Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Prudence-Driven Life (God forbid)

One of the themes of the 'wisdom book' of the Bible, Proverbs, is prudence. Prudence is basically 'wisdom for safety.' Or, as Merriam Webster defines it, "caution or circumspection as to danger or risk."

Prudence is clearly (or at least can be) a good thing. For example, it is never okay to let a child walk along the edge of a cliff.

When Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, prudence was almost all there was. As Solomon often stated, he was not too sure what he, nor anyone, was really supposed to do on the earth - except to fear and honour God. (This is especially true of Ecclesiastes - if indeed Solomon was the author.)

At the time Proverbs was written, Solomon didn't even know that there was life beyond death, or that there was a Heaven and Hell. God had not yet revealed these things to us. Furthermore, evangelism did not exist. There was no one really to evangelize as God had not yet made himself available to non-Jews. And so sacrificing on the part of other peoples (in a Great Commission kind of way) was not something people did, nor even something they were encouraged to do.

Everything changed with the Cross.

When Jesus arrived, he raised the bar on morality; challenged us to 'battle' in the Kingdom of God; defeated death and sin by dying on the Cross; and then, after rising from the dead, issued the Great Commission: to 'go' into the whole world and preach the Gospel to everyone, making disciples.

Suddenly, prudence took a back seat.

While he was here, Jesus said a few things that reduced prudence to something secondary. Speaking to his disciples in Matthew 10:16, Jesus said, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." In Luke 14:33 he said, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." And in Philippians 1:21, the apostle Paul--who had been persecuted, abandoned, imprisoned and beaten for his faith--said, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

To be continued.
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Blogger Andrew Kenny said...

I like your post. Most Christians seem feel timid in critiquing some themes in the OT especially in stating that it may be at odds with the NT.I think perhaps the Pharisees would have been more pleasing to the writer of Proverbs than Jesus. Jesus' friends were certainly not the type of people Proverbs would recommend.

4:53 PM  

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