February Reading from The Message
Life is far too complex to figure out by ourselves. God simplifies and shows us the direction to maturity. Throughout the book of Proverbs, God helps keep us on track. Here in Proverbs 2 we see how to make insight our priority…
1-5 Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of understanding. That’s right—if you make insight your priority, and won’t take no for an answer, searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, believe me, before you know it fear-of-God will be yours; you’ll have come upon the knowledge of God.
6-8 And here’s why: God gives out wisdom free, is plainspoken in knowledge and understanding. He’s a rich mine of common sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.
9-15 So now you can pick out what’s true and fair, find all the good trails! Lady wisdom will be your close friend, and brother knowledge your pleasant companion. Good sense will scout ahead for danger, insight will keep an eye out for you. They’ll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions of those who are lost themselves and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed. These losers who make a game of evil and throw parties to celebrate perversity, traveling paths that go nowhere, wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.
16-19 Wise friends will rescue you from the temptress— that smooth-talking seductress who’s faithless to the husband she married years ago, never gave a second thought to her promises before God. Her whole way of life is doomed; every step she takes brings her closer to hell. No one who joins her company ever comes back, ever sets foot on the path to real living.
20-22 So—join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths. It’s the men who walk straight who will settle this land, the women with integrity who will last here. The corrupt will lose their lives; the dishonest will be gone for good.
We Have a Motivation Problem
Proverbs is a how-to book. The problem we have with it is that it tells us how to do something we aren’t particularly interested in doing. It isn’t that we can’t understand what the proverbs say. It’s that we don’t want to do what they say. Which means we have a motivation problem.
One of the ways to deal with that problem is to see that the goal of the “Fear-of-God” isn’t competing with other legitimate goals in our lives but is rather a completing goal. It puts guts into the other things we’re doing. In a sense, what is being said here is that all of us want more than we have; all of us are nagged by an inner sense of incompleteness. But Proverbs tells us what’s missing. It puts a name to that meandering sense of incompleteness. What is missing, according to Proverbs, is the “Fear-of-God” and the “Knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:5).
To keep reading along with Scripture and Eugene Peterson’s insight, check out The Message Devotional Bible.