Category Archives: Reward

The Way of the LORD

Proverbs 10:29

“The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless,
but destruction to evildoers.
(ESV)

A Bold Assertion About the Gospel

Many, if not most, of the proverbs are pithy statements making general observations about wise living. This one is a bit different. Proverbs 10:29 is less a general observation about wise living, and more a bold theological assertion about the gospel.

My interpretation follows the translation of the NASB, ESV, NIV and the study on the verse done by the German commentators Keil & Delitzsch, in preference to the KJV. The point of the proverb is to contrast the effect of “the way of the LORD” upon the lives of believers (the “blameless”) versus its effect upon unbelievers (“evildoers”).

The Way of the LORD

“The way of the LORD” in this proverb refers to the way of true religion, that way of faith and obedience which God has revealed to mankind. In New Testament terms, “the way of the LORD” refers to obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Many people want only enough of Jesus to make their lives easier, simpler, or more care-free. Will prayer help me get through my problems? Then I’ll pray. Is Jesus the Great Physician? Then I’ll seek Him whenever I’m sick. Is He the King with cattle on a thousand hills? Then I’ll call out to him when I’m broke. Many churches are filled with nominal Christians (that is, Christians in name only) who want the blessings of the way of the LORD, without being born again (John 3:3). That is to say, they have not undergone the fundamental, supernatural transformation of their being which God requires in the gospel. That inner transformation, without which there is no eternal life, happens only by truly embracing Jesus Christ as the most precious, desirable One in the universe – loved above all others, the wonder and marvel and joy of the heart.

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have On the Believer?

For the believer in Christ, life along that narrow way is said to have the certainty and security of a mountain stronghold. It is a life lived for Jesus and about Jesus and full of Jesus: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), writes the Apostle Paul, and, “the life I live in the body,” he writes again, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is a bold, strong, vigorous life! No matter what the world may throw at us, we are safe in Jesus. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have Upon the Unbeliever?

This is the point of contrast made in the proverb which the KJV translation misses, but which is conveyed in the more careful rendering of the ESV above. The same gospel which is life and strength and refuge for the Christian, spells “destruction,” death and misery for the unbeliever. Here we stumble upon the hard edge of the gospel, where few preachers these days tread. Here we trip upon Christ the stumbling block. Embrace Christ by faith, and He is your life. Reject Him through persistence in hardness of heart and unbelief, and He spells your death. The gospel, which is “a stronghold to the blameless,” is also “destruction to evildoers.” The same gospel which proclaims that Christ came to save sinners, declares that Christ will return in blazing, purging, glorious brightness, and that unbelievers will cry out for the mountains to fall upon them to shield them from His glory. The same gospel which declares that He is the Christian’s Rock, declares that the Rock will crush all who reject Him.

The Gospel Aroma

The Apostle Paul picks up on the theme of Proverbs 10:29 in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. Basically, the idea there is that the gospel smells like a sweet fragrance—desirable and lovely—to those who are receiving new life in Jesus. But the same gospel smells like the stench of death to those who are rejecting Jesus. For them, the gospel has a terrible odor of decay, for it is the smell of death – their own death. They want nothing to do with Jesus Christ or his gospel.

How About You?

Do you love Jesus? Do you want Him more than anything else the world has to offer? Do you “savor the aroma” of Jesus? Are His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming all glorious truths which delight your soul? If so, be assured that He is and ever will be a stronghold for your soul, and that the yearnings in your heart will one day be fully satisfied in His glorious, loving presence. If not, then be warned: the narrow way to salvation will one day close, and Jesus will return with judgment blazing in His eyes.

Let us close with a prayer by A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963).

“O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

Sources

“A.W. Tozer Quotes.” A.W. Tozer Quotes (Author of The Pursuit of God). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1082290.A_W_Tozer&gt;.

Keil, Carl Friedrich, and Franz Delitzsch. “Commentary on Proverbs 10:29.” Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 6. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996. 164-65. Print.


Blessings Will Stick

Proverbs 10:6

“Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Nothing Stays

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Like water off a duck’s back?” The reason for that saying comes from the fact that ducks never get “wet,” just in the water ( now that will preach!). You see, because of the oil in a duck’s feathers, the duck can be in the water, have water poured over it, etc., but never actually get wet. The water doesn’t soak in, but runs off.

My head is similar to a duck’s back. There is nothing on my head to make anything stay put. Everything just runs off, down my neck, and under my shirt, especially when it rains. The upside is that I never have to dry my hair when I get out of the shower.

Except Blessings

But the awesome thing is that no matter how slick my bald head is, God is able to heap blessing after blessing on top of it. My glasses won’t stay put; hats get blown off; I cant wear flowers; but the Lord can pile blessings as high as He wants. How is that? Must be a God thing.

I don’t deserve blessings. I don’t deserve anything from God. If you only knew me like I know me, you’d wonder how any blessing would stay on my head. Yet, my Lord is merciful. He is able to do what man and water can’t.

The Wicked

The mouth of the wicked, on the other hand, is covered up with violence. What that means exactly is debatable, but the idea implied is that one usually gets what he deserves. The wicked can be compared to a swimmer in wool clothing and a wool coat. When he gets in the water, he’s sunk.

In General

Generally speaking, this proverb tells us that there are consequences for our actions. The way we live will come back either to bless or haunt us. Right living brings peace, while wicked living never ends well.

Do you want to be thought well of? Live justly. Do you want to reap the rewards of righteousness? Live right. Otherwise, even though there may be some temporary benefits to living like the Devil, the end result of wickedness will have you covering your mouth in shame.

A Prayer

Jesus, even though I am not worthy, thank you for your blessings. My righteousness is in you. I am only “just” because “the just shall live by faith.”  Thank you for your mercy, for when I was yet wicked, you saved me, cleansed me, and put a crown on my head. You are my glory, and I will praise you for your immeasurable goodness to me.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 3rd Week of Advent – Day 7

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. -John 18:36-37, KJV

mountains with crepuscular ray

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

As we round out the third week of Advent, we shift our focus from the earthly ministry of Jesus to His Kingdom.

This world will never fully see the Kingdom of Heaven, just a taste through its subjects, we Christians who spread the Kingdom throughout this fallen world. We carry His voice to every corner of the planet.

And what is Jesus saying through us?

“You have rebelled against your Creator, and your sins are immeasurable. But I came to redeem you back to Me, to cleanse you of your sins, and one day I am returning to bring you home.”

Be of good cheer, dear Christian. You are cleaned and redeemed, and He is coming again soon!

King Jesus, continue to make us faithful citizens of Your Kingdom, and move through us to reach this world for Your glory.


Has Grace Got You?

In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice. –Proverbs 29:6, KJV

When we get in trouble for doing something we should not have been doing, we sure do feel bad.

When we get away with something wrong, we are relieved, but the snare of guilt refuses to let us relax completely.

When we are forgiven, golly gee, are we happy!

It is just like MercyMe’s song, Grace Got You.

It combines these last two points and explains them very poetically, and it is how Christians should feel!

Sing,
So the back row hears you.
Glide,
‘Cause walking just won’t do.
Dance,
You don’t have to know how to,
Ever since, ever since grace got you.

Laugh,
‘Till your whole side’s hurting.
Smile,
Like you just got away with something,
Why?
‘Cause you just got away with something,
Ever since, ever since grace got you.

We essentially get away with all of the times we rubbed our sin in God’s face, all because He sent His Son to die on a cross in our place of punishment.

The question then becomes, how do we respond when others wrong us?

Just as God forgave us, we ought to forgive others. This is one of the greatest works we can do in Christ’s name. The hope is that they will see this (and other good works) and turn to Christ.

Then, we can all sing together the praise of the One who created and forgives us, rejoicing in His grace and love.

May we sing God’s praises continually. (Colossians 3:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18)


The Message I Shall Repeat

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. -Proverbs 21:21, KJV

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. -Proverbs 21:21, ESV

Sometimes I feel like all I do is repeat myself.

But with the words of Life, it is good and proper to have things repeated.

Case in point, there is only one way to find righteousness, and it is summed up in the [two] Greatest Commandment[s]:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
Luke 10:27

Jesus also tells us,

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness
Matthew 6:33a

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
John 14:6

If you truly desire life, righteousness, and honor, seek God through Christ. It is His righteousness gifted to us through His sacrifice on the cross and imputed by the Holy Spirit that brings these rewards.

And I will repeat it all my days.


A Beauty of Gray

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. -Proverbs 20:29, KJV

I have always wanted gray (or even white) hair.

I know. I am fairly odd.

I have three friends who all went white-haired in their twenties. A few others were noticeably gray by 25.

As for yours truly, I have earned a few gray hairs over my few short years.

At least I am tall and lanky so that I have some semblance of strength. I am a bit of a gentle giant, and that garners some respect (mostly from my wife who can’t reach top shelves or move heavy boxes or bags easily.)

But why do I want gray hair?

I instinctively understood it as a child, but grew to understand it better as I grew.

It is not just that it can look dignified. Gray hairs tell others we have been through life. They tell others we have struggled through some of life’s problems and come out wiser.

Gray hairs are earned by learning life lessons the hard way.

I have been through my share of struggles and have earned some grays, but the Lord blessed me with thick, persistently dark hair.

It almost scares me to consider how much wisdom He yet wants me to learn (“fear the Lord”), but the few grays I do own have taught me to trust His lessons and timing.

And that is beautiful.


The Ultimate Feast

She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, -Proverbs 9:3 KJV

Knowing of Wisdom’s firm foundation in the truth of God and that true wisdom loves others, it is only natural that Wisdom calls others in to enjoy her fruits.

The imagery of sending maidens also tells us that wisdom works with others, brings them alongside to enjoy the pleasant work of loving God and others.

I am immediately reminded of the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke chapter 14. When a man had a banquet, all of his guests gave excuses for why they could not make it, so he sent his servants to tell any who would come to enjoy the feast.

Let this remind us that the ultimate wisdom points to Christ, and ultimately it is wise and loving to share Christ with all who will listen.

For all will be present in some form at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19), whether as the invited guests or those who are slain and feasted upon by the birds of the air.

Those of us who respond to Wisdom’s call feast on the fruit of righteousness, while those who reject the call are ultimately made the feast.