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Just Thinking

I Was Just Thinking … About Instructions For Life

Wisdom is a priceless commodity which enables us to make the decisions that will build a foun­dation for rest, peace, and joy tomorrow. We ourselves lack the resources for knowing how to live wisely. But Christ has all the treasures of wisdom (Colossians 2:3), and God has made Christ to be our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). So if we commit ourselves to him and let him teach us through his word, then we will have that wisdom to know how to manage our lives. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said; “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Through the wisdom that Christ gives, we can find in life the fulfillment it was intended to have.

Christ imparts wisdom through the Bible as we prayerfully read and meditate on its teachings. This is how we sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from him (Luke 10:38–42). As his word dwells in us richly (Colossians 3:16), he shows us how to live wisely and therefore enjoy that more abundant life which he wants us to have.

It is helpful to think of the Bible as the instruction book that comes with life. On the instructions that come with a new stereo unit, camera, or washer, one often finds bold red letters which say, “Read Instructions Carefully Before Using.” Carefully following the instructions that come with a new stereo unit will mean enjoying all the benefits it can provide. Failure to follow those instructions—like not securely connecting one of the speakers—can produce serious damage requiring costly repairs.

Now no possession is more valuable than our lives. Even if one were to own all the world, all its treasures would not be as valuable as one’s soul. So if we should “Read Instructions Carefully Before Using” a new washer, how much more should we be sure that we are living according to the Bible, God’s instruction book that comes with the life he has given each of us! For example, the Bible clearly commands us not to seek to be rich, because life’s greatest gain comes from the contentment of resting on God’s promise to look out for us (1 Timothy 6:6–9). But human wisdom usually discredits the validity of this teaching. “There is away which seems right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12), so people often regard gaining wealth as precisely the best way to have a full life.

Experience, however, shows that the Bible’s teachings are right after all. This way which seems right to men does end in death. We don’t have to look very far to find ample evidence of the truth of Paul’s statement that those who strive to be rich succeed in piercing themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9). Who wants to go through an experience as terrible as being impaled on a stake? How much better, then, not to learn the truth of this by experience, but to follow the Bible’s instructions regarding one’s attitude toward money. Someone has said, “Experience is the best teacher, but only fools learn that way.”

So it is with all the instructions in the Bible. The Psalmist spoke of how the teachings of the Lord kept him from going in the way that leads to destruction and death. “By (these teachings) is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11). To Joshua God said, “This book of instruction shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success” (Joshua 1:8-9).

Some may have already lived a substantial part of their lives without following this instruction book that goes with life. While the Bible promises nothing but tribulation, anguish, and distress for continued refusal to heed its instructions (Romans 2:7–8), it also says that if “even now” (Joel 2:12–13) we would turn to God and bank our hope on his promises summed up and guaranteed in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), then God will be merciful to us, and we would come to know the fulfillment God intended life to have. “If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live” (Ezekiel 18:21–22). So before using up our time—and delay could well be disastrous—we need to order our lives according to God’s instruction book that goes with life. Only in this way do we attain the wisdom that God has made available for us in Christ.

Daniel P. Fuller

May 1975

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