The Law is Light (Proverbs 6:20-23a)

We have been working our way through Proverbs 6 over the last week, and there was just too much left to cover in one final post. Instead, I will tackle these few verses today and aim to finish the chapter sometime soon. While this final section should be taken as one, there are some points we can consider separately.

Let’s see what they have to say.

My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and don’t forsake your mother’s teaching.

21 Bind them continually on your heart.

    Tie them around your neck.

22 When you walk, it will lead you.

    When you sleep, it will watch over you.

    When you awake, it will talk with you.

23 For the commandment is a lamp,

    and the law is light.

Proverbs 6:20-23a WEB

Sound familiar? I hope so. Earlier on in Proverbs, we are told more than once to keep the commands. Why repeat the statement? In fact, Proverbs revisits the same themes over and over, why do we need to hear similar instructions time and again?

Put simply… because we need to! If we could be told once, and then follow the instruction, that would be quite something! Yet that is not my experience either in my own life or in the lives of others. We learn a lesson, put it into practice for a while, then perhaps start to forget or get out of the habit. When this happens, we must re-learn what we heard before. Proverbs is fairly repetitive because it needs to be. There is rich wisdom stored in these pages, and a cursory read one time will not change our hearts and lives. Instead, we must soak in its precepts, hearing them over and over and allowing them to change and shape us.

Verse 20 reminds us to keep our father’s commands and not to forsake the teaching of our mother. Wise parents are truly from God, and yet too frequently the young think they know it all. When I was a teenager growing up at home, I was no different. Having virtually no life experience, I deceived myself into thinking I knew more than the combined wisdom of my mother and father. It is almost embarrassing to admit, but I suspect I am not alone in that admission! If you are young and reading this, do listen to your parents! You may think they do not understand you or what you are going through, but chances are they do. If you are blessed with parents who care about you, then learn from them and take their advice. You may not appreciate it right now, but one day you will look back and be grateful to them and to God!

If you have godly #parents who care for you, then thank #God! #Bible #Jesus #wisdom

Verse 21 instructs us to bind “them” around our heart and tie them about our neck. The “them” here is the commandments of the parents, and include (I believe) the wisdom of the Proverbs and also the entirety of Scripture. How do we bind things around our heart? This is clearly a figure of speech, and means to continually store up wisdom within our inner self. Meditating on the wisdom found in the Bible will renew our minds and change us over time. Studying God’s Word will save your life and your eternity, and is not a one off thing. You must endure, putting in the effort and studying the Bible over and over. Like eating or breathing, it is essential to life and something we must do day and night.

I particularly like verse 22, as it offers us such good incentives to studying the way of wisdom. Firstly, when we walk, wisdom will lead us. So often I find myself not knowing the way to go – and I do not mean literally, as in using a map or GPS! Instead, I mean that I face decisions of varying levels of importance, and it is not always clear which to choose. For instance, a while back I was reviewing the mortgage we have on our home and considering whether to fix the rate or not. It was not clear what would happen to interest rates at the time, and so it looked like a “gamble.” Since then, the interest rates in the UK have increased almost every month. In hindsight, it is easy to see which choice was the right one, but not so easy when the decision is in front of you. Wisdom helps us decide, and even then we must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom also watches over us while we sleep. I interpret this in two ways. Firstly, that wisdom means we can rest peacefully because we have taken necessary precautions. If you lay down in a warm bed, in a safe home, having locked the doors and checked all is well, then you will likely sleep far more easily than if you left the front door wide open or ignored the gaping hole in the roof! Also though, I think wisdom watching over us means that we have turned to God, properly fearing Him and even if we lack physical safety, we can rest easy knowing that He has our spiritual safety in hand. We cannot realistically guard against every potential threat to our physical safety, but even if the worse should happen, we know that we will be ushered into His presence at the end of our lives. That gives us true peace.

Verse 22 thirdly points out that when we are awake, wisdom talks with us. So often the word “wisdom” in Proverbs can be replaced with the word “God.” Wisdom “talks” to us as it instructs us in how to live. As we walk and breathe, we can consider wisdom’s ways and apply them. Likewise, God is willing to speak with us each day and in all situations so that we know how to live to please Him.

If I asked the average person if “commandments” are a good thing, I suspect I would get a mixed set of answers. Our natural flesh is hardly excited at the idea of being commanded what to do, yet verse 23 describes them as a lamp. The Law, which bound many for generations, was in fact “light.” It may feel restrictive to have to follow various laws of the land, yet it also ensures we can live in freedom. In a similar way, we might find God’s law restrictive in our flesh, but it leads to spiritual freedom. This is perhaps better understood in an example. When someone is rude to us, our flesh wants to be rude in return. Yet, God’s law of love requires us to repay evil for good and instead offer kindness instead. This may make our skin crawl! Following the command however, leads (hopefully) to an end to the conflict or at the very least, no way of accusing us of wrongdoing. Being rude back may have caused escalation, and so avoiding that does indeed give us freedom.

The Bible and the wisdom it offers us leads us to light. It is a lamp to our feet, showing us the way to go and helping us avoid the traps of life.

Bind the Bible about yourself. Put Scriptures in your home, your car and in places you will see it often. Follow social media accounts that share the Word of God, and keep it before your eyes night and day. As you do, the wisdom of the Word will change you and lead you to Jesus.

Be Wise… like an ant? (Proverbs 6:6-11)

Having warned us against offering collateral, and of being tied up by our own words, Proverbs 6 moves on to a subject it will return too fairly often – laziness.

Go to the ant, you sluggard.

    Consider her ways, and be wise;

7 which having no chief, overseer, or ruler,

8     provides her bread in the summer,

    and gathers her food in the harvest.

9 How long will you sleep, sluggard?

    When will you arise out of your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,

    a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11 so your poverty will come as a robber,

    and your scarcity as an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6-11 WEB

Verses six to eight begin by pointing to the ant as our example. This is, on the surface, a rather strange comparison. What can we – humans created in the image of God – learn from the humble ant? Quite a bit it seems!

Verse 6 is addressed to a lazy man – a sluggard. He is directed to look at the ways of the ant, and to “be wise.” You may not think of yourself as a “sluggard,” but a wise person does indeed look around, consider other ways and learn from them. Even if you are not lazy, do not skip over these words – instead, be wise and learn!

Verse 7 tells us that the ant has no chief, overseer or king. This is important because it shows us that despite this, the collective group of ants  – a “colony” I’m told – appears to operate collaboratively and as one. Take the same number of people, set them a task and don’t elect a leader, and you will have chaos! Somehow, the colony of ants know what needs to be done and they work together to achieve it. it is as astonishing miracle when you think of it. God, as Creator, has given them the ability to work together in this way, and to even plan ahead. These are lessons we can all learn.

Verse 8 is key here. It tells us that he ant provides her food in the summer, and gathers in at harvest time to see herself through winter. Under God’s sovereign control, the ant enjoys the good of the summer and yet plans ahead to see itself through the harder winters.

To be like the ant, we must do the same. I imagine an individual who is self-employed. They may be enjoying a time of abundance right now, with lots of work and good money coming in. a wise person would not just enjoy this time, but would prepare for times when the income may fall.

My father-in-law is a butcher and runs a village shop. He knows that in the run up to Christmas, he will make a lot of sales and be extremely busy. Likewise, in the summer, he knows he will sell much produce for barbeques and parties. He also knows that January and February are quiet months, with little trade. To survive, he must ensure that the summer takings and Christmas abundance see him through the more difficult winter months.

Enjoy the good times of course, but store up in preparation for the bad times #wisdom

Verses 9 and 10 then go on to warn of the dangers of “sleep.” Now, to be clear, these verses are not saying sleep is a bad thing and we should not do it. Clearly, it is right and biblical to get sufficient amounts of rest. The warning here is against sleeping too much – it is about lazing about instead of getting up to work. I reiterate that rest is important, but so is putting in a good day’s work. There is danger in the extremes; too much rest and you fall into the temptation of laziness, too little rest and you risk making yourself ill and unproductive.

Verse 10 does say “a little sleep,” implying that even a little sleep is dangerous. I may be incorrect, but would qualify this as a “little sleep at the wrong time…” is dangerous. If, for example, my boss walks into my office and sees me asleep at my desk, then the argument that I was only asleep for a few minutes probably won’t wash. A good eight hours of sleep in bed at night is a good thing, but even 8 minutes when we should be working is bad.

Verse 11 concludes the section giving quite a stark picture of poverty. Laziness leads to poverty; particularly in a society where you were dependent on working the land for survival. If you do not work, you do not eat, because the land will not yield its fruit to you unaided. To be lazy is to allow poverty to creep up on you like an armed man. When faced with a robber holding a weapon, you have little choice but to do as they say. In a similar way, laziness leads to poverty, and this leaves little choice in life.

For us in the modern world, this danger may not seem so real. Many have access to credit cards and loans, and so if one loses their job, they can rely on debt to see them through. Similarly, if loans and credit are not open to you, then the Government provide benefits to help out. We can debate if use of credit or to rely on benefits is a good thing or not, but clearly these are intended to be temporary measures. You cannot live your life on credit, charging one purchase after the next, without it one day catching up with you.

I write this at a time when interest rates are rising, and energy prices in the UK are skyrocketing. I want to be clear that I am not saying you are lazy if you are struggling to pay your bills! Far from it! Many people are struggling financially right now, and are working extremely hard to make ends meet. The point here is that laziness leads to poverty, but that does not mean that poverty equals laziness.

Let each of us examine our lives in the light of God’s Word. We all have lazy days or times of lower productivity due to a variety of reasons. When laziness becomes a habit however, this is when it becomes a real problem. As I said above, the opposite extreme is just as risky, so we each need to work hard and rest well.

An ant may be a tiny thing, and yet it has much to teach us. Let us open our eyes, and learn from God’s Creation. We must “be wise” just like the ant!

Thanks for reading.

Trapped by our Words (Proverbs 6:1-5)

Proverbs 6 opens with a warning, and one that may not immediately strike a cord with you. When was the last time you acted as collateral for your neighbour? Not recently I’d wager, so does that mean we can ignore these words of warning? Let’s read them and see if there are elements which do apply to us.

My son, if you have become collateral for your neighbor,

    if you have struck your hands in pledge for a stranger,

2 you are trapped by the words of your mouth;

    you are ensnared with the words of your mouth.

3 Do this now, my son, and deliver yourself,

    since you have come into the hand of your neighbor.

Go, humble yourself.

    Press your plea with your neighbor.

4 Give no sleep to your eyes,

    nor slumber to your eyelids.

5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Proverbs 6:1-5 WEB

Verses one and two describe a situation where someone has trapped themselves with their words. In our modern day world, we might imagine someone signing up as a guarantor for someone else. For example, when signing a rental agreement, you may need to provide a guarantor who will back you in the event that you cannot pay. The guarantor, like this person in Proverbs, is “trapped” in that contract.

Have you ever been asked to be a guarantor for someone else? If so, then the chances are it was a good friend or family member. In such cases, you may have been rather hesitant to sign up. How so? Usually it is because we do not want to end up footing the bill for someone else when we have our own bills to pay. There may, of course, be situations where it is appropriate to enter into such an agreement – most commonly in my experience, this is when a parent acts as guarantor for their (adult) child.

What about a stranger though? What if someone you had never met before advanced on you, pen and clipboard in hand, seeking your signature on a contract… run my friend, as fast as you can!

Verses one and two describe becoming entangled in a situation with either a neighbour or stranger, and this risking your own situation to do so. In the time these words were first written, there were no bankruptcy courts, and no administrators to mediate between you and your debtors. You paid up what you owed, or could end up becoming enslaved. The warning is clear then, do not jump into such agreements.

Verse two in particular opens out the meaning for us here. It is our words that have ensnared us; our ill thought through commitments have led us into danger. While you may not be at risk of becoming someone’s guarantor any time soon, have you made commitments with your words that you now regret?

Do not be trapped by the #words of your mouth! #Bible #Jesus #Christianity #Wisdom

When I think back, there have been a number of times when I have committed to something in the moment, and later regretted it. “Yes, I can do that…” I say, and then the time comes and the effort, energy or cost is more than I wanted to offer.

I heard someone telling a story about a time they visited a city, met some new friends and casually said to them they should come visit with them “sometime.” Several weeks later, these new friends called up and said, “We’re ready to come.” “Ready to come where?” the individual thought… They had been hung by their tongue. It was simply not convenient, and not really something the person wanted to do. They even prayed for a way out of it, and God told them that they would indeed honour their own words, put these people up and show them around, and perhaps learn a lesson not to be so flippant with their invites in future. What a lesson!

What commitments have you made that you later regretted?

Verses three to five then turn to what we should do if we have entered into something we shouldn’t have.

Firstly, they advise us not to wait! Go now! Do not let yourself sleep, and do not put it off until tomorrow! Go! Resolve it straightaway!

It can be difficult to undo words we have spoken. Yet, it is better to put things right than to let other people down by not meeting our commitments. How often do people sign up for one church rota or another, and yet the tasks go unfulfilled? I know there have been times when I’ve signed up, and not done it. This isn’t the way excellent Christians should live.

It can be difficult to undo #words we have spoken. It is better to put things right than to let other people down #Bible #Christianity #wisdom

It is indeed difficult to admit we are wrong. Two little words in the midst of verse three are key here, “humble yourself.” It does certainly take humility to recognise our faults, and it can hurt our pride to tell someone else. I will let you in on a secret though… it will not surprise anyone else to learn that you are not perfect!

I have no small amount of pride, and am constantly wrestling with it. Admitting my faults is time consuming (he says, somewhat tongue in cheek!) but I must humble myself before God and others. If I trap myself with my words, like a gazelle (as above in verse 5) then it is right that I correct things. If it causes me some small amount of embarrassment, then that is a lesson to learn.

I want to close this post by picking up similar words of instruction from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’

Luke 14:27-30 WEB

Jesus’ words here refer to the cost of being a disciple. Of course, they do apply more widely than this, but in context are crucially important. Reflecting on the importance of our words, and not making commitments we cannot fulfil, are you prepared to fulfil the requirements of claiming Jesus as Lord? In my post – Lord, Lord! – I pointed out that it is one thing to call Jesus Lord, and yet quite another to live a life serving Him.

Do not let your words be worthless. Do not sign up to do something unless you are able to fulfil it. This applies to small things in life, but even more so to the commitment to follow Christ.

Saturday Scriptures – 17 September 2022

Although normal service has now resumed on the blog, whatever normal is! I thought I might continue to share select Bible verses for you to think about throughout the day.

How good are you at waiting? I have some patience, often it is tested at times!

What about waiting on the Lord? how good are you at that?

Waiting on God is not like waiting for a train however. Instead, waiting on the Lord is like waiting on a table. We do not stand with our arms folded and tapping our toes. Rather we are attentive and ready to serve.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Give this some thought today.

Don’t Give Up Giving – Andy Brown

This post, originally published over two years ago, was released during the height of the Covid pandemic in the UK.

While I hope we have now moved on from lockdowns and restrictions, the UK now faces another crisis in energy costs. I am sure it is the same where you are as well.

As our bills in every area increase, what does that mean for our giving to God? Should we cut it back? Should we stop altogether?

I hope you find the post interesting, and welcome your thoughts in the comments.

Giving can be a tough subject to discuss, and particularly at the moment with all the other issues going on in the world. However, a Christian who does not give is like a Christian who does not pray. Christians should be generous givers. There are many individuals and groups struggling because of the impact of…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/04/16/dont-give-up-giving/

Hidden in my Heart

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

My family and I are experiencing a challenging time at the moment. this means I am blogging on the go, and so please excuse any formatting or lack thereof!

Over the past few days, I do not think I have stood still for one moment! My time with God has been seriously restricted, as has my time in his word.

Can you relate? Have you had similar seasons in life?

I rejoice that I have had opportunities to store God’s word in my heart in the past, and can draw on those resources now.

I strongly encourage you to hide God’s word in your heart during the sunny seasons in life. Life will always throw times of trouble at us, but we can prepare ahead of time.

This verse tells us that by hiding God’s word in our hearts, we will reduce the risk of sin. The more Bible we have within us, the stronger we will be to face temptation when it comes. And temptation is harder to resist during times of trouble, when we are tired or stressed.

Thank God for his precious word!

Fix the Roof (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

Fix the roof while the Sun is shining

Are you putting something off that you know you ought to be doing?

For instance, have you been putting off your regular dental checks? you may not have toothache right now, and perhaps you just don’t have the time to visit the dentist or want to face the expense at the moment.

Perhaps your car has been making an unusual sound, the occasional whiff of smoke, or even the check engine light has come on. Yet, you have not found the time to visit the Mechanic.

Maybe you knew about a hole in your roof, yet the summer has stretched out before you without a drop of rain in sight.I will fix the roof later, you think, but later never comes. While later may not have come, if you live in the UK, the rain certainly will!

Turning to spiritual matters, perhaps there is a sin or bad habit in your life that you know you need to be rid of.

Maybe you have felt the Lord leading you to pick up your bible more often, or to kneel down in prayer more frequently. later, you think…

My advice to you today is to fix the roof while the Sun is shining! Because you never know when a raincloud may form.

Don’t put things off that you know you need to do now. Do not wait until it is too late!

When the toothache comes or the car breaks down in the middle of the road, you will wish you had taken the necessary steps in advance.

Likewise, when the storms of life hit you, and they will, you will regret not having a firm grasp on your Bible or not having spent more time with the Lord in prayer.

The ultimate example is to put off making a commitment to Jesus Christ as your saviour and Lord.do not put this off dear reader! Get on your knees today and commit your life to Jesus! Do it now, while you can, for later may not come.

Take my advice today, fix the roof while the Sun is shining! And have a great day

If Truth is Silenced, Will Evil Prevail?

When should we be silent? And when should we speak up? It is not always an easy thing to decide. This thought-provoking blog shares some insights for us to consider. I enjoyed reading this over the weekend, so I thought I would share it with you today.

It seems like people will believe just about anything these days (and that includes Christians). The question that hounds me is this: Should I be …

If Truth is Silenced, Will Evil Prevail?

A Gentle Answer – Andy Brown

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”Proverbs 15:1 (NLT) This particular verse came up in my Bible reading this morning. It may be very familiar to you or perhaps it’s the first time you’ve read it. Either way, there is much wisdom in its words. A gentle answer can make a…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/02/24/a-gentle-answer/

S05E001, I’m Fine! Endurance

These young men will go far! and I cannot wait for the next episode!

Watch the video, Listen to the Audio, Read the transcript or Download the Video- below! On this, the first episode of Season 5, we talk about how we …

S05E001, I’m Fine! Endurance

S04E087, Accepting things is a good thing! Andy B 2 Minute Video

Some wise advice from Andy here. How well do you accept praise?

When people say well done, do you try and deflect that compliment? I know this is something I’ve always struggled

S04E087, Accepting things is a good thing! Andy B 2 Minute Video

The Berean Approach – Andy Brown

I don’t want you to just take my word for it… We take a little break from our current series on Psalm 103 to discuss something important. It is an immense privilege to share God’s Word with you through this blog, and I take that responsibility very seriously. But you, the reader, have a responsibility…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/04/12/the-berean-approach/