Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Wisdom and wealth: God's gifts to His children … "

Day #194:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - July 10th

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 10 …

The title today may sound like a message you hear today from some in the Christian community who claim that applying a certain "wisdom" from God guarantees material prosperity in this world.  However, when understood in the context of all of Scripture, the words of Solomon here in Proverbs 10 speak of something deeper and more valuable than any earthly wisdom or wealth.  God is speaking here of HIS wisdom and of a spiritual wealth that far surpasses the riches of this world.

Reading through Proverbs 10, you find Solomon speaking about wisdom and wealth, about laziness and work, about the righteous and the wicked and a lot about the MOUTH … the words of the righteous and the words of the fool.  Let's begin at the end of the chapter, as doing so often, though not always, brings what has been said before to a conclusion.  Many people take individual proverbs out of their context and interpret them to say things that are questionable at best and heretical at worst!!  When possible, each proverb should be seen in its immediate context, in the broader context of the chapter it is in and in the much broader context of the whole Bible.  Nothing Solomon writes as he is inspired by God's Spirit may contradict what is revealed elsewhere in Scripture.

Going toward the end of Proverbs 10, specifically verses 27-30, you can see that the wisdom God is talking about leads to a secure future for the righteous.  "The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.  The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.  The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.  The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land."

God is pointing here to eternal life, where the righteous (in Christ) find joy and refuge and safety and security.  The wicked, on the other hand, are "cut short" and "come to nothing" and "will not remain in the land."   Now let's go back to the beginning of Proverbs 10, as Solomon writes about "a wise son," "ill-gotten treasures" and "wealth."  He says in verse 2:  "Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death."  How is that true?  In this way:  those who seek God and who find righteousness their desire (as His Spirit works within them) do not go spiritually hungry.  God feeds them and gives them eternal life.

Even verses 4-5, which may be speaking about hard work and its wages, may also clearly be applied to those who labor for God's kingdom and the spiritual rewards that God promises.  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (I Corinthians 15:58).  So, "he who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son," may be speaking of God's spiritual harvest.

This would seem to be confirmed by Solomon's repeated references to the "mouth of the righteous."  He says that "the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked" (10:11).  God uses the mouths of believers to proclaim the good news of God and His kingdom, of Christ and the Gospel, and the message brings life to those who by His grace are moved to accept it.  The wicked is a "chattering fool" who ignores God's Word and speaks all manner of nonsense.  "Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning" (10:13).

"Wisdom" today is variously defined as having a great amount of knowledge, but Paul writes in I Corinthians 1 that there is worldly wisdom and there is God's wisdom.  "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate" (I Corinthians 1:19; Isaiah 29:14).  "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom"  and Christ Jesus "has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:25, 30).  The mouth of the righteous speaks about the things of God that have been revealed in His Word.  "The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment" (10:21).

Throughout this chapter, Solomon points to the contrast between the way of life of the righteous and the wicked.  Solomon writes, "The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment" (10:16).  And Paul writes in Romans 6:23:  "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  One is by grace and is "earned" through the blood of Christ, the other is the just reward of those who pursue wickedness.  "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out" (10:9).  As God says, so it will happen.

As you read through the Proverbs of Solomon continually look for the application of his words to this present life, but also look deeper, to their spiritual application.  Often it is not an "either/or," but a "both/and" application.  God's Word speaks not only to our lives in this world, but even more importantly, to life in the world to come.  There is a connection between life now and life then that many miss.  Pray that God would give you wisdom as you read and study His Word.  There is a reward for those who earnestly pursue God's wisdom and who take the time to "feed" on His Word daily.  May you be so blessed!

"Heavenly Father, Your wisdom rises far beyond the wisdom of this world.  Help me not to set my mind on the things of this earth, but on things above, where Jesus is seated at Your right hand, where day and night the angels never stop saying, 'Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.'  It is there that I will find true wisdom and wealth and it is in knowing You, loving You and serving You that I find my joy.  May my mouth be Your instrument to speak Your wisdom to those who may hear, that Your harvest will be completed and You will receive glory.  In Jesus' name, Amen"  

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