There’s an old saying that goes something like “anything worth having is worth working hard for.” I don’t know who said it, but I think there’s great truth in that. It applies to nearly every area of life, too. The one exception, and it’s HUGE, is salvation (which is by grace through faith, a gift of God, not of works, that no man may boast!). In everything else, I can see how it’s true. My wife, for instance, is worth any amount of work on my part, even though I know I don’t always show it.. Financially, if something is really worth having, then it’s worth saving for rather than buying impulsively with credit.
I would venture to say that the opposite of this is also true. Anything not worth having is no worth working for. Sounds simple enough, no? But think about it for a moment, and I’d like for you to get the waders on with me and get in the pool for a minute here. How much work, how much effort, how much time do you put into things that really aren’t worth it? How much time do you spend on worthless things in comparison to the things that really matter? For example, oh….I don’t know, let’s say take your time spent on a certain social networking site with, oh, why don’t we just go with, say, reading the Bible? How do those compare? Or what about sitting in front of the TV versus time actually talking with your spouse? Or what about your time spent finding out about the most recent trades of your favorite sports team versus time spent trying to figure out what the book of Revelation is all about?
Anyone feeling that nudge? That pinch? I know I am. I’m reading through the book of Proverbs right now, and chapter 2 kind of smacked me upside the head this morning. Since my point in this post is about spending time doing good things, why don’t we read it together?
1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14 Who rejoice in doing evil,
And delight in the perversity of the wicked;
15 Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths;
16 To deliver you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words,
17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth,
And forgets the covenant of her God.
18 For her house leads down to death,
And her paths to the dead;
19 None who go to her return,
Nor do they regain the paths of life—
20 So you may walk in the way of goodness,
And keep to the paths of righteousness.
21 For the upright will dwell in the land,
And the blameless will remain in it;
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the earth,
And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.
I don’t know if I’m just dumb (a good possibility), but I don’t know that it had ever really occurred to me that wisdom requires effort on my part. While it comes from God, it requires effort on our part. Look at the words I emphasized in the first few verses above: receive, treasure, incline, apply, cry out, lift up, seek and search. These are all verbs, and as such, they require action on our part. God gives wisdom freely, it’s found in the book that so many of us possess, but so few of us actually spend any real time in: the Bible. It’s found in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is Wisdom personified.
Now I want to ask you a question that these very words asked of me this morning: Could these verbs be applied more to your pursuit of God, or your pursuit of the flesh? What do you desire to receive? What do you treasure? To what does your heart incline? Whose words are you applying to your life? What are you crying out for? To Whom, or what, do you lift up your voice? Who, or what, do you seek? What are you searching for? What are you working for?
What is worth it to you?
(This is Part I in a two part post. I figure I can handle two parts, unlike my failed attempt to summarize my trip to Israel. In Part II, we’ll look at this chapter again, and how we work for things that never perish, tarnish, or fade away.)