‘Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life’ ~ Proverbs 4:13
These words were spoken by God Himself to King Solomon ‘When I (he) was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother’ (Proverbs 4:4). A similar word was also echoed to the Israelites when God commanded them, ‘Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and the laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you’ (Deuteronomy 4:1). God also uttered something similar to Joshua when He told him, ‘Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written on it’ (Joshua 1:8). Throughout the Bible, holding on, following, and not letting go of God’s Word hold central theme. This is repetitive because there is a very high tendency for the human fragile heart to slip God’s instruction through its darkened crevices, for human feet to become lame and wayward and follow the wrong path, and for human feeble minds to let go and evaporate into thin air words of instruction from the Lord.
In fact, the only time that God the Father spoke from heaven directly to humans while Jesus, God the Son, walked on earth was when He said; ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ (Matthew 17:5). Besides ascertaining Jesus’s Sovereignty, God then addresses in finality to the disciples present; Listen to him! God did not say, marvel at His miracles, or go and learn about Him in some institution, or conduct research of His existence then you’ll see. No. God’s instructions were simple, listen to Him! Because in listening to the right Source, then can one get the right instruction AND THEN hold on to it. However, many fail to listen and so hold on to the wrong things, follow deadly paths, and let go of the truth altogether. Jesus says, ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ (11:v16-17). In other words, they do not listen and so have nothing to hold on to.
When God tells us to hold on to instruction, it is for our own sake. Like He told Solomon; guard it well, for it is your life, or to the Israelites; so that you may live, or to Joshua; then you will be prosperous and successful. Many remain in rebellion to God’s Word thinking that they are doing a disservice to God, but in reality, they are doing a great disservice to themselves. A man who does not eat does great disservice and harm to their body, and not to the food that remains uneaten. God says, ‘Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). But in this day and age, many cannot survive without food even for a day, but somehow can forgo Spiritual food, the Word of God- not just daily but even for years on end. Little do they know that while they ‘grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Saviour’ (Deuteronomy 32:15). While many feed their physical bodies on a daily basis, they do not even think of feeding their spirit man. Paul says, ‘Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified’ (Acts 20:32).
The mark of a Christian is one who holds on to the Word. Jesus says, ‘If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31-32). Unfortunately, many so-called Christians settle in knowing the Word but do not hold on to it, and so are not really led by God (Disciples). To such Jesus says, ‘you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead’ (Revelation 3:1). It is only by ‘remaining in Christ’ (John 15:4) that He can remain in us and then reveal to us His mysteries, as we bear fruit for His Kingdom. Solomon notes, ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ (Proverbs 4:18). When most get saved, they settle at the first gleam of dawn and do not advance to the full light of Christ, because they fail to hold on to the teachings. As a result, they fail to see that their ‘faith is growing more and more’ (2 Thessalonians 1:3). It is only by holding on to God’s Word can we see real change. Jesus says, ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe’ (John 6:63-64).
One’s life can be evaluated by what they hold on to. A person who clutches at straw eventually experiences a drowning. While those who rely and hold on to themselves or others experience unlimited disappointments, for ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord’ (Jeremiah 17:5). When the Israelites held on to Egypt as their hope, it was to their detriment. God says of Egypt, ‘You have been a staff of reed for the house of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched’ (Ezekiel 29:6-7). It is only by holding on to God’s Word can one stand. Paul tells Timothy; ‘I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience’ (1 Timothy 1:18-19). Holding on to godly instruction was critical for Timothy to experience real growth in his faith, just like for any Christian because ‘some have rejected this and so have shipwrecked their faith’ (v19). But in our case, we should hold on!
‘Earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’ ~ Jude 1:3
‘So then brothers stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter’ ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15
‘Hold fast the pattern of sound teaching, which you heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus’ ~ 2 Timothy 1:13