Tuesday 06 September 2016

Bible Book:

and with the first fruits of all your produce.” (v. 9)

Proverbs 3:1-26 Tuesday 6 September 2016

Psalm: Psalm 149:1-5


As we read through the book of Proverbs we are encouragedcontinually that to learn from the Lord and become wise will bringblessing, while being reminded of the fate that awaits the foolishand the wicked (verse 25). Perhaps this was the writer'sexperience, or hope, yet so many other parts of the propheticwritings in the Bible acknowledge that this is not the case (forexample, Psalm 73:3). Binary outcomes and simple ideasof reward and punishment are not wise, as Scripture tells us onmany occasions, though perhaps ambiguously. Of more interest, tothe writer and to us, is how we live, again, as with Sunday's passage, this is to do with choiceand commitment.

In choosing today's verse it may be impossible to escape theidea that the one who honours the Lord is therefore wealthy andblessed with "produce". This is an idea that we should not promote.Nevertheless, in the absence of more direct reference to 'theheart', this can be taken as physical (economic) shorthand for thefullness of one's being, as it is driven by what lies behind theaction or attitude. It is certainly exactly the kind of outlookthat we see in John Wesley's message about practical piety and wise(spiritual) use of resources.

It is tempting to isolate today's verse from the associatedideas and the reward that is its consequence in the next verse(verse 10). Urging those whose attention is towards God totranslate that devotion into good use of material resources issurely a deeper appeal than suggesting an extravagant return fromGod - though people need encouragement, if it is to be realistic.What we must also bear in mind, if we haven't already, is those whodo not have wealth, strikingly covered by a verse outside today'spassage - "Do not say to your neighbour, 'Go, and come again,tomorrow I will give it'-when you have it with you" (Proverbs 3:28). If you are concerned aboutusing our resources for the benefit of those who are poor, considerapplying for a Methodist Action on Poverty and JusticeGrant.

To Ponder

  • How do you read passages which tell of believers prospering and"the wicked" being punished?
  • What kinds of personal, scriptural appeal have the most impacton you?
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