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Wisdom comes from Understanding

Augustine once wrote:

“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

It is interesting that when we read words such as these we are amazed at their impact and great value. For Augustine, there was a reason for such impact and value in what he knew and what he expressed.

There is a story recorded for us in Matthew, Mark, and Luke about how Jesus responded to a question. In Mark 9, we see the account of Jesus dealing with a man and his son who was possessed. The disciples failed in their attempt to deal with the situation. When Jesus becomes involved there is a dialogue with the father In verse 23 Jesus says in Mark 9:23-

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

When you consider this scripture and then look at what Augustine said, you can conclude that Augustine had learned an invaluable lesson from this text-

“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

Remember that your understanding is your reward for faith. So believe and then you will understand. This seems easy however it is hard for us, even as Christians. How often have you begun your prayer with "Lord, I want to understand" and all the while you know you don't? Jesus makes it clear that it is believing, but believing what? Well, the list is long and filled with items we all know but seem to often forget.

Now we can all agree that:

-God knows all

-God is ever-present -God is all powerful

-God knows us intimately

-His Spirit is in us

-His Son died for our sins

-His Son rose on the 3rd day

-His Son sits on His right-hand interceding

Listen, all I did was simply scratch the surface. You can add to the list and I would encourage you to do so. All of these things and more are worked out in our life through faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says exactly what faith is-

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

As a child, I put faith in someone I have never seen with my own eyes. There is an assurance of hope that one day I will literally see Him. This is a conviction that I have even though I have not seen Him.

Earlier today I had the opportunity to be with other Pastors who are a part of the association where we live. It was my privilege to lead them in a Pastor's Prayer time today. I was drawn to Psalm 51. This is a great Psalm because it shows us that even when we fail, and sometimes quite miserably, God is there for us. In verses 1 and 2, David begins in reverence acknowledging God-

1 Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.

2 Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

I was reminded as I considered his words that-

-the Lord God's gracious acts testifies unto His glory

-the Lord God's faithful love heals the wounds

-the Lord God's abundant compassion gives peace and comfort

I know those things and as Augustine noted understanding is the reward of faith. I understand these things of God and it is by faith.

In God's Grace,

Elbert Nasworthy

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