Friday, July 9, 2021

If Statements


 Read Proverbs 2

Does anyone do spreadsheets?  They are handy for adding up a column or a row of numbers.  You can compute totals and percentages in one click.  I made one spreadsheet that computes percentages for every line item in a budget.  Sometimes numbers speak louder than percentages but when you have both side-by-side displayed before you, decisions come much easier.

Sometimes the decisions are not easy regardless of the numbers or percentages.  I look at my budget and I am spending just under 10% of my income on insurance.  The decisions don’t get any easier but the calculations and presentation of the data make the basis for that decision clear.

The budget sheets that I have for people who come to see me have additional line items—fines, cigarettes, court and attorney fees and the like.  The spreadsheet presents things clearly and calculates changes accurately.

If we change the line item for cigarettes from $200 per month to $50, the percentage changes automatically as does the bottom line.  I really love my spreadsheets and I’m not even a geek.

Spreadsheets also do something called “if” statements.  I enter condition 1 and then the narrative explanation if condition 1 is true and a narrative if it’s false.  I can also make this second part into another if statement.  Yes, I can embed one if statement into another and more than once.

I know that you are thrilled about spreadsheets by now.  Or not…

I like the “if” function because it is more logic than math.  I like logic and reasoning and intelligent discourse.  The “if” function gives me the first two.

This chapter is something of an if statement.

If you:

·       Accept my words

·       Internalize my commands

·       Seek wisdom and understanding more than silver or gold

Then—if these preceding conditions are true:

·       You will understand the fear of the Lord

·       You will find the knowledge of God

·       You will understand what is right, just, and fair

·       Wisdom will dwell within you

·       You will have an appetite for knowledge

·       You will be saved from wicked men and their schemes

·       You will be saved from evil women and their schemes

·       You will live a full life

God has given conditional instruction before. There were conditions and consequences. The first covenant—what we might call the Old Covenant—was conditional.

By the time God’s Chosen People had their third king, they understood conditional relationships.  Do this for this outcome.  It was straightforward.  The fact that God did the same thing through wisdom should not be a surprise.  Wisdom was present at the foundation of the world.

It’s not like the Father, Son, and Spirit decided at a later date that wisdom should be woven into the fabric of the universe.  Wisdom was there in the beginning.  It was not an after-market accessory. As we have seen, wisdom is also personified.

As you visualize wisdom being present at the foundation of the world, don’t imagine a stack of books.  Instead, visualize a woman sitting at a loom weaving wisdom into the fabric of the universe.

Today, we understand the unconditional love of God.  God is love.  We are to live in response to love that goes beyond our comprehension and that delivers mercy and grace beyond our sin; but wisdom is still conditional.

We must accept God’s words as truth and internalize that truth.  Then we must seek after God’s wisdom—that term should be redundant.  For the wisdom of the world is no wisdom at all.  The wisdom of the world is an oxymoron.

We must seek wisdom as if it were more valuable than silver or gold.  Three millennia ago, Solomon picked earthly commodities that continue to gain in value today. In today’s world of stocks and bitcoin and electronic funds, gold and silver keep gaining in value.  We must desire wisdom more than the most attractive elements of today’s wealth.

Then what?

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord.  The earlier proverb tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

So compliance would direct us to fear the Lord.  Wisdom says, I can help you to understand why this is a necessary first step.  Then, things start to fall into place.

We not only understand more of God’s ways, we gain an appetite for them.  We hunger for not only God’s love and mercy but for his directives as well.  They restrict less than they enable.

Enable us to do what?  Live abundantly and bring glory to God’s name, and there is no dichotomy in these two.

I have used the examples of the cup and the ladder before but they apply here as well.

Does a cup restrict or enable?  The answer is yes.  Water is restricted to the inside of the cup but the cup enables us to take our coffee with us wherever we go. 

Does the ladder restrict or enable?  The answer is yes.  It restricts us to a very narrow lane in which to climb, but it enables us to reach heights that were previously out of reach.

We understand the fear of the Lord.  We hunger for his wisdom.  We seek his direction.

We internalize his ways and develop much immunity to the schemes of evil men and women.  God’s wisdom is the best vaccine going for the trials and the best supplement available for seizing the opportunities that life holds. Wisdom gets us through the tough times and keeps us from getting suckered into the too good to be true opportunities of a lifetime that truly have no return on investment. 

You can gain much of this learning without God’s wisdom.  It comes with experience.  You have seen those ads for life experience applied towards your college or advanced degree.  I looked at some of those.  I sent them my documentation for over 2000 hours of training that I had received in the Marine Corps—some of it pretty high-level stuff—and they said we will give you 3 hours credit for general studies.  That was a hard pass, but you can get credit for learning through experience.

You can acquire some wisdom just from experience.

Your degree is from the School of Hard Knocks.  Many do graduate from this school.  They learned wisdom the hard way. Many more continue as life-long undergraduates just running up their student loan debt not acquiring much in the way of wisdom.

Wisdom says trust me—trust in the Lord who created me—and you will be given wisdom generously.  

So, let’s accept God at his word, internalize his words and his essence and develop an appetite for wisdom like no other appetite.

If we do this, when the Holy Spirit prompts us to move in the same direction that wisdom is pointing us, we have confirmation of what God wants us to do. Our understanding of God’s way will go through the roof and our desire to learn more and more from him will be an unquenchable thirst.  We will be protected from falling for evil schemes.

It must begin with trusting the Lord just a little bit—no, with all of our hearts—and trusting the wisdom he has made available to us.  It’s a simple “if” statement.  Sometimes things are really just that simple.

If you trust in the Lord, he will keep you on the right path.  More on that in the next chapter.


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