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God's Gifts for God's Purposes (Proverbs 20)

A great part of the pursuit of wisdom is learning to use everything God created in the way God counsels us to use it. From the beginning, He gave the invitation to eat from tens of thousands of trees, all the varieties He had made. But there was a single tree from which we were commanded not to eat. As you know, the father of lies quickly tempted Adam and Eve to take something God created and use it contrary to the counsel of God. The result or their sin was disastrous, and “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22).

One of the most curious elements of our nature as human beings is the ability to make morally conscious choices. This differentiates us from animals, which are bound to their instinct. God created us uniquely in His image (Genesis 1:26). Ironically, this image of God within us is also the very thing that made it possible for us to fall. As soon as we repent and believe, Jesus restores the fellowship between His Spirit and ours. But then comes the process of learning to obey His voice.

Much of the instruction in the Word of God is aimed at restoring the intended use for everything God gave us. For example, in Proverbs 20:12, we read that The LORD created our eyes; in the very next verse, we are told not to close those eyes too much in excess sleep or laziness. “Open your eyes,” he says, “and you will be satisfied with food,” (20:13). Speaking of food, we know it is a gift from God that tastes good to our senses. Yet, we are warned that, “Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (20:17). In other words, eating food is no longer a gift from God when we steal it from someone else; it is an act of sin that carries a consequence. Other aspects of human experience, like being mistreated, we may not consider a gift from God; still, they are common to all of our lives and thus require the wisdom of God. He tells us, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; Wait for the LORD and He will save you” (20:22). This means, if I am going to approach people who wrong me in a way that pleases God, I must put away retaliation, trust God with the circumstance, and wait for His intervention.

It is profound to realize that, with everything God has given us, He also gave us a moral responsibility in how we use it. To use God’s gifts for God’s purposes, we must listen to His voice by staying in the Word and prayer. Our culture subtly opposes God. For instance, the Bible says, “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair” (20:29). Yet, more and more young men are avoiding, as long as they can, the natural displays of strength, like work, independence, and being responsible for a family. Likewise, older men with gray hair are seen as irrelevant or out-of-touch, rather than honored for their experience and potential wisdom. We will find joy and freedom if we stop judging ourselves by the culture around us but, instead, judge our character by the standard of Jesus. “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty,” but what matters is whether God finds us faithful (20:6). Take time today to meditate on the life and character of Jesus, and you will surely find inspiration for a wise life.

Pastor Alex

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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