“The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.”
And then there’s the one about the lawyer, the physician, and the pastor who went deer hunting together. The three outdoor enthusiasts positioned themselves around the ridge tops looking down into a valley where a large buck deer had been sighted a few times. Around dusk, the monster buck strolled into the valley and was immediately spotted by all three hunters. It just wasn’t the deer’s lucky day: All three took aim and simultaneously fired upon the unfortunate fellow, who promptly fell over dead.
The three hunters ran down the slopes to inspect the kill, only to discover there was but one bullet wound. Which marksman had bagged the deer, anyway?
The lawyer stuck his chest out and pleaded his case. He had prosecuted criminals in numerous capital murder trials. He had experience sifting through evidence. He had watched coroners at their gruesome work in the morgue. He knew the face of death. And this deer was most certainly his kill!
Oh no, said the physician. He had worked in the ER many shifts when terribly injured people were hauled in on the gurneys. He had split open the human breastbone and performed heart bypass surgery. He was an expert in life, and in death. The deer was his.
Finally the pastor stepped up. “Friends,” said he, “this fine buck is my kill, and I can prove it conclusively.” He pointed to the single bullet wound and traced its path with his finger. “See?” he asked. “It went in one ear and out the other. This buck is most definitely mine!”
A PROBLEM FOR MOST OF US
The truth be told, it’s a problem for most of us, and it’s not just a problem on Sunday mornings as we struggle through the pastor’s hastily thrown together message. So many of the life-giving words we need to hear go in one ear and out the other! As we have studied the Book of Proverbs in this blog, we have noted that “wisdom cries out in the streets.” There’s no shortage of wisdom. There’s a shortage of hearing and heeding the words of wisdom!
Dear reader, I must ask you, have you truly heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Not only with your ears, but with your heart, so that you perceive the profound, life-changing excellence of the gospel message so that all human philosophy and wisdom crumble at the foot of the cross? Have you heard the gospel in such a way that it has broken your heart and brought life to your soul? So that the beauty of Jesus Christ has shone in your heart, and now nothing delights or satisfies you more than Jesus? Or are you numbered with those who hear the word, but the hearing is of no eternal value, because your hearing is not combined with faith (Hebrews 4:2)?
The gospel message is the “reproof of life.” As a reproof, the gospel illuminates the sinfulness of our sin and the awesome holiness and justice of Almighty God. But as our hearts are convicted of sin, the gospel points us to put our trust in the sin-bearer whom God has provided, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to receive life in his name.
The proverb promises that those who hear the reproof of life will abide among the wise. No, not among those who claim to be wise by the standards of this bent and broken world, but among those who have embraced the wisdom of God – God’s wisdom which is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Father God, forgive us for our stubborn refusal to listen to You. Soften our hearts. Grant us teachable spirits. We want to know Jesus, and Him only. As you have promised, grant us life in Jesus’ name. Through Christ our Lord we pray: Amen.