One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is the Wise Men (Matthew 2). They came from a long distance to worship the Christ child and present their gifts. Their story gives great insight in how we can live in 2018.
Life can be divided between wise men and wise guys. Wise men receive and follow the wisdom of God. Wise guys are cocky and egotistical. They say we will figure it out ourselves, make our own decisions. (I use the term wise men and wise guys to include women.) Here are some characteristics of wise men in Matthew’s account:
1. Wise men see the star (Matthew 2:2).
There must have been thousands of stars out that night, and thousands of people looking up at the heavens, but they did not see the holy star. Wise guys look – wise men see. Jesus said in Matthew 13:14, “Your problem is that you’ve got eyes but you don’t see.” In Ephesians 1:18, Paul talks about how the eyes of our hearts can be enlightened so we can see the riches of God. How well do you see?
Years ago, people looked at their arms and noticed blue lines under their skin and saw blood emerge if there was a cut. But William Harvey saw more – he saw the circulatory system of the human body. Years ago, many people saw the stars, the moon, and planets, but one day Nicolas Copernicus saw something different when he discovered the rotations of the earth. Millions of people saw apples fall off the trees to the ground, but one day Isaac Newton saw the Law of Gravity. It’s not just what you see with your eyes, but what you see with your heart and mind.
When I was in high school, I struggled with Algebra. The teacher would write a formula on the chalk board and ask, “Do you see this?” Well, I could see everything that she wrote on the board, but I could not “see” how she got the answer. Seeing was not just looking at what was written, but what it meant. Wise men see God’s star.
2. Wise men follow the star (Matthew 2:2).
I’m sure that on that holy night there were a lot of people who saw the star, but when it started to move, they didn’t follow it. After all, they were comfortably situated. They didn’t know where the star was headed. They were just wise guys content to “play it safe.”
The wise men followed the star. That’s the reason they experienced the birth of the Christ child. So many people miss out on the great things in life because they act like wise guys and not wise men. They fail to follow.
My friend James Davis had the opportunity to go to New Zealand and visit Sir Edmund Hillary just a few months before he died. He wanted to meet the man who, on May 29, 1953, reached the top of Mount Everest and placed the British flag on the “roof of the world.”
During their visit, James asked Sir Hillary why he was willing to follow such a dangerous dream. Hillary replied, “If you want to simply experience what other people have experienced, then do what other people have done. But if you want to experience what no one else has experienced, you must be willing to go where no one else has gone.”
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He saw some men fishing. He didn’t debate theological issues with them. He didn’t tell them to believe in Him. He didn’t promise them prosperity. He invited them to “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). The fishermen were wise men because they immediately got up and followed after Jesus.
In 2018, God is going to place opportunities in front of you. The star will be shining. Doors will open. He will be inviting you to follow Him. You can either be a wise guy who decides to stay where it is safe and comfortable, or you can be a wise man who is willing to follow the star.
Are you a wise man or a wise guy?