Sunday, January 1, 2017

Proverbs 31:30-31 -- On Rewards and Freedom

"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
Proverbs 31:30-31

I like the idea of the fear of (respect for) the Lord being more important than favor/popularity or beauty.  Our society often teaches us to see in a fairly opposing way, so it doesn't make it easy to see things that way, but it is an excellent goal.  I also really, really like the idea in the second verse because it isn't exactly what we usually want.  We definitely want rewards and praise, but by specifying that the reward *is* the fruit of our hands, and that our works *are* our praise, it points to the fact that we have to choose and work for them.  The rewards are still also from God, and magnified by him, because he is definitely "a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6), and he encourages us in, and makes possible, all of the good that we do.  But they do also involve choice and work on our part, and in that way, we are rewarding ourselves, by becoming (with the help of God) who we have always wanted to be. 

The greatest gift that God could make possible for us is our ability to choose this... to reach those heights, and to have that much joy, is the greatest gift that he could give us--the gift of potential, personal freedom, allowing us to grow beyond our training wheels and strike out on our own, and fulfill our divine potential, even though God knows that we can get hurt, and make poor choices when he gives us that freedom.  It's like our earthly parents who would probably prefer to wrap us in bubble wrap and keep us at home to protect us from the sharp edges of the world, but instead they know that we need to learn and grow and become more.  God knows that our potential stretches far beyond this world, and more than our earthly parents, he both wants to protect us and grant us the freedom to become what we can be, and to find our ultimate joy in that becoming.

Today, let's make sure that the fruit of our hands and our own works are things that we really want... and if they aren't, let's work on that.  Let's learn to reward ourselves better, as we serve others and build better selves, which leads to a better world.

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