Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Just Don't Like That Guy

Do not strive with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
Proverbs 3:30

“I just don’t like him…”  These words have passed my lips more times than I am comfortable admitting.  It is a false “get out of jail free card” when I am threatened by someone or feel ill at ease around someone.  Because of the presence of Sin in our lives we will often find ourselves unable to be naturally at peace with those around us. Often times this occurs for no discernible reason.  These situations are either a blessing or a curse.  They are a curse if we allow ourselves to hide in our prideful self-delusion.  Should we choose to unjustly strive with those people in our lives.  This is especially the case  when they have done us no real wrong.  Yet they are the greatest blessing if we allow ourselves to honestly look to the reality that we feel threatened or uneasy and place our need before the Lord.  The striving that comes forth from sin only brings greater light to the fact that I am trying to find my peace, comfort and confidence in myself rather than the Lord Who alone makes me worthy to stand before Him.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Wisdom that Always Was

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.
Proverbs 3:19-20

In the 1984 film The Gods Must be Crazy a native tribe is exposed to western technology for the first time in the form of a cola bottle.  This comedy follows a group of people trying to figure out the purpose of this strange glass creation.  The villagers find many uses for the bottle and ultimately wind up fighting over it and decide to return it to “the gods” whom they presumed gave the strange item.  While the villagers came up with many creative ideas they were not familiar with the purpose for which the cola bottle was created, and thus they misused it.  We can often mistakenly make the same false conclusion about the very world in which we live.  When the Lord created the world it was created in accord with His infinite wisdom and purpose.  Thus for humanity it is impossible to “create” wisdom or “make” wisdom, but only discover the wisdom of the Creator God who alone is fully wise.  Fortunately the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself, and His wisdom, in the words of the Bible.  When we read and apply the word of God we are truly tapping into the wisdom that formed the heavens and the earth with a word.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Value of Wisdom

Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver and her gain than fine gold.
Proverbs 3:13-14

In the musical Fiddler on Roof the main character Tevye muses in a song what he would do if he were a rich man.  It can be fun to play the “If I were a rich man” game from time to time.  Yet there is something more valuable by far.  Godly wisdom is something that is freely available for all who would approach God and ask (James 1:5) and its worth far exceeds any monetary blessing that we could find.  Of all of the wonderful things which wealth and riches can provide, it is entirely incapable of providing real fulfillment and a right relationship with God.  Godly wisdom has the power to bring satisfaction and happiness that are of far greater value.  While this reality may be rather commonplace in our culture – even to the point of sounding cliché – we find that the practice of valuing true wisdom and standing in humility before the Lord is far more difficult in practice.  Have you ever spent time dreaming what your life would look like if you were abundantly wealthy in the application of Godly wisdom?  Perhaps that would be worth dreaming about!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Discipline vs Punishment

My Son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12

It easy to confuse punishment and discipline.  These words are often used interchangeably and yet they have very different meanings.  The point of similarity is that they are both responses to inappropriate or unjust behavior.   The difference is in the goal of the response.  Punishment is related to the idea of justice.  We are looking for a suitable and just punishment to fit the crime.  The Biblical principle of “and eye for an eye” gives us a clear understanding of this principle.  This commandment was given because humanity does not want justice when wronged…we want vengeance.  This commandment limits and defines just punishments as never exceeding the nature and extent of the initial transgression.  Discipline is different.  It is not dealing primarily with justice but with the betterment of the one being disciplined.  Discipline can be negative in terms of unfavorable conditions placed upon a person, but the goal is not that justice be served – the desired result is that the behavior not be repeated.  Discipline can be positive in terms of applying a habit or action that will bring about the best good for the object – such as imposing a bedtime upon a child who needs to sleep whether they feel like it or not.  This is the nature of the Lord’s care of all who are related to Him through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He disciplines us and corrects us because He loves us.  This may not always be pleasant, but it is always for the very best.