In the business world and in organizational culture the idea of vision is presented as something important to follow. I believe there is truth in that idea but I think it only has lasting merit if it is a godly vison. To that end I am focusing on Proverbs 29:18 in relation to vision for our lives.
18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV)
18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18 (ESV)
I have included Proverbs 29:18 from two translations as they capture the full range of meaning. Solomon is referring to prophetic vision/revelation. This is an insight Solomon had and penned for others to learn from. Here in this stand alone verse he contrasts those who lack revelation/prophetic vision with those who keep the law. At the time of his writing the Mosaic Law was the law Solomon was familiar with.
Given the existence of the law we need to consider the role of the prophets in relation to the law. Their primary job description wasn’t declaring things to come and prophesying the future, their main prophetic role was calling a wayward nation back to obedience to the law.
Knowing this let’s consider what Solomon is getting at and how it applies to our lives. Solomon is saying we need a revelation or vision of the importance of adherence to the law to live our lives rightly. That made sense in Solomon’s context. Those in Israel who had a revelation of the importance of the law and followed it lived their lives well. Look at what happened in Israel when Josiah called the nation back to adherence to the law (2 Kings 21:24–23:30; 2 Chronicles 33:25–35:27).
Obviously, we live in a different context so we need to consider how to theologically and practically apply this verse to our lives. Theologically we need a revelation of the importance of Jesus words.
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37–40 (NKJV)
For us this means pursuing His call on our lives to love the Father, Son and Spirit and out of that to love our neighbours as ourselves. That is the theological perspective. Practically speaking loving God brings pleasure to His heart. Loving others means doing what is in their best interest. Not following our culture and seeking to make others feel good, though that may be the result. Loving others means speaking truth to them and living rightly before and toward them. Paul provides many practical examples of this type of life from Ephesians 4:17 – 6:9.
Paul also provides similar instructions in his other letters for our day to day lives. One very practical example is Philippians where Paul tells us where and how to focus our thinking and the outcome we can anticipate.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9 (NKJV)
Living practically, we need a revelation of the importance of living rightly before the Lord and others and an awareness of the impact we will have on their lives and our community.