Read Proverbs 5
The one-liner goes like this. I’m so broke that I can’t even pay attention. Solomon directs us to do just that.
Do not forget.
Accept my words.
Store up my commands.
Most of us realize that our thoughts tend to drift. We have to refocus time and again. We have to remind ourselves to stay on task, to pay attention.
I have been saying that there is God’s way and there is everything else for a while, but Solomon liked to precede his wisdom with a direction to pay attention. This is important. Ignore wisdom at your own peril
Going back to the first chapter, we picked up on the mode of operations as far as wisdom goes. If you revere God so highly that the fear of anything in the world pales in comparison, you have begun a journey that leads to knowledge that leads to wisdom that embraces the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
We want to get on and stay on this cycle. Trust in the Lord-Wisdom-Trust-Wisdom.
The world cannot understand this and rejects this in favor of its own mantra that it attempts to pass off as wisdom. All wisdom comes from God. Wisdom was present at the creation of the world. Wisdom was woven into the fabric of the universe.
We are directed to Get Wisdom and Seek Understanding.
We discussed how we are all made with purpose. How pitiful it would be to be made in God’s image and not know his purpose for us—to just drift through life. Sometimes that purpose coincides with what we do for a living. Sometimes it has little relationship to our income or our livelihoods, but we all have purpose.
There may be very specific things that God has purposed for each of us, but there are some things he has purposed to all who call upon the name of the Lord. These should sound familiar.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I will walk in the light as he is in the light.
I will be known as a follower of Christ Jesus by my love.
I will take the words of my Master and put them into practice.
I will live as if tomorrow is not promised but eternity is. My choices matter and I chose to seek the Lord in all that I do.
We will never live a day in our lives without purpose, so we continue to get wisdom and seek instruction and live this life to the full desiring to bring glory to God in all that we do.
But some don’t.
I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but Solomon saw fit to put a dramatic warning on living in the everything else. He starts with the adulterous woman who is ever so seductive at first but bitter in the end. What seems so attractive at first will drain the life out of your life.
There is God’s way and there is everything else and sometimes the everything else looks ever so inviting, but it is a trap, one that can lead to death. It will surely drain the life out of you.
Not all traps are set by women. Folly and laziness and pride and arrogance all set traps for the one who will dare to veer from the path set by God. We will get to these in time but for this time let us look at the dramatic response of the one who has succumbed to living in the everything else.
While the beginning of these wayward journeys was enticing to our flesh and to our corrupt hearts, staying the course of wickedness and foolishness come to this inevitable end.
At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.
You will say, “How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!
I would not obey my teachers
or turn my ear to my instructors.
And I was soon in serious trouble
in the assembly of God’s people.”
What’s worse than hitting rock bottom because of your own decisions?
Recognizing that it did not have to be that way. It absolutely did not have to come to this.
Realizing that you ignored warning after warning after warning but your own understanding minimized the warnings into nothing and you continued on your path that led to destruction.
Solomon was not writing to the pagans. He was writing to those who knew there was one true God and who claimed to be God’s people. He was writing to those who should have been trusting in God with all of their hearts and not succumbing to their own understanding as they veered from the path God set for them.
In hindsight, the wayward son will cry out, “How I hated discipline!” He will cry out, “I should have taken the vaccine!” I am not talking about the vaccine that has caused so much controversy today, but the vaccine of wisdom and trust in the Lord.
And you won’t get this from the CDC, that vaccine is approved for both adults and children.
The one who would not return to God’s way will acknowledge that God does discipline those whom he loves but I would have none of it. The more God rebuked me, the more I hardened my heart against him. The more that God loved me, the more I rejected him.
For about four decades now, I have tried to introduce a simple concept into many decisions. I have been very successful at boring people to tears when I talk about something called front-end analysis.
What? Front-end analysis involves heavy investment on the front end of a process. It looks at consequences and sequels for multiple choices or courses of action before the decisions are made.
People today don’t want to do that. I just want a new computer or a new car or a new storage building. I don’t want to do a needs analysis. Those are boring. I don’t want to think this through.
I just want what looks good.
Solomon takes us through some consequences and sequels to our choices. Doing things God’s way brings us to blessing. Ignoring God’s way and choosing what I call the everything else leads us on a path of destruction.
But Solomon puts the one on this wayward path in the first person and gives him the perspective of hindsight. “I would not obey my teachers. I would not listen to instruction.”
In hindsight, the one on the verge of destruction will see clearly the root cause: “How I hated disciple.”
We learned in the first chapter of Proverbs that those seeking God love disciple and instruction for fools despise wisdom and instruction and discipline.
We love sending kids to church camp. We pray that they grow closer to God for we have seen so many go the way of destruction. We know that God is a merciful God and desires none to perish, but how far down the road to destruction can someone go before they give up seeking God? How long can long can someone stay on the path that leads to destruction before they abandon all hope?
We are not allowed to give up on anyone. Like God, our hearts must desire that none perish but if we are serious about this, we don’t wait until someone is a good way down the path that leads to destruction.
We who have received and embraced God’s wisdom call people to come home as soon as we see them off course. We who desire to practice wisdom choose to work on the front end of the process. It’s where we get the best return on investment—the cost is low and the returns are high.
Our hearts break at the words of regret and hopelessness spoken in hindsight, “How I hated disciple. How my heart spurned correction.”
We who seek God’s wisdom seek to call others back to God’s way sooner than later.
But, but, but I’m not qualified.
But, but, but I don’t want to meddle.
But, but, but I don’t want to judge.
But, but, but that’s just not my way.
But it is wisdom’s way. There is God’s way and there is everything else. Wisdom tells us to call those who have abandoned God’s way home, sooner than later.
Love and wisdom call us to call home those who have nothing but regret and remorse ahead of them. Wisdom says to stick your neck out and invite those who are lost to come home.
Wisdom tells us what to do. Love compels us to do it. Empathy longs for people not to hit rock bottom but to come to the Lord now.
We who seek wisdom are advised to work on the front end of the process and call others to do the same.
We who seek to live God’s way are charged to call others to join us before they venture too far into the everything else.
Love and wisdom call us to bring the lost home.