Who Read the Preface?
Lord, thank You that Your Holy Spirit in me is able to help me to live a life pleasing to You.
Read PROVERBS 22:17-23:14
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely….The traditional term for such activities (training) is spiritual disciplines” (John Ortberg).
The collection of wise sayings that starts in our reading contains much that we’ve come across previously, so today’s note focuses on the teacher’s preface in 22:17-21. Notice the verbs: pay attention, apply, keep, and have ready. What is the teacher saying here? Well, he’s saying that the wise life doesn’t come by accident. To illustrate the point, compare it with the process of learning a new language—as if the wise life was expressed by the grammar of prudent conduct, the syntax of virtuous attitudes, and the vocabulary of godly habits.
No one ever passively drifts into fluency in a new language. One friend of ours, learning Chinese, has struggled to survive and thrive in China. He has endured demoralizing setbacks, hopeless despair at the enormity of the task, innumerable tiny frustrations, the elation of recognizing that progress has indeed been made—and then he sees his wife picking up the language with little difficulty! He has persevered through this because it’s the only way to do what he’s called to do. It’s worth it.
Now, substitute “wisdom” for “Chinese.” We are not going to learn wisdom without deliberate and dogged exertion; without, figuratively speaking, getting up off our couch and putting some effort into it, we will slide into the untrusting life and drift into disaster. The uncomfortable question that the preface flings at you in order to test you is this: what are you going to do in order to live wisely? The preface is not about the clichéd journey from the head to the heart, but rather about the more challenging journey from the head to the hands and feet and lips. Biblical wisdom is a “make happen” attribute; it is to be done. If we don’t put it into practice, we don’t have it.
Evaluate your life before God by this quotation: “The rule … is that we turn each truth we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God” (James I. Packer).
Lord, please help me to worship You by doing the wise life instead of merely intellectualizing about Your wise words. I want to live a life that honors You.