Text: Proverbs 29:18 | Listen to Message
It’s a popular verse at pastor’s conferences around the globe:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
It’s a little melodramatic, right? Pastors, if you don’t cast vision for your churches, people are literally going to die!
Well, no, they’re not. But leaders love making sensational claims that sell books and that sell out conferences. Even if it means taking the Bible out of context.
Now, I’m not against vision; I’m all for it. I’m a big believer in leaders setting the vision for the people and organizations they lead. People need a clear and compelling picture of a preferred future to act as a “North Star” to guide them.
But that’s not what this verse means.
“Vision” is a reference to a prophetic vision or revelation from God. And “perish” is a bit dramatic for a word that just means to cast off restraint.
Thus, the first half of this proverb is simply saying, “Where there is no revelation from God, the people cast off restraint.” That makes sense, right? When people don’t have God’s revelation to guide them, they tend to run wild and act without restraint.
That meaning is further borne out by the second half of the proverb: “but blessed is he who keeps the law.” So Proverbs 29:18 is simply saying blessing comes to those who know God’s Word and do it.
But how do we do that without simply descending into moralism? Weren’t the Pharisees experts at knowing and doing the law of God, and yet their hearts were far from him? Yes, so let me share three ways to keep this and other Proverbs in the context of the Gospel.
1. See Jesus as the man of wisdom par excellence.
He is the incarnation of true wisdom. He always did the wise thing. This Proverb instructs us to know and do the Word of God and the will of God, and that’s what Jesus always did. Yet, in spite of his perfect wisdom and obedience . . .
2. See Jesus taking the curse so you could receive the blessing.
God says, “Just know my Word and do it, and you will be blessed.” And we’re like, “Yes, yes, I can do that.” But we can’t. We don’t. The best of us fall short , forfeit the blessing, and inherit the curse.
We need a greater hope than our own performance. And that hope is the grace of Jesus. He succeeded where we failed, and he gifted his success to us by faith. Having received that amazing grace . . .
3. See Jesus sending you back to the Word with a new power and motivation.
First of all, when Jesus saves you, he gives you the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. So obedience is not something you have to do in your own strength and willpower anymore. You have the very power of God at work in you and for you.
Second, when Jesus saves you by sheer grace, he gives you a new motivation for knowing and doing his will. It’s not about earning his favor or blessing – because you already have his favor and blessing!
Instead of laboring out of fear or a sense of duty, Christ frees you to be motivated by gratitude and love. With a sense of joy and affection, get in the Word of God and discover more of your Savior there, waiting for you. Let him tell you how life works, and gain true wisdom.