Lines by Lee
The Power of Proverbs
July 16, 2020
As we are now midway through the hot summer, I thought it would be cool to continue looking at the Proverbs. I know some folks read a Proverb a day to keep foolishness away. I have at times prayed some Proverbs. Whatever approach we take it is certainly beneficial to read and apply God's wisdom in these troubled times.
According to Proverbs 3, we should not forget his teaching, but keep his commands in our hearts. What if we do that? It will result in a prolonged life, peace, and prosperity (1-2). As a hospice chaplain I have seen how much people want to live a long life and how they tend to fear their physical life ending. I believe the Lord blesses us with our relatively short lives on earth. He wants us to live for him and love others all of our days. So while we look forward to our real home in heaven most would be fine with living for Christ on this planet as long as possible. If we are going to get old we might as well age gracefully and with wisdom.
Even in our diverse world there is one thing people have in common. We all desire to have peace. No one wants to argue with their spouse. We do not want tension with our children or siblings. It is difficult to see racial issues dividing our country. We do not want fighting and wars between countries. In a noisy world we long for peace and quiet. Of course, unless one has peace with God through Jesus Christ there is no lasting peace with one another. Jesus gave his followers these powerful, peaceful words – "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). The Lord makes peace available to us. Wise disciples will ask him for peace.
I had a roommate in college who liked to say, "Whether you are rich or poor, it's nice to have money." Most people want to be prosperous. If you gave me a choice of a $10 or $100 gift card, I will take the bigger amount every time. God certainly can bless godly people financially. But there are no promises along those lines. The meaning of the word prosperity relates to the Hebrew word shalom. It can mean peace, fulfilment, honor, and wealth. But seeking God and his wisdom brings peace and his favor. He provides us with what we really need. A dear friend and man of God recently retired from leading a national ministry. After 45 years of serving I do not think he has much life savings. However, Ed Lewis is prosperous and fulfilled because God used him to reach and impact thousands of people for the kingdom. He lives a life of honor and has been blessed. Silver and gold does not interest him. Being on mission and inviting people to come to Jesus is his passion. Great is his reward in heaven. He epitomizes the next verses. "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (3-4).
A wise person is one who loves all the time and is faithful to the Lord. That combination involves intentionality and sacrifice. Hour by hour we must decide if we are going to live for self or for God and others. Will we be merciful and loyal to God? The world calls us to wander and stray. The one who wisely walks with God trusts him to faithfully follow his narrow path. When we have favor with people we can impact them. Like a medallion hanging from a neck it becomes obvious when a person loves God and others. The lost world will notice. A person with a good reputation has a voice and can be God's ambassador wherever he or she finds themselves (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Part of wisdom involves not thinking too highly of self. We are valuable and made in God's image. So it is not good to make fun of oneself or see oneself as worthless. Most people do not have that problem. Pride makes us put ourselves first and place our needs and desires ahead of others. We tend to think we are pretty smart. On the rare occasion we might not be an expert on something we can always Google it, right? No wonder the Bible has to say, "do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (7-8). We must battle the tendency to think we know all we need to know or that we are smarter than those around us. It must also be understood that knowing all about things of the world does not equate with wisely knowing the things of God. We must fear God and resist evil. When we do not fear the Lord it becomes easy to go toward evil. That hurts God, others, and self. However, when we get it right we will think and feel and live right.
I decided long ago that for me (and later my wife) giving 10 percent back to the Lord was only a minimum. Most American Christians apparently give way less than a tenth. I have been blessed for many years because I have sought to honor the Lord with my money. I am sure I could do more. Various verses speak of the blessing and provision of God when we realize all that we have comes from him and should be used for his glory and purposes. "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine" (9-10). I don't have a barn or vat but I am grateful for a full pantry, refrigerator, closet, and garage. When we are a blessing we are blessed. What can you do this week to honor the Lord with your wealth and wisdom? If you can't think of anything you could always ask God!