses did up to this point (plagues, traveling, commandments, leaving a lavish lifestyle) could not compare to the mistake of blurring the line of God and man. Consequently, the strength found in a humble person who has God on their side becomes immeasurable; and the strength found in a prideful person who is without God becomes trivial. Do not live in a manner that diminishes your works because you are blurring the line between God and man. Be humble, be gracious, and be willing to give God the glory.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There is always a temptation to lean on our own expertise when attempting to solve a problem. We feel that we know the person, we know the situation, so we know how to help. The first thing to do in any situation is to pray to God for guidance.
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV): But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
From a practical standpoint, taking a moment to collect your thoughts and properly access the situation is always beneficial. Reacting without thinking tends to exacerbate the situation, instead of soothing it. When someone wrongs you, the flesh immediately wants you to retaliate. We end up thinking the worst and assigning a motive based on our own preconceptions. Scripture encourages us to wait for the Lord, because it is God who provides our strength. When you feel drained by the trials of life, God is going to provide you the energy to continue. When you feel like you cannot take one more minute of mistreatment, God shows you that you have the strength to overcome their attacks for a lifetime.
Philippians 4:19 (ESV): And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we worry about things like “fairness” and “justice” too much. When thinking about what you need, do you really need fairness to do what is right? Do you really need for someone else’s sinful nature to be exposed for you to feel justified? Sure, it would be nice if everyone played by the same rules and had the same opportunities. It would be great if everyone was willing to apologize and show genuine repentance before we had to consider being kind to them. Paul understands even though these things would be nice, they should not impact our actions. If we believe God will give us everything we need, then we must believe when something doesn’t happen that means we do not need it. If we did not get that job we are qualified for, then it must mean God does not think we need it at this moment. If someone never apologizes for mistreating you, then God must think you do not need to hear that apology. Scripture tells us that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8), and it is to our glory to overlook an offense (Proverb 19:11). By focusing on what we need and waiting for God to provide us strength, we will be less concerned about personal justification; and more focused about heavenly blessings.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
It is important for Christians to be united in the word of God. We are united if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died for the sins of the world, and rose again on the third day. We are united if you believe Jesus is going to return in all His glory to judge the world. We are united if you believe baptism is the death of your old self, and the birth of your new self in Christ.
Ephesians 4:3-6 (ESV): Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
However, if we do not share these traits, then we are not united in Christ. The kingdom of God cannot be divided against itself. In fact, nothing can continue to exist if the people are divided against each other. When Christians do not agree about the Gospel, they make it difficult to convert an unbeliever. When an unbeliever sees fractions within the church, whether an issue of doctrine or opinion, the church’s influence is weakened. Disagreements among believers tend to progress into larger divisions, which can lead to church’s splitting or dying altogether.
Mark 3:24-26 (ESV): If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.
How many different church buildings/signs/names do you see when you are driving to your place of worship? I see almost a dozen every day, and I can’t help but think, this is not what Christ wanted. In a couple circumstances, the churches are built right next to each other. Multiple churches are across the street from each other, or within a few blocks. And it is not as though these churches are filled to capacity. They are often smaller congregations that are divided on matters of opinion. Sometimes the differences are the result of someone removing something from God’s word; other times, it is the result of someone adding to God’s word. By allowing personal opinions to enter into the Gospel of Christ, it taints the word of God.
Galatians 1:6-10 (NKJV): I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
The apostle Paul frequently discusses this problem among the early churches. He talks about the fact that no one (and I mean no one) can change the word of God and still call it the word of God. It is something we should take comfort in, because we know exactly what God requires of us to be faithful. There is no pop quiz or gotcha questions to trip us up on the Last Day. All we have to do is remain faithful to the unchanging word of God.