Dr. Ed Young - Living a Life of Real Value
How does anything have value? Let's just take something that we're all familiar with, a diamond. Hmm. A diamond, how do you determine the value of a diamond? Interesting question, isn't it? Cut. Color. Carat. Clarity. That's how you determine the value of a diamond. Diamonds are at the bottom of the earth. They're at the bottom. They're way, way, way down deep, and how do they get to the top? Tonic plates move. We have an earthquake. A volcano could force them up with tremendous pressure, and then people have all over the world spent time looking for these diamonds, because they're so valuable, the hardest thing on this earth. What do you cut a diamond with? Only one thing, another diamond. That's the only thing that will cut a diamond.
And so we see how a diamond has value. And then we think about it. As I looked at this scripture and I said you know, my goodness! That's how we have value, and this is exactly what Solomon is telling us. This is how your life becomes valuable. He spent all this time telling us life has no meaning, no significance, no value, no importance, and now he says shazam! Eureka! It has value, and it tells us how God gives us value, and that begins in chapter number seven of Ecclesiastes. Watch it! First of all he says there's some cutting, and he's talking about suffering. He's talking about brokenness. God, to give us value, we go through suffering, we go through brokenness, and here he deals with some of that in these ways. He deals with proverbs. Look at it. A good name, verse one chapter seven Ecclesiastes, is better than good ointment.
And by the way, there's a play there on Hebrew words. A good shem is better than a shemen. In other words, a good name, shem, is better than good perfume. In that day, they didn't have showers and tubs, and they would jump in a creek or the river once in a while, but primarily they used perfume in order to be in close company with one another, and they had put a great value on perfumes. He's saying a good name is better than smelling right, looking right, being right. A good name is better than a good appearance, and we know that's important. It's important. Names are very important, ladies and gentlemen. You know what the name Judas means? Praise! My goodness!
Why aren't a lot of us named Praise? Didn't you name any of your children Judas? Wouldn't that be a great name, Praise? No! What happened? The connotation, the background of Judas, him who sold out Jesus, is too strong. Is anybody ever known anybody named Judas? I haven't. Man, the name has been out of touch, unused for generations. He's saying a good name is better than smelling good, looking good, seeming good, anything else. And your name is so important. When someone speaks your name, what do they see? What do they think of? I have a good friend who was in a prominent place. And his name has been slandered, and he's been a good moral man all the way through it, but his name has been slandered publicly, and he said to me in tears, "I just want my name back. I don't want anything else, I want my name back".
How important, a good name is of great value. And then he finishes the rest of this first verse, and it sort of shakes us up. This is the cutting. The day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth. You think I don't know if I believe that. The day that we die is better than the day that we're born? What's he telling us? He is telling us when we die, all the returns are in. Everything about us has already been stated. When we're born, we don't know the direction, the choices that we'll make, the mountaintops, the valleys, the suffering. And so he says when you die, man, all the days are in, you say, I don't get that. You see, the Bible is helping us to look at life from a million miles away, and a million years in the future, and that changes how we look at everything, folks! And Solomon is forcing us to do that. He say your life needs to have value, needed to understand that when you die it's better the day that you live.
I remember years ago, being in the Orange Bowl at a big gathering, and Billy Graham spoke, and he said, the first time I ever heard it. He said, "If you're not ready to die, you're not ready to live". I thought about that in his recent graduation. It is so true. The day that we die is much more important than the day that we're born, because all the returns are in, in the light of eternity. So then Solomon goes on as he's cutting us, and that's a cutting charge, is it not? He said, "It's better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart". Man you'd rather go to a party than go to a house where someone had died? He said you'll learn more to go to a house where someone died, than the most extravagant party you'd ever attend. Doesn't knock partying fun, don't misunderstand that. He's just using this in a wonderful kind of way to contrast it. And he says, "Sorrow is better than laughter, and when a sad face, when a face is sad, a heart may be happy, the mind of the wise is in the house of the mourning, while the mind of the fools is in the house of pleasure".
When you see mourning, you understand, you identify. You have empathy. It develops character in us. It's developing value in you and value in me. And I've discovered when you walk away from mourning, you have a tougher time dealing with it. When you walk toward mourning and sorrow, you deal with it much more effectively. Someone in AA who can't handle alcohol, what's the first thing they do when they stand up? I am an alcoholic. They don't run away from it, they run toward it, and that's what Solomon is saying. He said we have to understand, we'll learn more in sorrow and suffering and brokenness and sickness than we'll learn anything else. Don't miss what God is teaching us, because He is cutting us just like a diamond is cut by a diamond cutter to show more facets, to increase its value. Then he throws in a couple of little things here. It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man, than for one to listen to the song of fools, for as a crackling of thorn bushes under a pot, so laughter of the fool, and this too, is futility.
You know, we love to be praised. Anybody who doesn't love to be praised and bragged on, would you lift your hand? If you did, I'd say you're a liar. Oh no, I don't. Mark Twain said an important thing. He said, "When somebody's braggin' on me, so many times, they're not telling the truth but I sure do love to hear it"! And he's saying it's better that someone who cares for us and loves for us in the right way, in the right tone at the right time, just rebukes us or challenges us about something, he said that's far better than somebody saying, ah, you're the most wonderful, finest, magnificent, eh, eh, eh, eh! He said that is crackling of thorns in a fire. You put a thorn bush under a fire, those of you who know, it burns fast. It's a lot of heat, but it doesn't last very long. It doesn't give lasting warmth. That's what he's saying.
Now what are we about? We're trying, God wants to make a diamond out of you and me, so He's cutting us in these events to help us to grow up, to help us to mature, to help us to be a real value and quality in our life so we'll be worth something! And then he goes onto the next stage here. It's even, I think, a little more interesting. He says, and by the way, this is the part, what makes a diamond value? How it's cut. What makes a diamond value? It's color. And when the diamond has yellow coloring in it, it's sort of milky, it has other impurities in it, what does a diamond cutter do? He goes in, he tries he can to cut out and cut around all that milkiness. He tries to cut in there and put another facet open where it would catch the light. And so he tries to get rid of those discolorations in a diamond, because it greatly reduces its value.
And sometimes he's talking about things that discolor your life and my life. He said, "For oppression," verse seven, "makes a wise man a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart". Oppression, when I'm oppressed, when we're being pushed down, when we're being belittled, oppression makes somebody that's sort of intelligent, we can act like a fool when somebody's stepping on us, or something is overwhelming us. And he says when we take a bribe, somebody said, well, I would never take a bribe. A lot of us do every day. In our business world, well, I won't tell them about this if you'll cover up about this. I'll turn in this expense account, and maybe nobody will know, and if you'll just overlook. I mean, we are part of bribing. Let me tell you something, those who are dishonest have a difficult time dealing with somebody who's honest. Did you know that?
Every crook thinks well, everybody else is a crook. Every honest person with character thinks everybody else has honesty and character. A brother and sister, little sister says I'll give you all my candy if you'll give me all of your marbles. Little boy said it's a deal. So the boy goes in to get all of his marbles and he has three or four cat guts there he really likes, and he takes those marbles and hides them under the pillow. Takes the rest of the marbles out and said here's all my marbles. Little girls gets all of her candy, takes all of her candy and gives it to him. That night, the boy was trying to go to sleep. He couldn't sleep, because he cheated his little sister? Oh no. He thought I bet she didn't give me all of her candy. You see what I'm talking about? That's what Solomon is talking about here, for all of us to know.
Also, another thing is, the end of the matter is better than the beginning. Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. I used to say, well, I'm an impatient person. I thought, you know, wasn't bad to be impatient. I like to get things done, and I discovered from this very verse, it hit me right between the eye, impatience is pride. I am impatient because I think it ought to be done. You should have been ready. You know, it's another type of pride, our impatience that we have. And someone who's always late? That's a thing of pride. If you're perpetually late, you're saying, well I'm so important, I do not have to be on time. Somebody else's time doesn't mean a thing. Pride. Somebody who is having to wait for somebody, and they're impatient. Say, why do I have to wait for them? That's pride. It's pride meeting pride with a head-on collision.
That's what he's talking about here. He's saying this is what colors our life and makes us discolored and loses value that we have. Then look at verse nine, and, do not be angry in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools. In other words, anger gets inside of you. It gets way, way in deep inside of you and me. It becomes sort of who we are. Well, my Daddy had a temper! What do you expect, me not to have a temper? I was brought up with a daddy who had a temp... Silly, crazy, loony! What kind of logic is that? Anger. Quick tempered. I'm right, you're wrong. I see it. This is the final word. Anger's a deadly thing. It hurts relationships.
Years ago, Sam Sneed was in the Masters, and he was playing a guy named Bobby Cole. Bobby Cole was one of the most disliked people on the professional golf tour. He always threw his clubs, he cursed, he belittled everybody. He challenged everybody. He was just an angry guy. Nobody liked him, but this day in the Masters, Sneed was playing Cole, and they got to a hole that was a dog leg to the right, and so everybody lays up. All, tall pine trees over here, and then they hit their second shot toward the green. And so Sneed got up there, being such a gentleman, so gracious, loved by everybody, hits an iron right down and lays up on this side. And then Cole gets up, Bobby Cole, angry at everything. He gets his iron out, and Sneed said to him, said, "Bobby, when I was your age, I'd take my driver and I'd just hit it right over those pine trees and save a hundred yards". Cole said, "Well, Sneed, if you can do it, I can do it"!
He puts his iron down and gets his driver out, and he lines up, and he hits, bam! A beautiful, high slice, going over those trees, but it hits the top of one and falls right down. He begins to throw his clubs. He's cussing, he's angry, he's mad and they're walking down the green, and Sneed says to him, he said, "Bobby, one thing I didn't tell you, when I was your age, those pine trees were about that high"! Sometimes we're colored anger, and that's a terrible color to have, and the Master will have to come and cut some of that out. And look at verse 10. Do not say why is it that the former days were better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you asked about this. I stay away from people who are always talking about yesterday, as if yesterday was so marvelous!
Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, yesterday was not nearly as great as we think it was. Just check it out. Somebody who lives in the past, they miss the present and have no dreams and really purpose in the future. Your life is colored by a nostalgic kind of personality. Boy, if only. Oh, I wish. Oh, we spend all, oh, if I hadn't. Quit that junk! That colors your life and causes you to lose value to your family, your friends, and to God Almighty. So what'd he's say, the value of someone depends on what colors your life, and some of these colors, these personality traits that are deadly need to be taken out. We can't be colored by oppression. We can't be colored by impatience. We can't be covered by nostalgia. We can't be covered by anger. And so, the Diamond Cutter comes and begins to cut all that out of our life, and I want to show you something.
So interesting. We have this big ol' diamond that I just auctioned off to this man for $3 million. Y'all didn't see that but, we have this big ol' diamond. Then we have this smaller diamond. This diamond is infinitely worth more than this diamond. Why? It's smaller. It's weight is less, the carat we're talking about, but it has been cut, and it has been cut in all these areas of life, suffering, sorrow, death, brokenness, and then cut out all those things that discolor this diamond, and look how many facets it has in there. And now you have the light is refracted from this diamond. Other words, the light, what makes a diamond sparkle and glow? It's the light that is bent, that is refracted. And this, even though it's smaller, is worth a lot more than this.
And that's what happens in your life and my life if we're to be increased in value. And we see that taught so clearly in this scripture that we're looking at, and what happens when we have gravitas? What about those carats? It's our weight, and what does he tell us weight is? Wisdom! Not common sense. Divine sense. Not knowledge, but knowledge put into action becomes wisdom when the Holy Spirit takes that knowledge and applies it right where you and I live. How beautiful that is. Gravitas! How much do you weigh? How much wisdom do you have? That increases our value. And look at the final thing. That's verse 13 and 14. Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten out what He has bent? In the day of prosperity, be happy. In the day of adversity, consider. God has made the one just as well as the other. In other words, he'd made days of happiness, days of prosperity, days of difficulty, and days of pain.
What does this talk about? He is saying who can straighten what God has bent? He is talking about clarity of life, and clarity in a diamond. Clarity comes when the light strikes a diamond, and the light is bent. It is refracted, and that's what makes it sparkle, folks. It's refracted light. Who can straighten what God has bent? We think God's will is ooh, slick, clean, straight. No, it's serpentine. It goes up, it goes down. It is painful, it's wonderful, it's beautiful, and this is what gives clarity to life, to know that God is doing something with us. God is involved with us, and there we see clarity comes. This is God's will, God's purpose. I don't like all the cutting, but boy, He's bringing out facets in you and me. Man, I have a trouble with those character traits. I've got to deal with 'em, the oppression, the impatience, and God is preparing you and me. He's trying to make us valuable so we'll have gravitas, so we'll have the wisdom of God, not our wisdom, not common sense.
By the way, read the Beatitudes. There's not a single Beatitude Jesus taught us that you would figure it out with common sense. They all are uncommon sense, every single one of them. The wisdom of God. Now what happens when we'd been cut, and the master cutter has cut out some of those things that have pressured us, and discolored us, those personality traits, and then all of a sudden, we begin to have wisdom, and then we see the will of God, but we've sort of grown dull. I look at, you know, the glow isn't there. We don't go to church on tip-toe expecting something to happen. We're not excited about what God is doing in our lives. We're just sorta doing our thing, living out our days at ease in Zion.
Do a lot of things in the darkness we'd never do in the light. We're just sort of, what does God do to us? How does He clean us up to shine and be a diamond again? How does He do it? He uses diamond dust. A jeweler takes a diamond that's, you know, sort of dull and greasy, and doesn't have any zest and sparkle, and doesn't scintillate anymore. A jeweler will take that diamond, put it in a machine and put diamond dust in there. Diamond dust will cleanse a diamond and cut a diamond a little more, and it'll come back and have the luster that could be used as an engagement ring because it would be so beautiful and so shining. You see, we came to know God in Jesus Christ, The symbol in the Bible for a relationship with God in Christ is marriage.
That's the best earthly symbol that we have, and therefore, there is Jesus puts on our wedding ring. We put on His wedding ring, and there is a marriage spiritually that takes place, and He wants that marriage to glow and to shine. When it doesn't, He just throws diamond dust on everything, just like a jeweler takes a diamond and just whirls it around. It can be a blessing, it can be a challenge. He just throws it at us and spins us around to say, man, I want you to glow. I want you to shine. I want you to have, what's the word? Value! You want to be valuable to God, and valuable to this earth. When we end our life, it's not what you are, it's who you are. The what will not make a bit of difference in eternity.
The who, the character, the value will last forever. Two old prospectors arrived looking for diamonds. They'd looked for diamonds in rivers. They've looked for diamonds in rocks, and one day, working by themselves, they hit something, and they look closer, and they saw, it's a diamond in the rough. And they looked, another diamond in the rough. And suddenly, they realized they were surrounded by acres of diamonds. And they said we're rich! We're unbelievably rich! A little town was close by, and they said, we can't tell anybody. If we told anybody, the whole town would come swarming out here, and we couldn't harvest even a part of these diamonds, but as they stayed out there longer, they realized they had to go in for supplies.
So Mo told Joe, we go in town, Joe, don't you tell anybody what we found. And he said, don't worry about me. I'm worried about you! Mo, you be quiet! Joe, you be quiet! Don't tell anybody, because everybody would come. We couldn't harvest. So they go to town, and Mo goes on one side of the street, he buys groceries. He speaks to people as they always do. Joe goes the other side of the street. He speaks to people, he buys some commodities as they do, and finally, they come to the end of the street, and they say did you tell anybody? No. Did you tell anybody? No! So they sit down, they eat at a little place together and when they get out, they go back to where their mules are parked on, and they looked and the whole town is there with axes and mules, and they're gathered, and they look at one another. You told! No, I didn't! You told! No, I didn't! And they walk up there, and there's all the people gathered. And they said, who told you? And they said we saw it in your face.