September 2 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” ~Proverbs 1:7

OLD TESTAMENT

The book of Proverbs continues what scholars call the sapiential or wisdom literature. The book can be divided into two large sections. Chapters 1-9 contain longer poems with everyday life lessons. For example, chapter 1 is a poem in praise of wisdom itself, urging sons and daughters (and all of us) to listen to the wise and steer clear of fools who will bring harm to their lives. Chapter 2 is a poem that points the young to the benefits of becoming wise: success in life, victory over foes, and protection from the wrong kind of men and women.

Chapters 10-31 contain a collection of individual proverbs—short, pithy sayings. We might call them memorable one-liners, although in Hebrew they are more often two-liners. The proverbs give us down-to-earth wisdom about life.

Proverbs is for our good (and God’s glory, of course). As C. S. Lewis noted in his book, Mere Christianity: “[Christ] told us not only to be as ‘harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’ He wants a child’s heart, but a grown ups head….The proper motto is not ‘Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever,’ but ‘Be good, sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can.” So read up, listen up, and wisen up!

NEW TESTAMENT

When reading 1 Corinthians 12, don’t get too caught up in the specifics of each spiritual gift. Many theologians, myself included, believe that Paul provides here (and in Romans 12) a mere sampling of the kinds of gifts God has given people for service in the body of Christ. There is some debate about whether or not all the gifts mentioned are still in use today. Personally, I do not see a problem with the notion that God is still working in His church in every way described here. As long as gifts are used to bless the church and do not draw attention to individuals, confuse unbelievers, or create chaos in the worship service. (See 1 Corinthans 14 on this.) There is a stream of evangelicals, such as John Piper, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll, who hove in this same theological direction.

Given that all the gifts were in use when the Scriptures were written, it is difficult to build a biblical case for some having ceased. The New Testament papers address the proper use and potential misuse of gifts, but nowhere do the writers envision our modern discussions over whether some are still in operation. It may be better to say that some gifts are more essential to the life of the church. Preaching, for example. Or we could say that some gifts are more essential for particular churches in particular times.

However, let’s not miss the main point. There are hands and feet and eyes and ears, all of which are important, but there is only one body! We need people in the church who can lead (the gift of leadership), teach (the gift of knowledge), organize (the gift of administration), counsel (the gift of wisdom), fund large projects (the gift of giving), greet visitors and help everyone find a place in the worship gathering (the gift of hospitality), and on and on we could go. Churches weaken themselves when members expect one person, such as the lead pastor, or one group to be the working portion of the body. The church needs heart, head, and hands all working together.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.