Categories
Life

Proverbs: Wisdom in Righteousness

Part 7 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Over the last seven weeks, we’ve talked about Christ as the God’s wisdom and about wisdom in reproof, stewardship, friendship, and speech.  We could say so much about this wonderful book, but let’s top of our journey through Proverbs with wisdom in righteousness.

We could also call this “Wisdom in Wisdom” (but that would confuse people).  Righteousness is wisdom.  Wisdom is righteousness.  Righteousness in Proverbs is different than righteousness in Romans, however.  Proverbs’ righteousness is practical obedience to God’s word.  It is the righteousness we do that arises from the righteousness we are given. We are made righteous through Christ’s death, and are thus compelled by his love to practice it in our daily living.

Solomon often speaks of the benefits of righteous living.  We need to get one thing straight, otherwise we will have a warped view of God: righteous living does not always equate to reward, benefits, success, or security.  Righteousness is not a lamp that we can rub the right way so God will come to do our bidding.  In fact, the Bible shows that righteousness can lead to trial and suffering.  The fact is that Solomon doesn’t give us formulas like, “Give to the poor and you’ll be blessed.”  Rather, he gives us general principles that we should, by the Spirit, strive to live out.  If benefits do come, they are a blood-bought gift from Calvary, and we should praise God for them.

Solomon says, “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster” (1:33).  This means that whoever listens to wisdom and obeys will be secure spiritually.  There will be spiritual joy and peace even when the cancer grows, a parent dies, or your wife has a miscarriage.

Chapter 8 is all about the blessings of wisdom (and righteousness!).  Righteous words lead people to knowledge and understanding.  Righteous words lead people to wisdom which is better than jewels (vv. 8-11).  Solomon tells his sons that “whoever finds [wisdom] finds life and obtains favor from the LORD” (v. 35).

A truly abundant life doesn’t consist of how much money we have or how big our house is.  Proverbs 11:4 reminds us, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”  John Piper has written, “There are no U-Hauls attached to hearses.”  Money and possessions won’t do anyone good before God on judgment day.  But a righteous life, by God’s grace, will.

“Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.  Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight” (11:19-20).  Idols of status, praise of man, sex, food, money, technology, education, marriage, children, and so many others will kill us!  Idols are often good things that turn into ultimate things.  When this happens, we are doomed.  How much longer will we continue to pursue evil instead of being steady in righteousness?

This is just the fringe of verses on wisdom in righteous and wisdom from Proverbs.  Solomon gives us the bottom line in his final word of Ecclesiastes.  He says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).  By the Spirit, let’s put to death our pursuit of foolishness and evil.  By the Spirit, because of imputed righteousness, let’s pursue Jesus, our great and only wisdom and righteousness.

Categories
Theology

John Calvin on Joy

Part 4 of a 4 part series. View series intro and index.

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John Calvin believed in a God that blesses us so that we might rejoice.  God does this because he is a loving, joyful, happy Shepherd of his people.  Calvin puts it like this:

We ought to bear in mind, that our happiness consists in this, that his hand is stretched forth to govern us, that we live under his shadow, and that his providence keeps watch and ward over our welfare. Although, therefore, we have abundance of all temporal good things, yet let us be assured that we cannot be truly happy unless God vouchsafe to reckon us among the number of his flock. Besides, we then only attribute to God the office of a Shepherd with due and rightful honor, when we are persuaded that his providence alone is sufficient to supply all our necessities. As those who enjoy the greatest abundance of outward good things are empty and famished if God is not their shepherd; so it is beyond all doubt that those whom he has taken under his charge shall not want a full abundance of all good things.

This shows us that Calvin did not believe in a stale, dark, theoretical Christianity where God is unhappy, vengeful, and impersonal.  Quite the opposite actually.  God is a good Father, Calvin taught.  Commenting on Ephesians 3:21, he says, “However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

All of creation, Calvin said, was made by God to cause happiness: “There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice.”  Furthermore, Calvin taught that prayer is a divine avenue to our happiness.  He encouraged his people by saying, “Joy and thanksgiving expressed in prayer and praise according to the Word of God are the heart of the Church’s worship.”

Did you catch that?  Joy and thanksgiving are the heart of the Church’s worship.  Calvin’s belief in God was anything but boring, lifeless, and cerebral.  It was heavily theological — make no mistake.  But at his core, John Calvin was a pastor, not an academic theologian.  He was a shepherd of a local flock, and he was intensely practical.  His desire was to show people the God of the Bible, not conjured up deity.  His passion was to make plain that this God transforms daily life and causes worship to move  from meaningless existence into everlasting joy in the greatest Being in the universe.

Calvin believed in a God that blesses us so that we might rejoice.  Commenting on Ephesians 3:21, he says, “However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”  Regarding creation, Calvin said, “There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice.”