5/27/13 - PTC_Proverbs 21 - "What you do matters"
Priority Time Challenge 2013
To view the instructions for our journey through the Proverbs and the daily schedule, click here.
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the Lord.
Does it matter what we do? This is a pretty big theological and philosophical question. The proverb for today can easily take us down that philosophical road. Think about today or this week. Let's consider our lives or some specific opportunity as a battle we foresee in the future. We all have something like this in our lives. Maybe it's a big project at work. Maybe it's dealing with a obstinate teenager. Maybe it's another month where the financial end won't meet. Everyone faces a battle. Now that we have the battle clearly in mind, we visualize the victory. Can't you see it? The project is complete and your boss promotes you! Your teenage child apologizes, straightens up and your relationship has never been better! The bills are paid and there is money to spare! These are the victories that we live for.
So, here's the tension of this text…If victory rests with the Lord, then does it even matter what we do? I say YES. Let's back away from the ledge of a fatalistic view of God that He does everything and we are but pawns in His grand plan. Yes, God is sovereign. Yes, it is God that holds all things together. And, yes, God works in and through human decision making. As a total parenthetical, I was meeting with a guy about two weeks ago who sought me for some life coaching. Toward the end of our conversation, he said, "you are all about discipline and decision making, aren't you?" I said "YES!" In fact, I believe that most of God's will comes through discipline and decision making. Please hear me I absolutely believe that God can and does act completely independently. He does not require our approval, our "allowing" Him to do things or even our request for His action. God can do whatever he wants! I do believe (and I see plenty of evidence for it in scripture) that God has decided to accomplish most of His will on earth through people's choices.
So, I will repeat… YES it matters what we do. This simple proverb illustrates the delicate balance of our effort and God's sovereignty. "The horse is made ready for the day of battle…" The soldier must be disciplined to prepare his horse for the battle. Every battle requires a little prep. I remember testing this theory in 10th grade Chemistry. I chose not to study for a test and diligently prayed that God would "give me the answers." I was terribly mistaken. Beyond that, my piety was quickly erased by the desperate attempt to cheat off of Terry, who had done the proper studying. We must prepare. In fact, if you read the entire chapter 21 of Proverbs you will see a number of verses that allude to the "sowing and reaping" process. Actions and consequences. This is how God has designed most of life to work. We prepare for the battles we face.
So, how do we understand the second half of this passage? "...but victory rests with the Lord." This is a statement of faith in God. In fact, those who truly understand that God is sovereign prepare with an attitude of surrender and trust. There is no room for pride in the prep, because we truly understand that the victory rests with the Lord. I face this regularly in sermon prep. sure, I could wing it a few times and most people wouldn't notice. But winging it is not a good long term strategy. I must do the hard work of studying and writing long before I stand up to present. Here's what I've learned (many times the hard way) my prep does not alone accomplish the victory. I prepare with an attitude of surrender and trust that the victory rests with the Lord. I can prepare until I'm blue in the face but I cannot make God do anything. I can prepare knowing that God honors preparation. His word is abundantly clear on that point.
In all our efforts in life the goal is to prepare in the context of relationship with God. We are not a solo act. We have our Heavenly Father always working to leverage our efforts for His glory. The goal of our prep is to align our effort with His glory, knowing He will force that alignment one way or another.
You will face a battle today or this week. Prepare! But prepare with a heart of surrender and trust that says, "God I surrender my pride, selfishness and limited understanding of things to You. I trust You to guide my prep and leverage my effort for Your glory." And in the end, if there is victory be sure to give God the praise, because that is where the victory came from.
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