Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exhordium-Proverbs 1:10-33

We have been pursuing wisdom. We have realized that wisdom is not far from us and something that can and ought to be grasped. Every Christian should be wise. Wisdom should be our possession. But then we run up against an apparent contradiction. We are pursuing wisdom, following hard after her, only to find that she seems to be toying with us. She calls out. We follow. She retreats. And our pursuit of wisdom seems to us another lesson in futility. We seek her but we cannot find her. At least that represents how we often feel.

But we need to have a bit of reality check. What is really happening? Is wisdom really fleeing from us? Can she never be grasped? Are we destined to our folly, able only to glimpse lady wisdom but never to have her for our own?

Think about any hard task that you have accomplished. How did you do it? Perhaps you have run a difficult race, a marathon. How do you get to marathon distance? Do you go out one day and just decide to run 26.2 miles? (You can’t forget that .2, you know.) No, you don’t. You train, for a long time, for several months. You run a few miles,then add a mile, then another and another, until one day, you realize that you have become a distance runner. But you don’t feel like a marathoner because you have not done that yet. But you are doing the things that marathoners do. You are putting in the miles. You are finishing longer and longer races and you are making headway towards your goal. And then, one day, the race arrives and you finish, you make it, you’re a marathoner.

But what would happen if during your training you are trying to figure out if you are a marathoner, or not? Are you a marathoner when you run 10 miles? 17? 24? No, not until you finish. But each step in your training takes you one step closer to achieving your goal. The steps are beneficial. They are money in the bank. You are gaining on your goal, even if you cannot really feel it as you are slogging through the miles. But something is happening in you both physiologically and mentally. You are becoming a marathoner, even before you have made the distance.

While the analogy is not perfect, I think of wisdom this way. We are seeking wisdom. We are trying to be wise. We know the goal is achievable because the Bible tells us so. But the longer we train for the task, the further away the finish lines seems. But that is NOT the case. The finish is getting closer. The miles are accumulating, wisdom is drawing closer. And at any given point in the pursuit of wisdom, when you look back, you realize that you have come a lot farther than you ever thought possible. Certainly a lot farther than you would have if you had never started training. And then when you look forward to pursue wisdom again, she is off and running and you are chasing. But the chase is the goal. The chase is the point.

In marathon training, there are some key check points to see if you are making headway. You first make it 10 miles, then 15, then 20 and maybe even 22 or so. When you do 20, you know that you can do 26. But that is not true when you do 15. You do a long-run of 15 miles and barely make it and realize that a marathon is 11 more miles. So, it is important in pursuing the goal to have some checkpoints that help you understand that the goal is achievable.

Pursing wisdom also has checkpoints. What have we done so far? What are our basick checkpoints? What are some other checkpoints? If we hit those, are we making it towards our goal of attaining wisdom?
1. Fearing God.
2. Honoring and Obeying Parents.
3. Friends- This is a broad category. First of all, it fits within the context of loving God and honoring your parents. If you do this, you will have the kind of friends that God and your parents would want you to have. You can see how if you get the first two priorities right, loving God, honoring parents, that wisdom will be close. But as you move up the continuum towards wisdom, the checkpoints become clearer. If you love God and love parents, what kind of friends ought you to have?

First of all, your friends should be friends of God. Although you CAN go wrong with these kinds of friends, it is less likely than if your friends are those who hate God. Secondly, you should have friends that your parents would be glad for you to be friends with. Again, you CAN go wrong with these kinds of friends but it is less likely than if your friends are those your parents would not want you hanging out with.

Who is a friend and who is a neighbor? Some children object to their parents having a say in their friends. Perhaps they even try to put a guilt trip on the parents. Mom, how are they ever going to learn what is right and wrong if they don’t have good Christian friends like me.

Well, that answer is fairly easy. Who is being influenced in the relationship? You ought to be a neighbor to those outside the church, those in need, even those in prisons. But that is not the same thing as being their friend and companion. And if you are following friends in poor choices, then you need new friends to follow. If you are the strong one and leading friends in good choices, then that is a good place to be. But you should not evaluate this yourself. If you are a child, then your parents should evaluate this for you. If you are a husband, your wife ought to be able to evaluate it better than you. If you are a wife, then your husband is probably a better judge of your friends than you are.

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