Sep 23rd, 2018
Hello and welcome to episode ninety-two of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to kick off a new series that will take us into the book of Proverbs to see what wisdom we can glean from her pages.
The book of Proverbs exists (Proverbs 1:2-4), “For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to the young.” With the book of Proverbs, the wise person increases in learning, and the discerning person obtains guidance. Wisdom is crucial to building successful careers, relationships, and families. There is literally nothing in this world where choosing wisdom will lead you wrong.
I've heard making wise choices compared to saving and spending. The choices we make today can affect us for years. With spending, if you pay $8 for a meal at McDonald’s, or whatever fast food restaurant you prefer, that doesn't affect your future too much. But, if you make a habit out of it and did that same thing every day of the week and maybe twice on the weekends then by the end of the week you would’ve spent upwards of $72 or possibly even more. By the end of the year, you’re looking at having spent $3,744 on fast food. That’s money that you could have, and should have, saved for things like car repair, taking a vacation, or you could have given it to charity. After five years of saving that money instead of spending you’d have $18,720. With that, you could buy a car with cash, no loan, no payments, and fewer repairs to pay for. Or that could be one heck of a vacation. I understand that you’re still going to have to spend some money on food. So you wouldn’t actually save the whole $8 per meal. You’d probably end up saving more like $5 per meal as an estimate. Making wise choices is exactly like that; a little trickle here and there turns into significant power over time.
Proverbs 1:20-22 says, “Wisdom calls out in the street; she makes her voice heard in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: How long inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? “How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge?”” When you look for wisdom you will see her calling “out in the streets.” From an early age, we feed our children edutainment programming that teaches them everything from science, math, and language to sharing, family relationships, and society. But, it doesn't stop at children’s programming. The Lord Of The Rings teaches us freedom and valor. The Greatest Showman teaches us to love people who are different from us and to celebrate those differences. In Tangled we see a young woman break free of a controlling, abusive relationship and make the brave decision to move forward with her life. You’d really have to bury your head in the sand to avoid all the voices today trying to teach you lessons of wisdom.
Almost half of the first chapter of Proverbs is devoted to a warning not to fall in with evil people. It feels almost odd to read starting in verse 10 it says, “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say -- “Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun! Let’s swallow them alive, like Sheol, whole, like those who go down to the pit. We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. Throw your lot with us, and we’ll all share the loot” -- my son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path, because their feet run toward evil and they hurry to shed blood. It is useless to spread a net where any bird can see it, but they set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives. Such are the paths of all who make profit dishonestly; it takes the lives of those who receive it.” I mean who, in all seriousness, says something like that to someone else, “Let’s set an ambush and kill someone.”
Believe it or not, people do get to that place. Like the example of saving or spending earlier, it happens little-by-little over time. You get there by mishandling money, relationships, or learning opportunities. Some people find themselves there due to issues that were not their fault: family medical emergencies, loss of parents, or abusive homes. When we are in a place where we believe there is no escape, illegal and immoral activities can look appealing. They seem to promise something we want and to deliver it quickly, but in the end, they almost certainly lead to death.
As I said before, this section of Proverbs seems strange to read, but when you think about it we know that this kind of thing continues today. The National Gang Center reported that as of 2012 over thirty thousand gangs were operating in the United States. (https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/survey-analysis/measuring-the-extent-of-gang-problems) In an NPR interview with former gang members in Chicago, we learn that these gangs are led by masters of promising what people want or think they need. They prey upon people who have no families, target those who have little material possessions, and often those that live in unsafe neighborhoods. Gangs look like a quick escape from all these issues people are facing. (https://www.npr.org/2017/01/07/508722513/barbershop-former-members-talkabout-what-led-them-to-join-gangs-in-chicago)
Most of us may never be tempted to join a gang or fall into robbery and murder, but we have to be aware of the other sins that threaten to corrupt us. Remember it’s those small decisions that grow upon themselves into bigger things. Smaller ethical lapses may not seem detrimental, but over time they lead to desensitization to moral actions and to larger immoral deeds that you justify to yourself.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”