Read Proverbs 4
It’s Proverbs. It’s chapter 4. It’s wisdom again and not for the last time.
Once again Solomon and Lady Wisdom offer to guide us in God’s way and keep us on course. That’s the thing. We might walk in God’s way one day and wake up and wander down the wrong path the next.
Staying the course, pressing on towards the goal, and hitting the target set for us by wisdom take daily effort. It’s not something we do once and everything falls into place thereafter.
Let’s start with guard your hearts. Keep God’s words in your heart. Internalize them. I know that you already know two key scriptures from Proverbs.
These are yours and yours to keep. So keep them and others in your hearts and in your minds. Make them part of who you are. Keep wisdom close to your heart so that it never leaves you.
Let’s look at our speech. Words matter. This is more than don’t use cuss words or God’s name in vain. This is don’t speak discouragement when encouragement is required. Don’t speak as a person with no hope when we are people of hope.
The people who always complain about everything, might just start to see the blessings all around them.
Consider the difference between waking up to, “guess I’ve gotta read my verse” and “the best part of waking up is another helping of God’s word.”
Our thoughts matter. Our words matter. Every thought that is not taken captive and made obedient to Christ is subject to escaping as perverse or wicked language.
How do you work on this? How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The answer is the same.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
So that’s guarding our hearts and taking care with our words. Let’s consider our eyes. Where is our focus? What’s in our sights?
We know to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We can’t really see him seated at the right hand of the Father so we keep our focus on what he taught us.
Once upon a time, I went to evasive driving school. It was a fun week of driving fast, driving faster, learning how to steal a car, ram a car, and just useful things that every growing boy needs to know.
One of the drills we did was called swerve to avoid. Orange cones were put down the middle of the track. You approached them head-on at about sixty miles per hour. At the last minute, the instructor who was seated in the passenger seat would say right or left.
You braked a little and then swerved to the prescribed direction and then back through the cones on the right and then on the left.
If you looked at the cones, you hit the cones. You had to focus on the space between. As soon as you were on target between the cones, you had to acquire the next space between and make the car go there. By this time, you a doing about 35 mph, but that’s still fast enough that if you look at the cones, you hit the cones.
Focus was key. Focus is key.
Now we come to the feet. Really? Yes. Each step counts.
I can look at a golfer and tell you where his shot is going, excepting shots from a trap or bunker where stances vary.
Look at their feet. Lay a club down at their feet so it just touches the toes. Where it points is the likely path of the ball to be hit.
Our heart, our speech, our eyes, and even our feet are given instructions. Stay the course. Press on towards the goal. In this morning’s context, the goal is wisdom.
Now let’s put them all together. In marksmanship, if you want to hit the target you need focus—sight alignment and sight picture. You need to block out distractions—your heart and mind must be given to the present task of hitting the target.
And, your body must be perfectly aligned. In the prone position—that’s lying flat on the ground, you need to sight in on your target and then close your eyes. Then a moment later open your eyes. If you are not still on the target, then your body is not properly aligned. Your body will shift the focus of your eyes.
You have to adjust and do this drill again until the sight picture is the same after you open your eyes as it was before you closed them.
In qualifying with the service rifle, I had to shoot 10 rounds in 60 seconds. That doesn’t sound too hard, unless you actually want to hit the target. Throw out all the Hollywood scenes of spraying the area with a hundred bullets in a few seconds. That’s Hollywood and nowhere near reality.
It’s different if you want to hit your target, but I didn’t want to hit the target. I wanted to hit the bullseye of the target, so in this rapid-fire drill, I would get into the prone position, sight in, then close my eyes and open them to make sure that my body was properly aligned. If it was, I began firing.
Halfway through, I had to change magazines. That took my eye off of the target momentarily so I had to repeat my body alignment drill to make sure that my body was properly aligned. When it was, I continued firing.
Remember, I wanted to do more than hit the target. I wanted all 10 rounds in the bullseye. To do that, my entire body had to be aligned.
Do you know what it’s called when you miss the target? Transgression. Today, we use that word and sin as synonyms. To miss the mark is to sin.
If you want to hit dead center, your heart, mind, eyes, speech, and body need to be in synch.
If you don’t want to miss—to swerve—left or right, then everything that you are needs to focus on hitting dead center in the target.
If you want to please God then live by his wisdom. Wisdom is not a casual affair. It requires focus—heart, mind, body, soul—to hit dead center.