Proverbs 2:1-4 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Christians are really good at making Christianity complicated. It really isn’t. Following Christ is relatively simple. However simple does not directly translate into easy or without effort. But simple is good because we tend to stick with what we grasp best. So it is these few short verses introduce us to three things which show themselves as absolutely necessary to true understanding (i.e. seeing all things as God does) and growing close to the Father.
1. Knowing and TREASURING God’s Word. “Keeping” God’s Word throughout Scripture is not as much a matter of observing the letter of it, as it is seeing it as precious, valuing it. That which is precious to us, will capture our devotion. But we cannot highly (or better, rightly) value what we know little about. If I do not know either the potency of a medicine, or my need for it, I won’t be interested in using it. I’ve never been tempted to just go to the drug store, amble through the aisles and then suddenly be seized with the overwhelming desire to try a medication I don’t need. But if I am ill, and I know the cure is available, I will do what it takes, spend what it costs to obtain it. Fortunately, just reading the Bible both establishes my desperate need of the Christ it portrays, and then also parades Him before me in all of His redemptive glory so that I can have that need met. Nothing else known to man does such a thing. But I cannot know the value of the Word, apart from hearing and understanding the Christ of the Word and what He has done for me in His incarnation, death, burial and resurrection. And the more time I spend digging out that treasure, the more I grasp its true value.
2. But getting into God’s Word is not some mere intellectual exercise. Seeking to understand God’s Word, studying it – not simply preserving it like an ancient artifact is the second thing I need to consider. Having a Ming vase that is never used AS a vase, but merely as a work of art, is the picture. Many approach God’s Word this way. They know it is “precious” but precious in the sense that it is to be put on a self and admired – but not as though it is to be employed in the fabric and situations of every day life. We cannot approach God’s Word in this way and hope to be truly impacted by it. We must study it not as a curiosity, but as the study of life itself. We must employ it. It will resist being turned into a religious, social or intellectual artifact. And when it is treated that way, it becomes dull, irrelevant and useless. Yes, this takes work. Looking up words I don’t know. Reading more than singled out verses but discovering entire thought streams, concepts, arguments, symbols, historical portraits of people and events, and the message all of this is meant to convey through its various tributaries. Who said what to whom, when, where and why makes it all come alive. How every page opens up some new glimpse into the heart, mind, purposes and work of our God and Saviour. These are all there for taking – but not for the taking without the digging.
3. Prayer. If we are not interacting personally and regularly with our Lord – we cannot hope either to understand Him, or His Word. We must never allow knowledge about Him eclipse firsthand knowledge OF Him in living discourse. Lose this aspect, and religion freezes into form and mere doctrine at best, and random subjectivity at worst. Learn to just sit and discuss your life with Him like a friend. Tell Him about your cares, concerns, joys, fears, losses, expectations, family, friends and desires. Confide in Him. Ask Him for His Spirit’s assistance in reading and understanding His Word. Bring your cold heart to Him to re-warm and bring it back to life. Tell Him your doubts. He has big shoulders, infinite shoulders. You cannot overburden Him, take up too much of His time or tell Him too much trivia. He loves you. He delights just being with you. He loves to lighten your burdens by having you share them with Him. Any topic, any amount of time, any place, any time, any thought. Learn to live life with Him in the everyday realities of life, and you will soon learn how you are never alone – and always, ALWAYS invited to sit and unload. No apologies necessary. No ego to damage. No confusion or sorrow too great. No deaf ear. Free and open welcome. And willing to answer far more than any of us dare to ask.