The Church

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 31:10-31 (day two)

The metaphor of the church being the bride of Christ is one that is often discussed when studying the Song of Solomon. Let’s take a moment to consider the same metaphor when looking at this passage in Proverbs. We, as the church, should strive for this standard of life. Our reputation should be one of industriousness, compassion, purity, and love. These qualities are often held up as a barometer for a good spouse, but how often have we considered these as benchmarks for the church. If we diligently strive to serve the Lord in all the ways in which he has created us, consider the impact in the world. Consider how this will please the Lord.

Sharp Knives

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 27:17 (day two) Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.

I came to the food preparation scene fairly late in the game. The nuances of how ingredients work together is still something I’m figuring out. If it is not in the recipe, it is not in the dish. To that end, it has taken me some time to appreciate the value of a good, sharp knife. Who knew that you shouldn’t have to saw a tomato when slicing? (Please don’t judge) I was recently given a sharpening set, and I’m slowly understanding the effort it takes to keep knives sharp. If the blade has gone dull, it takes a lot to bring it back to its useful state again.

There are times relationships can be like this. If we are not sharp, i.e. where God wants us to be, there can be a season of tough refinement to back in shape. We should long to remain in that state of usefulness to the Lord. If yo are being refined or sharpened by someone right now. Take a moment to be grateful. My knives aren’t bitter when I sharpen them. They don’t resent the tool that is being used. They are, however, much more useful when sharp, and so are you.

Measure

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 23:17-18 (day two) 

Do not let your heart envy sinners vs. 17a

What is the yard stick you use for measuring success? Who do you look to as benchmark for a job well done? Our culture is centered around a ‘get-ahead’ mindset, and we are taught to judge others by what they have or what they have done? There is value in the pursuit of a goal, no doubt, but we must be careful to put our hope in perceived success. What has God called you to do today? Who has he created you to be. Measuring success by any other mark may fill a bank account but bankrupt your soul. Find contentment in the Lord’s best version of you, and who knows what could follow.

Burden

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 22:7 (day two) 

The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

The language of this verse is strong; necessarily so. It is unlikely that we would use words like slave/ruler in a modern context, which is wise, but the Solomon clearly captured the yoke of debt. I have found it overwhelming when a financial burden clouds decisions. Somehow that weight and responsibility seeps into other decisions and conversations. Often, I don’t realize what is souring my mood, or my ability to act decisively. When the burden is lifted or overcome, however, it becomes abundantly clear how much that yoke of debt clouded so many other facets of my life and relationships. We are far more able to be God’s instrument when things like debt and finances are managed well. It doesn’t always equate to coffers being full to overflowing, but it does mean a peace and contentment which is worth far more.

Re-defined Joy

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 15:15-17 (day two)

All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Vs. 15

How desperately do we want that ‘continual feast’ to be material? Car, job, bank account, etc. So often we read that kind of verse believing that if I’m ‘happy’ enough, things will work out. I am a big believer in positive attitude, but that is not what scripture is calling us to here or in other passages like this.

It seems to me that we must constantly re-define the concept of ‘joy’. ‘Happy’ should not be our end game. Do I want that for you, for me, for my family? Absolutely! But an honest assessment of the human condition reminds us that our fallen sin-filled world robs many of happiness. Scripture is replete with stalwart believers who are walking a dark and lonely journey. What scripture promises is the assurance of God’s presence in those circumstances. This is joy, this is a feast; to know the Lord has not left you. Let us continually seek joy in all situations.

Deal with Sin

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day two)

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.

Sin is a disgrace. Let’s face it, we can never be truly righteous and free from sin. It is struggle that we confront each and every day. The challenge to ‘take up our cross’ is not an idle one. It begins with realizing those areas where we have fallen short…again. Thanks be to God that we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and be made clean.

Although our pursuit of righteousness will always be tinged with our fallen nature and tendency to sin, it is in that willingness to address sin that will separate us from the world. If we are consumed by sin, and every facet of our lives publicly and privately profess that sin controls us, it doesn’t matter what amount of ‘good’ we do. That good will always be viewed in connection to the overwhelming sin that surrounds everything else.

Our pursuit of righteousness must be marked with humility. It must begin with a desire to seek after only what that Lord desires, and to rid our lives of the things which hinder that pursuit. Then a people, a nation, can be exalted.

For Your Own Good

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 13:24 (day two) He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Correcting someone can be difficult, especially if you are close to them. But the truth of this scripture bears out time and time again; we don’t do people any favors by not correcting actions, decision, or behavior that are contrary to what is good and true. The temporary discomfort caused by having to redirect or correct someone pales in comparison to allowing behaviors to go unchecked only to blow up somewhere down the line.

 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

Correct Those Who Understand

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 9:1-18 (day two) Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. Vs. 9

Any John Bunyan fan’s out there? Pilgrim’s Progress is a rite of passage for many who love classic Christian literature. In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s not my favorite, but I do have an appreciation for its place in teaching generations about the journey each person makes in their faith. When I re-read Psalm 9, I was struck by how Bunyan-esque it felt. Wisdom and Folly become personified and have interactions with all who walk past.

I was struck by verses seven through twelve. How we teach and talk to people must be directly proportional to their ability to understand. Truth doesn’t change, but the method of delivery is not the same for someone who follows Jesus, and one who has yet to follow. We must take great care when using wisdom as a weapon. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. This is another instance where we can pray for discernment as we love people where they are.

Honor

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 3:9-10 (day two)                                                         Honor the Lord from your wealth                                                                                       And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.

When we talk about giving, tithing, or offering we often use words like obedience. We are commanded to give, and so we should. The Lord looks at the heart of the giver, and he likes a cheerful one. But how often do we use words like honor? When we give to the Lord from the first of what we have it honors him. Language like that makes it sound like we are participating in a royal ceremony, and why not? We are honoring the King of Kings. As you give, try thinking that your gift honors the Lord. How does that change your perspective. Whether or not your barns fill up, your heart surely will.

DIY Wisdom

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 3:5-7 (day two) Do not be wise in your own eyes vs. 7a

As I look over this text, it strikes me how often I have written about this very issue. Not for your sake, to be sure, but for mine. Please forgive me as we retread a familiar tale: Don’t worry God, I’ve got this. Perhaps some reading this will understand. It’s not that I don’t want God’s wisdom, but there are areas where I figure he doesn’t need to mess with. Places where I’ve seen him work before, therefore I can probably handle it this time. Areas where I simply want to work it out for myself because, I’m a smart guy.

You can probably figure out where this line of thinking gets me…back on my knees in repentance and seeking God’s wisdom after all. The problem is, I don’t suffer from lack of wisdom; I suffer from lack of God’s wisdom. Whatever has ‘worked’ in the past is not an indicator of success unless it is seeking after the will of the Lord. There are plenty of DIY fixes for household projects, for cars, and hobbies, but not for our walk of faith. No amount of worldly ‘wisdom’ will compare with the truth of God.