Posts Tagged Proverb 20: 15

The Contemplative Life

Proverb 20: 15        NIV

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

In reading this verse, I am struck by how out of place it is in today’s culture. First of all, who would say such a thing? Preachers, I think, might still say these sorts of things but that is probably the limit of it. I ask myself why and find many answers vying for my attention. The most pronounced, though, is that this speaks to ideals that are outside our value system. So, what is in our value system or more plainly stated, what is it that we value? That question is most easily answered by observing what we, as a culture, spend our time, energy and money on. The contemplative life does not seem to make the list and seeking out the one person who has made meditative study a priority is even of lesser importance to us.

Individually we get swept up in the tide of the culture, few of us ever stopping long enough to ask ourselves what is really important. There are images painted for us in media, advertising and literature and we integrate those images into our psyche’s and begin to hotly pursue them without ever questioning whether those things have any real value in them or if they add value to our lives. The first realization we have is that we have no time in our lives. Everyone is so busy. We have no time for the real friends so we have to have virtual friends. Our friends and family are nothing more than social media entries. We have no time them much less for quiet study, meditation and contemplation because we have three other places we need to be. But if we could be honest with ourselves for one minute we would have to accept that we are only as busy as our value system allows. We do what is important to us. If we say that we are too busy for any particular thing it is only because we have not placed a high enough value on that item. So, now when I hear someone say they are “too busy” for something in particular I understand that they are really saying that it just is not important enough for them.

I have this picture in my mind of people sitting at the feet of the sage listening intently to words of wisdom. It is a very tranquil image. It is also a fallacy. Even if we purposely slow our lives a bit then ego interferes. We have become a nation of egomaniacs. Who knows better than we? Is there anyone smarter, wiser or more informed than I? If so, do I value that person or shun them? This is not true for everyone for there are some of you who really do have humility but for many of us we ostracize one who has answers and wisdom because our self-esteems are so low that we see their wisdom as a threat. So those of you who do seek out teachers keep gaining knowledge while those of us who so desperately need guidance cannot receive wisdom because of our outsized egos.

Israel had the same problem. People didn’t listen to the prophets even though God spoke to them through the prophet. So they lacked guidance. I am sure they thought they knew it all just as we do today. We don’t need anyone to speak wisdom into our lives because we are the smartest people we know. It is all very cyclical. We think we are wise, or we allow our tiny self-esteems convince us this is so we do not pursue the teachings of those who could, in fact, help us. Secondarily, we have become so deceived by the devil as to what is important that we do not pursue God in our own time. There are few wise people because few people spend time with God. And then those few who actually have made the contemplative life a priority get shunned because they are wiser than the rest of us. Israel suffered greatly because they wouldn’t listen to the prophets but today we are even worse because we won’t even give anyone the title prophet or teacher even when they have been appointed by God to those positions. 

I wish that by writing this Word of the Day I could change the culture but if it provokes one or two people to a deeper life then it will be successful. Those of you who are thoughtful and meditative, pull on your teachers. Make a demand on them. Teachers, your followers have a right to draw on what God is teaching you and you may have to increase your study. It is your responsibility to feed the sheep and Jesus is the bread of life, so study.

If we could just take one month away from our worldly pursuits, away from seeking pleasure and direct that energy to seeking God, we would not only transform our own lives but our families and communities as well. Consider your time, your obligations and your God. Take time to think about what is really important in life. Then allocate some time to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Seek out teachers. Honor them and make a demand on their knowledge base. Make the pursuit of the knowledge of God a priority in your life.