Dear Hope Family,
Last Sunday’s sermon text from Proverbs 9 invited us to set the dueling invitations of Wisdom and Folly side by side, to compare their rival calls, and to look beyond the surface of their beckoning words to the destination towards which each leads: one a banquet of life and the other a banquet of consequences in the grave.
But it is those surface appearances that trick us so regularly.
The call of Wisdom is to “turn”, that is, to repent. Is there anything less alluring than a rebuke that commands repentance? However, if we can, by God’s kindness and grace, turn from our sin, our foolishness, our commitment to being right, and our certainty that we are “wise in our own eyes”, the enduring promise is that on the other side of that repentance is life, security, and increasing revelation of as well as increasing intimacy with the God of the universe.
Likewise, the seductive call of Folly is to turn further away from the face of God, to savor secret sin without consequence, and to finally discover the apparent sweetness of immunity from God’s way and authority in this world. With all the responsibilities and demands of life and faith, it is no wonder that Folly’s promise of escape and freedom often rises above the voices of grace and wisdom. The fatal flaw of Folly’s call, though, is that it over-promises and under-delivers. Tragically. Disastrously. Sometimes irreversibly. The pleasure of “bread eaten in secret” and the sweetness of “stolen water” are but for a moment. It fades like cotton candy. It ends as a banquet in the grave.
Our Westminster Shorter Catechism offers a question-and-answer format to help believers to grapple with and develop a ready vocabulary for their faith in Jesus Christ and their lives of discipleship. Question 87 takes on the meaning and practice of repentance. I have long appreciated the helpful answer to the question (which I commend heartily to you), but, perhaps, even more so, the question itself that helps define the purpose and trajectory of repentance. It simply asks, “What is repentance unto life?” The call of Wisdom can be unsavory and unwelcome to our ears on the surface because it calls us to turn away from our trust in and commitment to ourselves and bids us find all that we need in the trustworthy, kind, and committed Lord Jesus. Yes – it is always repentance. But because of God’s grace, it is also always repentance unto life – the life that God created you to enjoy and thrive in, the life that Jesus came to restore, the life that Folly can never give or secure.
Proverbs backs us into a corner yet again this week and asks us to compare and then to choose – to choose Wisdom, to choose repentance, to choose Life.
Please join me in praying that God’s grace would enable to choose Him and the abundant Life he freely offers.
Grace and peace,