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What's that stench?

Have you ever been to one of the Hawaiian islands? I haven't, but I know one of their traditional welcoming gifts is the flowered lei they place around your neck. It is a beautiful arrangement of flower petals, rich with the aromatic beauty of the island from which they were taken, strung together to form this aromatic adornment. In a sense, these flowers are like "garland" - adorning the visitor with beauty and anointing them with the aroma of the beautiful flora of the region, bringing them a little closer to the "heaven" they are about to enjoy while on the island. God has a type of "garland" he would like us to adorn ourselves with - one which proves to adorn us in such a way we cannot help but be brought closer to him in the process.

"Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live! Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won't regret it; never let her go—she'll make your life glorious. She'll garland your life with grace, she'll festoon your days with beauty." (Proverbs 4:4-9 MSG)

To be "garlanded" with grace suggests being encircled with grace. There are so many things we are to "adorn" ourselves with as children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but I wonder if we really understand their significance? Buy wisdom and forage for understanding. Interesting words - buy and forage. In a very literal sense, these could be translated as "get" and "develop". Both words are suggestive of action - no sense of inactivity or passivity is displayed in either of the terms. When one goes off to "buy" something, there is first an investment - but one has to have something with which to complete the purchase. When we think of wisdom, we are thinking of the person of Christ. God is simply reminding us of the importance of bringing our whole self into the relationship - being willing to lay down self in order to obtain wisdom. It isn't a casual 'investment' of ourselves, but a willingness to "trade" one's own way for the way of the Lord.

To forage, one has to invest a whole lot of work into searching. This reminds us of the effort we need to apply in gaining wisdom and understanding. It is one thing to be given an object; quite another to "uncover" it by diligent seeking and searching. To get or develop also imply some type of effort on our parts - there is activity in discovering things, isn't there? I don't believe God is implying that we get wisdom (Christ) by any effort of our own, but rather that we are willing to make the investment into the relationship which will cause us to grow in grace. It means we consistently make every effort to be available to learn of him, listening intently to what he has to share with us, and then to put into practice all he has been sharing. When we do our part (seeking with our whole hearts, committing the word to memory, and staying on course), look at what is promised that we can count on in return. Wisdom will guard our lives - Wisdom's oversight will never be missing. This gives me hope because I know my tendency to wander without purpose - to lack wisdom when I need it most. Wisdom (Christ) gives me purpose and his oversight provides me with all I need in order to walk uprightly.

Remember those leis of the islands - rich in aroma, beautiful, and encompassing of the one who is adorned with them? Nothing adorns the life of a believer quite like the "aroma" of God's grace. Did you ever stop to think about grace having an aroma in your life? It is the opposite of the 'odor' of sin! There is something divine in grace and it exudes an aroma of forgiveness, love, compassion, long-suffering, and more of Christ's character that we need so much within our lives. The "aroma" we exude is in direct proportion to the ONE which we allow to "adorn" our lives. If it is the Spirit of God's grace, we can count on a heavenly aroma! If it is our own "fleshly drives", the aroma will be more like a not so pleasant stench! Just sayin!

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