More Proverbial Wisdom

Proverbs 3 is the quintessential common sense chapter.  It gives some really good guidance on why we read wisdom in the Bible.

Like we talked about last week, Proverbs is part of the wisdom literature where you learn about common sense things on what God wants each of us.  It is an important part of the bible but you won’t learn about Jesus.  You won’t learn about forgiveness.  You won’t learn about being saved by grace through our faith.

[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/279033-more-proverbial-wisdom.mp3]

You will learn something about the nature of God, however.  Consider the beginning of today’s reading.  My child, do not forget my teaching,  but let your heart keep my commandments;  for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you.  Not bad.  Seems like a pretty good God desiring the best for us.

And note that this doesn’t suggest a reward.  It doesn’t say, do the right things and I will reward you like you were a dog that learned to sit up and beg when I told you to so I’m giving you a treat.  Not at all.  But it does say that obeying God’s commandments works out better for us.

And really, who could argue with that.  Today’s text isn’t talking about the Ten Commandments specifically but all of God’s commands.  But what if we considered just the Ten Commandments for a minute?  If we had loved God, loved our parents, told the truth, spoke well of others and didn’t steal, would our lives be better?  Not because we’re rewarded for doing good things but because God has created us in such a way that if we do it God’s way, it works out better for everyone.

And God really does want the best for us.  Always has, hence books like Proverbs and the rest of the wisdom literature.  But you’ll note that God doesn’t desire the best school for us.  God doesn’t desire the best job for us.  God doesn’t desire the best house for us.  God desires something infinitely better.  A life that creates space for a relationship between God and each one of us.  Of course, that would mean that God becomes THE priority in our life, not just one of the many priorities like school, job and house.

This is the hard part, or one of the hard parts about being a child of God.  That is making God THE priority in our life in and amongst all the other things we have going on.  We have to be honest with God and with ourselves about the amount of time we spend with God and the amount of time doing all those other things that come up in our week.

Of course, that means that we’d have to Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and do not rely on your own insight.  Oh wait, that sounded like verse 5 didn’t it?  We’re supposed to trust God about the things in our life?  Seems like crazy talk to me.

This doesn’t mean throwing our hands up in the air and waiting for God to take care of everything.  That’s not trusting God that is testing God and a very bad idea.  God has created us to work and to learn so doing our jobs and going to school is part of the deal.  The difference is why we go to work or why we go to school or any number of things that we do.  We have to ask ourselves the reason why we do it.  Are we serving God our serving ourselves?  Do we do it for God’s glory or to get more stuff for ourselves?

A lot of what we do has to do with fear of something.  Last week we talked about being afraid of God what fear the Lord really means.  We’re not called to be afraid of God but to pay attention to God and give God our respect, at the same time.  This week’s text has more of the idea of trusting God which begs the question, if we trust God what exactly are we afraid of?

Fear is a huge motivator.  Fear can get us moving.  There are a number of things we should genuinely be afraid of.  I’m not going to list any because I don’t want to add any ideas to your list of things to be afraid of but suffice to say, we all know some common sense things we should be afraid of.

Then there is all that other stuff.  Seems like every other day there is something new we should be afraid of.  There is an entire industry built up around conspiracy theories and making money off us as it preys on our ability to be afraid of things.  Afraid of things that we didn’t even know existed until we saw it on TV or read about it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person but some of these things defy common sense.  One of the more interesting recent conspiracy theories was all of the snow that fell on the southern part of the country earlier this year as part of the so-called Polar Vortex weather system.  Remember southern cities getting blanketed by an inch of snow and coming to a standstill?  Well, apparently it was fake snow generated by the government for some unspecified though no doubt nefarious reason.  And a certain number of people bought into it and the online videos on the topic.

And the things we eat?  I can’t keep up with the list of things I’m not supposed to eat.  Or the latest and greatest thing I should be eating because it will make the pounds fall off, give me smooth skin and make my kids very smart.

Oh, and the fear of missing out.  That can drag us into all kinds of trouble.  Can you name the last week you didn’t get some piece of mail that didn’t say Urgent!  Open Immediately!  Or its online counterpart?  These go out because we humans respond to it.  If we don’t do something we’ll miss out, even on things we didn’t know we needed.  Late comedian George Carlin had a pretty good line with stuff that was on sale.  I can’t repeat it verbatim because it was well, George Carlin but the gist of it is this.  “It’s on sale!  If I don’t buy it someone else will and then they’ll have OUR stuff in THEIR house.”

These are the kinds of things where common sense comes into play and that is the purpose behind the wisdom found in Proverbs.  13 Happy are those who find wisdom,  and those who get understanding, 14 for her income is better than silver,  and her revenue better than gold.15 She is more precious than jewels,   and nothing you desire can compare with her.

The specific answers to questions to our lives today may not be found there.  The author of Proverbs likely didn’t foresee fake snow or the latest ad campaign.  But reading Proverbs sets the stage for approaching our lives the way God wants us to live.

With wisdom and trusting God.

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