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January 2021

But those who are noble plan noble things, and by noble things they stand.
–Isaiah 32:8
Last May when National Nurses Week was held, someone made the observation, “When a job is given an appreciation week, it usually means employees are underpaid.” This bite leaves a mark but its truth is undeniable. Some time ago, a neighbor told me that she’d been a teacher all her life and that teaching is noble work. I’ve not forgotten the comment, affirming all wisdom that stoops down to raise up others, particularly those facing challenges in educational systems rigged against them.
In this first month of the New Year, we must hope 2021 will not be a repeat of 2020. Resolutions are typically made in this month. To this end, the Isaiah verse above says two things about noble people: (1) they plan to do noble things; and (2) they stand and remain constant in their noble resolutions. Matthew Henry, a 17th century Anglican priest, wrote regarding this verse that noble people receive from God an abundance of satisfaction and confirmed peace in the heart. Who would not want in the New Year satisfaction and peace in the heart? New Year’s resolutions toward such ends can be made only by understanding the wider context of the Isaiah verse. Nobility is defined by the verses that precede its mention in verse 8.
Verses 5-7 of Isaiah 32 speak of fools and villains devising selfish plans for life. Their plans ignore the hungry. Fools and villains ruin the poor with lying words even when the plea of the needy is right. The coordinating conjunction, ‘But’, that begins verse 8 at the top of the page signals a contrast between those noble and the fools and villains who think to provide only for themselves.
As I write this article, many Americans with serious medical conditions have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination. A recent news report, if true, is that the federal government has given vaccine access to up to two staff members of all members of congress before many needy Americans (under an overdrawn rationale of ‘continuity of government’). Each of us may decide if labels fool and villain apply to this matter. I hope what I’ve heard is not true. My belief is that Bible prophets like Isaiah possessed a keen sense of fairness. Most of us have seen the movie, Titanic, which included a despicable man running to gain access to a life boat first ahead of women and children.
In the New Year, let us make resolutions to do noble things for the poor and those otherwise most in need. Jesus teaches us his way of life: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” (Mark 8:34-36) Happy New Year to all! Please continue best efforts to stay safe! There is peace and hope in Christ. Pray for our church, community, nation, and the all the world; and for our leaders.
In Christ with you always,
Pastor Doug Heagy