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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The book of Proverbs

 I like proverbs, don't you? I like things that teach us lessons in just a few words which is exactly what a proverb does. God used them extensively in His Word, the Bible. Solomon wrote a compilation of them in his book entitled The Proverbs. Christ used them a lot in His teaching, however they are generally called "parables" in the New Testament.

The Biblical definition of a proverb is that it is a simile, or something that shows a comparison of two things similar in nature. Another way of saying it is that a proverb shows that something is "like" something else. I guess its proper definition is that a proverb is a short saying that shows a commonplace truth.

A great Biblical example is the one used by Christ in Matt. 19:24 where He says that "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Obviously it was used to show a picture of something being difficult in nature. I mean, we know what a camel is and we know what a needle is and therefore, it would be something nigh on to impossible, wouldn't it.

What got me going on "proverbs" was the seeing of an old commonly heard proverb the other day about a person "not having the sense that God gave a goose." Now that one goes hand in glove with another one saying that someone is as "silly as a goose." Thinking about those "proverbs" about geese got me to remember something I once read about geese not being so silly after all, so I resurrected it for you to consider today. Perhaps we can learn a scriptural lesson from geese.

First of all, have you ever noticed how geese fly? They fly in a "V" formation, don't they? The reason that they fly this way is no accident. Science has discovered why they do this and it's for this reason. By flying in a "V" formation, as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. Science has even further determined, that this "V" formation adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew by themselves.

The next thing you'll notice, if you watch them long enough, is that if one falls out of formation, all of a sudden he's facing a lot of drag and resistance. He'll quickly get back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the other birds.

And another thing to take note of is that, as they travel, the same bird isn't expected to be the "point goose" all of the time. When the goose flying "point" gets tired, he rotates back and another takes his place. They all share the load.

You know what else they do while they're flying? They honk! Boy do they honk. You can usually hear them coming before you see them. They sound like a pack of dogs up in the air. You hear them honking, look around in the sky and there you see it - the "V" coming at you. Do you know why they honk? It's their way of encouraging each other to keep up the pace. It's like they're saying, "don't falter, don't give up, we're right here with you."

Our last proverbial lesson point about geese, and a great point it is, is to see what happens when one of them gets sick or wounded and falls out of formation. Two other geese will fall out with it and stay around the sick/injured bird until it either gets well enough to fly or it dies. Only when one of those two things occur will the birds join up with another formation and continue traveling.

Well, let's take these "silly geese" and see if we can't learn a spiritual lesson or two.

First - if we work together towards a common goal, the journey is a whole lot easier and more pleasant because of the "lift" we get from our fellow travelers. Psalm 133:1 says: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

Secondly - what a great lesson we can learn by "staying in formation." Or, if one slips and falls out, to be sensible enough to get back in formation. The apostle Paul teaches a great lesson along this same line in Colossians 2 where in verse 2, talking about the body (the church), uses the phrase "knit together in love." Then in verse 19 he says that the "body" that's "knit together in love" has "nourishment" and "increases" towards God.

Thirdly - the "silly geese" teach us that it's sensible to share the workload. Just as one goose isn't burdened with having to do the hard work all the time, to "bust the wind," so to speak, Christians are taught to share the load with each other. Gal. 6:2 says "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."

Paul again teaches us about this "sharing" in Eph. 4. He's still talking about the body here and notice what he says in verses 1-3. He "beseeches them to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring (working) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." And the goal towards which this unity is headed is seen in verse 13: "Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Then in verse 16 we find more about our "endeavor" together. "From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by the which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

And number four - how about the honking of the geese? Aren't we told to encourage each other, and isn't that one of the basic reasons for the assembling of the church? Read Heb. 10:24-25. And Col. 3:16 says "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

And lastly - the scriptures tell us that we are to comfort one another and to stand by each other as the need arises. To be a strength and a steadfastness for our fellow Christians. 1 Thess. 5:11 reads: "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." Yes, we can learn a lot from those "silly geese" about how to be better Christians and, as such, get through this life here on earth. About our "formation" as we travel. Let's let the geese teach us how to travel together, work together, share the burdens and encourage each other towards our common goal - eternal salvation.

Ron Covey

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