Russell and Duenes

Some Musings from the Transition II, Summer 2011

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As I get ready to begin law school, I can’t think of flying a better banner over it than Proverbs 2, a chapter I intend to meditate on and apply throughout whatever kind of legal career God might grace me with.

1 My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
   and find the knowledge of God.

As important as my law school curriculum will be for my success in school, I would consider getting straight A’s to be an abject failure if I did not “call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,” if I did not search for God’s wisdom and truth “as for silver, searching for it as for hidden treasure.” This is my aim and goal. When all is said and done, I want to come out of law school “understanding the fear of the LORD, finding the knowledge of God.” But King Solomon goes on,

6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
   he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
   and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Surely one the reasons that our legal system in this country is such a morass of incomprehensibility, confusion, and moral decay is because by and large our lawyers scoff the idea that it is the LORD that gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The idea that one must know Jesus in order to practice law rightly, in a way that is just and faithful, is laughed at today as ridiculous. I hope to remind myself daily that legal knowledge without spiritual wisdom and insight is a sure path to personal and cultural ruin and misery. I don’t know what mark I’ll leave on the legal profession, but however small it may be, I hope it is one that moves us closer to submission to Jesus’ lordship and wisdom. Yet there is a further upshot to seeking and finding God’s wisdom as a lawyer.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just
   and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
   and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
   and understanding will guard you.

 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
   from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
   to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
   and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
   and who are devious in their ways.

This is right at the heart of it. Does a high IQ enable one to understand what is “right and just” as a lawyer? A high LSAT score? Straight A’s at Yale Law? Encyclopedic knowledge of the law and legal system? Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong, I do not for a moment think that I can be an excellent and godly lawyer while eschewing the hard work of learning the law and legal reasoning and skill. These things are necessary, but not sufficient. No, it is God’s wisdom that will enable me to know and practice “what is right and just and fair—every good path.” God’s discretion will protect me, and understanding his ways will guard me. Do we not see reasoning today – legal and other – that is full of “perverse words” and “deviousness?” O God, I want to be guarded from this, lest I become like wicked men and women who use the law to “leave the straight paths” and to “rejoice in the perverseness of evil.” The king leaves us with a final promise and warning,

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
   and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
   and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
   and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

The most crucial part of my law training will be continued training in Scripture and God’s just and righteous ways among humankind. I am daunted at the task of studying law, knowing all of the pitfalls and temptations to abandon God’s wisdom in favor of some legal theory du jour. Following such a course will cut me off and tear me from the land in ignominy. But the promise is that if I cry aloud and yearn for God’s wisdom, I will “walk in the ways of the good” and “live in the land.” Dear Father, grant us repentance. Grant it to me, and let my life as a law student be an offering to you. Help me to do excellent work in the law, but to excel even more in knowing and obeying your eternal and righteous law in Christ Jesus.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

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