[March 5]--Some Benefits of Wisdom

Prov. 3:1-4, 7-10, 13-18

Our Enemy very rarely comes and dangles a complete lie in front of us. He usually appeals to us using a Biblical truth mixed with his error. That’s nowhere better illustrated than in the “Health and Wealth Gospel.” For those just joining us, it’s the heretical teaching that God wants all believers to be healthy and wealthy, and if you experience sickness or financial deprivation then something is wrong with your faith. Jesus Christ, through his atoning work on the cross, has purchased for us the benefits of health and prosperity, so every Christian has the perfect right to them.

As you might've guessed, the book of Proverbs is one of their favorite parts of Scripture. From today’s verses (and I could've picked many others), you can see why. Before we get to why they’re wrong, let’s take a look at some of the stated advantages of a wise life.

• “prolong your life many years” A long lifespan
• “you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” A great reputation among people
• “health to your body and nourishment to your bones” Sounds like physical health to me
• “your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” A metaphor for financial prosperity
• “Pleasant ways. . . paths of peace” A peaceful life, an ending of strife

So what’s wrong with the “Name and Claim It” crowd’s theology? Aren’t these ironclad promises of God that we can claim if we’re faithful to him? In a word, no. They aren’t promises that are in effect 100% of the time. What’s the #1 word in studying your Bible, the word that solves most of our quandaries and steers us clear of the most egregious errors? Context. Context. Context.

Proverbs is listed among the “Wisdom Literature,” along with Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and oh yes. . . Job. There are some questions you can ask about how to interpret that book, but one of its main points is to refute the foolish notion that if bad things are happening to a believer, it has to be directly attributed to sin in his life or because of a lack of faith. I said it before, but it bears repeating: If I knew that God was bragging about me to his angels like he bragged about Job, I'd be thrilled. Jesus also was confronted with this theological error by his disciples and specifically refuted it.

So how do we interpret these “promises”? Simply put, they're the natural course of events in a godly life. Think about it. Leave out any notion of direct Divine intervention for a moment. If you’re following God’s path, then you’re going to exhibit self-discipline in your spending habits. You won’t have to “keep up with the Joneses,” and will have more money in your bank account than if you were self-indulgent. You’ll stick to his plan regarding sexuality (celibacy until marriage, faithfulness afterward). You’ll avoid things that poison your body like smoking or drunkenness. You will, in general, have a good reputation for honesty, especially in the business world. You will, therefore, tend to be healthier and wealthier than if you don't stick to God’s plan. This all makes sense, right?

But of course things do happen. For one reason or another, our Father might allow the Enemy to buffet us. Believers all over the world are persecuted and lose their possessions, their health, their reputations (due to slander), and even their lives--so much for that long lifespan!!! But in general, these are the common benefits of wisdom, of cultivating a close relationship with our Savior. And that’s not even getting to the really good stuff, the spiritual benefits that are ours in Christ.

Lord Jesus, there are so many wonderful benefits to following you, and nothing really to lose. Nothing worth keeping, anyway. It’s ALL rubbish compared to knowing you.

No comments:

Post a Comment