It’s a lie. It’s made to sound like reasonable thinking, but it isn’t. Some people just don’t learn by reading, they say. Some people just aren’t academics, they say. Getting into the Bible just isn’t everybody’s thing–and that’s ok, they say. Na-uh! Nope. Ain’t true. Not ok!
I feel a bit of a rant coming on as I’m reading the opening chapters of Proverbs this morning. If wisdom cries aloud in the street (1:20), then she is wired to a megaphone in the church. But there too are the simple ones who love being simple (1:22). Those who hear the call every Sunday from the pulpit but refuse to listen. Those who have the Word handed to them on a platter on the Lord’s Day but can’t be bothered to reach out and grab some food any other day. The Book sits closed day after day. Though wisdom calls out, people refuse to listen. Though she stretches out her hand, so many say, “Pass,” to the invitation (1:24). But the stakes are too high to be ignored.
Proverbs 2 seems to me to be one great conditional promise. Wisdom says, you do this and I’ll do that. Here’s the “if” part . . .
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, . . .
(Proverbs 2:1-4 ESV)
Action required. You need to sow before you reap.
Not only action, but desire. When we look at our Bibles we should see a hidden treasure map. If we believe it’s the inspired word of God then we should seek it as one seeks precious metals. The Book isn’t about one’s inclination toward reading. It’s not dependent upon one’s cognitive or academic capabilities. I know people who couldn’t graduate from high school but who wouldn’t go a day with consuming Holy Writ. Not because it’s easy for them, but because they believe it’s so valuable to them.
And they’re right! As I read through Proverbs 2, the payback is huge!
. . . then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. . . . Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path . . . discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil . . . So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words . . . So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
(Proverbs 2:5, 9, 11-12a, 16, 20 ESV)
Tell me there isn’t a direct correlation between godliness and God’s word. Receive His words, understand the fear of the LORD, and then you’ll know God. Make your ear attentive, incline your heart, and then you’ll understand righteousness and recognize every good path. Call out for insight, raise your voice for understanding, and then your inner warning systems will be so attuned that you will stay away from the downward path of sin and keep to the paths of righteousness.
It’s an if / then promise. Effort needed in order to realize the benefit.
So then convince me that to not gut it out and discipline ourselves to know God and His ways and His thoughts as revealed in His word is to not set ourselves up for defeat in laying hold of the abundant life graced to us. Make the argument that reading and studying God’s word is somehow optional and depends on our natural inclinations and abilities. Nonsense! (Did I mention I felt a rant coming on?)
God’s word is not just some book. It is supernatural revelation. And we have not been left to our own academic propensities or cognitive capabilities as the determining factor as to whether or not it will impact our lives. Rather we have been given the Spirit of God who illuminates the Word of God to reveal the mind of God and transform the child of God by the power of God.
Wisdom cries aloud . . . may God’s people hear her voice. She offers, through the Word, a living and active dynamic that renews the mind, transforms the life, and conforms the student, more and more, into the likeness of the Teacher.
Oh that the church would hunger after the Word of God. Revive us again!
By God’s grace. For our benefit. And for God’s glory.