Archive for May, 2019
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives” (Proverbs 16:2).
Wise decisions emerge from those driven by the right motives. As followers of Christ, we are motivated by what brings honor to our Lord; that our life choices might reflect the values and teachings of his word, and doing so in a way that expresses the fruit of his Spirit. Being aware of one’s “blind spots” is the first step to avoiding them.
“Also, it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps errs” (Proverbs 19:2).
When developing a matrix for decision-making, the teaching of God’s word is always the starting reference. Another element that must be considered is time. Am I feeling crunched? Hurried? Why the rush? God is not the author of confusion, so when I’m feeling conflicted and pressed, it’s a red flag. Instant gratification rarely brings lasting satisfaction. Waiting brings clarity.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
Thankfully, when it comes to living the life of faith, we are not left to our own whimsical desires, subjective emotions, and intuitive judgements. In fact, faith cannot be rightly lived outside the teachings of scripture. As aliens and sojourners, the church must be diligent, alert, and on her guard against the values and beliefs of the host culture that seek to inculcate us into its accommodating views. Paul makes it abundantly clear that secular thought and biblical teachings are unequally yoked, and can never be common bedfellows (2 Corinthians 6:14).
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments” (Proverbs 3:1).
When facing any decision, a disciple must first ask, “Does scripture speak to this matter?” If so, it must be our objective to both obey and perpetuate the clear teaching of God’s word. Cultural accommodation is a poor substitute for sound, historically accepted, biblical interpretation. By offering such mediation, some may think themselves more progressive, enlightened, or even more loving and compassionate. Yet, there is nothing more unloving and spiteful than not only withholding truth, but then endorsing those seeking to impose recent interpretations upon long understood ancient texts, for the purpose of propagating lifestyles that are not according to God’s design. It was because of those who called evil good and good evil, who take away the rights of the ones who are in the right (Isaiah 5:20,23), that the anger of the Lord burned against his people (Isaiah 5:25).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
To fear the Lord is to have awe and respect. It is a faith perspective acknowledging that he is the creator and sustainer of all things. Such a perspective broadens our outlook and curiosity regarding the universe and the entirety of God’s creation. It sets us on a quest of discovery that he makes known to us through revelation, experience, observation, and reason. Thus, I have never understood those who consider scientific discovery to be an affront or challenge to faith. On the contrary, I celebrate all scientific discovery as but another testimony of the majesty, glory, and wonderment of God’s creation. Faith takes us to a place of possibilities that the limitations of the scientific laboratory never could. Who, truly, is the most narrow-minded. Faith sees beyond that which can be observed, measured, repeated, documented, and approved by peer review.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3).
There is a vast difference between what we want to hear and what we need to hear. One is for the ages (enduring) while the other is for the moment (tickles). It is the contrast between the “felt” need of the present moment and the actual need of a life that is seeking Christ. We don’t need a relevant word. What matters is that we are relevant to Christ.
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
The salvation our Lord offers is most often referred to as “eternal” life or “everlasting” life. It is a continuing security procured by the sacrificial death of Christ on Calvary’s cross. If salvation was dependent upon our menial religious offerings, there would be no assurance; only conditional or temporary life.
“A wise man will hear and increases in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
In preparing for his last final exam before graduation, a student said to me with great exasperation, “The last thing I’m interested in is learning something new.” My immediate thought was, “Your education has failed you terribly.” If anything, an education sets before us the vastness of our ignorance, and offers the necessary tools and skills to becoming a life student. As disciples, we should lead the way in our restless dissatisfaction; never being content with what we have previously known and understood. Wisdom continually hungers and thirsts for more.
“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.