The wisdom of Jesus is generous, eternal, extraordinary, kind, powerful.
Who are the people in your life who are genuinely happy for you when good things happen to and for you? Welcome to Radical and Relevant, where we are exploring the enduring wisdom of Jesus and the Gospels. In today's Scripture, again from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel, we hear about the birth of John the Baptist and how the people around Zechariah and Elizabeth responded to that. Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son, and her neighbors and kings folk heard that the Lord had shown a great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they would have named him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, "No, he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name." And they made signs to his father inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. And immediately, his mouth was opened, and his tongue loose, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all who heard laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be for the hand of the Lord was with him?"
When good things happen in our lives, that sets off a domino effect of comments, opinions, judgments, and emotions, happiness and envy, hope and fear, all sorts of stuff. This is a great day for Zachariah and Elizabeth. Their son has arrived. Zachariah has his voice back and they have named him John.
Here's today's idea. How people respond when good things happen for you is a clear indicator of their character and friendship. My father used to say a true friend is happy for you when good things happen for you. If you have someone pretending to be your friend and something good happens to you and that person becomes jealous and envious, this person is not your friend. Who are the people in your life who are genuinely happy for you when good things happen for you? Treasure these people. Rejoice in them. They are rarer than gold. Thank God for these friends and thank your friends for giving you this type of friendship. More than that, resolve to set aside your own selfishness, your own envy, and jealousy, and be happy for others when good things happen to them and for them.
The word that jumped out at me in this scripture was mercy. There is gentle mercy and there is fierce mercy. I have seen both. I prefer the gentle version. I have experienced both. I prefer still the gentle version. There is a saying that goes something like, I'd rather have God point out my faults and failings in private than in public. If we search our hearts and souls, if we search our words and actions, in the intimacy of prayer, God will point out our faults and failings there and help us there in prayer and reflection to work on them. This is gentle mercy. But if we refuse to go into the classroom of silence, if we refuse to commune with God and work on our character and behavior in the intimacy of prayer and reflection, God will still do what he can to help us grow and develop. But we give him no other choice than to do that in public. And that is a fierce mercy. Today's phrase, and the hand of the Lord was with him. Imagine having the hand of God gently upon your shoulder to guide and direct you in all things. God wants to be there for you in that way. Invite God today to place His hand on your shoulder.
Invite him to gently squeeze your shoulder when you should be cautious and to firmly squeeze your shoulder when you should stop what you are doing because danger is ahead. So that one day when your time on this earth is done and people are remembering you, they, too, will say the hand of the Lord was with him. Today's virtue is magnanimity. A magnanimous person has a kind and generous spirit. The gospel of Jesus Christ is radical and relevant, as radical and relevant today as it ever has been. Go out into the world today and astonish people with your magnanimity. Astonish people with your spirit of kindness and generosity. And remember, don't just be yourself. Be the very best version of yourself. Be all that God created you to be.
Thank you, Ambassadors. You are changing the world. Have a great day. Bye-bye. Simon, come sit. I love you.
Have a great day.