all verses from Proverbs 2, ESV, unless otherwise specified
When I was still in primary school I came across Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘If’, and I fell in love with it. When I felt that he was old enough, my son and I went through that poem, discussing point by point what a good man is and how he behaves. I never mentioned to my son that the writer of the poem was an out-and-out racist because you know, priorities – there’s plenty of time for him to question things; imma let him enjoy his childhood a little longer. The reason I mention that poem is because in reading Proverbs 2 I was reminded of it and to my great delight here is a manifesto for right behaviour (or part of one, since we established that the whole of Proverbs is basically a guide for right living) whose author does not make me squirm uncomfortably. Here is something that I can study with my son and unequivocally support it without worrying about the day he finds out that it wasn’t intended for him and that the writer in fact did not think much of him. I mean, you gotta love the Bible!
Proverbs 2 basically lays out the benefits that will come with heeding the words of the wise; indeed the chapter is titled ‘The Value of Wisdom’.
1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding…
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2 is still part of the introduction to the Book of Proverbs, and clearly lays out the value of wisdom, and the importance of fearing God as we discussed yesterday. Verse 5 says that you will find knowledge of God and understand the fear of the Lord but this is conditional on what comes before, in verses 1-4. Basically if you pay attention to these words and these commandments and hide these words in your heart and follow these words and live by these words…doesn’t this bring to mind the verse that speaks of faith coming by hearing and hearing the word of God?
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
If you want to know God, or, put another way, if you want the hidden knowledge of God and to walk according to His precepts and to be always in His will(as far as possible, let’s face it we mess up), then you must make a commitment to studying the Bible. There is no other way by which God reveals Himself to us and by which we can believe in Him except to hear the Good News preached. You cannot have faith, let alone grow it, if you do not regularly hear the Word, and I say this as someone who has not set foot in a church in almost four years. The reasons why I haven’t been to church are valid, but be that as it may there is no denying that my faith has taken some severe knocks since I stopped going to church. We need to fellowship with other believers so that we can grow in our knowledge of the things of God. We need to sharpen each other, we need to test our interpretations of God’s word and that cannot happen if you’re isolated. Don’t get me wrong, not going to church doesn’t mean I don’t fellowship, but it does mean that I rarely if ever fellowship in a space designed for that and that alone i.e. church.
Even a cursory reading of Proverbs 2 will show the good things that come from living a right life by living according to God’s word, and that’s all well and good. I mean, who doesn’t want a good life, a life of integrity, free from harm, protected by the Almighty, blessed and favoured with all kinds of good things, and, let’s not forget, wisdom? seriously, who doesn’t want that? that’s not the whole of the story though. There is also this:
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
It’s all good and dandy to go on about all the good things you will benefit by being attentive to these words and walking according to these commandments, but it’s equally important to be aware of the consequence of foolishness, that is, of not having a teachable spirit,not seeking the path of wisdom and not fearing God. This isn’t a game, people! We do ourselves and each other a disservice if we fail to acknowledge that there are real consequences for reckless and foolish behaviour: you will be cut off from the land, uprooted out of it. What does this mean exactly? I’ll tell you.
There is a question somewhere in the Bible along the lines of ‘what truck do darkness and light have with each other?’ I’d Google the exact verse but this WordPress app is playing games and I know you know exactly (or close enough) which verse I’m talking about. The point that I’m making is that you know full well that God cannot abide evil, and that if you continue along a path you know to be disobedient and out of God’s will you will be cast out into the darkness. This is real talk. So whatever you’re doing that is wrong (and you know full well what it is), just stop. I’m over here mentally going over my own missteps and failures and my own delicious sin that I’m loathe to get rid of because lets face it, if sin wasn’t so delicious getting rid of it wouldn’t be all that hard now would it? But you know what? We need to learn to fear God more than we love sin and that can only happen if:
1. we spend time in His word so as to learn to trust that He is who He says He is
2. if we confess our sin and turn away from it, and
3. if we truly accept Christ and by doing so, Grace.
Is it going to be easy? Come now, you already know that if it was easy you would have done it long ago. A more valid question is: is it going to be worth it? The answer to that is a resounding YES!
He is a faithful God and if you sincerely call upon Him in the name of Jesus, He will not forsake you. Come on, try it. Try Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good, because until you do, you will never know or even be able to imagine the sheer goodness of what God has for those that love Him and because they love him, obey his commandments. A gold star for you if you correctly identify all the verses that make up the sentence in italics. Hint: there are three.