Monday, October 3, 2016

Proverbs 10:16 --- Quality of Life

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Proverbs 10:16 --- Qualitative Life
The wage of the righteous leads to life,
    the gain of the wicked to sin.

Proverbs 10:15 spoke of the astounding grace of God our Father.  The ruin of our spiritual poverty is not our undoing, if we will but humble ourselves and admit our sinful, dependent state.  In the end, it is not our sin that will bring us eternal ruin, but our failure to confess our sins and humble ourselves before the Lord.  As James 4:6 says, "But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'"

Since 10:15 spoke of the marvelous grace of God, we must read 10:16 in the light of this grace.  The "wage" our Father gives us is not earned by our merit, our good works, or any goodness in us.  No, the wage he gives his children comes from his abundant goodness and benevolence.  "Wage" is a metaphor that continues the economic language we encountered in the previous proverb.

The key to unlocking the meaning of this proverb is the unexpected contrast between "life" and "sin."  One would expect to find the word death, but instead the contrast is with "sin."  Derek Kidner notes that this contrast points to the spiritual meaning of the word life in line one.[1]  Life in our proverb means fellowship with God.  It refers to life in a qualitative sense.  It is the kind of life Jesus spoke of in John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

How gracious the heavenly Father is to his children!  He saves us from our spiritual poverty by giving us spiritual riches in his Son.  He gives us his Son's perfect righteousness to cover our sinful nakedness.  He graciously forgives all our sins through his Son's shed blood.  He gives us fellowship with himself through his written Word, by his Son who is the eternal Word.  He gives us access to his throne of grace in prayer, because we are his adopted children through Christ.  Best of all, he gives us the Spirit to indwell us, a gift the resurrected Jesus breathes into us, so that his life might be in us.  O how true Proverbs 10:16 is!  The gracious wage of our heavenly Father leads to life!

But as Psalm 1:4 says, "Not so, the wicked."  The wicked have trusted in themselves, in their own spiritual riches and understanding.  They falsely believe they are autonomous, not dependent creatures.  They either deny their sin or blame others for it.  Their sin is a small thing in their own eyes.  They refuse to humble themselves, turn from sin, and turn to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, they remain in their spiritual ruin.

But not only do they remain in their ruin, but their condition grows from bad to worse, because their wage --- their "gain" --- is sin.  The wicked want to sin, therefore, the Lord gives them over to more and more sinful indulgence.  This is the taught in Romans one, in the thrice repeated line, "God gave them up" (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).  Desiring freedom from the Father, the wicked become slaves to sin.

What do you want most?  Jesus once said to two men, "What are you seeking?" (John 1:35-39).  It is a good question for us to answer.  Are we seeking life and fellowship with the Father and his Son, or are we seeking sin and to go our own way independent of the Father and the Son? The two men gave the Lord a good answer to his question.  They said, "Where are you staying?"  The Lord answered, "Come and you will see." 

O to stay where Jesus is staying!  O to live where Jesus lives!  O to live near the Father and the Son!  That is life --- qualitative life --- eternal life!  All so-called life apart from this is sin and death.  But to be near our triune God is eternal life: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

[1] Kidner, Proverbs, 48-49, 83.

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