I’m thinking of the work we do to give each other little spiritual gifts. At lunch, my husband often unfolds some insight from His date with Jesus or His Bible study. Or a friend makes a verse come alive in a fresh way as she shares its impact on her life. Usually, the ability to communicate clearly takes a little extra effort. It requires pushing the original seed thought through the sieve of our minds, shifting it, pulling it apart, and putting it back together. In this regard, two passages are relevant.
Solomon gave us the gift of three Old Testament books: Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Three books full of gifts for the mind, heart and spirit. Practicality. Poetry. Philosophy. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes the process, the labor involved, to communicate truth to others:
“Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote the words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-11).
I notice the labor the Preacher exerts to give us a gift from God. He weighs the content, studies, arranges, and labors to find the right words to touch the hearer. He works with the material to make it stick in the mind. He makes his words a goad to prod the hearer to action.
The second example is similar.
Luke was a physician and a historian, a man used to gathering information, sifting and extracting, and setting data in order. For some time, Luke had tracked the events around the life of Jesus. Now he sits to write to Theophilus (see Luke 1:1-4). Luke aspires to write a reliable document to affirm and confirm Theophilus in the faith. This is a labor of love. I like this translation from The Amplified Bible: “having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you” (Luke 1:3).
These men who wrote scripture, those whom the Holy Spirit carried along as they wrote (see II Peter 1:20,21), labored to communicate the truth in a clear, compelling way. This is God’s gracious mystery. Solomon and Luke exerted effort for us.
Think of it. God intends to use people (like us) to give one another little gifts from His Word.
Live the mystery.