Lesson 8 -- third quarter 1998
July 26, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Christian Light Publications
What an interesting lesson title! Who would ever think that life and people would become so muddled that we would need to contrast good and evil. The distinction and the differentiation between the two should always be clear and unmistakable. But the deceiver is active, and a mis-focused eye only makes his task simpler. So let's focus our eyes and hearts on the truth and (re)learn a few lessons.
"They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them." I like to think that I wouldn't ever praise the wicked in their wickedness. I like to think that I'm always incensed and disturbed at evil doing. And I'm certain you like to think similar thoughts about your own integrity. And look, I'm not going to say we're wrong in these noble impressions we have of ourselves. But I think we need to practice a little extra candidness with ourselves: have we by our silence or mirth encouraged or even enjoyed the wrong doing of others? If so, we'd better amend our ways before we forsake the law. Wrong is always wrong...even when it seems smart, funny or "cool."
"Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich." How true do you think this is in every situation? A friend of mine has a very unneighborly neighbor who wants him to do certain work that will benefit the neighbor...when it is the neighbor's responsibility, not my friend's. I may say my friend should just yield; I may think my friend shouldn't fight the lawsuit to the point of a countersuit. Why? Because I think that is the upright response, even if he loses a wad or more. But then I wonder at the confusion of my heart when I steam and stew over the package of pasta for which I paid regular price rather than being charged the Super Special Bargain of the Month Sub-basement Price. I got took for the ghastly, unjust sum of 62 cents! Uprightness at any cost -- how shall we then live it?
"Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father." Earlier in this quarter we discussed the issue of wisdom. Did you ever imagine it could boil down to something so simple, so basic, as obedience?! We must keep in mind, though, that the obedience of wisdom is a constant, consistent obedience. Such obedience, such wisdom, does not measure the command to determine if it is important enough to obey. Neither does it consider the circumstances, the surroundings and the companions before deciding whether or not to obey. We would also do well to consider the progression of this verse. The path that begins with not keeping the law in any area will lead inexorably to keeping unplanned-for company.
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." Turn away and be turned away. Close your ear and you just as well close your mouth. I wonder just how strictly we are ready to make application here. Yes, we can see that refusing to obey God's law brings severe consequences. But how about just not being ready and disciplined enough to listen during the service or Sunday School class? And do you suppose neglecting personal devotions might qualify here? I find this sobering. If my prayer to God ends up being an abomination, what have I left?!! To pray with integrity, sincerity and a sweet smell to God, I must turn my ear toward His law. Period.
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