Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Yahweh Detests... & “the Tree of Life”

Two things God detests: dishonest scales and perverse hearts. From Proverbs 11 we find a continuation of the predominantly antithetical (“but”) proverbs--those urging us toward balance and integrity over things like our words and speech, and our use of money.

There is a lot about motive--what drives our acts and omissions--in this chapter, and a lot about results for both moral and immoral modes of operation in life. The following is rather fitting as a summary verse:

“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to those who search for it” –Proverbs 11:27 (TNIV). God gives us what we strive for in life, wisdom or folly. Recently I saw some youth acting up in a public toilet, bent on destruction, though not in the physical act. Their folly will eventually find them the evil they seek. I hoped for some sort of moral intervention for these three young guys to set them on the right path.

On Words

We’re told to keep confidences and not to belittle our neighbours (vs. 13 and 12). We’re also great ambassadors for those we represent when we speak appropriately (v. 11). In our words and speech we have opportunities at kindness.

On Kindness Regarding Wealth

Verses 15-19 and 24-28 speak intrinsically about the use of knowledge that our money is not really ours; we are merely stewards of money and resources, channelling them to the appropriate areas and people. The more we make this real in life, the more we’ll see God truly at work.

Riches are deceptive. Much can be learned regarding the nature of the rich and their riches in Proverbs. Give everyone three generations (about eighty years) without sustained moral intent and that’s all it takes for God to show, over and again, the cycle that inevitably appears--rags to riches to rags again.

The best way to get rich and stay rich is, ironically, to give away money and material things. What we sow we tend to reap, and that, with interest.

The Tree of Life

In only a few places in the Bible is ‘the tree of life’ mentioned, starting in Genesis (2:9), ending in Revelation (2:7, 22:2, 14, 19). Proverbs 3, 11, 13 and 15 feature it (respectively) as the result of acquiring Wisdom, the fruit of the righteous, a longing fulfilled, and the result of a tongue that brings healing.

It’s significant to Proverbs 11 because it finishes in this vein (vs. 30-31). The tree of life, and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, is what we should desire.

The more we cling to virtue the more the vision of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil disappears in comparison to the awesome vision of God.

It’s all about focus.

Of what use is a gold ring in a pig’s snout--a beautiful woman without discretion? (v. 22) We are to match the beauty of our creation in the image of God with the virtue he designed us to live out.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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