I think most of us when we celebrate a birthday, we can't help but to reflect back on our lives, and although I am nostalgic, I am also keenly aware and stand amazed at all that God has taught me.
Some of these lessons I learned the hard way because I didn't have someone to mentor or guide me. But I'm hoping that by sharing what I have learned after many years of following Jesus, that perhaps you can learn some of these lessons without having to learn them the way I did. Experience is a wonderful teacher!
I have learned many things over the years, but these five lessons I share with you are some of the most important. Do I know it all after all these years? I don’t. Have I failed in some areas? I have. But what I do know is that the Bible says there are some lessons that can only be learned with age. Lessons that make us people of wisdom and seasoned maturity.
Number one, and probably one of the biggest things I have learned, is that people are the most important thing in the world. In Acts 20:28 Paul says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Now isn't it interesting where Paul's focus is in this farewell speech? Would you notice his focus is not on church budgets, building programs, denominational squabbles, attendance figures or numbers of baptisms? He doesn't even mention any of that. His focus is on the sheep. His focus is on people. He says, take care of these people. Watch over these people. Care for these people. Nurture and treasure these people whom Jesus bought with his own blood. That should be our main objective. No mission, no accomplishment, no objective, no task, no goal is important enough that it's worth damaging, hurting and misusing people. And you know, even though I might have known this in my head many, many years ago, it's taken me a number of years to finally get it.
Lesson number two that I've learned is that every hill is not worth dying on. I love what happened to Jesus in Luke 4. Jesus had visited his hometown after he claimed to be the Messiah and all the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They took Him to the top of the hill, in order to throw him off the cliff. But do you know what Jesus did? He walked right through the crowd and went on his way. Now, when we read this, isn't it true that part of us wants Jesus to respond and say, “Okay, okay, you want to throw me off the cliff, bring it on! You want me to show you who I really am? You want me to reveal my power and prove to you I'm the Messiah? Okay, well watch this. Kaboom.” But what did Jesus do? He just walks away. He walked away from the insults, He walked away from the challenge to His authority, He walked away from people who wanted to harm him. Jesus’ actions here say… “Hey, you know, I could win this battle if I wanted to, but not every hill's worth dying on. This is not a hill I want to die on. I'm just going to walk away.” When we are young, we often think every hill's worth dying on. I've been there, I understand this. But as you get older, you begin to realize that's not true. After you get some years in the cockpit, you begin to realize that yes, there are some hills in the world worth dying on, but there's not nearly as many as you used to think there were. And that's wisdom. Wisdom is to walk away and not die on a hill you don't have to. It's a lot easier and you take a lot less casualties just going around the hill.
Lesson number three I've learned is that timing is everything with God. Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal. And on and on and on the passage goes. But the point is that there are times and seasons in the way God runs this world and that everything doesn't have to be done yesterday. The Bible is clear in Isaiah 55, that God's ways are not our ways. God's thoughts are not our thoughts. And may I add God's timing is not our timing. God has a timing to the way He does things, that as you grow older, you begin to realize smart people wait on God's timing. Because they realize everything is perfect when you wait on God.
Lesson number four is that some failure in life is a good thing. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we all agree that too much failure is not good for us. But what the Bible is also telling us is that too much success is not good for us either. Jesus said, whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. God rewards humility. That's clear in the Bible. And friends, nobody ever got humble from success. It has never happened. It is never going to happen. Success only causes us to grow more self-sufficient, more arrogant, and haughtier.
And as Proverbs 30 says, when that happens, there's a tendency to disown the Lord, to deny the Lord, and to engage in behavior that God has to humble. Failure is a whole different story. Failure brings us to the end of ourselves. Failure drives us to our knees. Failure forces us to depend on the Lord and not ourselves. Failure humbles our high opinion of ourselves. Follow my logic. Since God wants to exalt every follower of Jesus Christ and He does. And since God blesses and exalts the humble, and He does, and since failure is what causes us and teaches us to be humble and it does, then the result of all of this is that some failure in life is good and beneficial. All sickness, all failure, all setbacks, all loss is not completely out of keeping with the will of God. I have personally experienced that failure is a doorway through which God teaches humility. The door through which God gets the freedom to exalt and bless our lives.
The 5th lesson that I've learned is this, that Romans 8:28 ALWAYS comes true for followers of Jesus Christ. It says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." And one of the things I've learned in my life is that this verse always, always, always comes true for followers of Jesus Christ. God may send some failure. God may send some setbacks. God may send some loss and tragedy into your life but give God time and He’ll turn it into a blessing. Now God is not saying in this verse that everything is good. What He said is he'll take the good and the bad and the ugly and he'll work it all together and produce something beautiful in your life if you'll just give Him time. Sometimes it may take years before you can see what God was up to, but I'm here to tell you, after over 50 years as a follower of Christ, if you give God time, He will always be true to His promise.
I pray that these 5 life lessons will encourage and help you. And hopefully you will learn them faster than I did!
Your Ministry has been a part of God's divine providence for me brother Lon Solomon. God has allowed me to venture a precarious path due to my stupidity and foolishness. On the record becoming congruent to how I was raised in the Gospel, I cam across your teachings on-line. I have listened to almost every one of your messages on your site. To the the point where I dreamt I attended a banquet hall were presentations were being made. The platform has all these great people up on there giving their testimonials of the Lord. As I found a seat near the front row, I heard your familiar voice getting into the same row. I looked up in my dream and you were seated beside me. The dream ended in that manner. The success of my daily 40 minute walks to help rebuild my health these last several years, has been fueled with my ear buds and listening to your messages. Thank you brother Lon Solomon for your "So What!" presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!😊🙌🕊❤️