The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. (Proverbs 20:27 ESV)
Anyone observing the news in America today would be discouraged. It is becoming as Aeschylus said centuries ago, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” And as Isaiah said, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14).
The partisan politics we see today have been around a long time, only they were not publicly broadcast across the nation. The craziness stayed mostly in the capital and the average person could go about his or her business without giving these things much thought. But today it spills over into the living rooms of not only America but the whole world.
It is the type of thinking that abandons logic and truth, forgets perspective and motive, and that merely contradicts what the “other side” says. (It reminds me of the old Monty Python “Argument” sketch.) In a logical argument one side, using logic, history, and a wealth of experience, establishes a proposition, and then reasonably debates the merit of it. But in today’s world it seems that mere contradictory rhetoric is what we hear.
I have to admit that I, for one, am sick and tired of the angry self-righteous, condemnatory rhetoric that comes out of so many mouths today on both sides of any issue. When logic is abandoned, when people no longer seek first and foremost to find the truth of the matter and to process it rationally, then it is very difficult to go forward.
And even after the matter is “finished,” it is not really over. It remains unsettled in people’s hearts. And even if truth seems to be the goal of one side, it is a limited goal, for what is truly desired, in such a situation, is not to rule by logic, but to use limited truth, related to one case, as a tool to push through illogical agendas. “If we were right about this, then we are right about everything else.” But the other side is not actually vanquished, but rather they remain very much present and angry, guaranteeing more conflict in the future.
But God brings light to the human spirit
This is why this morning this verse above (Prov. 20:27) spoke to my heart. It tells us that God is still at work in the human spirit. We should not be discouraged as though we “little people” are without power or influence. We have more than we can ever imagine! If we will listen to God, read His Word and hear His Spirit, and do what is right, we can become God’s tools to change the world.
The word translated “spirit” here is nasham in Hebrew, and it relates back to the creation of man, when God breathed into his nostrils the “breath” of life and man became a living being. Nasham means a “puff,” “wind,” or “breath,” and by extension it carries the weight of the enlightenment of God in the human soul.
It contrasts with the word for “inmost being” which is literally, “the inner parts of the belly” in the Hebrew, and refers to the baser thoughts and motives of life: our appetites. It means that God’s plan for mankind is that His Spirit and His Word would enlighten our spirits, enabling us to function on the levels of righteousness and rationality, and not on the baser levels of lust, ambition, anger, and pride.
The meaning is that no matter how darkened the human soul has become through sin and selfishness, resulting of the twisting of the truth and the neglect of justice, there is still present in each of us the candle of the Lord. As Job cried out to his accusers:
As long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit. (Job 27:3-4 ESV)
What is needed today, and in every age, is for spiritual men and women who will listen to God’s voice, heed His commands, and let Him be their light in their spirits, and then go out and do what is right, using logic, reason, wisdom, and righteousness.
God is still at work to this day
Because of this truth, then we can have hope for our world. Politicians and news media always overstate their importance to life in today’s world, and we should not take them too seriously. They are both important, but just not as important as they present themselves to be. Though Christians should be informed of political developments and vote their conscience, though we should respect and pray for leaders (Romans 13:1-3), most of our day to day living is done irrespective of them.
As I near my seventieth birthday, I am convinced that the prayers of Christians, the preaching of God’s Word, and the providential care of God have much more to do with the shaping of this world than political leaders or news outlets. If you want to make a real difference in this world, pray for the leaders, learn what is right and what is wrong from God’s Word, care for your neighbors, help the needy, stand up for justice, be kind to others, and share your hope in Christ Jesus.
The simple believer who daily seeks to follow the Lord is still the single most powerful advocate for good changes in all societies to come about.