Well, it’s that time of year again…. New Year’s. Traditionally it is a time of affirmation and re-affirmation (resolutions) of intent to make the New Year a better and more prosperous time of life. Somehow, we are not quite happy with the previous year. It has likely been going on since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden! It was a bad year for them.
Adam and Eve had choices to make; and, they chose wrong. They also paid the consequences. Often, and I would guess about 95% of the time, it is our own choices that cause our own unhappiness and depression. Have you made some foolish financial decisions that have placed you into a poorly leveraged position? Did your anger burn bridges behind you? Has sin ruined your relationships with others? If you made one of these mistakes (I’m not saying you did. They are hypothetical situations), it was your choice to make them. For the most part people choose their own destinies.
Yes, I used the “S” word in the previous paragraph. When we think of sin we generally think we did something against God. It isn’t always a direct sin against God; but, perhaps it is an indirect sin. Instead, we can sin against other people …. which is a sin against God. When we read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-7) we see the way in which God has designed proper relationship. There are four commandments that concern our relationship with God. Six of the ten are in reference to our relationships with other human beings. Simply put, they are the way in which the people of God are to treat God and one another in community. When we stray outside these boundaries, it is unlikely that our situations will prosper. We do after all live within a community. When we choose to sin, the community can react back viciously. If you don’t believe me, try not making your car payment that you promised to make to the bank for a few months. You’ll soon see how the community reacts to your decision.
The Apostle Paul tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV84) It is; therefore, scripture that provides the Christian with a guidebook for the way of life that leads to righteousness. If only we would listen to the words of wisdom they contain! On a side note, I must observe that the “Scripture” to which Paul referred was the Old Testament. The New Testament had not yet been written and compiled while Paul was still busy helping to write it! Jesus had a lot to say in the New Testament as well; but, he didn’t have a copy of the King James Version either! In any case, the words of Jesus never contradicted Scripture as it was during his time on Earth.
The Book of Proverbs is a direct and straight-forward example of this type of scriptural wisdom. The very first verses tell us what the book is about:
2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:2-7, NIV84)
Solomon, who is credited with authorship of Proverbs, describes how we can gain knowledge, discernment, and righteousness that will improve our relationships and bring prosperity into our lives. And yes, I get it. There are situations that are out of our control. (I said 95% above!). Yet, it is how we react to those situations that will help mitigate our unchosen circumstances. Losing a job stinks. I get it. Nevertheless, how we react to the situation is critically important.
Coming full circle, perhaps it is good for our upcoming prosperity to get back into Scripture and reap its full benefits. Let us start out our New Year with a resolution to let the very words of God speak to us that we may all prosper for now and eternity.
Happy New Year!
©2014 Casey O.Hooper