Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. Proverbs 30, verse 6.
Yesterday’s Proverbial was about how God’s word is flawless, shielding and a refuge. It would have been appropriate, probably even preferable, to include verse 6. We’re in a new section of the Proverbs now, a section not written by Solomon. My translation says these are ‘sayings of Agur,’ and we don’t know who Agur really was. He was a man of wisdom is all we can surmise, and maybe that’s good enough on its own…just like God’s word. What God left us through Agur is, after all, flawless, shielding and a refuge.
God’s word is all those things and it doesn’t need you or me to add to it. I’ve said before what I say again now: if you get any encouragement, good feeling, understanding or peace out of these words, it’s not me or my words doing it. I pray you understand that it’s God working on you, His Spirit moving in your life. Maybe He’s using these words to communicate to you, but it isn’t Dave. I’m not that good.
If I say any differently, I’m a liar. Don’t forget that. If I claim that these words are written just by me, then I’m a liar. No, I’m no Biblical prophet or even a Biblical scholar. I’m just some guy from Texas who recognized something put on his heart, namely to share what verses of a common-sense book mean to him as he lives life in a confusing world. The words here have been a comfort to write, and from the many messages and kind words that have been given to me, they have been the same to folks who read them. It’s an honor, not just a God-given duty, to write them. I want to say that now because in a few days we’ll be done with the book of Proverbs and it will be on to a new subject, wherever God leads you and me.
And I wanted to say that now because the verse strongly reminds me that it’s not about me. Again, any encouragement you get from these words (or any words in fact) is God at work in your day, in your then and now wherever you are. Any peace you feel from God moving in your life is a gift from Him, not from me. I’m not insignificant: I’m a scribe and a friend, and I’m fortunate to have been given a gift to share with others. But it’s not all mine to give, and I’d be a liar if I ever told you otherwise.
Years ago, I read “Death Be Not Proud.” You may have read it, the story about John Gunther’s son, Johnny, who was dying. One quote from that book stuck with me over the years: God is what is good in me. The dying boy wasn’t saying that God was a figment of his imagination or some psychiatric construct that allowed him to cope. He recognized that God was active, good, and in him, working even through the debilitating terror of cancer. In a testament that has lasted for decades, the words of a terminally ill boy were a strong statement of faith even in the darkest moment.
God was at work in him. God is at work in my life, and He’s at work in yours too. Sometimes, perhaps, He speaks to you through words like these. Sometimes, He speaks to you in different ways: in a look, in a conversation, in a touch, in your own way. Only you can know, but if you admit it to yourself, you do know. God is not idle and He isn’t disinterested in you. He, in His Son, extends peace, love, mercy and grace in every Word He left behind for us. He did it not as a memorial to Himself but as a way to reach out to us centuries later. He then uses you and me, communicating as we do, to reach out even further. God is what is good in you, and God is good in all things, in all things around us.
Including words spoken to you. They’re not about me, and they aren’t for me. They’re about God, and about you, and about serving Him through serving others. They’re about learning how to love Him into eternity, about sharing that because eternity matters most. I find that, the more I write about God’s word, the more I find it easier to talk about, especially in situations that might have been uncomfortable not very long ago. I can easily talk about what Christ means to me with close friends, and that faith to me doesn’t seem like just a Sunday-morning matter, or something personal, just between me and God. Believe me, I have zero interest in standing on a street corner, wearing a “judgment is near” breadboard; knock yourself out if that’s your calling. And I’m not interested in proselytizing; I don’t like it when people ram their faith down my throat and assume you wouldn’t either. But believe me, too, that I’m comfortable talking about that message now, and even more comfortable talking about the God-man, Jesus, who will finally come back with that judgment but even NOW is here at work in lives like yours and mine.
To quote the brilliant Master Van Pelt: “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
I’m very thankful every time I get a message from someone saying, “thanks for writing this” or “this really helped me.” Whether they know it or not, I’m also thankful for the people who message me to take them off my email list and those who challenge me on the things I write. I’m thankful for those people because they rebuke me and remind me that it isn’t about me. More than that, they remind me that these words I’m blessed to write are ones they read, and that the message in them somehow touched them, even if it offended. That means God touched them somehow, made them think. Even if their reaction is to push away, it’s proof that they got the message, and maybe that’s an opportunity for God to work in them in other ways. At that point, I remove them from my email list – I’ve removed hundreds – but I pray for them because they’re my brothers and sisters too. It IS about them because it IS about Christ and they need Him as much as you or me. Maybe they just need Him in a way that doesn’t involve me. I’m cool with that.
So I’ll ask you, my friend, to feel free to rebuke me now and then because I need it. If you’re doing so in friendly affection, you’re doing His bidding, I believe. These words have been a blessing, but they aren’t to add to God’s word because every word of God’s is flawless and full on its own. They don’t need my embellishment and they don’t need me to add to them or take away from them. His words are fine on their own. I’ll ask you to remember that and remember that He matters most, even more than getting the kids to school on time, that spreadsheet you’re working on, the angry bill collectors who call, starving people in Africa and Asia (or Appalachia for all that matter), memories from Disneyworld, or posting the latest status on Facebook. He is what it’s all about, not me or you, and the moment I stray from emphasizing that, I ask for your help in bringing me back between the lines. Eternity in our lives now and in our lives yet to come is what matters most because God is what matters most: all on His own without any encore.