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By: Larry Shaffer
I was the guest of a dear friend at a small hunting lodge in the back woods of Georgia this past week. What a refreshing weekend!
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
God is so good to us in that He doesn’t just tell us what to do, He gives commandments that come with blessings. How blessed we are that our God is a Benevolent Sovereign. He is the perfect balance of Strength and Kindness; Truth and Grace; Power and Gentleness; He is far above us in Majestic Glory and He is right next to us in intimate affection. What a God we love and serve!
As a parent, I used to give my daughters commands. If they asked why, I would say “because I said so.” It was a one-side command.
His commands come with promises and blessings. What a perfect Father He is. Proverbs 3, therefore, has a flow of “if” and “then” statements. We know this as the law of “cause-n-effect.” Cause-n-effect is so familiar to us that we often don’t give it the consideration it deserves. It’s a universal principle that all people, Christian or non-Christian, know and understand. But in reality, it is a biblical principle and God is the originator of this law.
Created by wisdom
Proverbs 3:19 states that when the Lord created the heavens and the earth, he did it on the basis of wisdom and understanding. Inhabitants of this world, created by God, can thrive when they follow the principles of wisdom, because that’s how God created it to be. Just like a high-performance car was created to be optimized when the driver follows the intended guidelines, our lives on earth are optimized when we follow God’s guidelines of wisdom.
You can violate the guidelines of driving a high-performance car and end up killing yourself. Or, you can under-perform the guidelines, fall short of optimizing the cars performance and you can be, well, just plain boring. To be given the gift of a high-performance car and then driving slowly? Well, it is better than killing yourself, no doubt. But it is really missing out on the experience. Our lives work the same way.
Once I learned to effectively use the law of cause-n-effect, which is really a biblical law, I have loved it ever since. There are many things out of our control. For those situations, He has given us faith to have His Peace. We can rest in Him. But also, in a practical sense, He gave us the clear principles of wisdom’s cause-n-effect to navigate the decisions we must make in our lives and create predictable outcomes.
Perhaps I’m being somewhat theoretical (which can be a little mundane). Let me try to add some sizzle to this discussion.
Often, we tend to ask ourselves, what do I need to do? That’s beginning with the “causes”. I prefer, instead to ask, what outcomes do I want in my life? That’s beginning with the “effects”. Begin with the effect! Proverbs 3 gives us some “effects” that you might want in your life. What do you think about having more of the following?
That’s a pretty cool list of seven effects that any reasonable and rational person would give their right arm for. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up an appendage to have these wonderful blessings. We just need to figure out what causes these effects to occur in our lives. Then we can take the right action to produce these results. We do this by being intentional in our causal activities. But what are these causal activities? Tell me! I want to know. How do I get those wonderful seven blessings listed above? We’ll get to them next time.
Lord, you are a perfect Father! You are kind to direct us, guide us and keep us on the right path of truth. You are also abundantly kind because all of Your commands come with promises and blessings. Everyone is searching for peace, healing and happiness. And You have given us all a clear path to attaining these blessings while here on earth, in part, and ultimately in heaven, perfectly and completely. What a wonderful Father You are! Thank You always. Amen.