Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Study in Proverbs: Proverbs 3:3-4 by James Christopher Powell

Due to the fact that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I long for the day when I can enter the gates of heaven and experience a peace that surpasses anything I can imagine in this world today. The more I take notice of the ever-increasing madness that is so prevalent in the world today, I cannot help but pray as Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:10 (NIV 1984), "…your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Imagine for a moment what the present earth would look like, sound like, feel like, and be like, if the evil power of Satan was nonexistent and every action taken or word spoken was enveloped in God's character. A world operating in this manner would be nothing short of paradise. There would be no deceiving/deceptive spirit, no selfish intentions, no murder, and no promotion of such things. The more I think about this type of serenity the more I desire it to become reality. However, no such reality exists on planet Earth and will not exist until King Jesus returns to make all things right and establish His reign. However, the question at hand now is, "How does a child of God live, work, or operate on a daily basis in the world today?" How does a Christian continue to do life while making much of the name of Jesus Christ in today's crazy world?

 

In order to answer this question one must first turn to God's Word, the Bible, and it is our roadmap and instruction manual on the road of life. By studying the Scriptures and drawing out principles from its pages and putting them into practice one becomes more like Christ; thus, a witness for Him in one's daily life. Passages abound that address Godly character in a pagan world; Abraham, Joshua, Joseph, Gideon, David, Daniel, Stephen, Paul, and Barnabas (just to name a few) all honored the Lord in their lives and their record survives as a testament to the fact that one can live a life honoring to the Lord even when surrounded by evil today. Thus, by studying the lives of these men, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us and convict us with principles found in God's World, and then applying those principles to our lives, believers today can be a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

 

One passage that continues to resonate in my mind and in my heart, in regards to bearing witness to my relationship with Jesus Christ in my everyday life, is found in Proverbs. Proverbs 3:3-4 reads, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." In this passage, Solomon placed a great deal of emphasis on, and challenged his reader/student to cherish, love and faithfulness. When dealing with love and faithfulness one cannot separate the concepts from the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus exemplified both of these characteristics perfectly as he lived His sinless life on earth; He was love and faithfulness personified. In John 13:34-35 Jesus was speaking to His disciples and told them to love one another just as He [Jesus] had loved them. So let us think for a moment about how Jesus loved. John 3:16 describes God's love as so deep and passionate that he sent Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between holy God and sinful man so that man could be in right standing before God, not, however, because of man's own action but because of the gracious nature of God. The love of Jesus was a love that reached down from the paradise of heaven to take hold of my punishment so that I could be made clean and spotless before God. God's love is selfless for he gained nothing for himself by taking my sin or your sin. Yes, the love of God is beyond human description, but selfless is a good place to start. God's faithfulness is displayed in the pages of Scripture repeatedly. Hebrews 11 lists a number on biblical characters who were faithful to God (they trusted, they believed God, and acted upon that trust and belief) and God was faithful (or trustworthy) toward them. We could boil down Hebrews 11 and say those listed took their faith in God and put it to work for the Kingdom of God in a practical way.

 

What we are left with so far is an understanding that love is selfless and faithfulness is trusting God and His character and then putting that trust to work daily. Thus, according to Proverbs 3:3-4, a believer is wise if he wears selflessness and trustworthiness as a garment or a necklace; meaning that a believer should be demonstrating these characteristics daily. However, this is not just an external show. One can only display these Godly principles if they are embedded upon one's heart because one has experienced the life-changing power offered by Jesus Christ. Thus, true love and true faithfulness (two things our world desperately needs) can only come forth from a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Apart from this relationship, any attempt at love and faithfulness will fail. Therefore, one has two options: 1) accept Jesus Christ as the one who paid the penalty for your sinfulness and bridged the gap between God and you or 2) if you already have a relationship with Jesus Christ, start showing and demonstrating selfless love and true faithfulness in the sphere of influence God has placed you—be a witness.

 

James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years. 
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.

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