As I was meditating on Proverbs 4 this morning I was struck with the thought that we (as religious people) so often read through chapters like this with very little application. So of course, this caused me to question why we fail to take these warnings seriously.Maybe it’s because we refer to these writings as mere suggestions vs. commands. Isn’t it true that we often see laws and rules this way? When you see a speed limit sign how do you react? If 40 mph is the posted speed limit do you often praise the city for the warning and bring the speed down UNDER the LIMIT to 38 mph? Honestly, don’t most people take it just beyond the limit, seeing the sign as a mere suggestion? When stopped by a cop usually we think “I was only going 6 mph over the suggested limit”. Reality – we broke the law and we complicated our circumstances. It’s not just speed limits, this happens in many areas of life. A law is posted for our good, we think we know better, and then blame the authority for being too rigid. The Proverbs (and all of Scripture) is given to us for LIFE (for our good) and we must read the commands as commands and not just suggestions and keep ourselves from making excuses for the painful “sin-traps” we fall into.Maybe another reason we fail to apply the Proverbs is because it reads much like a parent lecturing a child and none of us really enjoy getting “talked to” by the parents. Actually, this is exactly what most of the Proverbs are – wisdom pleading to the younger. We too often hear the proverbs like a mom saying, “eat your eggs” or a dad saying “don’t be out too late”.For example, look at a few verses from Proverb 4:
- “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life” (v.13) – this is a plea to not forsake counsel but choose life by listening and following sound teaching. You can almost picture the child sitting on the edge of the bed tempted to roll her eyes that already display “how long is this going to take?”.
Or this one…
- “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left. Remove your foot from evil.” (v.26,27) – Again, “dad, I get it! Can I go back in there now?”.
I began to write this blog with the thought – what if MY generation (I’m 39) would simply choose to take this ONE chapter seriously? – What if we gave ourselves to instruction, submitted to it and trusted the results? What would happen within our nation? What would happen within our families? What about our churches? How differently would we make decisions? How much more life-giving would our free time become for us? What if just one generation would choose to quit viewing the Proverbs the same way we view a parent’s lecture or speed limit signs but instead trust that our Heavenly Father has designed this journey FOR OUR GOOD. He knows how and when to post warnings (commands) for us so that we can attain all that He truly has for us?What if I just did this personally? Oh what joy I often forfeit and what heavy burdens I place onto myself and my family and my church when I speed read through Proverbs. Join me in helping one another apply Scripture. Let’s really assist one another in raising the bar in our practical ways of applying Scripture. Perhaps it begins by celebrating and honoring those who want this instead of mocking them. I’m convinced that our hearts will only burn with passion and love and joy when we live as He has designed us to live.
“Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her and she will keep you.” –Proverbs 4:4-6
A burning heart, for His glory and the joy of all peoples!