September 15 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” ~Proverbs 28:1

OLD TESTAMENT

The wicked person is always looking over his shoulder, even when no one is after him. Sort of like the guy looking around for the state trooper when he’s speeding (haven’t we all done it!). When someone breaks the law, whether man’s or God’s, he knows that he’s doing wrong, and his conscience is bothered by his unrighteous actions. Therefore, the sage commends doing what is right as the wisest course of action. Guilt-free is the best way to live. Righteous people, those who do the right things, carry themselves with confidence. They are, in the words of the sage, “as bold as a lion” (Prov. 28:1).

Throughout the proverbs, righteousness is commended as the path to a good life.  Right living is expressed in things like marriage fidelity, faithfulness to friends, kindness to the poor, honesty in business practices, and so on. Of course, the very word righteousness assumes that there are moral norms, or we might say, there is a certain way to live that is called “right” (righteous). Even in a day when moral virtue seems to be lapsing, people still have respect for those who stay true to their wedding vows, those who manage their business with integrity, and those who help the less fortunate.

Living wisely is about more than living shrewdly. Yes, we should be “as clever as we can” in this life, as C. S. Lewis put it.  We don’t want to be hoodwinked by fools and fakes. We all need a few street smarts in the dangerous ‘hoods of this world. However, part of living wisely is living righteously. That means doing the right thing, with God’s help, not only because it glorifies God, but also because it is best for us! When we do what is right for God’s glory, we are also pursing our own joy. As Jonathan Edwards put it in his first resolution: “Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration…” So let us, with God’s help pursue the path of blessing. Let us pursue righteousness.

NEW TESTAMENT

Scholars still debate the ordering of the Corinthians correspondence.  The “sorrowful letter” Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 7:8-13 may be referring to 1 Corinthians. After all, he was rather firm with them in that letter. It is also possible that Paul sent a follow-up to what we know as 1 Corinthians that was even more charged (often called the “lost letter”). Scholars speculate that the Corinthians did not respond well to the initial rebukes, and so Paul issued another apostolic smack down! Conjecture aside, it is abundantly clear that what Paul said hurt the Corinthians and that their hurt led them to a place of repentance. Paul is not happy to have wounded them, but he is happy that they have changed.

Sometimes the truth hurts. Yet the painful realization that we have been wrong can lead to real blessing. If we respond well, admitting that we were wrong and need to change, we are on the path to guilt-free joy! I’ve said this before, there’s nothing wrong with a little guilt trip as long as it takes you to the right destination. However, the sorrow of the world—guilt without hope, guilt without forgiveness, guilt without guidance—takes us down a path of anger, bitterness, and despair (2 Cor. 7:10). May the truth, no matter how painful, lead us to repentance, forgiveness, and joy!


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.