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?