It has happened once again. While reading the writings of a Christian author, I was introduced to a passage of scripture which I had read before, but I probably read through it so fast I missed the meaning. It caused me to stop for a moment and ask myself if I have been reading scripture just for the sake of reading the bible cover to cover, without spending some time in prayer or in meditation to allow the scripture to actually speak to me.
The verse which was unfolded for my learning experience this week is a one line truth from the Psalms, which gives tremendous insight to our lives of desiring to follow Jesus in faith and obedience. Read it carefully and see if there is a message for you, too. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." Psalm 111:10
Yes, we have read it before, and have taught the first part...”the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." We have expounded how we should have the proper respect and reverence for the Lord, for who he is, for all he has done and continues to do for us. Perhaps we have even grasped the truth that this really is the beginning of wisdom. That is a wonderful passage we need to learn and live by.
But keep on reading...."all who follow his precepts have good understanding." Especially pay attention to the order in which our understanding occurs. We get it right when we learn to follow his precepts, obey his commands, and in faith honor his direction and orders for us. THEN we will have good understanding.
Let's see how this works, for example, in the commands for us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It seems such as easy task for us to love God. Anyone would be crazy to say they aren't going to love him. But when we get to the point of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, we have a tendency to hesitate. We ask why. Why should I love my neighbor when he obviously doesn't love me, and he has done things and said things which are so unloving? If I am going to accept the truth of the Psalm, then I am going to love my neighbor in obedience to the command of Jesus, and then the good understanding will come.
Follow the same analogy with each and every commandment you can find for New Testament Christians. With each commandment that is given, we have a choice....to obey or not to obey. Our tendency is to question some commands and find ourselves wondering why God would ask us to do something like that. For a few more examples consider his commands on unity, prayer, baptism, or the Lord's Supper. Are these commands which we follow because we love him and trust him and want to do what pleases him?
What about the command of Jesus, "follow me?" Scripture tells us of those who left their jobs, families, and previous lifestyles in obedience to that command, and followed him, not knowing all the details concerning where it would lead. All of the information and understanding they may have desired before following Jesus, took a back seat to their willingness to obey him. I am suggesting that is the type of obedience Jesus is looking for in us.
As recipients of God's saving grace, we become a people who aim toward obedience to his commands, simply on the basis of our love for him, our trust in him, and knowing he will never leave nor forsake us.
Read the verse again. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." Psalm 111:10