Wisdom Seeker: Day 13

Proverbs 13

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20

A couple of these stood out to me today. I’ll keep it pretty brief.

First, this reminder that it truly does matter who we choose to surround ourselves with. Yes, yes, I know – Jesus was a friend of sinners. I’ve heard it, too – loads of times. More on that in a second.

For now, I want to state for the record that I am in no way suggesting you completely ditch your atheistic friends or refuse to ever go visit your former college roommate who has embraced New Age and is always going on about the energy of a place while waving around crystals and oils and stuff.

After all, if you truly love them, don’t you want to see them come to know and love our Lord? Doesn’t love want the best for the beloved, and can you think of anything better than eternal life in the presence of the Almighty?

Bringing the Gospel of salvation through Christ to those who do not know Him is our primary function here on earth, so share freely and liberally with them! Which reminds me – I have a phone call to make.

BUT… remember that to say, “Jesus was a friend of sinners” is the same thing as saying, “Jesus befriended human beings.” He is literally the only person whose feet ever struck the soil of planet earth that never sinned. So yes, He associated with sinners.

And all the while He talked, dined, and taught them about the Kingdom of God. He called some of them a “brood of vipers.” He taught that if we have two sets of garments, we should give one to someone in need.

He told us that to follow Him, we would have to take up our crosses, and He never flinched at saying, “Go and sin no more,” or reminding His followers that persecution would come. In fact, He said and did many shocking and uncomfortable things to those sinners He “hung out” with.

He also lived a sinless life, then willingly took on Himself the inconceivable heaviness and darkness of all our sin, then suffered the wrath of God on our behalf. He gave up His life in one of the most brutal methods of execution humanity has yet conceived to pay the price of our sin. My sin. Yours.

So if we are going to pattern ourselves after Him – and we should! – let’s just go all the way and not stop at “hanging out” with “sinners” (as if we are excluded from that group -haha!). Let’s love them enough to lay down our lives for them…

But I digress. The proverb is more a warning not to habitually surround ourselves with the foolish – those who choose the world over Christ. We may need to bear witness to them, but we need solid, Godly companionship to hold us accountable, to confront us when we stray from the Truth, and to pray for us and with us all the while.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

2 Corinthians 6:14

So much for brevity. Let me just say that verse 24 hits me every time, too. I’m so thankful my Father has never spared the rod from me. This is one way I know He loves me.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

Oh my King, how thankful I am that You came to save me, a sinner! Never let me lose sight of the wonder of that. I welcome Your discipline, for though it may sting for a bit, in the end it is what keeps me from evil and corrects me when I stray from the path to eternal life!

Wisdom Seeker: Days 11-12

Proverbs 11 and 12

Missed a day. It was bound to happen, especially since I often take a tech break on Sundays. But I’ll try to do two brief ones today, even though there’s a lot of good stuff in these two chapters. First:

The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

Proverbs 11:18

Now there’s a good reminder for the weary soldier of the Lord and a convicting dart for the one who cares nothing for the King of kings.

Yes, wickedness seems to prosper here on earth. Often, there are very greedy, very nasty people who do quite well for themselves. They amass wealth and live in comfort – even in decadence.

But it is oh, so deceptive. Even if they make it through this whole life lolling on the very lap of luxury, there’s nothing pleasant for them in eternity. And eternity is long enough to make even the longest earthly lifespan count for nothing.

Unfortunately, however, the lap of luxury isn’t even all that comfortable here on earth. A look at the headlines will tell you how unsatisfied those who recline there seem to be. Divorces, suicides, and all sorts of substance abuse problems… those are not the problems of a happy and healthy spirit. Just sayin’.

Next:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:1, 15

It’s hard to choose just two here. That one about rash words like sword thrusts… ouch! I’m afraid I’ve been convicted by that one once or seventeen million times.

Still, today I want to focus on the humility needed to realize we just don’t know it all. Verse one uses some pretty strong language to describe the person who hates being corrected. Stupid.

That was the dreaded “S-word” when my kids were small. Not a nice thing to say, maybe, but utterly true. Hating correction means a person is uncorrectable. And that means that they’re likely to march right through the wide gate to destruction with their eyes tightly closed and chin stubbornly raised high.

So I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on being all too sure about belting helter-skelter down the path of my own making. Nah, I’ll pick up the Word of God every day and look for advice, and I’ll spend time seeking the wisdom of Godly men and women who are older than me.

Sounds a little bit safer and a lot less stupid.

Father, thank You for words of wisdom; for words that sting and remind us of our need for You. Thank You for keeping us humble. Please, as we search these ancient proverbs, bring them to life for us and help us to hear the very words that point out the sins we need to address each day, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 10

Proverbs 10

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

Proverbs 10:19-20

There’s quite a bit in today’s proverb collection about the use of the mouth. In fact, I believe we’ll find that subject comes up often throughout the book of proverbs.

Why? I think it’s because our speech so clearly reflects what’s truly in our hearts. Our mouths don’t cause us to sin; they reveal the sin that is already in us.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

But don’t fret! That is actually a very good thing. Think about it. If the use of my tongue reveals sin in my heart, it’s a gift! It’s out in the open now, so here’s my chance to acknowledge and confess the sin and repent.

So when I bark out harsh or angry words to my teenagers, it becomes my chance to confess the sinful anger I’ve harbored and repent – both to God and to the unfortunate teen who caught the sharp side of my tongue.

I can attest to the fact that this works. Trust me. I’ve spoken more than my share of harsh and angry words in my day.

But the good news is, over the years of habitually using my spoken works as a spotlight to reveal dark areas of my heart, those harsh and angry words don’t come as readily to the lips. In truth, there’s less anger in my heart to spawn them – thanks be to God!

So there’s my challenge to you today. When your words reveal some ugliness in your heart, go ahead and make it into a confession. And apologize sincerely, both to the person (even if they didn’t hear you mutter!) and to God. Then you can borrow the prayer I’ve borrowed from David:

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Psalms 141:3

Wisdom Seeker: Day 9

Proverbs 9

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 9:8

Today’s reading begins with Wisdom personified as a woman and ends with Folly, similarly illustrated. Both women offer the same invitation: “Whoever is simple, turn in here!”

And in between the two, a few nuggets of truth to help us understand which direction we lean. Are we the scoffer who rejects correction and resents the one who corrects him?

Or are we the wise person who appreciates correction and responds in gratitude and love?

Not much else to say today. Just a couple of questions for us each to prayerfully ponder in our hearts.

Loving Father, we know that You discipline those You love, and we love You for it. Show us today where we are behaving like scoffers, ignoring correction and blundering straight into Folly’s house. Change our hearts from arrogance to humility that we may accept rebuke and be improved by it, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 8

Proverbs 8

Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Proverbs 8:10-11

Reading about the virtues of wisdom today reminded me that there is only one Source for true wisdom, and only one way to acquire it. Ask.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

Asking is simple, right? Why, then, is there so little wisdom in the world today?

As far as I can tell, its because so few of us actually do ask for wisdom. Or if we ask for it, we ask without faith. Worse yet, so many of us embrace what seems to be wisdom in our minds – a wisdom that makes us look and feel pretty dang good.

This is the secular wisdom that tells us to follow our hearts and to look out for Numero Uno. This is a worldly wisdom lacking in such messy and uncomfortable situations as conviction and repentance.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

James 3:14-15

But unfortunately, this “wisdom” leads us no where but in circles, forever chasing the wind. Eventually, that sense of feeling pretty dang good will end up vacating and leaving a hollow space behind, and we will wonder what happened…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

Oddly enough, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen is also the best and only source of actual wisdom. Wisdom that reaps eternal profits, not temporary conveniences. Wisdom that leads to life and joy and peace even in the tumult and upheaval of life in a sin-sick world.

Wisdom that is useful and genuine.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

1 Corinthians 3:18-19

Father, forgive us for looking to anywhere but You for wisdom. Please, give us the wisdom we need to navigate this world in a way that honors You and prepares us for eternity in Your presence. As we ask, we ask in faith, without doubting that You have the wisdom we seek and that You will give it in due time and measure, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 6

Proverbs 6

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life…

Proverbs 6:23

A couple of things stood out to me in today’s reading. First, verse 23 reminds me of portions of Psalm 119. I’ve written a series on Psalm 119 in the past, but today I just want to point out a couple of verses. Take a look:

  • Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
    (Psalms 119:35-37)
  • It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
    (Psalms 119:71)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
    (Psalms 119:105)

I have to wonder if Solomon had his father’s words in mind when he penned Proverbs 6:23? (Side note: It’s unclear whether David actually wrote Psalm 119, but the tone and the wording certainly sound like the shepherd king to me.)

This one section, anyway, calls to mind the light and lamp of the Word, and how discipline and instruction are crucial to life – at least in an eternal sense.

But don’t take my word for it:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11

And speaking of peaceful fruit, verses 14 and 19 of today’s proverb speak of God’s displeasure with those who stir up strife and discord. An apt word for today with the constant temptation to add our voice to the global conversation on social media.

The younger me gleefully put in my two cents’ worth of nonsense when it came to adding comments, but the younger me did not often think through the impact of my words.

Today, with Psalm 141:3 on my lips as a prayer, I have a greater tendency to ask myself first: Does this need to be said? Does it add to the controversy or dispel it? Is it helpful or hurtful? Is it kind? Is it God-honoring? Is it necessary?

If any of those answers are negative, chances are good my two cents’ worth is exactly that: verbal coin which can’t even buy a stick of cheap candy.

Some things really are better left unsaid.

Holy Father, today we ask that You will set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door to our lips. You know how prone we are to speak rashly, without thought. Let Your Spirit be a harness for our speech, whether audible or typed, and ensure that our words bring life, hope, peace, and most of all, glory to You, amen.

When have you spoken or typed words you regret? How does this chapter speak to you?

Wisdom Seeker: Day 5

Proverbs 5

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Proverbs 5:21-23

At a glance, it may seem this chapter has little for the ladies. After all, it’s a chapter primarily warning men to steer clear of loose women, right?

Well, yes. But in a sense, it could apply as a double warning to us ladies. Not only are women just as prone to daydreaming about greener pastures, we could also heed the warning not to be the little floozy the chapter warns against.

Ultimately, however, for both men and women, the root of the matter is in faithfulness and contentment. The question isn’t so much, “Is my husband or wife enough for me?” as it is, “Is God Himself enough for me no matter how I may feel about my husband/wife (or lack thereof)?”

In the end, marriage is really a sort of concrete, physical allegory for remaining faithful to God. Keeping our eyes within the pasture of His will and not looking at the artificial turf the enemy has spread out to make us think that what the world has to offer is sweeter and more fulfilling than the eternal riches of Christ.

But beneath that lush fake grass is a whole lot of rocky reality and plain old mud.

Don’t be led astray, friends. Not by a gorgeous and flirtatious co-worker, not by a smooth-talking hunk, and certainly not by the lie that Eternity is a foolish focus when there’s so much pleasure right at our fingertips for the taking.

Eternal joy is a far better prize than a quick fix. And oddly enough, learning to be content with the husband or wife you have – or with your singleness if you don’t; well, believe it or not, that contentment is a far more lasting pleasure than the temporary release of caving to temptation.

Infidelity eventually wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved, and even innocents are caught in the crossfire. But faithfulness and contentment? Turns out they are better for your mental health in the long run.

And no one gets hurt. Huh. I guess the Creator knows what’s best for His creatures when He commands it. Go figure.

Lord, please forgive our wandering eyes and thoughts, whether we allow ourselves to daydream about “what ifs” in our human relationships or whether we commit adultery against You with the world. Forgive us, and help us to repent, embracing the faithfulness to You that brings true and lasting joy, amen.