English: Scroll of the Book of Proverbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The book of proverbs is all about Wisdom. God is concerned that we acquire some wisdom both to better know Him but to also keep us safe and free us from trials and traps. God compares His dear flock to sheep but this does not mean His sheep should be mindless. Jesus instructs His disciples to be as wise as serpents but as as harmless as doves.
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways
Wisdom will also save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words,surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
Blessed are those who find wisdom those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;those who hold her fast will be blessed
But what wisdom may we gain from reading a book that is at least 2000 years old? – the Bible is full of sound advice and timeless wisdom thats still relevant and helpful today you can find everything in there from relationship advice, to how to best deal with politcians or wise counsel about debts and money matters, but if there was one key important thing to note, what might it be? In the Book of Proverbs God says
ABOVE ALL ELSE Guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Love is the most important thing to God, before he looks at anything else He examines the heart – He loves us with an unfailing love, He does not change nor does His love, it is us that changed, we fell, we got entangled and destructively ensnared in the duality of good and bad deeds, sin, the fruit of the tree of knowledge that separated us from God but He was always there.
In life, He instructs us, we need to guard our hearts, nurture and protect our love. He wishes that love and faithfulness would never leave us; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Perfect love casts out all fear. People with cold stone hearts create a cold and cruel world and their deeds become evil even with the best logic behind them or otherwise brilliant scientific or scriptural understanding. Everything we do flows from love or the state of our hearts.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13)
Religious teachers throughout the world may demonstrate perfect clarity in their understanding on the Law and hold masters degrees in it, but where they lack love then they will do the opposite of what love demands. This is where people are stoned to death for adultery or other crimes, perfectly right by the law books, but love and compassion says no there is none without sin to take the stone and the one without sin would not do it. There are cruel and barbaric religious wars, hate crimes, terrorism mutilations tortures, beatings countless murders all done in the name of religion. The scriptural justification is underlined in triplicate in the Holy Books – its totally right and justified in law somehow somewhere, but would love do it? Love, understanding wisdom mercy forgiveness and compassion is what God demands from His disciples. Jesus says – Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” God does not care about good or bad deeds. He takes care of sin or bad deeds, but no good deed will get you into heaven what He wants and requires is love.
what does love look like, the Bible describes in detail what love does:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres
If we have love we have all these qualities we easily forgive others, indeed see nothing to forgives and keep no record of wrongs, it always protects, so if you love others there would be no question of killing them or even subjecting non believers to heavy penalties even if the law demands it, love doesnt allow it. Love always hopes – so the law may demand people go to hell for eternity even but love hopes the best for every sinner great or small. Love does not condemn thy neighbour nor even judge.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
If you love God you want to follow His commands and lead a life pleasing to God and if you love your neighbor as yourself you wouldn’t murder them (thou shalt not kill) or steal from them (thou shalt not covet your neighbors goods) so you would automatically follow the whole law and commands of God just by focusing on the command to love – which comes from guarding your heart and cultivating the qualities above every day and weaving it into all you do. Empathy placing yourself in the shoes of others even praying for an “adversary”
God heals the broken hearted, love is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit it can be restored for without Love then all things we do are affected. Without love you may be following the law like a long list of chores and still getting it wrong, wheras someone with love would follow them easily and be unable to do things against the law because love simply wouldnt allow it.
Love then and compasssion, not the law or trying to avoid every single sin which is impossible to do, should always be our highest goal. Not only that it should be part of everything we do “in everything strive to love” It is Gods urgent command, to love Him as much as He loves you and love others with the same Love He pours out on the world it is the fufillment of the Law