“To give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:4).
For many, it is a shock to discover that faith and reason can be compatible. The naive (literally, “simple ones”) believe the life of faith is to be lived out in whimsical subjectivity. The revelation of Proverbs, and other Wisdom Literature, however, is God’s desire that we be a people of prudence and discretion; that we might display our ability to use reason, think, plan, and purpose our lives in constructive ways. A rigorous intellectual life is not an affront to God but is another means of faithfully honoring him with the brain he has entrusted to us.
“To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and equity” (Proverb 1:3).
The wisdom of scripture isn’t exclusively for one’s personal benefit and application but also the betterment of the community. Receiving God’s wisdom results in the development of ethical virtues that pursue the greater good. That we have been receptive to God’s word is borne out in one’s behavior…the pursuit of the right way, an advocacy for justice, and equity. In this light, it is often revealed that partisan political ways are a direct conflict to The Way.
“To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding” (Proverbs 1:2).
It seems to surprise many that faith is to have practical application in daily life. While the tendency is towards the acquisition of a high biblical IQ (Intelligence Quotient), a high EQ of application is far more telling of how well scripture is being understood. Where there is an absence of application, there is a corresponding absence of proper understanding. Proverbs, and all such Wisdom Literature, will elevate your “street smarts” in how life is to be lived.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ And I will set a watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen’” (Jeremiah 6:16-17).
Spoken some 2600 years ago to those who would be the people of God, the words of the prophet sound strangely contemporary. God’s people have a long history of being captured by the trendy and novel offerings of their given culture. Popular prophets preach a popular theology and will always draw a crowd. True prophets, like Jeremiah, and their truthful, unrelenting heralding of the narrow way are never popular until after-the-fact. Unfortunately, there are no after-the-fact opportunities when it comes to choosing the narrow path. Take it now!
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
Think of all those that have a vested interest in your life; that have played a role in bringing you to a place of faith in Christ and the shaping of your life. As we become to the life of others what these were to ours, a rich legacy of faith is perpetuated through the generations.
“So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 13:14).
Every life is built upon some kind of foundation that offers security and peace of mind to the individual. The wise person builds upon the Rock; the foolish person upon the sand. Today’s text offers the reminder that when life sometimes shakes us to our very foundation, it may well be that God is doing the shaking.
“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
A false prophet will scratch the religious itch of the masses with words they want to hear; offering to them a false sense of security. In their messaging, no accountability is required, no repentance necessary, no call to conversion, no new birth accomplished and, thus, no salvation experienced. Coming down the aisle of a church, filling out a membership card, and being baptized are inadequate and un-atoning substitutes for a life committed to following Jesus. When someone has actually entered into that pursuit, the desire to join with God’s people and to be initiated into the life of faith through baptism cannot be restrained. However, until such actions are precipitated by an actual conversion, it’s just misleading religious pretense.