A Christian’s Descent into Chaos
The way of transgressors….
“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” Proverbs 13:15
I have experienced times in my past where life seemed disproportionately more challenging, and not in good ways. Undoubtedly, some of life’s challenges are good. The Lord can use challenges to test us, stretch us, and mature us in faith, temperance, and pretty much every other fruit of the Spirit.
But, I’m not referring to those kinds of challenges. I’m referring to chaos and tumult in the Christian life. If we’re honest, sometimes we bring these things upon ourselves.
That which brings order
In Proverbs 13:15, “Good understanding” means intelligence or insight. This intelligence is more than just mere book knowledge or learning about particular subjects. It has a greater significance. The results from having this intelligence and insight is that it gives a person patience (Prov. 19:11). This insight wins praise from others (Prov. 12:8). Only fools despise this kind of insight (Prov. 23:9).
This “good understanding” is God’s wisdom. It’s thinking like God thinks.
This noun is used once with a negative connotation in Daniel 8:25 where it stands for the cunning of Antiochus Epiphanes and (by way of the principle of double-reference) the Anti-Christ of the Tribulation period.
With building a full understanding of this phrase “Good understanding”, we might say that the Christian who has “good understanding” is one who would be the worlds craftiest manipulator if only he had no integrity.
This is like the holy opposite of the master deceiver. This is a wise person, who by understanding is able to craft the world around him to his advantage in life by making the wisest of choices. He’s brilliant life strategist.
He literally by wisdom engineers the situations of his life under the sovereign hand of God the same way that Christ would if He were in his place. A person like this is simply a life-savvy person. He’s good at responding the right way all the time. He’s just wise.
That which brings chaos
One the other hand, “the way of transgressors is hard”. The transgressor is not specifically referring to an unsaved person, though it could apply. Rather, he’s just an unfaithful person. The word here is often used in Scripture of a person who deals treacherously with their spouse because they lack genuine love and fidelity.
This person treats everything in life the wrong way. Whatever the wise choice would be, they always seem to choose the opposite like one who has little genuine love for God’s way of doing things and no fidelity to God’s way of thinking. Basically, they’re a schemer like Jacob. They fix things their way.
Solomon says that this persons life is hard.
The fast-track to a hard life of chaos, tumult, and constant fiasco’s is to be a schemer.
When a Christian is not applying Proverbs, they are not humble, not teachable, not diligent or hard-working, not wise spenders, and not in control of their speech. Those are some of the most major themes of the book.
There is no other response for the schemer in life than floundering. The only option left as they see it, is to answer life’s challenges their own way. What’s worse, is they sometimes think they’re doing things the right way.
It’s as if they have been tasked with framing a wall and all they have available to them is a plastic, toy hammer, popsicle sticks, and a hot glue gun, and somehow they think that’s sufficient. They’re not equipped and it’s their own doing.
So, when the normal challenges of life happen, they botch everything up!
Instead of calmly trusting the Lord because they have His wisdom, they panic and worry, and move through life belonging to God, yet living like they’re independent of God. They rely on human reasoning alone and frequent “gut reactions”.
They know God, but they don’t know how to “use” Him to thrive in life. Pardon the irreverent sound of that, but it makes the point. They just don’t know how to benefit from knowing God.
They then observe the lives of those with good understanding and they compare themselves to them (also not wise) and they wonder why the other guy’s life seems so “easy” and so “blessed”.
They typically then conclude that God has been unfair to them and disproportionately good to others. They begin to envy the wise but they still don’t see that their chaos is completely self-inflicted.
They then self-perpetuate constant negativism by always suggesting that somehow they were divinely appointed to difficulty and God lets everyone else off the hook. To the schemer, God picks on them.
They begin to see their normal life problems as somehow unique in human experience. They view their hardships as some sort of anomaly in human history as if no one else has ever suffered like they’ve suffered when in reality, many suffer worse. Their own challenges are actually quite average. It’s just harder for them than for those who are wise.
In the mind of the schemer/the transgressor/the unfaithful/uncommitted/unwise believer, no life on planet earth is as hard as their own. In their mind, their life could be a stunningly tragic, award-winning screenplay; an emotional story of one man’s struggle through unbelievable tragedy and suffering. In their mind, their life reads like a movie trailer.
The fact is, they’ve “made their bed”. Now they’re lying in it and claiming someone else shorted the sheets.
In counseling, I’ve seen more than once when people self-destruct. Sadly, they often blame the counsellor. “You didn’t do enough to help us!” Or, “We’ve done all the right things, but God just seems to send all these things into our life anyway.”
Ultimately, God is Who they hold responsible and Who they subtly and inwardly hold contempt for.
It does not have to be so
The writer of Proverbs more than once portrayed wisdom as a woman crying out in the streets “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.” - Proverbs 8:5-6
She’s crying out loud and clear and yet most walk by ignoring her, not the least of which is the schemer.
Wisdom is available, accessible, and attainable to any believer who will apply their heart unto it (Proverbs 2:2 and 23:12).
Thus, a believers descent into chaos and an unnecessarily hard life is a slippery slope one volunteers to put himself on. God is not complicit.
The only way to stop the cycle is to point the finger at the guilty party in the mirror, take full ownership of your problems, repent, and get to work hearing, learning, and applying the wisdom of Proverbs.
If that’s you, you may not be able to completely undo some of the tragedy you’ve caused, but with the wisdom of God, you can recover much and prevent much more. Ignore it no longer.