That Which Goes Before
Week 22’s lesson ask the question in the title, “Should your light shine alone?” The passage for the lesson is Job 25:1-6, but it’s the sixth verse I want to focus on for a moment. I’ll quote the entire passage from the lesson to keep it in context.
"Many Lights" by Damien Ayers is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered,
2 “Dominion and awe belong to Him Who establishes peace in His heights.
3 “Is there any number to His troops? And upon whom does His light not rise?
4 “How then can a man be just with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?
5 “If even the moon has no brightness And the stars are not pure in His sight,
6 How much less man, that maggot, And the son of man, that worm!”
Job 25:1-6 (NASB)
Let’s read verse five and then verse six. If “even the moon has no brightness and the stars are not pure in His sight,” where do we stand in that? Job contends we are maggots and worms. He doesn’t mean literally. He means figuratively that we are lowly compared to most of creation, and he is right.
12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
Proverbs 18:12 (KJV)
Human beings think quite a lot of themselves. Individuals think quite a lot of their own plans. We tend to believe our way is the right way, the only way, and all other ideas are lesser. Of course, they are, or I wouldn’t have thought of it, right? I mean, when I decide a thing should be done a certain way, that’s the best way to do it, or I wouldn’t have made that decision. Right? And if you don’t agree with me, you’re flawed in some way. Again, right? RIGHT?
Of course, I don’t believe that. That last paragraph was mostly sarcasm. Mostly, right?
Before calamity befalls us, we think we’re so smart, so clever. We’ve got everything under control, wired in one sock, and ready to rock and roll. Disaster is one step away; we never see it until it’s too late. Why?
Because we are “haughty.”
Disdainfully proud; scornfully arrogant; snobbish; supercilious: haughty aristocrats; a haughty salesclerk.
Archaic. lofty or noble; exalted.
“Disdainfully proud,” “arrogant,” “snobbish.” Great words to express what we are just before our best-laid plans collapse in a heap around us. Why did this happen? Those plans were perfect? I thought of everything, right? You missed the most important thing.
3 Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.
Zephaniah 2:3 (NASB)
Where was God in your plans? Where was His council, His ways, His desires in what you set out to do? Where is humility and wisdom in what is being planned?
25 An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:25-26 (NASB)
Why is trusting in ourselves not a good thing? Because we are flawed. If I do what feels good, I will likely take the easy path and not do the hard things. Things worth doing are rarely easy. Doing the right thing is usually hard. The question is, where can wisdom be found? Wisdom is all around us, sometimes in the most unsuspecting places. We must put aside our pride and allow others to speak into our lives from their experiences. We filter that knowledge through the lens of God’s Word to discern the good and bad aspects. We then select those things God approves of, which we call Good, demonstrating wisdom on our part.
1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,
3 To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;
4 To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,
5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:1-7 (NASB)
Fear of the Lord is recognizing that He does know right from wrong. Fear of the Lord is admitting His ways are good. Fear of the Lord acknowledges temporal and eternal consequences of making decisions based on what God thinks. In that realization, we humbly become aware that we don’t know everything, don’t always know what is best, and can set our foot on the road to recovery from our pride. At that moment, God smiles and begins to add more blessings to our lives.
3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Proverbs 22:3-5 (KJV)