Sunday, July 10, 2016

"Guard your heart! Do not envy those who are rich, but who do not have wisdom!"

Day #193

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 23 - 24 …

Possessing riches and wealth for the sake of having riches and wealth is foolishness.  When one multi-millionaire was asked, “How much is ‘enough’?”, he answered, “Just a little bit more!”  Those who try to find their happiness in riches will never be satisfied.  And envying those who have many possessions brings the same destruction as possessing them without wisdom.  An old song laments that "money can't buy you love."  Money can't buy you happiness either … or longer life … or a host of other things. Solomon was rich beyond what we can imagine, but he had come to understand that it was all "meaningless, like chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes).  So he writes, "Do not wear yourself out to get rich" (23:4).

As the theme of Solomon's proverbs revolves around wisdom, we learn repeatedly that wisdom comes from God.  Only when the Spirit of God opens your mind and changes your heart will you be free from the control of the sinful nature with which you were born.  God's Word, including Proverbs, is filled with warnings because the sinful nature craves the things of the world rather than the things of God.  The hope God offers is so much better than what the world offers!  Solomon says, "Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.  There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.  … keep your heart on the right path" (23:17-19).  Wisdom understands that there is more to the life God offers than what we can see with our eyes or possess in this world.

Those of us who live in places where there are people at different economic levels all living closely together can see the contrast between the "haves" and the have-nots."  There are in most places several levels, and because of that many people live each day wishing that they were at the next level … or perhaps several levels higher.  Solomon warns that riches are deceitful.  They offer much, but deliver little.  On the other hand, zeal for the LORD brings direction, purpose, meaning and satisfaction to life.  A life lived with and for the LORD seems "boring" to those whose eyes and hearts are set on the things of the world, but those who know the LORD and His love, compassion, mercy and grace find satisfaction in HIM!

How few people really understand this truth?  "Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding" (23:23).  The truth God reveals in His Word, the instruction He gives to those who believe and the promises He makes to us are worth more than all this world offers.  The deceitfulness of the world says otherwise, but it is a lie!!  The Apostle John writes, "Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (I John 2:15-17).

Those without wisdom from God pursue the things of the world as though they have value, meaning and purpose in themselves.  All of these things are simply decoys, objects to distract you from that which really has meaning. People can be really, really smart, and be spiritually ignorant.  But Solomon states, "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope!" (24:19-20).  Remember, Solomon says, " … always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.  There is surely a future hope for you!" (23:17-18).  And to his son he says, (GOD says!), "Give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways" (23:26).

Over and over Solomon, along with the rest of the Scriptures, points to God as the source of wisdom, strength, hope, joy and everything else we need in this life … and in the life to come.  If you seek the LORD, the only true God, and know Him through faith in His promises and in His Son Jesus Christ, you will never FALL!!  "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength" (24:10).  It is when you and I rely on our own wisdom and our own strength that we are weak and vulnerable.  Rather, it is when we lean on God, when we trust His unfailing love, when we lead a life that the world considers "boring," that we find all that our hearts long for.

The words of Psalm 73 say it so well, "Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25-26).  So Solomon writes again, "Know that wisdom is sweet to your soul, if you find it, there is a future hope for you!" (24:14).  Many all around you know little about wisdom, even as they boast of all that they "know."  They are without God and without hope as they live in this world.  "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

Wisdom begins when God convicts you of your need for HIM, and draws you to Himself by His Spirit.  He gives you a new heart and a new will and a renewed MIND, the very "mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16).  Guard your heart!  Do not envy those who are rich, but do not have wisdom.  Their lives may look exciting and easy, but they stand in quicksand.  Give thanks to God that your eyes can see the true value of all that God offers those who know and love Him.  Stand firm on the truth that there is a future for those who place their hope in the God who rules over all things for His glory.
There is more to be said for true wisdom than for anything this world offers, for wisdom from God leads to faith in God, and the fruit of faith is eternal life!!

"Heavenly Father, as I consider the supposed wisdom of the world and then look at the lives of those who possess all that this world offers, I see clearly that it is a mirage that leads many to destruction.  Forgive me for my foolishness in sometimes being distracted by the desire for that which cannot satisfy.  Help me to find in YOU my hope for the future … AND my joy for the present.  Only YOU can satisfy my soul and I draw near to You at this moment, thanking You for giving me true wisdom as I read Your Word and believe in You.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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