As I have mentioned before, I read through Proverbs every month. This month, for the first time, I am reading in the New Living Translation. It is so interesting to change translations each month because I always end up “catching” something that I might have missed in another translation. I can typically look back to a previous translation and see that the meaning was there, but the new wording just made it stand out in a new way.
A few days ago I read Proverbs 7, and the pattern of the first few verses stood out like never before. Allow me to share them with you…
Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands.
Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. (Prov 7:1-3 NLT)
Do you see the progression here? Following and treasuring. Obedience and guarding. Reminders and engraving.
As I read through this, I thought about each of these progressions. My children can follow my advice and my instruction, but unless they treasure what I say and make it their own, they are only doing it to please me. When I am not around, they really have no reason to continue to follow my advice. It must become their own. Their treasure. Only then will they truly benefit from my teaching.
In the same way, they can obey me in actions without truly creating a pattern of behavior. Today they obey, tomorrow they choose differently. It is not until they realize the importance of those instructions for their own lives that they start to guard them like they would their eyes. Eyes are a pretty important part of the body. We do so much with our eyes. We can survive – and even thrive – blind, and many people do. But, none of us would willingly choose to sacrifice our eyes without very, very good reason. If my instructions become their priceless possession, then they will do everything in their power to guard those instructions and live them out.
Finally, there is the remembrance. I am thinking of my never-ending lists. Daily, I have a list. It goes into my planner first thing in the morning – sometimes even days in advance – to remind me of the things I need to do. But, even then I forget sometimes because I neglect to look at my planner at the appropriate time. There are other things, though, that I write down but never need to look at. Why? They are passions. They are things I am excited about. They are things that have made an imprint on my heart and I can’t imagine not getting them done. I can make lists all day long, but unless the memory is engraved in my heart and mind, it is just as likely to remain undone as it is to be accomplished.
I love the picture of spiritual growth shown in these progressions. It is not about following rules. It is about making the instructions of the Lord personal. It is about being so in love with Christ that His commands are priceless treasures to me because I know they please Him and bring me the life He truly desires me to have. It is not just about reading through the Bible, but it is about making His Word a part of who we are. There is such a depth to growth in Him. Let’s dive in together and make His instructions our passion!