Friday, October 10, 2014

10 in 30 for 30

I'm not sure who Francis Quarles is when I stumbled across this image. I quickly Googled him and found out he was a poet from the mid-1500s to mid-1600s. Maybe Francis was in cahoots with King Solomon.

Solomon now has gone from a personification of Wisdom vs. Folly sermons to a compare and contrast of Righteousness vs. Wickedness in Proverbs 10.

It's almost a list of what happens, almost concretely, when you follow either path. No middle ground.

At first glance, you see verses like, "Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth," (v. 4) and "The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor" (v. 15) and you think:

"Wait, so if I stick to my guns, work hard, and stay out of trouble, I'm going to be rich?"

No. Absolutely not.

Now, that's not to say the merits of an honest life of hard work and discipline are bad. But they aren't the end all be all. As Americans, we must erase the notion that these passages are aimed at individuals. This is in the context of family-based communities, where the success of farming labor is the reward of the community; the provision of your community, not your individual, Cadillac-laden prosperity.
In fact, Jesus addresses this in Matthew 6, when he's telling his listeners to not worry about tomorrow, "for tomorrow will take care of itself" (Matt 6:34). Thinking that you and your work alone will save you is foolishness. It's a lack of faith that God will provide for your needs. If you think you "need" a mansion, a huge bank account, and a Maserati in the garage, you've got another thing coming...

Another thing that caught my eye in this chapter is the contrast of how words are used between those who practice righteousness and those who practice wickedness. As I've said before, the contrasting is said almost with an absolute tone, but for those who have read the book of Job know that leading a good life doesn't mean everything is smooth sailing. I think most people in the world would agree with that. What's interesting is how and when we use Words.

- Do we talk a lot? If so, does what you say encourage, or tear down? (Strike one for me)
- Are our words quality over quantity? (Strike two...)
- Do we use our words deceptively and subversively? (Well, shoot...)

Again, the context is community, not Lone Ranger. When we live this life as followers of Jesus, do our words and actions benefit the Body of Christ; the Church?

This flies in the face of something most of us have understood a long time: The American Dream

We have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (really, it's gluttonous individuality).

These things don't bring us peace like the righteousness of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Ever. We were meant to be in unity and fellowship forever with God, but we decided going the crooked, rebellious path of the forbidden was a better idea.


Francis was right. Wickedness is it's own punishment. Ultimately, everything we do that's not in step with God will lead to our destruction. That's why we need Jesus, because we'll just wander aimlessly like a stray cat.

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