The more you have, the more you have to take care of.
This Pearl of Wisdom challenges us to really think about what it is we want.
We might say we want a bigger house, but do we also want to clean all that extra space? Do we want to pay the higher electricity or gas bills that go along with it? Do we really want the large mortgage or rental payments too?
We might say we want that promotion at work, but do we also want the longer commute that goes with it? We want the pay increase, but do we want to deal with the responsibility and associated stress?
The more we have and want, the more we have to take care of, pay for and devote time to.
I am not suggesting you become a minimalist, unless that is what you want, but I am asking you to carefully consider what new things you buy or what additional responsibilities you take on.
The Bible warns us to count the cost before we begin, and that is good advice! Putting it another way, try not to get caught up in the excitement of a new purchase or liftsyle choice without first thinking about all of its implications.
The good thing about this advice is that it can also be applied retrospectively. It is not just about what you take on in future. If you have failed to count the cost in the past, biting off more than you can chew, you can make changes now. Admittedly that’s harder if you’ve bought a house, as selling up and downsizing is no small decision. If you have bought items of furniture or a car even that is just too much to handle right now, you can sell them on or even give them away. You might lose some money in the deal, but you may gain peace. Peace is worth more than gold.
Before we commit to anything new, let each of us consider whether we really do want it. What we have needs looking after, and if our time is already stretched, adding to that to-do list will not help.
Are you on the verge of a decision – big or small – and need to consider this? Does your diary, bank statement or cluttered home scream that you have more on your plate than you can handle? Only you can make the change.
As I prepared for today’s post, I realised that I probably should have included Proverbs 2:9 in with the article called – When Wisdom. It fits better with the earlier parts of chapter two, but one of the keys to Proverbs is to review, review and review again! Some parts are repetitive for good reason, helping us to remember what we have learned.
So let’s use verse 9-10 as a refresher from our earlier studies on chapter two.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
equity and every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter into your heart.
Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Proverbs 2:9-10 (WEB)
The “Then” kicking off verse 9 reminds us that this is part of a continuing thought. The first part of chapter two presents us with a series of “if” statements directing us to choose wisdom or not.
Verses 5-8, and now 9 also, tell us the “then” – i.e. if we choose wisdom, then what?
Verse 9 summarises that we if we choose wisdom, we will understand righteousness and justice. We understood from previous texts that righteousness is not merely doing right, but being in right standing with God. Proverbs 1:3 rings familiar, speaking also of justice and equity, as verse 9 above does.
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
Proverbs 1:3 (WEB)
In some ways, Solomon is continuing to build his case for wisdom, making these points time and again, hoping they will, as verse 10 says, enter into our hearts. Our hearts can be hard at times, and it may take many thrusts of wisdom’s piercing to break through. When it does though, finally we may take pleasure in the knowledge of these things in our inner man or soul.
11 Discretion will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you,
12 to deliver you from the way of evil,
from the men who speak perverse things,
Proverbs 2:11-12 (WEB)
Verses 11-15 can be summed up in two phrases: 1) Discretion and understanding will keep and protect you, from what? From… 2) Men of evil who speak perversity.
The author piles word upon word about the depths of such men’s depravity, speaking of:
Their evil ways – v12
Their perverse speech – v12
Their ways of darkness – v13
Their rejoicing in evil – v14
And so on…
We might describe them simply as “bad men!”
Such descriptions might make you feel somewhat uneasy. In my mind, I picture a very dark alley in a not so nice part of town where such men might lurk in wait for me. The imagery is powerful, and is intended to send a shiver down our spine!
You may live in relative safety. A nice home, a friendly neighbourhood, and little if any crime to speak of. Yet we ought not to be fooled by the depths of sinfulness in the human heart. Very few of us would consider ourselves as “evil” but equally few would volunteer their inmost thoughts or secret sins. We have all fallen short, and ultimately anything that is not holy is evil to some extent.
Wisdom guards us though. Good judgement tells me not to walk down a dark alley at night, nor to drink heavily or take drugs before driving. Good sense, derived by wisdom, helps me to make sensible choices that do not risk my own life or that of others.
While wisdom cannot prevent all and every eventuality, it can drastically reduce the likelihood of falling prey to evil (be it others’ or our own).
While #wisdom cannot prevent all and every eventuality, it can drastically reduce the likelihood of falling prey to #evil (be it others’ or our own). #Bible #Christianity
even from the foreigner who flatters with her words,
Proverbs 2:16 (WEB)
Having warned us of the dangers of evil men, the chapter turns to warnings about a “strange woman.” This word “strange” is translated as “forbidden,” “immoral,” and “adulterous” in other versions of the Bible, and are perhaps more helpful adjectives.
We find ourselves, for the first time in Proverbs, dealing with a subject which will come up again and again in this book – adultery.
The strange woman here depicted in these verses is an image of temptation. She flatters and seduces, exploiting our fleshly desires. We may think adultery risks our marriage and family, and of course it does, but to start down this path leads to destruction (see verses 18 and 19).
To dabble in adultery, and even to indulge any form of sin, risks our very lives. That is how serious we should treat it. Proverbs 6:27 asks if a man can embrace fire and not have his clothes burned? The obvious answer is no!
I cannot emphasise enough the dangers of sin. We may think it’s just a little lie, or I’m only stealing a pen, or we’re just going out for coffee… and before you know it, you are trapped in sin’s clutches.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
James 1:15 (ESV)
It all starts with desire. As that desire grows, it leads to sin. And sin, once fully developed brings forth death! We think we can “play” with desires, but one thing leads to another and before long, we are drowning in iniquity.
Don’t let that be you dear reader! Don’t dabble with desire, don’t go near the strange woman nor the evil men. Let wisdom guard your ways, and employ common sense! In the heat of the moment you may want to give in to temptation, but wisdom asks if you will want to live with the consequences later.
Let wisdom enter your heart today, and steer well clear of any wrongdoing!
If you don’t take the first step, then you will never take the second.
Every journey begins with the first step. It may not sound all that profound, and is actually rather simple. But it is an indisputable truth.
Sometimes we look at our goals or the end of our journey, and recognise how far they are away. As a result, we refuse to take the first step. Understandable that may be, but it is also illogical. Refusing to take the first step will not get us any closer to our aim.
Take, for example, the writing of a book, or training to become a minister in the church. Such things can take a long time to achieve. We will never get there however if we don’t take that first step.
No matter what God has put on your heart to do, you cannot do it until you start. It may take 100 steps, but you cannot avoid taking the first one. Whatever it is you are putting off, put it off no longer. Take a deep breath, roll up those sleeves, and push that foot forward! It may be a tough road ahead, but if God has called you to do it, you will make it!￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
The first step may be very difficult, but often we find the second step easier than the first.
What are you aiming for? What dreams are on your heart? What is the first step, and can you take it today?
God bless you on your journey, wherever it leads you.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of nugget of wisdom. In fact, it’s rather obvious!
But look again…
Whatever successes you had yesterday, whatever you achieved, those things are done and there is a new day in front of you. We cannot live off of yesterday’s successes. We must make the most of everyday.
Similarly, whatever failures you had yesterday, they are in the past also. Don’t live with the regret of yesterday, but push on to what’s ahead.
Each of us has no more and no less than the day that is in front of us. We will only get one shot at it, so let’s make the most of it. We all have a limited number of them, and sadly none of us know what that number is. All we can do is our best each day.
What can you do to make today the very best you can?￼￼￼￼￼
Don’t expect what other people have, unless you’re willing to pay the price they paid to get it.
Some say we live in the age of entitlement. People have a tendency to want or even expect what other people have – without being willing to pay the price they paid to get it.
Some newly weds or homeowners expect the same standard of living as their retired parents, not realising it took their parents their entire lives working and saving to be in a position to live that way.
We want to lose weight and be fit and healthy, but don’t want to spend the hours in the gym we need to. We want the “body” but aren’t willing to let go of the chocolate!
The same can be true of churches and ministries. We see a “big church” (which is not necessarily a measure of success) and want our church to be the same. A Bible teacher draws in a crowd of hundreds, and we feel we ought to have at least the same.
What we often fail to understand is that these things all come at a cost and a sacrifice. Whether in ministry or in business or life in general, success takes time and patience. We may be watching the end result of years of hard work, expecting to have it all in a few weeks.
I encourage you to have goals and dreams, but set realistic expectations. Don’t look at others and covet what they have. Do what they did to get it. Learn from them, and strive towards your goals.
And remember, we usually only ever see the “edited highlights” of a person’s life. Instagram and Facebook are very selective windows into a person’s world.
We need desire, not discipline, to do the things of God
Most Christians would agree on some of the important things we ought to do as part of our faith. I’m thinking of things such as prayer, reading the Bible or sharing our faith with others. If these are indeed important, then do you feel you do them enough?
Most would probably say no.
We know that prayer and reading the Bible are important for building up our faith and our relationship with God. We know we ought to share our faith with those who haven’t yet heard about it, because no one else can do it. So what can we do?
Many would say we need discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to put down the mobile phone, or switch off the TV set, and do the things we know we should be doing.
We need desire however, not discipline.
While discipline has its place, if we really want to get things done, we need a desire to do them. Discipline only goes so far, but ultimately we do the things we want to do.
Ask God to grow your desire to pray, to read the Word and to share your faith with others. When you have the desire, you won’t need the discipline.