Monday, July 11, 2016

"Life is too simple to be so complicated ..."

Day #194

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 25 …

Reading through Solomon's proverbs is like finding small tidbits of wisdom that all have a common source … in this case, God.  When God created the world everything was perfect; then came sin.  People today spend countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to understand how life "works" and how to fix broken relationships, only to find out that the cause of all the brokenness in our world goes back to the problem inside all of us: the rejection of God's truth and a refusal to do things HIS way!  Wisdom requires knowing God and listening to His Word, then obeying His commands. And we know that it is only those who are born again by His Spirit and who then put their faith in Jesus Christ who will ever experience God’s grace and forgiveness and in doing so discover true wisdom.

God's Word is truth that speaks honestly about life, with nothing held back.   When Solomon says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings," (25:2), he may be explaining that because of God's glory, His perfection, we can never fully understand Him.  But that which has been revealed to us, that which kings may "search out," brings wisdom and is the glory of kings.  We may want a “king,” a leader who appears to be wise, but since wisdom comes from the one true God, Solomon is declaring that those leaders who don’t know God must go to HIM for answers.  Rulers have no glory of their own except that which they find in God as they rule for Him.  

Verses 3-5 speak of earthly kings and earthly kingdoms.  Who can figure out the hearts of men?  But God has His unchanging principles.  "Remove the wicked from the king's presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness" (25:5).  Righteousness is a key word throughout the Bible.  God's righteousness is the standard by which all other standards are measured.  As God warns in verses 6-7, no one should approach the king without being invited to do so, for no one is worthy.  Yet GOD is King over all and through Jesus God calls US to approach Him and makes us righteous by faith in Christ.  All this again points to how we live in this world as citizens of God's kingdom, even though we live under the rule of earthly kings.  Jesus Christ is Lord!!

The rest of the proverbs speak to things that help us to live in a world that gets complicated by the deceitfulness and foolishness of people who are not living according to God's Word.  Solomon speaks about relationships with "neighbors" in several of these proverbs and points out some thought-provoking truths … we'll look at a few of them:

Verses 8-10:  "What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?"  In other words, your perspective on what you see may not be accurate if you don't "know the whole story," so be careful what you repeat.  "If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man's confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation."  How often people hear what someone has said, jump to conclusions and act before considering the best course of action based on God's truth.  The result is that our desire to "help" comes back to ruin OUR reputation.  Always be sure that you have all the information you need to make wise decisions and to speak wisdom before confronting people.  Then do it as graciously as possible, with the love and grace of God as your motives.  Don't fail to act when called to do so, but don't be hasty in acting … you can do more harm than good.

In situations like that, "a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear" (25:11-12).  Isn't that a beautiful picture?!  Our words are so important and how we use them even more so.  Solomon speaks of a "trustworthy messenger," (25:13) and a "gentle tongue" (25:15) as powerful instruments, and often points out in his proverbs how words can either build up or tear down.  He even talks about things like not making a nuisance of yourself (25:17) or bearing false witness (25:18).  Being a good neighbor is part of life in this world.  Remember, Jesus summarized all of God's commands in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself!

All that you and I do affects those around us - either for the good or for the bad.  Something as simple as how to comfort those with a heavy heart is important to God ... don't sing to someone with a heavy heart!! (25:20). Listen and console and show compassion.  In words quoted by Paul in Romans 12:20, Solomon writes, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head ... and the LORD will reward you" (25:21-22).  And in summary the Apostle Paul adds, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).

In each proverb there is either a good outcome or a not so good outcome.  In rapid succession Solomon writes of life with PEOPLE, and compares actions to things ... things like a north wind and cold water and muddled springs.  Pictures are used to explain that our words and our actions have consequences.  Today we know wisdom comes from the Spirit of God who speaks to us through the written word.  The words of Solomon's proverbs, like the rest of the Bible, help us understand that life is really NOT that complicated.  As Solomon wrote at the end of his "Ecclesiastes," "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Those of us who have been filled with the Spirit place our trust in Jesus Christ, knowing that we are righteous in Christ before God and heirs of eternal life, therefore we are aliens and strangers here and we serve God in this life by keeping His commands (not to BE saved, but because we HAVE BEEN saved in Christ).  Life doesn't have to be complicated, but people make it that way by failing to listen to God's Word and put it into practice.  "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and do it!" (Luke 11:28).

"Father, in Your Word You have revealed a 'simple' life, a life lived for Your glory in obedience to Your commands.  Give me wisdom to apply Your truth to my daily living, loving my neighbor, choosing my words wisely and setting my heart on seeking Your glory, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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