Wisdom Versus Obedience

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 4.6-8
6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Reflection: Wisdom Versus Obedience
By Erin Newton

Israel stood at the edge of the Promised Land with these final instructions. It was a reminder of who they were—reflections of the past and a vision of their future. With the exhortation to enjoy the blessings of an obedient life, God also provided them with guidance for their inevitable failure. God was and is eager to restore the broken and the lost.

In our contemporary culture, many religions are known by their rules. You can distinguish someone by the way they dress or if they cut their hair. Other religions can be distinguished by what they eat or what they refuse to drink. Religious obedience is not a new concept nor is it unique among Christians. All religions have rules. Obeying those rules is expected, for the most part.

Exodus through Deuteronomy contains all the instructions for the Israelites about how to live. The laws and decrees function as the skeletal system of faith. How those work together in the movement of life is wisdom.

Observing laws and decrees is the basis for applying wisdom. Like rails on the side of a bridge, commandments keep you from plunging over the edge. Wisdom determines if you are driving carefully or swerving left and right at some fiendish pace. But it is not easily obtained. Wisdom is mined from a deep relationship with God. It is refined in the crucible of life.

To fear God is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom is more than obeying commands. Wisdom understands the heart behind the laws. It knows that anger is just as bad as murder and lust just as bad as adultery.  Jesus was able to summarize all the laws with two: love God and love your neighbor. That is wisdom.

What would it mean to be known, to be set apart, because of our wisdom? Would it look different than religious obedience? How can being wise extol the greatness of God in a better way than legalism?

We ought to be known by our wisdom, not our legalism. To obey God is right and good but there is an important distinction between the two ideas. Wisdom captures the complexity of life; it weighs truth against a myriad of options. Obedience is responding to a command of “do” or “do not.” Wisdom reveals the freedom to navigate life under the truth of who God is and who we are called to be.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Gracious and upright is the Lord; therefore he teaches sinners in his way. — Psalm 25.7

  – From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 4 (Listen 7:22)
1 Corinthians 14 (Listen 5:40)

Read more about RSVP to Wisdom or Folly
Each day and each moment, Lady Wisdom calls out to us and Lady Folly’s voice tries to drown out her call.

Read more about Law of Freedom
The Law was more than a civil code. “The Law” implied the wisdom of God expressed through scripture.

Generational Faith Transfer

Deuteronomy 4.9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 6.6-9
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Reflection: Generational Faith Transfer
By John Tillman

Moses, as he commissioned the Israelites to move in and begin to establish the nation, could see that the failure or success of the nation would depend on intergenerational transfer. In 1986, John Paul II, said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” I would, echo that in a smaller way. As the family goes, so goes the church in which we worship.

Whether you are a parent or not, a part of every Christian’s faithfulness is to ensure that intergenerational transfer is enabled and supported by the church.

The following tips are condensed from a blog by Jason Tilley that was written specifically to be shared with parents:

Take Your Own Faith Seriously
You cannot expect your kids to see the effects of the gospel in your life if you are not pursuing God in everything you do. Spend time in God’s word, make prayer an active part of your life. Apply what you are learning to your life. Talk about God and how he influences everything in your life often and out in the open. Your kids can tell if you believe what you say you do.

Have a Plan For Your Child
Be intentional with your child’s spiritual development. Set aside time during the day to engage your child. It could be Bible reading in the morning, prayers before bedtime, a weekly walk where you talk about how God made the world, how he loves us, how he gave his son for us. Make a plan and follow it through.

Make Church Participation A Priority
Active involvement in the church is a powerful force for shaping your child’s spiritual growth. So is not participating. Your child values what you value, so if soccer practice or lazy Sunday mornings always win over going to church, don’t be surprised when they value sports over God. Between the ages of 4 and 14 what a child learns, informs their thinking for the rest of their life.

Participation involves connecting with the living body (read: the people of the church) on a regular basis. This includes (in no particular order) attending services and other programs, serving somewhere in the church, spending time with other believers, and being generous.

*For Jason’s full post see the link above the condensed section. Jason is one of our ministry partners and board members and we work with him to aid and support children’s ministers and parents. You can find more information about Jason and Ministry Accelerator at Ministry Accelerator.org.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize his works. — Psalm 64.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 4 (Listen – 4:33) 
Psalm 86-87 (Listen – 2:26)

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 5 (Listen – 4:25) Psalm 88 (Listen – 1:58)
Deuteronomy 6 (Listen – 3:13) Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

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Read more about Cultivation Must Be Learned
Spiritual wisdom and knowledge, like agricultural knowledge, must be passed on, with its seeds, from one generation to the next.

Read more about A Generational Lament
For many Millennials and those in Gen Z, prior generations of prosperity and ease have melted into a constant fear of scarcity.