A Biblical Mission Statement for Christian Bloggers?
This post is a slight departure from the usual topics covered here. I want to sit down and share a little with my brothers and sisters in the Lord. This will be a devotional, a meditation, a sermonette, and a Bible study all rolled into one. If you are not in the family yet, you are welcome to sit in. (And if you’d like to become part of the family, let me know.)
“The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.”
The essence of Hebrew poetry is parallelism of ideas rather than rhyming of words. The book of Proverbs, part of the Hebrew wisdom literature, is one that makes extensive use of this form, with a large number of the proverbs appearing in a two phrase format in which the parallelism is fairly obvious. The parallelism can be a direct comparison, i.e., the same idea expressed differently or expanded, or a contrast of two opposites. (This is not an exhaustive description of Hebrew poetry. Most study Bibles will explain this in greater depth, and I would encourage you to avail yourself of such.)
The first phrase in this proverb, “The lips of the righteous feed many,” is very rich. For one, it states as a matter of fact that a righteous person will interact with others. Isolationism is not a valid lifestyle for a Christian. The cloister/convent model of piety is not a Scriptural one. The righteous will communicate, that’s what “the lips” do. Although verbal communication would be the primary application here, I think written communication would be included as well, especially since this concept has been passed on by the written word. Thus I would link it to blogging per the title I’ve chosen for this post.
The word translated here “to feed” is that used to describe pasturing and caring for livestock, i.e., “to pasture, tend, graze, feed.” The picture is a tender one, indicating both protection and nurture. Thus, the nature of what the lips of the righteous communicate is delimited to, in New Testament terms, that which edifies, or builds up. This calls to mind such verses as:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Timothy 2:16)
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
This latter verse combined with this proverb bring to mind a group of men described for us in 1 Chronicles:
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…. (1Chronicles 12:32a)
They didn’t get that way by talking about nothing but the weather and how well the Beersheba Bears were doing against the Gaza Gazelles. Is it then a “sin” to talk about things that don’t obviously fit into edification? Are discussions of sports and other “nontheological” pursuits of life disqualified here? I think the answer is, it depends. I’m not trying to be cute or relativistic here. It is a matter of priorities. If all you can talk about is football, then yes, something is wrong. Another proverb two chapters over gives us some insight here:
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. (Proverbs 12:11, ESV)
The word translated “follows” means “to hunt, pursue, follow after.” “Worthless pursuits” are literally those things which are “empty and worthless.” If such things are the primary focus of your life, if you spend most of your energy pursuing that which has no eternal value, then something is wrong, and we will say more on this when we consider the second phrase of our Proverb. (Remember, I am talking to those who claim the name of Christ.)
Lastly, who are those thus fed? The many. Not one, and not all, but the many. Your sphere of influence, which should include more than one, will not be the entire world. It does not guarantee that all who hear will agree with you. Nevertheless, there seems to be an exhortation here to willingly share as appropriate for the venue whatever truth God gives you regardless of the outcome.
The second phrase, “…but fools die for lack of wisdom,” is just as instructive. Hebrew actually has five different words for “fool” and a careful examination of the usage reveals that they are five separate categories of fools. This particular kind of fool is what might be called the Angry Fool (‘eviyl). This category despises wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7; 12:15; 14:1; 15:5; 24:7) in an angry, wrathful way that leads to being quarrelsome and contentious (Prov 12:16; 14:17; 27:3). These attitudes are particularly evident in their overabundant words (Prov 10:8, 10 [look up “prating” if you’re using the KJV]; 10:14; 12:23; 17:28).
The word translated “wisdom” here and “sense” in 12:11, and sometimes as “understanding,” is literally “heart,” the word used for the complete inner man. The critical nature of this facility is proclaimed in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” So Angry Fools die for lack of heart. They don’t guard, protect, or nurture their heart with the right things, but follow worthless and vain things…to their ultimate destruction. Given Jesus’ exhortations about seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), where does that put you in the various activities that fill your day? Are you engaged in the spiritual disciplines (e.g., Bible study, prayer, fellowship, sitting under sound Bible preaching and teaching, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word) defined in the Bible for your spiritual growth? If not, what have we just read that tells you about what fruit you can expect in your life? (These are some hard questions. Let me remind you that every time you think I’m pointing the finger at you, there will be three fingers pointing back at me. I’m asking these questions here because God’s Spirit has already asked them of me.)
Here is where the parallelism of Hebrew poetry comes in. The righteous are contrasted to the angry foolish. The righteous have life, and spread life around them. The angry fools have worthless sand that leads to death. Into which category do you fit? Into which category do you want to fit?