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Spiritual Intelligence: The Best Is The Enemy Of The Good

“The Best Is The Enemy Of The Good” ~ Voltaire, A wise Italian

Good morning friends. The title of this morning’s post is from the opening line of a poem by Voltaire entitled, “A wise Italian”. As a very creative person my drive for perfection often leaves me miserable. One minute I’m in awe, the next minute I’m tearing it apart again. However, I noticed that as I grew older, I am not as cruel with myself as I used to be; as a result, I have developed strategies that enable me to stop wisely. The quest for perfection is not of itself the problem, the motive is the one to be brought up for cross examination. Our motives play a big role in what we do, and it has a very interesting way of providing satisfaction or despair.

With that in mind, let us consider this passage from one of Luke’s letters:

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

Apollos was very good at what he knew, albeit limited, but his passion and drive kept him innovative and relevant. He was able to engage effectively, putting forward a very convincing case for what he knew and believed. Then through divine providence his

gift finally made room for him

He found favour with Priscilla and Aquila. He was humble enough to appreciate their investment in his ministry, and through their love and mentorship, his work was greatly enhanced.

I guess the secret is to start where we are, and to make the most of what we have. As long as our motivation is good, our work will be pleasing to God and it will provide benefits to humanity; thereby withstanding the tests of time. Dear friends, in God’s kingdom it’s all about His purpose, and not our ego. Paul made this very interesting statement in his effort to encourage friends in Corinth to be mindful of the motivation behind their work:

each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

In closing I’ll leave you with this thought from the book of proverbs. It has always served as a yardstick for appraisal of what I do:

Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.

I pray that our work will stand before the King of kings on His return. Amen.

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~ Sabali

*Help make my new book (Echoes of Mercy, Whispers of Love) a success by supporting my fundraising campaign using this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/echoes-of-mercy-whispers-of-love

Be part of something awesome!

Much love,
Clem

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Spiritual Intelligence: No Rose, Without A Thorn

A thorn can be defined as a stiff, sharp-pointed woody projection on the stem or other part of a plant.

With this in mind, let us consider it’s application as a metaphor in Paul’s letter to friends in Corinth:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In scriptures this metaphor was sometime used to describe the nations round about the Israelites. By way of background, the Israelites had been fearful to dispossess all the nations in the area designated to them by God, as a result there were still pockets in the fringes that were inhabited by enemy nations. These nations became a thorn in their flesh, eventually leading to their demise as a nation. In God’s foreknowledge, He inspired Joshua to address this issue in his valedictory speech, with a view to warn the newly established nation of the impending dangers of spiritual, political, and social assimilation with their neighbours. In his words:

Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations—these that remain among you—and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.

Needles I say that his warning wasn’t heeded, like cancerous cells they ultimately led to the demise of the nation. But, we find hope dear friends in Ezekiel’s prophetic journal, shaped in these words:

And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.

So, with another look at Paul’s statement in our first set of verses, we understand that he was contending with something prickly, sharp, thorny…, that had a place rightfully or not, on the same stem as a beautiful rose. Something he so badly wanted to get rid off, but simply couldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I am not really bothered with what exactly Paul’s thorn was; I’d rather find hope and consolation from his interpretation of the situation, and the response he received from God after seeking deliverance thrice. First, a look at Paul’s interpretation:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

He saw it as something that kept him in check, something if you like that made him dependent on God’s grace and not in his strength or ability.

Then, God’s response:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness

Hmmm… Indeed, no rose without a thorn.

Friends, it really doesn’t matter what our thorn really is, what matters is where we turn to when we feel those sharp prickly pains. In Paul’s case he turned to God, and he found reasons for thanksgiving.

So! Allow me to close this thought with the refrain from an old gospel song by Charles A. Tindley, entitled, We will understand it better by and by.

By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.

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~ Sabali

*Help make my new book (Echoes of Mercy, Whispers of Love) a success by supporting my fundraising campaign using this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/echoes-of-mercy-whispers-of-love

Be part of something awesome!

Much love,
Clem