This week, let’s level our gun barrels at shallowness. Let’s allow the sayings we just read to speak out against our times with forceful relevance. I should warn you ahead of time, this may not be easy. Solomon has taken us into a mine shaft, as it were, to a place of hard work, but he will lead us to a valuable discovery.
As I look closely at these nine verses in Proverbs 2, I find that they can be divided rather neatly into three sections:
- The Conditions: “If . . .” emphasizes the worker (vv. 1–4)
- The Discovery: “Then . . .” emphasizes the treasure (v. 5)
- The Promises: “For . . .” emphasizes the benefits (vv. 6–9)
If you’re tired of that daily grind of shallowness and you no longer want to “fake it till you make it,” good for you! You must remember, however, that breaking out of that mold is awfully hard work. Solomon wrote about that when he presented the conditions of deepening our lives: “If we will do this . . .” and “If we are committed to doing that . . .” Tough talk!
I find four realms of discipline that we must come to terms with if we hope to live beyond the grind of shallowness. We’ll examine two today and then two [Friday].
- The discipline of the written Word of God
“My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you . . .” (v. 1). It is essential that we receive God’s sayings, that we absorb them on a regular basis and allow them to find lodging in our minds. Few things affect our world more detrimentally than ongoing biblical ignorance. At the same time, we cannot overestimate the positive impact of scriptural knowledge on a society. We need only look to the founding of the United States of America for evidence.
Many scholars question whether the Founding Fathers were professing believers as our evangelical churches today would define the term Christian. Regardless, the vast majority at least maintained a Christian worldview, held God in high esteem, revered the Bible as authoritative, knew God’s Word well, and adopted its precepts as their moral foundation. All of the above is undeniable. Their knowledge of biblical wisdom led them to first think deeply and then make decisions based on principles rather than pragmatism. In fact, their scriptural knowledge made capitalism and democracy possible.
- The discipline of inner desire
“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding” (v. 2). If we read this verse correctly, we must lend an attentive ear to God’s reproofs (remember last week’s subject?) and cultivate an open heart before Him. The Bible repeatedly warns that we are naturally inclined to selfishness, shortsightedness, and shallow thinking. The English term fool appears no less than sixty-two times in the book of Proverbs alone. In no uncertain terms God urges us to remain closely connected to Him:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you. (9:10–11)
From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.