Thoughtful Living Results from Knowing the Truth.
Just about everyone I know values truth, learning and knowledge. Most also want the knowledge they gain to be trustworthy and of some practical value. Sometimes, sadly, when we are exposed to some core truths, we reject them. We don’t stop and think or ponder the truth. We react defensively.
When Jesus proclaimed that who he was and what he said was to be our ongoing focus for life, he said there would be a result: freedom. His listeners told him they were already free and had always been free. This was faulty thinking on more than one level. They were not free as a nation. Israel had been in slavery and exile many times. They were currently under Rome’s dominion. Their response to Jesus was a denial of reality. They were also slaves on a much deeper and more sinister level.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” John 8:31-33
The debilitating and blinding bondage that Jesus saw was their enslavement to sin. They disliked what Jesus said so much that at the end of this conversation “they picked up stones to throw at him.” This action exposed the truth of what Jesus had just told them.
Proverbs contains Truth for Living.
I have recently started a new study in the book of Proverbs. One of the resources I am reading is Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.’s, Preaching the Word: Proverbs—Wisdom That Works, ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012). It is easy to approach Proverbs much like we might Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom. “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack. But Proverbs is far more than just a series of witty bits of wisdom. Ortlund is helping me dig deeper.
The Law and Prophets are Insufficient for Much of Everyday Life.
The Old Testament scriptures contain the law and the prophets. By reading them we can find out what is right and wrong, what God declares, and what God has promised. Much of life, however, requires some explanation or additional guidance. The Ten Commandments are clear. But how do we put into practice the core of the law, which is to love God and love our neighbors? The book of Proverbs is the tool we can use to stop and think about life choices and the basics of living. This includes relationships, finances, and communications.
What Pleases God?
There are several possible answers to this question. Fundamentally, the Father wants us to know the truth because he knows it will set us free. Knowing the truth is more than just knowledge. The application of truth requires wisdom. The truth must be mirrored by our lives and must be something of more than just a passing interest or fancy. Truth must be in our head, revealed by our hearts, and become the focus of all our energies. It must be logos, ethos and pathos. This requires wisdom. Proverbs helps us apply truth, live truth and become passionate about the truth.
Logos, Ethos, and Pathos
Logos: This is accurate understanding of, and high regard for, the scriptures. We should not preach our personal thoughts about God’s Word. We must teach, preach and live God’s Word as it is, not as what we would like for it to say. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Ethos: What you are as a person proclaims what you really hold to be true. Our very personhood should proclaim what we hold to be true. We should be the truth we preach or teach or say we believe. What God’s Word says is what we try to make our own – and this is not a passive or purely intellectual exercise. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We should not be pretenders of truth. It needs to be real. Our lives are not to be impressing others about us but impressing others about God. Ethos must back up logos. But even that is missing an important element. That element is pathos.
Pathos: We must have personal passion and conviction. When you believe what you say you believe there will be passion. Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Have You Been with Jesus? The way I would see this is in your abiding in his word. Then I would see it in how you live your life. Finally, it must be a settled and bold passion for life’s everyday decisions and interactions with others.