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Editorial: Seek First to Understand

Editorial by Dave Weigley

Recently during my morning devotions, I came across this quote from Solomon: Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (Prov. 17:24, NKJV). The first secret to gaining true wisdom, Solomon admonishes, is to seek understanding. As author Stephen Covey put it, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

In 1455 Johannes Gutenberg began printing the Bible using a movable type press that he rigged from an old wine press. In doing so, he not only started a printing revolution that led to the Renaissance and the Reformation, he made the Scriptures accessible to people in a way they had not been able to experience before. When the Bible became available to the masses, it helped to increase knowledge and understanding and became a source of spiritual food that nourished hungry hearts and thirsty souls. By reading and meditating on its precepts and promises, people came to know Jesus and gained a greater understanding of His mission and the Great Commission.

Then and Now

One of my favorite Bible stories, and maybe yours, is the feeding of 5,000 people, as recorded in the gospels. Jesus, showing His compassionate side, saw to it that His audience received spiritual food for their hearts and physical food for their bodies. After He miraculously fed everyone with just five loaves and a couple of fish, the leaders were convinced that this young Galilean teacher was the One who could lead them to achieve their long-sought freedom and national greatness. As they orchestrated to declare Him king (see John 6:15), He derailed their efforts by sending the disciples to the boats and the people back to their homes.

And then Jesus did something that is too often missed in leadership practice today: He went alone to pray. Not for Himself, but for His disciples, that they might understand His mission. While the leadership of the day had cast a vision for an earthly kingdom of power and control, Christ was attempting to set up a new kingdom based upon the Word of God alone. His mission, which became the Great Commission for His disciples—then and now—wasn’t to rule over their fellow man, but to save them. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, NKJV).

As we enter 2019, may our souls be filled with wisdom, as we seek a true understanding of the role we play in our Savior’s mission to save lost people. And may our understanding of His mission be informed, not by human origin, but solely by the Word of God.

Dave Weigley serves as president of the Columbia Union Conference.

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