Remember Show and Tell? In our early years of schooling we’d bring a favorite stuffed animal, a toy or book, a photograph of a place we visited, or a gadget given to us by our granddad… When our turn came, we showed the object to our classmates, and we told why it was significant.
What is it?
It’s an acorn.
Where did you get it?
From my granddad’s ranch.
What do you do with it?
I’m gonna plant it in the ground, and I’m gonna water it and give it lots of sunlight, and then it will grow into a big oak tree!
God is very much into Show and Tell. Scripture records the lives of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Jochebed and her newborn, Abigail and David, Bathsheba and David, Elijah and Elisha, Hezekiah and the visitors from Babylon, King Josiah and the missing scrolls, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Elizabeth, John the baptizer, Jesus and the 12 disciples, Saul who became Paul on the road to Damascus…
And the story continues — all as examples, all for our learning.
Because of sin we are born with a wayward heart and a rebel leaning, while living in a world darkened, burdened and misdirected by the enemy’s lies. Not only do we need love — we are in desperate need of some good advice!
For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life. — Proverbs 6:23
When reading a modern devotional book, I discovered a bit of mixed-up theology. In one excerpt the author told the story of the woman caught in adultery from the Gospel of John, chapter eight. His point was how people need love more than they need advice. Select verses from this passage were given. But some were noticeably missing. He emphasized over and over how Jesus offered love to the woman in her time of need, instead of advice.
Yet, Scripture clearly records the advice Jesus gave after her accusers walked away:
And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and [from now on] sin no more. — John 8:11
Jesus’ love was obvious and more than generous by extending forgiveness, rather than commanding she be stoned according to Old Testament law. Then He gave her valuable advice on how to avoid the consequences of her lifestyle and how to live transformed — another proof of His love.
When I visit my naturopath, I’m not paying to spend an hour in her cozy office and caring presence just to feel loved. I’m there because I need medical advice and a remedy, which will bring healing.
In the Old Testament books of the Law we see a similar concept. God didn’t tell the Israelites which actions would bring a curse, end of discussion — He also gave instructions as to which choices would bring His blessing.
In the middle of our Bible more advice is found in the book of Proverbs. The first 10 chapters address our vertical relationship with God, with a strong emphasis on seeking and gaining wisdom. The last 21 chapters give wise and practical directions for our horizontal relationships with each other. In these passages God uses words and pictures to teach us guiding principles and spiritual truths.
The value of a little advice is like walking into a dark room and someone turning the light on for us. Or like driving in the dark in the middle of nowhere and then seeing a road sign posted.
Let’s not make the mistake of going through life content to wander in the dark —
handling objects without seeking to know their significance,
receiving God’s grace without acknowledging His justice,
accepting God’s love but ignoring His advice,
getting too comfortable in our complacency or ignorance.
We must have the light of God’s words and His Holy Spirit to help us navigate this journey.
In His goodness God gives us tips for our travels between birth and death. Personally, I’m grateful He didn’t leave us on our own without a road map, with no light or signs or directions along the way.
Especially after we messed things up in the Garden of Eden.
He could have, you know. But that’s where love came in.
But not only did He not walk away and leave us stranded. He already had a plan in place for making things better, for bringing reconciliation after the rupture that separated us from our Creator. For providing redemption when we were at our worst. And then He took us out of the Garden, so we wouldn’t eat fruit from the Tree of Life and live forever in our sin.
For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? — Deuteronomy 4:7-8
The ten commandments and the 600-plus laws given to Moses were for instructing and leading God’s people — what a gift! God’s good advice for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. And today we have His words in 66 books compiled in one living, powerful, life-transforming volume. This is how much He loves us!