“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1–5, ESV)
An English traveler was in a remote village in Africa where formerly people practiced cannibalism. As the traveler was walking through the village, he observed a man sitting on a bench reading the Bible. The English traveler scoffed, looked at the man, and stated. “Friend, that book has been long out of date in our country.” The villager looked at the English traveler and replied, “Sir if this book were out of date in this country, you would have been someone’s meal by now.”
The Bible is not out of date. Its truths are timeless. It contains the absolute truth of God. It explains life. It has wisdom for every decision of life. The principles presented therein are still vital today. People who make the statement that the Bible is out of date either have not read and studied it, or have a predisposition against it as absolute truth.
If one is going to apply this second filter, he or she must have a proper perspective on it. It is the absolute truth of God revealed to us. It is infallible, immutable, sufficient, and authoritative.
Yet, one must have more than a proper perspective. Believers need a proper passion for the Bible. Unfortunately, passion is one thing seems to be missing in the lives of people, including those in the church. A 2014 Barna research study indicated that 79% of Americans believe the Bible is sacred and yet only 37% read it once a week or more. Of those who read it only 57% say they gave a lot of thought to how it might apply in life.
What is missing today is not an understanding of the sacred nature of the Scriptures, it is a passion to hear from God through them. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly illiterate regarding the Bible. In Proverbs 2:1-4, we see the phrase “if you” stated three times with principles of pursuing the Word of God with passion.
An inclined heart (v1-2) – “if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding.” One must have an openness to receive knowledge. He or she must have open ears and an open heart. The word, “inclining,” in the phrase “inclining your heart,” means to stretch out towards something. The implication is that this is a person who is reaching out for knowledge. He or she is eagerly open to the teaching of the word of God.
A humble spirit (v3) – The second principle is that of humility. The writer states, “, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding.” The only person who will call out for understanding is one who realizes that he or she lacks it. I cannot tell you how many times as a manager that I saw people go off half-cocked with a little knowledge and totally mess things up. This happened because they could not humble themselves enough to ask questions and seek instruction. It is the same in trying to make decisions in life. People believe that they know the best way and summarily reject seeking wisdom and knowledge in God’s word. Not only must we be open to receive knowledge, but we must also understand how much we need the knowledge of God.
Diligent effort (v4) – The third principle is that of exerting effort. It is not enough to be open to receiving knowledge and to know we desperately need it; we also must do something to get it. As it pertains to the knowledge of God, He has revealed this knowledge in His Word, the Bible. We must do more than give a cursory glance to The Bible. We need to be on a passionate drive to grasp the truths of the Word of God. Yet, are Christians today truly seeking for the deeper things of God in His word? I would say, on the average, even many believers have a lack-luster drive for Bible reading and study.
I was in a meeting one time with about one-hundred Christian collegians. The leader of the ministry was giving away books and gifts to students who could respond to certain questions. The first to raise their hand would receive a prize. I watched as the leader asked the group, “Who have read the entire Bible through from cover to cover at least one time?” In the entire room, only one student raised her hand. Not even the student leaders affirmed that statement. I even surveyed leaders in a church one time only to discover that 80% of them had never read the Bible through. The other thing I noticed in the pastorate was that Christians would leave and sometimes forget to take their Bibles home. You know that only a small percentage ever collected the Bible they left.
Believers need to get a passion for the word of God. When believer pursue the Word of God, they will receive understanding and wisdom.