Wisdom’s Closing Appeal


Thanks to the Foundry for helping us explore more about the deeper walk with Christ. 



Scripture:

Prov. 8:32    And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
34 Happy is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD;
36 but those who miss me injure themselves;
all who hate me love death.”

Observation:

Some commentators have referred to this chapter as the autobiography of Wisdom. This closing segment is an appeal to her children, to those who should listen to and heed her ways. Now, just imagine the Christmas season and the arrival of the Messiah. His presence informs our understanding of wisdom, for we receive this wisdom in and through our relationship wth the Messiah. 

Jesus admonishes us to come to him as little children, to listen to him and to keep his ways. Daily we are invited into a place of reading, meditation and prayer, where we hear the Lord’s voice. We are to create space for this instruction, and make it a priority in our lives. 

Joy fills the heart of the one who listens to and follows in the footsteps of Jesus. The elders of the city would gather daily at the city gate. This is the place where the best advice and counsel could be obtained. Taking the time to listen to words of wisdom, following Jesus, makes one happy. 

Finding Jesus means finding eternal life. This is the favor which is found in the LORD, but those who choose to look for satisfaction in life by going in another direction will only find death. 

As any good mother crying out to her children, asking them to make good choices, so wisdom gives this final appeal, hoping and praying that her children will listen. 

Application:

A few months ago our household joined the local Rec center. Overall, I think this is a good thing as we try to exercise on a regular basis. My husband and I are not high-impact athletes so we go and walk the track about three times a week. At the same time, I’m pretty amazed by the number of people who are at the gym having an extensive work-out. These people are serious about their physical fitness and in some ways it almost feels like a commitment to a religious experience. Every time I’m there I wonder about the lack of commitment to spiritual growth and development (ostensibly because we are too busy) and yet, the hours every week that people are putting into their physical well-being. If we believe in wholeness, that we are biopsychosocialspiritual beings, then just focusing on one area of our lives may create a type of imbalance. It also makes me wonder whether the church ought to be just as serious about providing opportunities for spiritual training, as the gym does for physical. 

The early church talked about something called “the practice of virtue.” According to Wikipedia, virtue is “is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. The opposite of virtue is vice.” Paul talked about imitating Christ, and I believe that this was a spiritual discipline or practice in his life. This was Paul’s spiritual work-out, to exercise his spiritual muscles to become like Christ. By practicing the virtues, or the very character of Christ, we become stronger in our faith. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a works faith! This is about the person who is already a believer, continuing to grow on their spiritual journey to become more like Christ. Just like we can’t become more athletic by watching football games and reading sports magazines, so we can’t become more like Christ by just dropping into a church service once in awhile. It actually takes action on our part to participate with God in molding us so that we can become clearer reflections of Jesus! 

For fear of legalism we moved away from talk of virtues, or any kind of list of rules that may inform our lives. Unfortunately it has left us with an overweight society suffering from heart disease — and I mean this in the spiritual sense. Wisdom’s closing appeal was that we would listen and take seriously the instruction that we are given. We are to be committed to a lifetime of drawing closer to Christ, practicing spiritual discipline with as much zeal as a workout at the gym. If this were to happen, the world would be filled with disciples who look and act just like Jesus. This is God’s plan! We are to carry the image of Christ into our world, and we want to carry the best and clearest image possible. 

I recently wrote a book together with a friend called, “Uncommon Virtues.” This book takes us back to the virtues and what they mean for a follower of Christ. We take examples from seven women of history, and my friend Rich writes beautiful narrative to bring them to life. This is not a book for women, but for every follower of Christ who wants to become more like Christ — the examples just happen to be women. I’m grateful to the Foundry for publishing this book and you can find it in paperback here, or kindle here. I have been challenged in my personal life, to take it just as serious as I do my physical body, and to practice the virtues. I have a long way to go, but by the grace of God, I want to continue the journey of becoming more like him. 

Wisdom’s closing appeal should be heard by every follower of Christ. “Hear the instructions, and be wise,” applying all that you have learned to your life. 

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to be disciplined to exercise my spiritual muscles on a daily basis. Amen.  

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