Learning the hard way – or not . . .

Proverbs 4:20-22 “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.”

The other day I touched the hot manifold on my truck by mistake – a big mistake. I instantly knew I’d done something I should not have.  Pain is very good teacher, as we all know.  It reminded me of the saying “learning the hard way.”  It’s like when we tell our child never to touch a hot stove.  They have a choice at that point.  They can listen to the wisdom of their parents and avoid injury, or they can see for themselves and learn that their parents knew more than they thought, but they learn it the hard way. 

And that’s exactly the way it is with God’s Word.  In the verses above God tells us to be attentive to His words.  We are told to “incline our ear” to what He has told us.  And then those words are not to go in one ear and out the other.  He tells us to not allow those words to escape from us and to keep them in our heart.  And why is that?  Because there are enormous benefits.  They are life-giving words. They protect us. And not only that, but they also bring healing. That healing may be “natural” physical healing as a result of the beneficial physical aspects of obedience to the principles of God’s Word, or supernatural physical healing at one time or another.

Eventually, all those who have put their trust in God’s Word will one day be freed from the curse of sin on their physical body with the new bodies given to them at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).  But attentiveness to and faith in the Word of God also brings immediate spiritual healing to the sin-sick soul.  As the psalmist said with the wisdom God had given him, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).”

You see, God loves us with an incredibly deep love – one that is wide and long and high and deep (Ephesians 3:18).  God proved this love most clearly by sending His own Son to die for us on the cross. Jesus proved His love in that “while we were yet sinners,” He died for us (Romans 5:8).”  In fact, “God IS love” as we are told in 1 John 4:8. Therefore, everything that comes to us from His mouth is motivated by that love.  All the warnings of Scripture, all the commands, all the counsel – it’s all coming from the only One with infinite wisdom and it’s all motivated by His infinite love. 

So, what do we do with it?  Like the child who is told not to touch the hot stove, we can either trust what our heavenly Father has told us, or we can see for ourselves and learn the hard way.  But when we do this, sometimes the “hard way” carries with it life-long consequences of pain, heartache, and regret. And sometimes it leads straight to death – be it physical death or eternal spiritual death, in which the “hard way” becomes the only way for all eternity. 

May God help us to be attentive to His words and truly incline our heart to His sayings, for that’s the way of true wisdom as those words come from the only One Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).”

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