Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The (Wo)man Who Walked 1,000 Miles

1 Kings 10 records the account of the Queen of Sheba who traveled 1,000 miles to see the reputed splendor of Solomon. He answered all her questions. There was nothing he could not explain to her. She was left breathless. It wasn't just his wisdom and prosperity that surpassed the reports she had heard. It was also the joy of the people who served him. "Happy are your men!" Bathsheba observed, "Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!"

It was a good reflection on Solomon that the people in his kingdom served with joy. Those who serve Christ with joy are a good reflection on him. Am I happy to serve my King? What about those in my care? Is my wife happy to have me as a husband? Are my children happy to have me as a dad? Is my church happy to have me as a pastor? The joy of those in my care is a good reflection on me.

In light of this I should seek to maximize my joy in God (which should be easy--there is no better king to serve) and to increase the joy of those in my care (which often times proves to be hard--I could be a much better husband, father, pastor--and even at my best, I will never please everyone).

What promotes my joy in God (and therefore should be emulated in fostering joy in others)? God is wise--he knows how things work. When we bring to him what's on our mind, there is nothing hidden that he cannot explain to us. (There is a limit to this, of course. See Deuter. 29:29). I need to increase in wisdom (James 1:5).

God is blessed and blesses. He is supreme in his own affections and rightly so. What's more, he blesses his own with his favor. I must show favor to those in my charge. Bestowing a blessing is a powerful way to foster flourishing which leads to joy.

God is love and loves. This is the motivation behind showing favor. He loves us because he loves us. He has chosen to bestow his love on us based on his promise of covenant faithfulness. I must love those who I have pledged myself to. This again leads to joy.

God executes justice and righteousness. He is always just, always right. He will not waiver from doing what is equitable. I must seek justice and righteousness in my dealings with others (Micah 6:8).

Jesus is the Greater Solomon who fulfills when Solomon failed (Luke 11:31). True and lasting joy is found in those who serve in his court and kingdom.

Note bene: The court of Solomon was never meant to be an end in itself. Solomon lost sight of the fact that God blessed the king in order to benefit the people in his realm and even the world. When Solomon's court became self-serving it imploded. In contrast, Christ the King "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). It is joy to serve such a King.

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