Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Proverbs 20:30

"Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart."  Proverbs 20:30

One of the verses that stood out to me from this chapter.  Why is that true, I wonder -- I know it is.  I do not think it is saying that everything that hurts is good for you.  I'm sure some ascetics/gnostics have misused that verse and similar ones.  But I think it is pointing out the reality of pain, discomfort, and trial that accompany a real purification when what the natural man clings to is stripped away.  Like when Eustace is transformed from dragon to boy, it is not an easy thing to shed his skin.  Aslan uses sharp lion's claws to rip and tear and cut and scratch off the dragon scales bit by bit until they are all gone.  That must hurt tremendously, to have the natural man torn off.
You've harrowed my soul
And that so sweetly
You rip and tear and strip away all
That keeps me from coming to You
And that so tenderly
How can I not love You?
You break my heart to make me whole.  This is what it is to die to self.  If you value your own life, then it is costly to follow Christ.  If once you have recognized the value of His life, then giving up your own is nothing to having His in you.  But to gain the life He gives -- eternal life -- requires the recognition and realization of the surpassing value of Jesus Christ, that He be your greatest love.  And the only right response for us lowly sinners is total surrender, even unto pain and death.  He humbled himself to the point of death on a cross.  Can we call Him Lord and be willing to go through less for His sake?  Paul said, "Count it all joy" when persecution and trials and stripes are given -- not because these are good, but because these are purifying, completing the work Christ did by His stripes and suffering, if suffered in obedience to Him.  Not that it is any credit to anyone to suffer for doing wrong.  That is merely justice.  But remember the great promises of the Lamb of God to those who overcome in the letters to all seven of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3.  To those who are steadfast, who obey, who cling to what is good and hate what is evil will be given blows that hurt and stripes that cleanse away evil and the inner depths of the heart.  And resultant overwhelming joy in the knowledge that you are the disciple Jesus loves.  For those He loves He chastises.  That is what comes of the realization and response to who He is, isn't it?  And it always seems to come back to this: "Who do you say that I am?" 
I say you are Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, my Beloved, all-surpassing in beauty, all-surpassing in holiness, all-surpassing in love, all-surpassing in glory, for Whose sake I willingly offer my life and my all.  And I say that I am the disciple you love.