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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Take aim - plan well

To love learning is to embrace discipline - for apart from living a disciplined life, learning can never occur.  To "learn" means we will gain knowledge, understanding of something, or to gain a skill.   It comes by study, instruction, and experience.  Some might call this "coming to realize" - to hear and then come to really know.  Either way you look at it, it comes by discipline.  No lesson is easily embraced if there is a fear or hatred of discipline.  If we recognize our heavenly Father's discipline is ALWAYS done in love, we will no longer fear it, but embrace it as a way of being embraced by love.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it—how shortsighted to refuse correction!  A good person basks in the delight of God, and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.  You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm...  The thinking of principled people makes for justice; the plots of degenerates corrupt. The words of the wicked kill; the speech of the upright saves. Wicked people fall to pieces—there’s nothing to them; the homes of good people hold together.  (Proverbs 12:1-3, 5-7 MSG)

A good person basks in the delight of the Lord - in other words, God approves of the good, but he withdraws from the wicked.  The word approve really carries the meaning of "proving", "attesting to", and "accepting as satisfactory".  So, when God approves and takes delight in us, he is really saying we have stood the test and been "proven" to have the right stuff!  In fact, he "attests to" our standing with him - through the evidence of his Son's light shining through us.  Wickedness never brings stability into our lives - so this is why God requires us to learn through discipline.  He wants us to be stable people - deeply rooted.  Stability is the strength to stand or endure.  It comes from being firmly established - fixed and steadfast in our convictions, with actions which align with those convictions.  When there is a steadiness in our purpose, there is a strength displayed even in the face of trial.  What God is doing through his discipline in our lives is making us able to resist the forces of evil around us - those things which pull at our heart and seek to sway us in our convictions.

The just have a way of thinking which differs from the world's way of thinking. It is the "plans" which differ between the just and the wicked.  The just have learned through disciplined application of truth - this embraced knowledge goes into the plans of the just.  The details which are formulated in the minds and hearts of the just are tempered by the embraced grace of God in their lives.  They have faced tough circumstances, made wrong choices, but have been extended grace to learn from those choices.  In turn, they have embraced grace and and it affects the plans they formulate for future actions. A "just" person is really one who has learned "reasonableness" in their lives. There is a commitment to live uprightly - in turn, it affects every action.

As has been the case all through this book of Proverbs, we are set up to see comparisons:  Good vs. Bad, Just vs. Unjust, Learned vs. Fool, etc.  This chapter is no different.  The first section of this chapter deals with the differences between those who will commit to live "principled" lives against those who will live life constantly moving the target.  Principled people have but one target in mind - they remain focused and the target doesn't move.  It doesn't move because it is a "fixed" target - the character of Christ.  The ungodly or "unprincipled" have multiple targets, making it difficult to aim at anything.  Plans are goals - it is to "aim" at something.  Remember my illustration of the target with its concentric circles culminating in a totally filled in circle in the middle.  Just (principled) lives want to live "filled in" lives.  We want to hit "dead center" every time.

The short-sighted don't see the target - their minds and hearts are focused on something entirely "short" of the target.  This makes them "fools" in God's eyes, because only the fool will aim at nothing!  I like the verse in this passage about finding firm footing - it isn't available in the swamp!  The fool has a way of finding themselves "swamped" because of their poor planning. The wise have learned the incredibly liberating joy of planning well - taking lessons from their experience, incorporating them into the pre-planning for their next opportunities, and then waiting until they have "aligned" their target in their "sights" before they actually launch toward the target!  Just sayin!