|Credit: Stefano Corso, Flickr Creative Commons|
One of my semi-regular habits is to read through a chapter of Proverbs every morning. The chapter I read depends upon the day of the month, so with today being the 28th of June, I opened my Bible to the 28th chapter of Proverbs. Over the years I’ve meditated on a lot of nuggets that way.
This morning part of verse 4 caught my attention: “praise the wicked.”
What do you make of that? Have you ever “praised the wicked?” If I am reading this particular proverb correctly, it seems to be saying that we do just that (every time) we ignore God’s law. The amplification extends that to include man’s laws.
Briefly I caught myself thinking that’s Old Testament and has nothing to do with New Testament grace, however I quickly dismissed that notion. When it comes to a distinction between righteousness and wickedness, it seems to me that God’s ways (law, if you will) have remained unchanged since the beginning of time and will continue unchanged until the end of time. He even said, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Likewise James said of God, “who does not change” (James 1:17).
Maybe when I’m tempted to think otherwise I do so because I haven’t really understood the mind of God as much as I like to think I have. As Paul said, “Now we see but a poor reflection” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Personally I find it comforting to know that God doesn’t change; we never have to second-guess Him, as we most certainly would have to if He were to constantly change.
However, what I really began to see in this proverb was that there is no middle ground when it comes to God’s ways. We’re either with Him or we’re not, but we can never be indifferent. An attitude of indifference is actually worse than being outspokenly (is that a word?) against Him. The message to the church in Laodicea comes to mind.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3: 15-16; NIV).
While it’s easy to say that we should all be spiritually “hot,” could it be that God actually prefers the spiritually “cold” as opposed to the spiritually lukewarm? The preceding verse does seem to be saying that. What a horrible thought to be spit out of the mouth of God like some rotten apple we accidentally bit into!
Just as we wouldn’t stand in the middle of the road without risking getting run over by traffic from both directions, standing in the middle of the spiritual road is just as dangerous; you risk getting run over by the spiritually hot and the spiritually cold. I am seeing more and more that forsaking the law of God, regardless whatever else it may mean, is ultimately the same thing as not embracing Jesus. If I do not embrace Jesus, then it’s the same thing as praising and embracing wickedness.
Jesus said, “for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). It’s one or the other, but it’s never somewhere in the middle. We’re either among the righteous or we’re among the wicked, but we’re never on the fence between the two. We’ve either been saved or we’ve not been saved, but we’ve never been partly saved any more than a woman can be only partly pregnant.
Praising the wicked is such a bizarre concept. It is easy to think that only a deranged individual could actually do such a thing. However, I suspect that this proverb is no different than when Jesus said that a man who even looks at a woman the wrong way has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).
As the psalmist said, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Maybe what it all comes down to is an attitude of the heart. Where are our hearts? Are they with Jesus? If so, then they must also be with the things that matter to God. What matters to God? John 3:16 is a biggie! Perhaps anything less than my striving for love and relationships with others for whom Christ also died, is not only accepting wickedness, it is actually praising it.
Anyways, that is where my musing took me today. Thanks for stopping by. Peace.