Friday, August 10, 2007

If We Walk with the Wise

"He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."
Proverbs 13:20

I was recently reminded of this verse. It set me a-pondering. What does it mean to "walk with the wise"? How do we choose the right people to walk with? How do we know who will lead us astray and who we should imitate?

Of course, there is the Scriptural rule: we will know them by their fruit. I'm new to this community, though. How can I obey the admonition to walk with those who are wise? How can I find those who truly live out the commands of Christ?

I think it takes time. We can't rush into anything. As we pray and spend time in fellowship with other believers, God will draw us to those who we can follow. He will show us mature believers who will contribute to our own spiritual well-being.

On the flip side of that, He may also show us ways we can be "the wise" for those who are new to faith in Christ. It's a big responsibility, yes. But it's definitely necessary, as we all work together to build each other up.

One way I've seen that I can "walk with the wise" is by studying the lives of those who have gone before. We have a wealth of riches to draw from when delving into the lives of the saints. They were ordinary people like you and me, who chose to live out their faith, even when it sometimes meant giving up their lives.

Today is the feast of Saint Lawrence, a deacon who lived in the 3rd century. During his lifetime, Christianity was actually illegal. He became a deacon in 257, and served as treasurer of the Church in Rome. He distributed monies and goods to the poor. The emperor at the time, Valerian, published an "edict of persecution" and commanded all bishops, priests, and deacons to be put to death. Another saint of the church, St. Sixtus (who was pope at the time), was arrested and led to execution. St. Lawrence followed the procession, crying for Sixtus. Sixtus ordered Lawrence to distribute the treasures of the Church among the poor. He did this, and even sold some items so there would be more to give the poor.

The prefect of Rome commanded Lawrence to surrender the treasures of the Church to the government. Lawrence promised to show the treasures to him. On the third day, instead of gold and silver, he presented the poor whom he had gathered. He said these were the true riches of the Church. The prefect was enraged, and commanded that Lawrence be slowly roasted on a gridiron. To his last breath, this true servant (for that is what a deacon is) prayed for the conversion of the city of Rome, and that faith in Christ would spread throughout the world. Several senators, who were witnesses to his execution, were converted to Christianity, and actually gave him a decent burial. This was in the year 258.

Lawrence only served as a deacon for one year. However, the life he lived in that short time was an incredible testimony to those who witnessed his acts of love and kindness.

I want to walk with the wise. I want to somehow emulate the lives of those who have gone before. Thank you, God, for the faithful witness of those who have stayed the course and followed You, even unto death.

"God, by his ardent love for You, St. Lawrence exhibited faithful service and attained a glorious martyrdom. Help us to love what he loved and to practice what he taught. Amen."
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