Book review

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow / creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time, / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, Out, brief candle / Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / and then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing. —Shakespeare, Macbeth, V.v.17. Shakespeare’s Macbeth speaks these words upon hearing the news of Lady Macbeth’s death. Such a profound loss stirred in him an equally profound reflection about life. What does life mean? Does it really matter? Will the world notice I was here? Macbeth’s response leaves little mystery as to why this play is known as a tragedy. Possibly the darkest tragedy of all is that Macbeth, alive and speaking, concludes that life is “a tale told by an idiot.” Fortunately, Macbeth’s words aren’t the final judgment about life. The witness of those who know the Lord is that life is important and fulfilling. Or, at least, it can be. If it were up to God, everyone’s life would be everything Macbeth thinks it isn’t. If it were up to God, all would live with a sense of purpose and joy. But, and this isn’t a tragedy, it’s not up to God. It’s up to you. Long ago, a community of wise teachers committed themselves to the ways of the Lord. While they were full of wisdom, they were also full of concern for the young. These wise teachers were committed to teaching the young a simple truth: There is a good life to be had—a life lived in faithfulness to the Lord. They spoke of this good life as a pursuit for wisdom. They knew that a life of wisdom isn’t a one-time choice, but involves a lifetime of choosing—choosing justice, self-restraint, and compassion. A collection of teachings from these wise teachers became very important for the church. Today we know it as the book of Proverbs. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” is a central theme of the book. How does one parent, conduct business, speak to a neighbor, manage finances, and prepare for retirement in a manner full of the Lord’s wisdom? Proverbs attempts to provide a practical manual for living for those who love the Lord.

Proverbs for Living by Mark McElroy

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Mark McElroy
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Proverbs for Living

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