1 Cor. 2 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
In our family devotions, I am starting a new series rooted in the concerns I mentioned in my last post about the loss of vocation and the fact that I have youths growing up as Christians in a world increasingly hostile to Christianity. This series is a read-through of the Book of Proverbs in our Saturday morning and Sunday evening studies.
Of course, good Lutherans will comment that the Book of Proverbs is a lot of Law. To them I would say, does this mean we should not read it? I am still concerned that my children learn to read Proverbs in the light of the Gospel. Proverbs reveals to us the mind of Christ, from its opening dictum, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” to its closing words we read the book as revealing the mind of Christ and what so often lacks in our own minds. In short, we ask the question how does this speak to Christ, address the Gospel, and then move back to the implications for our own living as “little Christs.”
Connected also to this is a topical series I am doing at St. John’s this summer on the Mind, Body, and Spirit of Christ. In our Bible Study, starting in June, we will be especially stressing the mind of Christ through a thorough study of the Book of Proverbs. Because of its applicability to youths, I see the distinct possibility of this Bible Study being open to all ages. Indeed, I encourage the idea.
So here’s what we read today and some of the thoughts in capsule form which came out of our discussion.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). So often today the word “fear” is dumbed-down to the idea of a healthy respect for the Lord. Nevertheless, we should probably hear that term in all its force. After all, we do have the wrath of God to fear for the life of foolishness and our sins. To remember every day in all our doings that our lives are lived out before the Lord is to make a beginning at true wisdom. Christ, as Wisdom Incarnate, bore the fearful wrath of God on the cross and, thus, brings out the full force of a term we are emasculating in our day and age. Indeed, the terms “fear” and “faith” come close to being synonyms in the Bible.
One of the purposes of the Proverbs is listed in v. 3, to receive instructions in wise dealing. The wise person may be innocent in the Lord’s salvation, but he/she is not naive. The Christian who hears Christ’s “Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” should learn that a shrewd dealing with the world is an unapologetic part of our lives as Christians. Shrewd does mean dishonest. The term in the original language suggests a worldly wisdom that we all should have even if we are not “of the world.”
V.8 begins a section written as a loving father teaches his child. Indeed, the suggestion here is that the father who does not teach his child does not love his child. The father’s instruction and the mother’s teaching is gloriously described as a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. It is a treasure, but only if it is rooted in the Word of God.
The world lies in wait, enticing us with the intention of devouring us. Solomon is emphatic that to give in is to destroy one’s self. He is also emphatic that the world will destroy itself. Consider the words of verses 17-18:
17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird,18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;they set an ambush for their own lives.
The converse of this argument is that the forgiven Christian is, as Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, “innocent of the blood of all men.” Or as he stated quite forcefully in the closing words of Galatians, “Let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the wounds of Christ.”
The world is destroying itself. As Christians, we are called to differentiate from the world’s self-destruction. The unrighteous slip off the righteous like fried eggs off teflon. Hey! My own little proverb!
Lord, grant us wisdom and open our ears to the source of all true wisdom. AMEN.