My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.All the "ifs" in this passage lead up to one promise, twice stated: Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God, and Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. The issue with these promises is we are naturally blind to how wonderful they are, "if" we fail to meet the conditions for obtaining them. That requires tenacious, blind obedience, which in turn requires some measure of faith in the One who issues the promises. No wonder so many contemporary people fail to understand the value of "every good path." In our unregenerate blindness we can't connect the dots. We just don't get it. And in or arrogance, what we don't get can't be true. Most any thinking person will see the logical fallacy in that conclusion, as the end of the reasoning that says, "What I can't see must not exist." That proverbial, thinking person, will, however, examine God's promises rather than dismissing them out-of-hat. He or she will seek out what possible advantage to a contemporary human being might be had by understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God. First, Man's fundamental dysfunctionality should be obvious. Even with religion thrown into the picture, we get life wrong far more often than we get it right. And what does "getting it right" look like? It is taking it on the chin, rather than risk hurting someone else. It is showing deference(preferring others' welfare to our own) when given the choice. It is truth-telling to our own hurt, and not necessarily truth-telling when it would hurt another. It is helping others even when it's inconvenient. Those examples of right relation with others seem conspicuously rare, especially within the religious setting where one might expect to see them ... based on the religion's profession. Why would that be? Why wouldn't religion make more of a difference in our rightness of behavior, if God's promises are religious in nature? The answer is simple: they aren't essentially religious. But they are relational. By understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God, and by understanding every good path, we don't just change our behavior; we change our identity. We become transformed from rebels against God into children of God. And that's where Christ's new covenant makes all the difference in eternity. But alas, that is a discussion for another time, and for more room.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Just Don't Get It?
Proverbs 2: 1-10 is one of the big "If" passages of Scripture. "If," in case you hadn't thought of it, introduces conditions to a promise or proposition. Today, promises typically mean little, and the fewer conditions specified, the less they mean. When we hear such advertised promises as, "Nothing down and no payments for Ten Years!!!!" we know they're leaving out something vital; businesses do not survive on those terms. The New International Version of the Bible puts in these terms: