If you have ever traveled by car to another state, you know that traffic laws can vary widely from state to state, even town to town. Here in Arizona, it’s illegal to drive a car in reverse down a public road. Apparently in other states that’s ok. In Minnetonka, Minnesota, you can be sighted as a public nuisance if your truck leaves dirt or mud on the road. In Nebraska, drivers on mountains should drive with caution near the right edge of the highway. Which would make perfect sense, if there WERE any mountains in Nebraska. In Texas, windshield wipers are a requirement, however, windshields are not. And lastly in Wyoming – by law, you must close a gate crossing over a road, river, stream, or ditch or you risk a $750 fine.
If you run afoul of one of these state or local ordinances, it doesn’t matter that you were ignorant of the law. You’ll get sighted and pay a fine. And hopefully, after that, you learn to respect that law when traveling there in the future. You’ve gained some wisdom, and you apply it. Now the wisest of all approaches would be to learn about the traffic laws of areas of an area before you travel there, gain some instruction in how the laws work and be mindful of that knowledge as you drive around.
The same is true for our spiritual lives. As we grow in our faith there are inevitably times where we will run afoul of the commandments of God. While the Lord does show us mercy and forgives the debts we owe Him, he may not necessarily shield us from the natural consequences of our actions. You’ll likely be punished by a parent, a teacher, a boss, or held accountable by your friends and family. Hopefully, we learn from this situation and gain wisdom. God is right, I shouldn’t behave in such a way.
But the wisest course of action is to learn the will of God and apply it to our lives beforehand. This takes faith and trust; When we read a command from scripture, we may not understand the “why” of God expecting it from us. We may struggle against our sinful, human nature to obey. It takes faith to trust in God’s will when we don’t understand the why.
One of the great blessings of scripture is that we can see the faithfulness of God towards those who do His will and the consequences of disobedience as well. We can sin and see no immediate consequence to the behavior. Must not be that big a deal, we could reason, it’s “safe” to continue doing this.
Paul warns against such an attitude in the opening chapter of his letter to the Romans, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)
There comes a point where God will turn us over to the evil desires of our heart and all sin to reign fully in our lives. The troubling thing is, there is no indication of at what point God will remove his loving hand of correction. Moreover when in this state of unrepentance, a person can simply go on and on in their sinful choices, until their lives are consumed by sin.
Today’s proverb tells us that when we are corrected, we should become wise. And in that wisdom, gain knowledge of God’s perfect will so we can live according to it. So today, let’s listen to the counsel of God’s word and live it out for ourselves. As Paul himself said, “ For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Romans 2:13)
Father thank you for your perfect Law of Love. Help me to study and learn your will, so I may apply it to my life. Help me to be wise, and acknowledge when I fall short of your desires for me, that I may learn and grow in my love for you. Jesus, help me to not take for granted the salvation you won for me with your precious blood. Guide me by your Holy Spirit today, that I may grow more and more to be like you. Lead me in paths of wisdom, for the sake of your Holy Name. Amen.