A thought to begin Lent

Was reading this morning in my devotions and began Proverbs.  As you may know, I am reading through the Bible currently using Eugene Peterson’s Message translation.  Psalms was an interesting experience as the language Peterson used to translate gives a very different slant on many of the Psalms.  But today, I came to Proverbs and got stuck on Proverbs 1:8-19.  In the version I have normally read (NRSV), it says:

Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
9for they are a fair garland for your head,
and pendants for your neck.
10My child, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
12like Sheol let us swallow them alive
and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.
13We shall find all kinds of costly things;
we shall fill our houses with booty.
14Throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15my child, do not walk in their way,
keep your foot from their paths;
16for their feet run to evil,
and they hurry to shed blood.
17For in vain is the net baited
while the bird is looking on;
18yet they lie in wait—to kill themselves!
and set an ambush—for their own lives!
19Such is the end of all who are greedy for gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.

But Peterson puts a very different slant on it.  His translation says:

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
like rings on your fingers.
Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you,
don’t go along with them.
If they say—”Let’s go out and raise some hell.
Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
Let’s pick them clean
and get them ready for their funerals.
We’ll load up on top-quality loot.
We’ll haul it home by the truckload.
Join us for the time of your life!
With us, it’s share and share alike!”—
Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look;
don’t listen to them for a minute.
They’re racing to a very bad end,
hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.
Nobody robs a bank
with everyone watching,
Yet that’s what these people are doing—
they’re doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens:
the more you get, the less you are.

I am especially struck by the last line…”When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are.”  The more you get, the less you are.

That phrase stays with me as I think about the season we are about to begin.  Lent is a season of sacrifice, a season of giving things up in order to turn towards God in new ways.  Yet, so much of our effort is expended on what we can get rather than who we are and who God desires us to be.

Not sure what else to say really other than that phrase might be the one that stays with me throughout this season…”When I grab all I can get, that’s what happens: the more I get, the less I am.”…The more I get, the less I am.

God what are you saying to me in this?  Show me during this season…

Categories: Lent, Proverbs, Sermons, Theology


  1. Chris

    “Goode” thoughts indeed…glad to catch up with your blogging self here. This Lenten season has started off quite differently. I usually, out of habit, just kick it off with a fast of some sort and then as many others do, proceed to give something up for the 40 days. I believe it’s an attempt at personal piety, spiritual focus and growth…but for some reason, the spirit is leading me elsewhere this time around. And I’m still waiting for some guidance actually…but resonate with some of your comments here. I need to become less and be distracted with less…

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