Proverbs 2:1-22 knocks the wind out of me. For starters, it makes me think of the season in my life when I believed sitting in church was enough; and while I was listening, I was not storing up the commands of the Lord on my heart. While I was present and accounted for, I wasn’t digging into the Word. Back then, to me worship was singing Christian Contemporary Music and not mentally checking out because the music was not what I preferred. The very notion that worship is a 24/7 state of being was completely lost on me. I loved the image of God and moments of worship that I had in my head and heart; but I struggled with an inadequate head-knowledge and a bunch of emotionally charged experiences that left my relationship with Christ lacking.
We know that this is happening more often than not, though. How many of us are seeking after God, His insights, His understanding, and His knowledge like treasure? Throw a 140k a year salary in front of us, or dangle granite countertops, a brand-new vehicle and we will stop at nothing to chase after it. But, God’s insights and understanding, we tend to make excuses about how reading puts us to sleep or how we don’t need to study the Bible to really understand God. We want God on our terms, and we want the understanding which best suits or agenda. We don’t want to hear what attacks our preconceived notions. We don’t want to examine our lives by way of the mirror that is Scripture; and when we do, we sometimes even want to read into the Bible things that are not even there or do not even apply to us.
In fact, I dare say that if we had been given the Bible six months ago, there would be those of us reading it who would be swearing that the Apostle John was talking about us. Or, we’d be swearing that Paul’s chastisement was a self-righteous dig because he was a former Pharisee. We struggle with it because it exposes things within us that reveals our own heart condition. On some level, we know this is true because it makes us uncomfortable.
But, God tells us in these verses if we just listen to Him and incline our ear to take in His understanding, we’ll understand the fear of God and He will give us wisdom, as well as knowledge and understanding. He will be our shield; He will guard our paths and keep our way. He tells us that wisdom will enter our hearts and knowledge will be pleasing to our souls. That discretion will watch over us, and understanding will protect us. He even goes on to illustrate that these things will keep us from those who do evil. The imagery here is of those who set traps for us and try to harm us; as well as the homewrecker who entices us or our loved one away.
Today, we may not all deal with those trying to physically kill us or plotting to rob us on the highway, but we do have to deal with those trying to kill our credibility, who we are right now in Christ, our witness and even our peace. We may not all deal with a woman or man enticing our spouse with flattery because they are looking to put a notch in the bed post, but what about inappropriate emotional attachments? What about porn? Also, what about looking at that “woman” who entices us not as a physical person at all, but as that job that encourages us to put in 80 hours to the neglect of our homes or our integrity?
You could easily argue that you are a good person and have never done anything so wrong as to be thought of as a bad person. By the world's standard you might even be right. You might be able to look at other people and determine that you are nowhere near as horrible as they are. I mean, I did 13 years in prison for accidentally shooting my sister so there is no doubt that by society's standards you are better than me because you have never been to prison, never taken someone’s life, never had to live with the guilt, shame or regret. Yet, even if you are not thinking this, the truth is I have encountered plenty who do think this way. However, studying the Word shows us that we are all unworthy sinners whose best effort are as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Now, you hear our best works, our best self-effort are as filthy rags and probably think of either that rag after the year’s first deep spring cleaning, all dusty and grimy; or maybe what comes to mind is the rag you wipe your hands on after you have been under the hood of your car, all oily and black. That is not the kind of filthy rag that this Scripture is talking about. Not to be too gross but the Hebrew word for filthy, ‘ed’, in Isaiah 64:6 literally means menstrual flux. I encourage you to look it up for yourself. So, what this Scripture is saying is that our best self-driven deeds are no better than the worst maxi pad you have ever come across. Pretty graphic, huh?
We would not understand that our best self-effort apart from God is akin to a discarded maxi pad if we did not study the Word. If we did not seek His understanding and strive to know Him as only we can through the guidance of His Holy Spirit, we would think that we are just fine without a Savior. We would think that we are good people. We deserve a spot in the kingdom. We have never hurt anyone… oh, wait, I have. More people than I care to admit. We have never lied to anyone…oh, wait, I have. I have even lied to myself to say I didn’t care what came next I was just going to enjoy this moment. We have never stepped out on our spouse. Oh, wait, according to the Bible, if we have even looked at another with lust…yeah, we have. Whether we were actually slinking off to do the walk of shame the next morning, looking at porn, or just staring to long at another person that we are not married to, according to God we have committed adultery in our hearts.
Without God’s understanding, without God’s knowledge revealed to us, we do not have a clue how depraved and disgusting we are before Him. We cannot understand that only by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ can we be cleansed, that only by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, as being the appropriation for our sin will God even see us without the taint and stains our own self-effort. Jesus’s sacrifice restores us as white as snow. We are forgiven and redeemed and are to start living our lives by seeking His Wisdom, knowledge and understanding, while living it out in our daily life. And, those who do not do this receive God's clear intention and plan for them at the end of these verses. They will be cut off from the land, the treacherous will be uprooted from it!
So, what about you? Does your self-knowledge and pride tell you that you are not that bad? Does your own sense of wisdom and reliance on what the world calls sage advice dilute you into thinking you do not need to be in the Word? Do you simply see those who study the Bible as self-righteous know-it-all’s who are only out for their own fluffed up understanding and the desire to win a theological argument? Have you ever considered that that might be the enemy whispering to you to prevent you from truly dialing into what He has to say…about everything?
Until Next Time