Friday, July 27, 2012

Get Wisdom -- Post 26

Proverbs -- Chapter 26

It seems clear to me that this chapter has to do with three evils. They are pride, laziness, and the damaging use of speech. Of course all of these are tied to the root issue of foolishness.

The writer's description of the fool in v1-11 is nothing less than fierce and graphic. While reading it this morning I thought of Jesus' curses upon the Pharisees and hypocrites found in Matthew 23. I wondered who could be in a worse situation than the fool. Then I read v12 -- "Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him". There is someone in a more perilous predicament than the standard fool -- the one who is proud, or maybe we can say the self-satisfied one, which leads us into the section of the chapter on the lazy, who are portrayed as those "wise in their own eyes" (v16). Of course all of these character issues are not only related to foolishness, but to each other.

Just one note on the lazy; they will find excuses for their inactivity (v13). If we are lazy we defy God by rebellion against not only His commands to work, but against a part of our bearing of His image and nature. That is, God is a worker (Ge 1-2; Jn 5). There is much in Scripture on the goodness and godliness of working.

Verse 17 to the end of the chapter condemn those of us who cannot control our tongues, which James later tells us are "a fire" and "a world of unrighteousness" (Ja 3:6).

Interesting in this wisdom chapter are the ways we are told to relate to the proud, the lazy, and the loose-lipped. We must not honor the foolish (v1 & v8), or trust them with certain tasks (v6 & v10), or waste words on them while at the same time, in particular circumstances, attempting to correct them (v4-5). In addition, we must not believe those who have shown themselves to be loveless (v24-25). Hatred seeks its own (cf 1 Co 13:5). And the person determined to get his own way is not loving his neighbor, but using him.

Certainly each of these evils are in me. I pray though they do not and will not characterize me. May God be merciful to me, a sinner.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Bible: Strange & Beautiful

The Bible, if God's Word, would reflect His character. And God is unique, or strange. He is in a class all by Himself. It's impossible to say in all truthfulness that God is exactly like a . . . (fill in the blank). It's impossible because God is distinct from His creation, though His nature is reflected in it. We, by God's works, see a shadow of Him. And shadows do not give us details, only shape. But besides creation and God's works, we have the Bible, which is an objective testimony to His nature. And since God is strange, so is His written revelation. In other words, we should not expect the Bible to be altogether simple, but still quite clear. We should not expect to read only of "normal" ideas in the Bible. God is not "normal". And while the gospel is an unusually understandable message, it is simultaneously a mysterious one, because there is mystery in God.

Belief systems other than Christianity are quite simple. They say do this, not that, and god will favor you. In them there is nothing profound, or mysterious, or remotely beautiful or captivating or refreshing or saving. The hope of all other faith systems is the very one trying to benefit from that system; which is to say, there is no hope, because there is no divinely human Savior, humbling Himself to rescue His wayward and corrupt and helpless creatures. Christianity is for those who believe that their problem is within and salvation comes from without. All other belief systems are for those who believe their problem is without and their hope lies within themselves.

The Engine of Pride

"The root of our sinfulness is the desire for our own happiness apart from God and apart from the happiness of others in God. I mean that to be read carefully. Let me say it again: The root of our sinfulness is the desire to be happy apart from God and apart from whether others find their eternal happiness in God. All sin comes from a desire to be happy cut off from the glory of God and cut off from the good of others. The command of Jesus [to love our neighbor] cuts to this root, exposes it, and severs it. Another name for this root of sinfulness is pride. Pride is the presumption that we can be happy without depending on God as the source of our happiness and without caring if others find their happiness in God. Pride is the contaminated and corrupted passion to be happy. It is corrupted by two things: (1) the unwillingness to see God as the only fountain of true and lasting joy, and (2) the unwillingness to see other people as designed by God to share our joy in him. If you take the desire to be happy and strip away from it God as the fountain of your happiness and strip from it people as the ones you hope will share your happiness in God, what you have left is the engine of pride. Pride is the pursuit of happiness anywhere but in the glory of God and the good of other people for God's sake. This is the root of all sin."

John Piper, from "What Jesus Demands from the World", commenting on Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves, pages 256-257.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Get Wisdom -- Post 25

Proverbs -- Chapter 25

The corrupt do corrupt (v4-5, 18-19, 26-28).

Aim low (v6-7). This has to do with what it means to be humble (v27). And see Jesus on the subject in Lk 14:7-11 and Jn 13.

There is much you do not know. Therefore, be wise and prudent with your words in the variety of your relationships (v2-3, 8-10, 11-14, 15, 17-18, 23-25). For, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Pr 18:21).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

One Man's Thought on Pulling the Trigger

"I use my guns whenever kindness fails."
Robert Earl Keen, Texas Country Singer

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Often Overlooked, and Unappreciated, Qualities in Jesus

1. He was often unusually blunt, with his closest friends and with strangers; with men, and with women; with those in power, and with those who had none.

2. He was sometimes purposely and intentionally unavailable. Sometimes He hid himself. Sometimes He chose to do other than give someone His time. Sometimes He drove people away. Sometimes He said no.