Everyone has one – the one person in your life who must always have the last word. Whatever your great exploits, they have climbed higher, caught more, gone faster. No story is complete until they have added the exclamation point of their own last word. Though perhaps otherwise unremarkable, they are grand-masters of one-upsmanship. Yet their quest for notoriety has gained only infamy.
No one likes a know-it-all. No one enjoys the one-upsmans’ self-agrandizing sagas. Far from inviting admiration, the know-it-all only invites scorn. We all have this person in our lives. You are not that person are you? Let this be a lesson. Don’t seek the last word. Learn the art of humility. As Solomon wisely cautioned.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2
You never know as much as you think. You are not the smartest or most accomplished person in every gathering. Praise others and you will be thought praiseworthy. Learn to exalt others and you will be exalted. Let another speak the last word. Exercise restraint against the temptation to focus the lens back on yourself. To gain discipline in this area helps us to remember that God always rightly has the last word in our lives. Simon the Pharisee was a know-it-all and learned this the hard way when he invited Jesus to his party and an unexpected guest arrived.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw [a woman of the city touching Jesus], he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:39-37
No one likes a know-it-all. But what if the know-it-all in your life really did know it all? What if He knew how everything would turn out. One who not only knew the future, but determined it. One who knew you better than you knew yourself. Who knew how to loved you and knew what you loved better than yourself. One who knew exactly what trials and triumphs were best for you. One who, despite knowing all your thoughts and intentions, your failings, your rejections, still loved you better than you loved yourself? Would you give that know-it-all the last word? Would you prefer that know-it-all’s last word to your own?
Jeremiah 18 is a well know passage. Here the Lord sends Jeremiah down to the local Pottery Works to watch and wait for a Word from the Lord. As Jeremiah saw the potter work and rework the lump of clay on the wheel, shaping and reshaping, the Lord revealed to Jeremiah his sovereignty over all His works. He has created all things for Himself and He may do with them as He pleases. No man may complain or command His purposes. He always has the last word. And in this passage His last word is ‘grace.’ Even now though God’s people have provoked Him time and time again in the most despicable ways, God speaks ‘grace.’
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. Jeremiah 18:5-7
The God who previously declared, “I am tired of relenting,” offers mercy if His people return to Him. If they repent, He will relent. God who may sovereignly do whatever he pleases with his marred clay, extends grace – the hope of being reshaped by the loving, careful hand of the master Potter. But rather than yielding the last word to the gracious Know-It-All, prideful Judah must have the last word – and what a dreadful last word it is.
“But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ Jeremiah 18:12
What about you? When the Lord speaks the best, last word, the word of grace, will you let that be the last word? Or must you speak the last word yourself, “following your own plans” according to the stubbornness of your heart. Jeremiah 18 is a remarkable passage about God’s steadfast grace toward stubborn, ungrateful rebels. What is the last word in your life? What last word defines you?
Join us this Sunday, February 23, as we examine Jeremiah 18 and consider the power and beauty of God’s sovereignty exercised toward us in grace. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.