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The Duty of Reflection

Reading Classics Together

It is our duty to reflect on life’s circumstances and to look for God’s hand in them. It is our duty because God works in and through our circumstances and, by his providence, matures and strengthens us in them. In his work The Mystery of Providence, John Flavel writes about the importance of doing this very thing: reflecting upon God’s performance of providence. He offers 7 reasons that this is our duty.

God commands it. God expressly commands that we seriously and diligently reflect on our circumstances and acknowledge his providence. This is true whether we perceive them to be acts of mercy or acts of judgment. We are responsible before God to investigate each one of them. If we fail to do this we fail to uncover these evidences of God’s favor and, instead, display our own lack of faithfulness.

Neglecting it is a sin. We know the importance of reflecting on God’s providence because to fail to do so is called a sin. To be unobservant in this way is displeasing to God.

The Bible draws special attention to God’s acts of providence. Consider, for example, God’s great work of deliverance in leading his people out of Egypt and into the promised land. God immediately calls on his people to observe and consider it. God calls upon all men to “come and see” the great works that he has done. These calls are meaningless unless it implies a serious duty.

We cannot praise God without it. How can we praise God if we do not praise him for the things he has done and is doing? Think again of how often the biblical writers consider what God has done and then give him praise and thanks. If we neglect this duty, we defraud God of the praise we owe him, and we remove the opportunity to worship his name.

Without it we lose the benefit of the works God has done. God’s great works are done so that we can praise and thank him for them. We need to consider what God has accomplished for us and for others. This is the food our faith feeds upon in times of distress. In troubled times we shall find ourselves starving if we do not taste of what God has done.

We slight God without it. It is through God’s providence that he draws near to us. We slight him—we turn away from his presence—if we do not rejoice in his providence. It is contemptuous of us to ignore him when he is present with us.

We cannot suitably pray without it. Unless we observe God’s providence, we cannot pray in a way that is suitable to our circumstances. Sometimes we are to pray prayers of praise and other times prayers of contrition. We cannot know how we are to pray unless we observe his providence and read it properly.

In each of these ways we owe it to our God to consider his providence in each of our circumstances.

Next Week

We will continue our reading next week with chapter 9: “Directions on Meditating on God’s Providence.” Read it by next Thursday and check in to see what I (and others) have to say about it.

Your Turn

The purpose of this project is to read classics together. So do feel free to leave a comment if you have something you would like to say. Alternatively, you may leave a link to your blog or Facebook or anywhere else you have reflected on what you have read.

If you would like to read along with us, we have only just begun, so there is lots of time to get caught up. Simply get a copy of the book and start reading…

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