The Availability of Grace

"Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 'How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?  How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?  If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you'"   (Proverbs 1:20-23)

The personification of wisdom is a common thread throughout the book of Proverbs.  In the verses above, we see "Wisdom" illustrated as a woman, pleading in the street for people to change their ways and submit to the ordinances of the Almighty.  The call to listen to these words and the wisdom being proclaimed is an appeal to the people of the city to know God and to be reconciled to Him.  This is a foreshadowing of today's gospel proclamation!

In biblical times, the gate or entrance of a town was the center of debate, advice, and ruling.  Surrounded by the commotion of everyday life, "Wisdom" stands and pleads with anyone who will listen, calling them to hear the words of the Lord and to embrace His truth.  In a passionate desire to be heard, "Wisdom" has chosen to be where the majority of citizens will be located.

Verse twenty-two shows the progression of sin, as one hardens their heart to the call of God.  The beginning stage, simplicity, is an example of ignorance, not submitted to God and somewhat apathetic to the ways of Jesus.  The simple minded individual is still called to repent and believe, but they are not as openly and visibly repulsed by the decrees of God as others.

Once the simple hears the gospel and rejects it, they begin to become hardened, and more open in their renunciation of the Lordship of Christ over their lives.  These individuals "scoff", mock, and attempt to laugh away the words that are being pressed on their hearts.  This is why "Wisdom" calls to those around her.  She knows how easily this hardness can accumulate on a soul!

As rebellion is continued and the gospel is pushed away, the hatred of God and depravity of the lost soul becomes more obvious.  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs, refers to them as "fools".  Their hatred of God's authority over their lives is blatant and they gnash their teeth in the face of the One True Sovereign of the universe.  Isn't this a perfect way to describe those who deny the free gift of God's eternal love and salvation?  The lost man is a fool, because the cross is foolishness to him (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Look at verse twenty-three, which should cause each one of us to rejoice and praise our King!  Regardless of the continued disdain for God and His love, the grace of our Savior still remains!  He still offers to welcome anyone who "turns", or repents of their wickedness and clings to Him.  Isn't this the beauty of God's pursuit of us and His love?  His mercy and grace are truly amazing.  After all the rebellion and offenses we have thrown at Him, He still offers redemption for anyone willing to repent and believe.  Praise the Lord for His matchless love!

While the primary purpose of these verses is focused on the unbelieving world, the offer of fellowship with God following repentance is true for Christians as well.  True believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are called to spend the rest of their lives repenting, growing, and being transformed into the likeness of God (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:1).  Our sin as Christ-followers inhibits fellowship with our Father.  This is very important!  The more we repent, fill our minds with the Word, and kill the flesh, we will be more consumed with living for the glory of God and making Him known.  The way a Christian receives "more" of the Holy Spirit is by defeating the sin within them.  There is never a day when we won't have something to repent of, and the beautiful news is that His grace is free and ALWAYS waiting!  "Dogs bark, fish swim, Christians repent"!

REFLECTION: Brother or sister in Christ, what sin are you refusing to repent of?  Maybe it is something that only you know about.  It could be bitterness, envy, an impure motive, or something else secretive that none of your loved ones can see.  Don't hesitate, and don't allow another minute to pass, allowing hard-heartedness to build and grow.  Come to Him today, and He will offer you grace and cleanse you of your sin!

 

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