Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord

Robert Oliver

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:8). In our last study, we noticed that man’s thoughts and God’s thoughts are different and that it is God’s thoughts that we must listen to. Yet, that study only considered one of two contrast that God spoke of in this text. He also said that the ways of man are not His ways and “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways…” (Isa. 55:9). We wish to give consideration to this statement of fact in this article.

There are so many ways in which God’s ways are higher than ours that it would not be possible to discuss them all. One that seems to stand out is that the way God would have man treat man is not the way that man seems to treat man. We often hear things like, “it’s a dog eat dog world”, or “do unto others before they can do it to you”. Everyone seems to be out to take advantage of any who would be naive enough to fall prey to their schemes. Just a couple of verses are needed to show the difference in God’s way concerning this. Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…” (Matt. 7:12). Jesus also said that the second greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). Our way, when we have been offended by someone, is a desire to “give better than we got”. We want to get even, at least. But, this is not God’s way. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). While still on the mount, Jesus also told the people, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). The Hebrew writer quotes from Moses saying, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord” (Heb. 10:30). Though man’s way is to first think of self, the old “charity begins at home” idea, the Lord’s way is different. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Man’s way is to first consider, “what will I get out of it?, if there’s nothing in it of me, I’m not going to do it”. The Lord’s way is not so. Jesus said, “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:33-35).

The very way that God looks at man is different than man looks at man and probably the reason that man has so much trouble with these other ways of dealing with their fellow man. Man tends to look at the color of one’s skin or the beauty of their physical tabernacle in which they live. The young, in the prime of their life and those who have a physique that is pleasing to the eye receives one’s approval, while those who are out of shape, wrinkled or uncomely are shunned. Man sets on a pedestal those who have the biggest houses, the fanciest cars, excel in sports or have reached the top in Hollywood, while the Lord sees as great those who are often the least in these ways. When God rejected David’s oldest brother to be the next king, He told Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. 16:7). Concerning women, Peter wrote, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Pet. 3:3-4). Publicans were considered by all to be sinners. Yet when Jesus saw Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, he said to him, “Follow me” (Matt. 9:9). Jesus was looking at what was in the man, not what was on the out side. Man tends to look for something on the outside that can be construed to be offensive, whereas the Lord looks for that within that is beautiful and that can be cultivated and brought to the forefront. The poor widow who was able only to cast into the treasury two mites was exalted by the Lord, for her offering was greater than all those of the rich (Luke 21:1-4). James wrote, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of person” (James 2:1). If we would practice looking at our fellow man in the same the Lord does, all would benefit. God’s way is the right way!

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