In looking at Solomon’s contention that wisdom and knowledge bring grief and sorrow, Christians have one very significant advantage not available to him: the indwelling Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest of all those born of women, but he went on to say that the least saint in the kingdom of God is greater than John (Luke 7:28).
There is a logical progression there. John, was the greatest, greater even then Solomon. Yet I, even if I am counted last in the kingdom (which when push comes to shove I would be very happy to be), am greater than either of them. What separates me from them is the Holy Spirit which empowers me to balance the grief that deepening knowledge of God brings (of my failure, weakness, and sin) with the joy that life in Christ imparts, knowing full well that I, like Paul, can do all things through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
What is key is for us to find the balance between these two things. We need to know and understand both aspects of our lives: the grief the old nature brings with it and the joy the new creation imparts. My contention is that today we all but deny the old nature and focus only on the new creation. How is that taking up our cross and following Christ? It is like eating the ice cream but never the veggies. God in his wisdom has made both aspects part of our journey of discipleship and we should learn the lessons only a balanced approach can impart.
It seems everyone these days wants to be all they can be. Well, face the sin and grief as well as embrace the joy and power of life in Christ. Repentance and joy are two sides of the coin of Christian discipleship and we should accept both and really be all that we can be in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Grace and peace to your day.
It is tempting to discuss the differences between OT believers and NT believers (including us) re the indwelling of the Spirit.
But I will resist in order to emphasize your well-made point: the necessity of suffering in the process of sanctification and progressive holiness. Suffering is stressed throughout the NT but we either ignore it or gloss over it. It is not only the disobedient who suffer: Christ certainly suffered and there was no disobedience in His life.
Suffering is a purifying and/or edifying agent in our lives; its almost complete absence as the subject in most church preaching and teaching explains a great deal about the condition of most churches today.
Mike, thanks for the comment. Yes, discipleship is hard and almost no one talks about that anymore. Everyone wants the easy road, the quick fix. Even athletics, the traditional example of “no pain, no gain” has been tainted by people using drugs to try and get the easy edge.
How else does the Bible talk about purifying ourselves except in the fire of suffering and adversity? If we avoid that, can we purify ourselves?
I do wonder if, perhaps, should our leaders talk more about discipleship and following Jesus being tough at times…maybe more people WOULD be willing to take up the cross. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Maybe if our flesh was hearing more honesty & encouragement – stories of faith fulfilled – from the pulpits, more would take that tough road. It’s a little less tough when you know you aren’t the only one. (Boy, is THAT a New-Agey remark.)