Processing Proverbs–Part Four

view-of-quilpue1(One view of my town, Quilpué, Chile)

Regardless, and maybe because, of what is going on in the world (no small amount of calamity and clamor, for sure) I appreciate the book of Proverbs even more. And what fascinates me is the fact that it is not time sensitive—it is ad hoc, no matter the era we live in.

Continuing threads in the book are evident:

  • If you’re lazy, it’s not going to go well with you.
  • If you’re evil, you can expect the payback.
  • If God isn’t part of the equation in your planning, failure is imminent.
  • If you’re righteous, you will have God’s favor and direction.
  • Not to fear God is the most foolish decision of all.

As noted in Part One of Processing Proverbs, the writer goes on to say what fearing God looks like. The book is full of examples. I’ll probably make a list when I write the last post.

I’ve been thinking about something since yesterday. The more years I live (and I’ve lived a lot, believe me), the more I have discovered that the gospel and the life of faith is so much simpler than we make it out to be. It’s not complicated or a bunch of rules or rituals. It just makes sense:

  • Love God with all (emphasis mine) your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Fear God
  • Give the kingdom of God priority

Something that has always rolled around in my mind is a paraphrased quote from Saint Augustine’s sermon on 1 John 4:4-12 back in the Fourth Century: Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved. Often the last part is left off.

But isn’t it true that if we truly do love God with all we have then our goal would be to make sure we don’t offend Him?

I have learned (the hard way) to pray differently for those who choose not to follow God and offend Him with their lives. In the past, I had the gall to pray that they would stop the bad stuff they were doing, stop living in sin, repent, and then I’d give God ideas as to how He could do that. *Me shaking my head in disbelief* Who did I think I was?

God has taught me in the last few months to pray a different way: “Please, Father, lead them to love you with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That just about encapsulates the whole thing. If the person I pray for, if any of us, if I truly did that, wouldn’t it pretty much take care of the rest as far as how we live our lives?

I know that if I truly fear the Lord, if I truly love him and make His kingdom a priority, it encompasses every area of my life. It doesn’t give me room to take a look at the guy next to me and have an opinion about how he or she behaves or the decisions they make. Especially when what I am supposed to do is to love them. Does love sometimes involve tough stuff like confrontation? Yes. But the love part always has to be the motive, not the being right part. Or the judging thing.

Reading Proverbs has been an eye opener. It has been painful, revealing, and humbling.

Father, may we truly love you with all that is within us. Every. Single. Moment.

How about you? Do you struggle with loving God with your whole being or putting Him first?

 

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About colleenshinephillips

Writer, veteran missionary, adventure and intrigue-lover. Convinced of the power of the word and the Word.
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10 Responses to Processing Proverbs–Part Four

  1. God has us on the same page again, Colleen! It’s funny how we don’t even plan to blog about the same subject, but our topics often compliment one another. God is so awesome!

    I love your point on how we pray for ourselves and others. When we pray, it’s up to God to decide how He’s going to work because only He knows what’s best, only He knows what lies ahead, only He knows the motives of our hearts and our minds.

    I’ve learned to pray this simple prayer: “May Your will be done, Lord. Help me trust You and love You, one breath at a time.” This is harder when those we love are hurting, or diving head-first into sin, but by judging we’re also sinning.

    I think about the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) when I’m tempted to forget I’m a sinner in as much need for God’s grace as anyone else I can ever pray for.

    Thanks again for another inspiring and thought-provoking post. To God be the glory!

  2. dianesteward says:

    Thanks, Colleen, for your thoughtful comments once again. I also was impressed with the timeliness of many of the Proverbs themes you listed! And I’ve tried to guide my life for many years with the quote from St. Augustine: “Love God and do whatever you please,” but although I believe I understood what he meant, I had never read the second part before: “for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” Amen, isn’t that the truth?! As I sometimes remind myself, if Jesus is everything, then why am I so uptight? May He truly be the centerpiece and most important love of our lives.

  3. Amen!!! May it be so in our lives. Thank you for your insightful comment.

  4. Ginny Jaques says:

    So glad to rediscover this blogger! I’m a follower. Great posts on Proverbs.

  5. Francine Rivers says:

    Terrific post. Over the years my prayers have changed. “Lord, have You way with my loved one. I trust You.” I don’t know what is best or what will change a heart. God does.
    Keep the lists coming.

    • colleenshinephillips says:

      I am so glad if even a bit of what I share helps. I agree with your prayer. I also do not know what is best, and often words fail me to even express feelings. That is where the Holy Spirit comes one. You know? God really did think this whole thing through and knew exactly how much we would need the Holy Spirit. He’s amazing!

  6. Susan Casey says:

    Phil and i are coming to the realization that lists are rules are not what it’s all about. It’s about our hearts. We are growing out of that era that was so stuck on the rules and lists. Loved your thoughts!

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