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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Say good-bye to the booby prize

3-4 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.  Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. 5 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don't try to figure out everything on your own.
(Proverbs 3:3-5)

Solomon's words remind us of the importance of "storing" God's commands in our heart - so that we will be assured of a long and satisfying life.  We look all kinds of places to find satisfaction - I bet we never really considered that it could be linked to who "authors" the words we hold closest to our hearts!  As a matter of fact, Solomon goes on to say that even renewed health and vitality is found in a closer walk with God (not at the health food store or the gym).  Four repeated themes emerge over and over in these first three chapters of the Proverbs - 1) Remain loyal to your God; 2) Trust him with all your heart; 3) Learn to live with kindness as your earmark of action; and 4) Seek God like no other.

God is to be honored with the best part of all that we have.  Part of honoring him is in valuing and responding to the discipline he brings into our lives.  We often make the choice in the moment of correction to either ignore it, or to give way to being discouraged because we didn't get things right the first time.  Both discipline and correction are signs of just how intensely God loves us - loving us enough to correct what we did not get right the first time.

God offers his friendship (companionship) to the godly.  This is significantly more than an acquaintance with us - it is a deep and intimate relationship with frequent and meaningful sharing.  Wisdom is found in a person - not in a book.  The Words of God are just that - they are his words, recorded for us to review over and over again, falling back on them in our times of need, searches for answers, and in our moments of peaceful repose.  

The very last verse of this chapter points us toward the one truth that sums it all up:  "Wise living gets rewarded with honor; stupid living gets the booby prize."  Loyalty reflects the focus of the heart and mind.  Trust reflects the hope of the heart.  Kindness reflects the exchange of heart that occurs when Christ is central.  Seeking is the condition by which the heart is exchanged.  Wise living is reflected in these four actions - this is the kind of living that gets rewarded with honor.