Thursday, January 10, 2013

Devotionals: "Wisdom"

Proverbs 28:25-27
New International Version (NIV)

(25) The greedy stir up conflict,
but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
(26) Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
(27) Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

The writers presents a dichotomy between the foolish and the wise. Where would you put yourself on that continuum?

As I've said before, balancing proper self reliance against "I've got it all taken care of" is an ongoing fight for me. Still, I consider myself better about it than I was ten years ago, so I will have to humbly say I am wiser than not on this spectrum. 

Notice verse 25 is about the greedy and verse 27 is about giving to the poor. What does it say to you that a verse about trust is found between two verses that seem to go together?

Again, trust here is used as a synonym for faith, and I don't think anyone in any of these examples can be accused of not having faith, but rather putting their faith in the wrong place.

When I was a firefighter, the rule of the culture was that we never left someone behind. No mater how hot the fire, or how dangerous the situation, everyone came back out (dead or alive). 

Now, when when we were faced with a real fire, I don't think anyone ever doubted that the rest of us would do everything in our power to do in after a fallen comrade, but that didn't mean we charged in no mater what. My lieutenants were confident that if they went down, I wouldn't hesitate to charge in after them. But they also had no illusions about how likely a rambunctious 18-year-old rookie was to actually be able to pull them out again. There were times when we waited for backup. On paper we had enough people for the job, but in reality, they knew that we just didn't have what it took to live up to the credo of "everybody comes home" should we be put to the test. 

That is a lot of what I see here. I don't think the greedy are actively trying to buck God, they just don't have any faith in anything except that that they can acquire. Because wealth can't do everything, it lets them down. Faith in money: no such a good idea. 

Faith in yourself is okay, but here, we we're talking "faith" at a really high level. Sure, even if you are always honest with yourself, you can't possibly know that you're going to be able to stand up to any challenge. Even before I got cancer, I wasn't that arrogant. The diagnosis just reminded me to look over my shoulder and take stock of who it was I actually had backing me up. 

Front rank, center file: God? 


Giving to the poor may seen like an oblong point when dealing with a question of trusting in God, but if you turn that on it's head, the poor trust in God to provide, and as Christians we are part of that promise.

I can attest to this on several levels. i wish I were in a position to do more a lot of the time, and I work hard to help where I can. But every time I have needed something, help has been there. And I mean that mentally, physically, emotionally, monetarily... if I relied solely on my self I'd be in a lot worse shape. In fact, I don't think God would have to actively do anything to back up the "curses" talked about in 27, he'd just have to sit back and watch me fall on my face more often than not in that situation.

And I can say that confidently because I have been there. I know where I am now because I have the context of having been a self-righteously jerk in the past.  I went down that road, and paid the price, several times over in some instances. I'm just grateful that I was able to learn from those mistakes and move on.

Is there some explanation that you can come up with?

(see above, I got a little wordy with that last answer)

During the next year, how will you "walk in wisdom" and leave behind trusting in self?

For me, I think a lot of the anxiety and frustration that come with my medical situation will need to be dealt with differently. I'm not just going to forgive and forget, some of these are deadly serious issues that need to be addressed for my own safety. But, I'll be the first to admit that I hold my doctors to the same standard that I hold myself, and at times that is too high for the same of productivity. The wise thing to do, and what I think Jesus demonstrated already, is to learn what there is to be learned and just get on with it. Making someone account for a mistake has its place, but not always, and not everywhere. 

What activities would you have to stop participating in?

Hum, now this is an interesting question for me. Between Cancer treatment and the resulting chaos it inflicted on my work schedule, I'm sort of putting my life back together right now. I'm trying to get back into the SCA (medieval society I am part of), Church Choir, and my son's Cub Scout Group. 

I suppose the only self-indulgent activity I have is my writing at the moment, and that... er... I'm not sure I want to give that up, as least not as related to this discussion. 

As much as I am wrapping up the devotional, I think I might revisit this discussion later on after I hear the minister talk about this some more. 

1 comment:

  1. Check out a different translation. "Greedy" we always equate with "money", but that isn't necessarily what the original was entirely talking about. KJV has "He that is of a proud heart stirreth [stirs] up strife." You can look at the entire passage as regarding material wealth, and it's valid for that, but you can also look at it in terms of nature: contentious, or helpful.