Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rage Against God

Proverbs 19:3 - When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.

First, what is the situation? A man makes a foolish choice - or more likely, a long series of foolish decisions, a foolish lifestyle. Is he mad at himself for doing this? Of course not. He's mad at God!

It's easy for some of us to picture this. We have the friend or relative or coworker who constantly does ridiculous things, pays the consequences, and says something like "God must really hate me, huh?" Whether it's the drug addict, the person whose investment plan is the lottery, the serial fornicator whose entire paycheck goes to child support, or whatever example you prefer, a long streak of foolish living brings the expected consequences, and somehow it's God's "fault".

So we all probably know that kind of person. Well, what can we learn from the proverb? I've got a few things.

1. What is folly or foolishness, anyway? Is it not living without fear of God? The fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom - the fool lacks both. So living in folly is not making a bad decision or two. It's persistent rebellion against God's word. This person lives as though God doesn't exist, until the payment comes due for his sin. Then, suddenly, God exists, and He's to blame for the mess the fool is in.

We have a saying around church - choose to sin, choose to suffer. This man chooses persistent, unrelenting sin, so we cannot be the least bit surprised when consequences come. Acting opposed to God's revealed will brings the consequences God promised. So the fool is apparently mad at God for determining the right way to live, and being faithful to his word about those who rebel against it. Nothing angers a fool quite like God's holiness and honesty.

2. What about the wise? What would it look like to flip the proverb around? I think we would get something like this: When a man's wisdom brings blessing, his heart praises the LORD. Praise Him for what? For making an orderly world where the path of wisdom (obedience) is blessed. For making us wise in spite of ourselves. For being true to His word. Etc etc.

As the fool never blames himself for his ruin, the wise man never boasts of himself for blessing. Whether the blessing is physical, material, or spiritual, the wise man does not boast, but credits God. "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"

How are you doing on this, by the way? On a scale of "God is gracious" to "Look at what my hands have built!", where do you rank?

3. I thought I had a point 3, but...

Oh, I remember! Take this proverb and apply it to modern psychobabble ideas of things we know to be sin. If you want the clearest example, go with the sin cause celebre du jour, homosexuality. There is hardly a stronger expression of rage over sin than "God made me this way!" More and more sins are using that as an excuse. "It's not my fault I do this wicked deed, God made me that way. Blame him!" Rather than repenting, he shifts blame onto God, and continues along in his sinful folly, blissfully unaware of the oncoming ruin.

I don't believe such things are an attempt to excuse the behavior so much as an expression of rage against God for declaring it wrong in the first place. It's not, "Oh, I would change this if only I could, but God made it so I can't." It's, "I want to do this sin, and I hate God for what He says about it and how He will punish me for it."

[Something way too snarky was here. It's gone now.]


Charlene said...

Good thinking points here. We attended HBC for 8 years and I do remember Pastor MacDonald often saying, "Choose to sin, choose to suffer". He also said many times that when God says, "Don't sin" He's really saying "Don't hurt yourself". That helped my perspective at the time. Sad to see him partaking in and creating so much folly himself now.

DJP said...

Great proverb, great application.

Robert said...

I second DJP's thoughts.

And, I'm not doing nearly well enough at it, since you asked. God has worked to bring improvement, but I still don't follow well enough.

Denny said...

Woke up this morning remembering the time I practiced my batting swing on a tree stump where, unknown to me, there be bees. Ran round and round my friend's house cussing insanely as the stinging bees exacted the penalty for my folly, until my friend's mom came out, made me stand still, and calmly plucked off the bees. It seemed a good metaphor for the way things were until the Lord slowed me down, pointed me to the cross, and dealt with both the hurt and the folly of my sin. Thanks for your great blog!