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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Clothes really do make a man

There are some things in the Bible which just appear a little to hard to grasp. They are a "mind challenge" and most likely a "heart challenge" - especially when we have a mindset toward doing exactly the opposite of what is being presented!  Then there are other things we just gravitate toward because the teaching is easy to understand, brings us some satisfaction, or we just like hearing the words over and over again because they bring us some sense of peace.  Most of the books of the Bible don't open up with an explanation of why they are being written.  In fact, you have to get to know all the "players" in the chapters, figure out a little history of what has gone on, and then try to understand the audience to whom the pages were penned, so you can piece together the meaning of the words - most of which you have a hard time actually knowing how they apply to you anyway.  Proverbs is just the opposite - it simply states right from the beginning - WE are the audience, the purpose for the writing of the book is our learning and growth, and no one is excluded from being able to glean something from its pages.

These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king—written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; a manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; to teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.  (Proverbs 1:1-6 MSG)

The purpose of the gathering of these wise sayings known as the Proverbs is first and foremost the teaching of wisdom - with the hopes it will affect the lives of those who explore these teachings.  Some think the Book of Proverbs is a collection of philosophical sayings and scientific learning.  I beg to differ - for penned within the pages are truths which will guide us into greater truths, if we embrace them.  When embraced, they will give us the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.  There we find insight, good sense and wise judgment.  Embracing the teachings set forth will have the impact of changing our attitude and affecting our course of action.

If this weren't enough, the gathering of these "wise sayings" is also for us to be taught some form of "discipline" in our lives.  The instruction, teaching, and learning provided afford training that can correct bad behavior, adjust misguided emotions, and enlighten cloudy vision.  Discipline molds, corrects, and brings about a perfecting of our mental faculties - so that our moral character might become strong, upright, and trustworthy.  Maybe we have trouble with really embracing wisdom in our lives - Solomon assures us of the help we will find in understanding these "wise sayings" if we will just allow them a place in our lives.  There is more than a meaning to the words contained within the book - there is a "reasonableness" to these words which point us toward the practical and away from the ethereal.

I guess the most significant thing about these "wise sayings" is their ability to make the simple-minded "clever" - mentally quick and resourceful.  If you have ever felt a little "dull-minded" on occasion, you might just want to remember the ability of the Proverbs to "sharpen" your mind.  It seems like young people have an ability to learn at capacities far exceeding some of us "seasoned" folks.  I think this is why Solomon tells the "young" to listen to these teachings, taking them to heart - so they will have a firm foundation of knowledge and purpose.  When we have "purpose", we have determination - we aren't "drifting" or "aimless" in our pursuits.  Perhaps this is why he asks the young to pay close attention to these teachings - so they will have intentional purpose and pursuit in their lives.

The goal of the "wise sayings" is to make the wise even wiser.  The understanding of those who will study them will grow and they will receive special guidance for their walk.  A life "crowned with grace" is available to those who will embrace these teachings - adornment with unmerited favor (even when we mess up), cleansing from the debris of our past (for it really takes something beyond us to rid us of this), and an opening of doors which have held us captive for way to long (bringing pardon and freedom to our much burdened hearts).  In embracing these teachings, we can begin to clothe ourselves with things which bring us honor - like a good reputation.  To live above shame and regret is to know true freedom.

They say "clothes make a man".  I have to ask - what better way to "clothe" ourselves than with the adornment of wisdom?  Just sayin!