A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother’s grief. Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. A child who gathers in summer is prudent, but a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame. – Proverbs 10:1-5 (NRSV)
The book of Proverbs is considered to be a book of wisdom. It has been attributed to King Solomon, as is Ecclesiastes, another wisdom book of the Bible. Much of what Solomon teaches has to do with cause and effect, or “natural law,” which is the principle that actions have consequences. Even in science this basic concept is found in Newton’s Third Law, which is, “Every action in nature has an opposite and equal reaction.”
In Scripture the apostle Paul gives us a theological truth that is very similar to Newton’s Third Law:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 6:23 (NRSV)
No matter how hard we try, sometimes we are wise children and other times we are foolish children. We can be deceptive and petty and downright evil in our dealings with others. We can be slackers and miss opportunities to participate in the life of God’s kingdom. There are so many ways we fail God and fall short of His will every day even if we try to do the right things. God demands perfection, and we just aren’t capable of it. He gives us His best, and even our best efforts can’t measure up.
On the surface, and here in the natural world, we humans are doomed to the consequences of natural law. Our physical bodies are going to die, and those physical bodies are subject to all of the entropy, apathy and decay that is rampant throughout this world. Both Paul in his letter to the Romans, and Newton in his Third Law underscore inevitable truths about the natural world. Sin results in death. Actions have consequences. That is the Law of God, and it is universal throughout His creation. The Gospel- the good news- is that Jesus took on the consequence of death for us. Since Jesus conquered death and the grave on our behalf, we are free to live. Life in Jesus, the good news of the Gospel, is supernatural law.
Solomon taught wise principles, even if he didn’t always adhere to them himself. He gave many instructions to follow to make our lives here on earth more God-pleasing and prosperous. It is always good for us to read the teachings of the Proverbs- and a blessing for us that they are part of Scripture, because they give us good and healthy standards for living. But apart from the grace of God in Christ we don’t stand a chance of living up to those standards.
Wisdom says we need to to run to Jesus, to go to the foot of the Cross and ask for His forgiveness and mercy and grace. We have the confidence in Him that we shouldn’t try to have in ourselves alone. His supernatural law transcends the inevitabilities of the natural law of this world.
How can we find ways to run to the foot of the Cross and find help in Christ when we are overwhelmed?