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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To the victor goes the spoils

Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.  It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.  Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you.
(Proverbs 9:10-12)

A man or woman of wisdom understands clearly the value of a rebuke - their response is to embrace it with a desire to learn and to change, if necessary.  There is a desire to leave "foolish ways" behind and to learn how to make wise and learned decisions.  Solomon reminds us that the starting point of such a life is the "fear of the Lord".  

Wisdom "benefits" us - it adds to our days, creates opportunities, and opens up new things to us.  When we embrace a lifestyle of "folly", we miss these "benefits".  Folly is simply the lack of understanding, or the "sense" to avoid those wrong turns in life.  There are lots of reasons why we'd be enticed to a life of "folly" instead of wisdom - most of them have to do with fulfilling immediate desire instead of future hopes.

According to Solomon, folly leads to the grave - not a very appealing place, if you were to ask me.  We deal with a variety of daily choices that are "doctored-up" to look like they are good for us, when in fact, those very choices will certainly end in falling into the pit of despair - at the purpose of the pit is to swallow us whole.   

Most of life's challenges do not come at us just one challenge at a time.  In fact, they come at us in twos, threes, or multiples of these.  Most of the time, they come without warning.  With their onslaught comes a tremendous amount of overwhelming emotion.  There is nothing more that Satan loves to use than the combined forces of confusion and overwhelming emotions.  Internal havoc and emotional stress are sure-fire ways to catch us off-guard.

God never intends for us to face these challenges by relying on our emotions.  Rather, he expects us to become wise in the reliance upon his grace to get us through the challenges.  By definition, a challenge is an invitation into competition.  Challenges come to excite us - cause us to be stirred up in some manner.  Our greatest opportunity comes in understanding what it is that is stirring us at this moment.  Wisdom helps us recognize the "inner stirring" as either positive or harmful.

As I close this morning, let me just say that I acknowledge that we rarely feel competent to handle the challenges that seem to be daunting in size.  It is only in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God that we can walk through them.  We come out as victors when we are in reliance upon God's grace to bring us through.  On the other side of the challenge, there is a renewed passion for more of God in our lives.  A challenges calls us into account - making us more aware of who we are, what our limitations are, where we have developed strengths, etc.  A challenge may attempt to intimidate us - but if we are not attempting to face it in our own power or ability, it cannot overtake us.

Challenges stimulate a person of wisdom - because they encourage growth, bringing depth of character in the end.  Never doubt the value of the challenge - to the victor go the spoils!