Be Kind

My wife and I have taught in schools. She has almost only ever taught Kindergarten (about 4 months of not in eight years), and I taught 7th Grade Mathematics and further back in Special Education.

I tell you what, working with a lot of kids can teach a lot about life! Especially how cruel and mean people can be.

A recent movement in the past few years is called “Be Kind”. The name is pretty self explanatory, and they do some good work helping teach students to simply be nice to each other.

Proverbs chapter 12 can be summarized this same way: Be Kind.

Think about it: it starts with advice for controlling yourself (discipline, vv. 1-4), transitions through recognizing it starts with our thoughts (vv. 5-8), moves to our actions toward others (including animals! vv. 9-12), and the majority focuses on what we say (vv. 13-26).

Words probably get the most time because of how much we tear each other down with our words. Sometimes it is unintentional.

But we must remember that kindness starts internally, with our thoughts and beliefs. So, to be kind means we start by changing our thinking, and ultimately it happens by trusting in God.

He first showed His kindness by coming to us lowly sinners to reveal truth and die for our forgiveness. The ultimate kindness is leading others to life in Christ.

The path of the righteous is life, and in its pathway there is no death.
Proverbs 12:28

Advertisements

Instructionless Brutes

It might be nearly the end of the week, and one might think we’d already gotten past the first verse of the chapter, but Proverbs 12:1 stood out to me this morning, and I’d like to tell you why.

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. – Proverbs 12:1

There are a lot of people who feel like there is no need for preachers, teachers, instructors, professors, or pastors. I read their comments any time I write something having to do with the ministry and ministry needs.

Often, and usually with poor spelling and grammar, the irate and biblically-illiterate employ arrogant language and out-of-context verses to “prove” their point. Consider a brief excerpt I copied from one particular conversation…the write goes by the name of Paradox7:

I don’t need an operator to call my LORD , and I have been reading the Bible since I was a child , don’t need an interpreter either…

Jesus actually spoke of wolves in sheep’s clothing , referring to religious leaders of his time , the same people who set him up for murder because he asurped their authority .If you have read the Bible , you can’t really disagree with that sentiment… It is a common bibical theme to be wary of authority figures , but of course many do not get the message , even as Jesus predicted ” for wide is the gate that leads to destruction , and there are many who will walk thru it .”

There is more to being instructed than simply reading the Bible. Many people do that, just like the Ethiopian Eunuch who asked Phillip in Acts 8:31, “How can I [understand], except some man should guide me?”

Godly teachers are a gift from God to the Church (Ephesians 4:11). Some people need them more than others.

 


Appreciate What You Have

The following are three different translations of the same verse:

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious. – Proverbs 12:27 KJV

A lazy hunter doesn’t roast his game, but to a diligent person, his wealth is precious. – Proverbs 12:27 CSB

Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. – Proverbs 12:27 NLT

However you look at it, according to this verse there are two types of people in this world: those who don’t care about what they have and those who do.

The slothful or lazy hunter – lazy people in general – are so often the most blessed people in the world. I mean, seriously, isn’t it the case where so often they have more than they need, more than enough to make something of themselves, yet let it all rot?

People today are so far removed from those of “the greatest generation” that they have no idea how good they actually have it. The poorest people in America are richer than many of the wealthy in other countries, and what they can waste on a daily basis is proof positive.

But to the diligent person…the person who works hard…the person who doesn’t expect a handout, but understands the value of persistence…the one who knows that tomorrow’s hunt might not go as well…the one who is grateful for what he has…what he has is precious, because he appreciates what it took to possess it.

Remember that “the LORD your God gives you the power to gain wealth” (Deut. 8:18), and whatever you collect in the hunting trip of life is ultimately a reflection of the mercy of God. Don’t take it for granted, and for heaven’s sake don’t waste it.


Bring On the Red Ink

doggie dunceIt’s been years since I have taken a written test, but even as an adult I still get some well-suppressed jitters when the paper is handed back.  (That is, unless it’s all on computer; I’m showing my vintage, I suppose.)

Who doesn’t remember the composition class in high school with the completed assignment coming back marked up in red from the teacher?  And I only made it to trigonometry and “college math” when I was in high school—I begged off from calculus, thank you very much.  My first trig exam came back into my hands with something like an 11 out of 40 or 50. (I still distinctly remember that “11” at the top of the page.)

Thankfully, nursing school didn’t need calculus or trig, but since this was before the days of ubiquitous computerized machinery—or Google—we needed a special form of math that had to do with calculating IV drip rates, converting “household” and “apothecary” measurements into “metric” portions, and the like.  There’s no wiggle room in this kind of math—the patient’s health (and life) depended on it. 

I’m not sure what kind of memories King Solomon was drawing upon when he wrote this…

“To learn, you must love discipline;
    it is stupid to hate correction.”

…but he may have had a time when he also hoped his own personal physician hadn’t tried to cheat, fake or argue his way through medical school. 

To be a student of any kind takes discipline, and discipline takes humility.  It means embracing the (eventually inevitable) fact that I’m not smart enough on my own to get it right the first time.  Maybe not even the second or third.  That someone may actually know more than me.  That knowledge and skill comes only with persistent personal application, and that, in itself, comes with the price of time and sacrifice.

In reality, the dunce hat doesn’t belong to those who make mistakes, but to those who refuse to learn from them, and from others.

Your future “patients” will thank you.

Proverbs 12:1 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Doggie Dunce photo from StrangeDangers.com, Google Images


Roots of Power

A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved. -Proverbs 12:3, KJV

I can already hear what some people are saying:

If a man can’t be established by wickedness, then why do so many tyrants, despots, and fearmongerers take power?

The short answer is that they have effectively sold their souls to the Devil.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
Luke 4:5‭-‬7

Here is the kicker, though: we know that their foundation is weak. Christ is the firm foundation on which stand.

These leaders are like trees growing in dry, drought-wrought land. They seem strong and powerful, but when storm clouds come, they will be easily uprooted.

As Christians, however, we are grafted into the strong Root of Jesse.

And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
Romans 15:12

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:30

When Jesus returns (or these leaders die), then it will be known how faulty their foundations were, that God is the only true foundation to have. Their roots will be torn up, but our powerful God is our own root.

Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Luke 4:8


Do I Love What goes with Learning?

Intentional DiscipleshipThe first thing is to cultivate a love of learning. To be wise, means I need to grow. It isn’t something we are naturally born with. We must have a passion for learning.

When I commit to learning the way of Jesus, I am opening myself up to correction. The student doesn’t learn without correction.

Learning isn’t easy. It requires work. It requires a real discipline to do it even when I don’t want to or feel like it. Learning means I willing to hear, no, that is not the right way. Jesus calls all of to be disciples (learners) of His way.

When I fall short, I must submit to God’s discipline and receive correction. I must be open to hearing I wan’t correct in my thinking.

I can be foolish and be headstrong. I can do what I like, not what Jesus wants me to do. If I am wise, I will take advice.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it. How shortsighted to refuse correction! ~King Solomon (Proverbs 12:1 The Message Bible)

The Greek term for “disciple” in the New Testament is mathetes, which means more than just “student” or “learner.” A disciple is a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct. The Pharisees prided themselves in being disciples of Moses (John 9:28). Their discipleship began with Jesus’ call and required them to exercise their will to follow Him (Matthew 9:9).

Jesus was quite explicit about the cost of following Him. Discipleship requires a totally committed life: “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Sacrifice is expected: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).

Not all of Jesus’ followers were able to make such a commitment. There were many who left Jesus after a while. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).


Puppaccinos and Mercy

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. -Proverbs 12:10, KJV

Mickey loves his Puppaccino, even when he gets stuck.

I love my dogs. We even sometimes call them our “fur babies.” Sometimes I spoil them with a trip to the coffee shop that has Puppaccinos for dogs (whipped cream with dog biscuits on top). I feel bad when they do not get their regularly timed walks or step on a sharp rock or hot asphalt during those walks.

Even though I love these guys, if my wife or another human were in trouble, I would choose the human over them.

Have Mercy

Some people, however, only view animals as property, at best. Their idea of mercy on their dogs is not kicking them very hard or remembering to feed them today.

Oftentimes, these are people who tend to treat many humans similarly. Whether it is being verbally abusive, deceptive, or simply not caring, this type of person would rather record you having a problem than help you.

This thinking infects most of us in some way, ever since the beginning when Cain asked God about Abel, “Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, “How is this my problem? What has it to do with me?”

Jesus turned this thinking on its head, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). To be fondly and righteous means to make others’ problems our own. It means not thinking too highly of oneself, but as a servant to others. It means having compassion and showing mercy on others.

It might even mean caring about what happens to animals. (But always in regards to human life.)