Life's Instruction Book

Stan Crowley, Minister, Church of Christ at Schertz

One of the best sellers several years ago was a publication called "Life's Little Instruction Book." It was such a success that many additional volumes have been published—promising life instructions for men, women, young people, and other specific groups. It is not surprising that so many are seeking instructional bits of wisdom to make life a little easier. Learning from someone else's experiences is much better than learning from our own mistakes.

Our society has learned some hard lessons in the past generation—hard lessons learned the hard way. Only at the point of desperation have many come to recognize and accept the danger to our society of drugs, loosely-formed and uncommitted family units, and promiscuous sexual relationships.

It is great that many have finally learned these lessons, but what a price to pay! Was there no Life's Instruction Book where we could have learned without the pain? How many more lessons are there to learn, and at what cost? Are we doomed to learn them one at a time? Many times we do wish we could consult that instruction book for living and avoid the suffering.

There is such a book, but it seems to have lost a lot of credibility since the "God is Dead" era of the 1960's. The book is the Bible and it claims to be just exactly that: Life's Instruction Book. An excellent example of those life instructions is the counsel that Solomon gives his son Rehoboam in Proverbs 4:10-27.

In verse 13, Solomon stresses the vital importance of instruction, when he writes, "Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life." Then, in verses 23-26, he lists four great instructions for living life.

Watch your heart. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (verse 23). The "heart" is the part of man that thinks and feels. Those thoughts and feelings are the seeds for all that man produces in his life; and what you sow, you reap (Gal. 6:7). Do not allow things to be planted in your heart that you do not want to harvest in your own life.

Watch your mouth. "Put away from thee a deceitful mouth, and perverse lips far from thee" (verse 24). Deceit is more than just stating lies. It is any false impression we leave. How much of the stress of this life is caused by our desire to create an image of ourselves that is bigger than we are! We harm not only others but devastate ourselves.

Watch your eyes. "Let thine eyes look right on (straight ahead, NKJV), and let thine eyelids look straight before thee" (verse 25). Today we would say "set your goal" and "stay focused." How often do troubles come in our lives when we take our eyes off of a worthy goal or pattern? Surely it is this principle that the Hebrews' writer reflects when he writes we should be "looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2).

Watch your feet. "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established" (verse 26). What simple but profound truths: There is a path; it can be established, and our feet should be on it with every step. Man does not set the path. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Prov. 14:12). God's words set that path. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

Who can doubt the wisdom of these "instructions"—and they are for life. In Prov. 10:17 (NKJV) Solomon concludes, "He who keeps instruction is in the way of life."

What a refreshing change it would be for so much of society if we were to begin to heed the words of the Bible. Since we, as a society, have learned the wisdom of some of its teachings, maybe we should take another look at the whole Book. It might save a lot of future suffering and give us the necessary wisdom to better appreciate and even enjoy our lives. We have "Life's Instruction Book"; we just need to follow it.

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