(The Principal Message Delivered to the Ebenezer Fellowship, Tabertots and Little Ark Ministries)

Text: Proverbs 23:23

“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”
(Prov. 23:23)

The end of each year is often regarded as “shopping” season. In Singapore, we have the 11.11 sale followed by the 12.12 sale and finally, the Christmas sale. Merchants slash their prices in a bid to entice people to buy their products. We have all manner of discount vouchers – seller’s vouchers, platform vouchers, credit card vouchers etc. The advertisers scream, “This product is a ‘sure buy’ on a time-limited discount. Do not miss the opportunity.” We are thus moved to buy the product, even though we know we do not need it.

Many on this earth will strive to acquire earthly possessions. However, the Holy Spirit through King Solomon, the wisest man of his time, gives a different answer. If there is one thing in the world that we should strive to get, it is the “truth”. This “truth” is none other than the Word of Everlasting Life. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17)

While the word “buy” is a commercial term that is often used to describe financial acquisition of land, it is clear that there is no way one can purchase wisdom just with money. Rather, just like a man will spare no effort in pouring in his money once he is convicted that a particular investment is worthwhile, so a man should spare no effort in order to lay hold of the truth. Every ounce of energy and resource in one’s live should be devoted in the pursuit of the understanding of the Holy Scriptures.

Dear friend, how is your devotion to the Word of God? Are you humbly and diligently engaged in a study of the Bible that you may mine its riches to feed the soul? We ought not to be content with just hearing the Sunday sermon or attending Sunday School. Instead, we should devote ourselves to “dig” God’s Word daily that we may grow thereby. Is not God’s Word the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Ps. 119:105; c.f. Pro. 6:23)? How can we know and walk accurately in God’s will if we do not even know the Word of Everlasting Life? We who claim to love God’s Word must be avid students of the Bible.

However, we must not only read God’s Word, but also lay it in our hearts. When we do so, we will live in obedience to its precepts and commands in love of our Lord. It is not just going through the motions in religious pretence, but a wholehearted commitment to the principles of Scripture. The Bible is not just theory but our life.

If we are to buy the truth, then the opposite also holds true that we are never to sell the truth. If the Bible is truly precious to us, we must never compromise the truth. God’s Word will always be the highest priority in our life.

Alas, we live in a world where things are often done by expediency. This spirit is sometimes brought into the church when we make our decisions according to situational ethics and relationships rather than the truth. Scripture is cast aside for that which is right in our own eyes. When God’s Word is under attack, we would choose to “sell it out” in order to avoid trouble in our lives. Might is right instead of right is might. It is sad when we do so because we are forsaking what ought to be our most precious treasure in this life.
Then there is also the temptation of the world that seeks to tear us away from the Scriptures – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. How many a man has been taken by these things in various stages of our lives. This apple tastes so sweet when we bite it, and yet it is full of daily poison. Our spiritual senses start to dull and our fellowship with God is broken. There is no longer the experience of joy and peace in our lives. It is never worth it when we let go of the most precious thing in our lives.

Dear friends, do not just buy the truth. Make sure never to sell it too. One author restates it well – there is a price to be paid to attain wisdom, but there is also a price to be paid to retain wisdom.

The second half of the verse describes further what we ought to seek when we mine the riches of God’s Word. Firstly, we should seek “wisdom”, which is the skilful application of the teachings of Scripture in everyday life. Just like how a craftsman uses his skill to mould his masterpiece, so a Christian skilfully wields the sword of God’s Word in the spiritual battle. Secondly, we should seek “instruction”. This word can also be rendered as “discipline” and refers to the correction that we receive from God’s Word. We must be ready to receive rebuke and admonition when we err from the truth, and also the directions it gives to walk in the path of righteousness. Lastly, we are to receive “understanding”. This word refers to the discernment of right and wrong in life, and the courage to stick to that which is right in the sight of God. When we follow the Word of God, we cannot go wrong.

Dear friends, do not be taken in by the bright lights of the world and to buy what is not necessary in life. Rather, spend your life wholly-devoted to God’s Word, and you will find rich blessings for your soul.