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Now That’s Refreshment!

September 9th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 21-22 (NLT)

 21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
      Hang on to them,
 22 for they will refresh your soul.
      They are like jewels on a necklace.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Refreshment is a curious thing.  I’m always amused when I see commercials on television that promote certain products that claim to be “refreshing.”  I know you’ve seen them before.  Musclebound athletes drenched in sweat reaching for an icy, seemingly irresistible Coca-Cola.  With the silhouette of a sunset or a desert landscape behind them, they turn up the frigid bottle and guzzle down the dark cola as if each drop is satisfying the deepest thirst of their souls.  I don’t know about you, but if I were to drink a Coke that fast while I was that hot, I’d be hiccuping for a week!

As a runner, I’m no stranger to thirst.  Especially on hot Tennessee days when the humidity reaches 200%, my return from a long run is accompanied by a thirst that seems to have no limit.  But what I reach for is the key component to whether or not my thirst is quenched.  Have you ever reached for something to drink and brought it to your lips only to discover that what you thought you were sipping is something else altogether?  Perhaps you thought you were drinking Dr. Pepper, when in actuality you just ingested tea.   For a split second, you almost spew the tea all over the kitchen counter!  Tea is not normally disgusting to you, it’s just shocking when it’s not what you are expecting.

Truth be told, there are certain drinks that will not be refreshing when one is overheated.  Chugging a large Mountain Dew after a five-mile run will generally not make one feel better.  Or imagine popping back one of those kids’ yogurt-liquid hybrid drinks (like GoGurt) when your mouth is so parched that it feels like you’ve been licking a chalkboard.  Yeah, that’s a recipe for digestive disaster.  

Real thirst brings one back to the basics.  When the perspiration has covered me from head to toe and I begin to get the “goosebumps” that signal that I need liquid stat, I would prefer a nice glass of ice water over anything else.  Though not the flashiest choice, good old-fashioned water is always a sure-fire remedy for a dry mouth or an overheated body.

This verse is all about the basics.  I theorize that many of us reach for the wrong “beverage” when we encounter spiritual parchment.  There isn’t sufficient room here to relay the stories of how many times in my own life I’ve drank from the flashy or the popular solution to life’s problems instead of taking hold of what I know to be true.  Christians and non-Christians alike seem to be drawn to the fads instead of to foundational truth.  Don’t tell me the stuff that I’ve always been told . . . give me something exciting and different!  Surely that will make this thirst go away!

But just because you’ve been told something your entire life doesn’t mean that it’s not true.  Take gravity, for instance.  Just because you get excited about the prospect of defying gravity and flying doesn’t mean that you can leap from your roof and be okay.  In this case, the basics still matter.

What are the basics?  This passage defines these “go to” refreshers as “common sense” and “discernment.” Common sense . . . now there’s something that seems too often to be missing from our culture.  When a home intruder can win a lawsuit settlement because they were injured in the house that they broke into to rob, something is terribly wrong.  Just watching the local “injury lawyer” commercials on television reveals that our society is too often more focused on legal jargon and loopholes than justice.  In other words, common sense just doesn’t hold the same “water” anymore.

However, let’s not just wax eloquently about society as a whole without taking a look inward as well. Common sense really is an issue of one’s personal choice.  Hey, I can’t change the crooked lawyers on television, but I can sure change me!  Common sense is more than just knowledge, or else this discussion is useless because so many people lack knowledge- and even those who have an abundance of knowledge still have so much more to learn.  No, from a spiritual perspective, common sense is the practical implementation of God-given wisdom.  It’s the understanding of how to apply God’s principles to humanity’s circumstances. 

Common sense is like water to our culture’s thirst.  Even in the current Presidential race for the White House, there seem to be reoccurring themes centered around the “common, middle-class people” and a return to those things that just make sense.  Wisdom that can make sense in everyday situations is the unwatered thirst of people all over the world.  We need more than just rhetoric or high philosophy that has no use in “real” life.  We need God’s wisdom to help us through school . . . work . . . marriage . . . stress. Life.

If common sense is the water, discernment is the ice that makes it so appealing.  Discernment is another God-component of wisdom that allows one to not only comprehend what is right and wise in everyday circumstances, but also helps one make a determination of how to balance the people part of real life.  One who exercises discernment won’t just make quick judgments because they are right or even the common sense thing to do.  No, they will understand that people are the variables that change every situation and understanding their specific, personal situations is a key to making sound decisions. 

One who walks in common sense and discernment will be a refreshment to each person in his or her path. Hey, it may not be the most popular thing around to be a person of Godly common sense, but trust me . . . it does the trick.  So the next time you’re really thirsty . . . spiritually, of course, don’t go for the “Mountain Dew” of flashy, impractical worldly advice.  Try the good stuff . . . Godly common sense and discernment.


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