Category Archives: pride/humility

The Preciousness of Wisdom

Hello, Dear Reader. I am a rarity to this blog, but I have come to share with you some truths of Wisdom which I have gleaned.

Last Summer, I found myself in a particularly tough place in regards to dating relationships. The person I was with for a period of three months was someone of immoral character and rebellion. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and I, being the naïve woman looking for a nice and caring fellow, fell into the trap of enticement.

During the last couple of weeks of my relationship, I was interested in reading Scripture, but it was rooted in how I wanted to prove to my parents that this person I spent time with was worth the time I had invested. I began to read through Proverbs for a short time, but once my relationship ended I began to have a bitterness fester within my heart due to some underlying problems with self-image and self-value.

I have always hated the possibility that one day I would live up to my middle name which means “bitterness,” yet that is exactly what I had become: a bitter young woman, full of rebellion against my upbringing. I spent a majority of my time during the last half of last year and the first part of this year in hate and corruption of the mind and heart, and the worst part was that I knew exactly how to remedy that pain I put myself through.

In a paper I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I stated:

“I know that God is real and loving and forgiving; I know with all certainty that He wants me to come to Him. Even so, I do not want the help that He has to offer my wounded and rotting spirit. I do not want to muster up the courage it takes to allow Him to scrape the putrid rot from my soul, just as a doctor must scrape and clean a burn victim. I do not want the comfort that He sends me through the gracious acts of others as they hold me and speak life into my heart. I do not want what I need. I want my own efforts to win over. Never have I understood so clearly how a dying man fights for his last breath – until now. I know that God is real, but I would rather trust my fingernails for security.” – The Strength of My Own Fingernails

Now, as I am recovering from this season of life, I can look at Scripture again with a refreshed mind and soul. Here is what I have learned from Proverbs 2:

Wisdom is:

  • A protector via discernment (v. 3)
  • A saving grace from wicked people (v. 12-19)
  • Something which only comes from the Lord (v. 6)
  • Something which must be sought out (v. 1-5)
  • Something which has value (v. 4)

Sterling Silver

In verse 4, Solomon refers to the value of Wisdom as being like that of the value of silver. This precious metal has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, including a piece which is now on my left ring finger. I wear a sterling silver band for several reasons, one of which to serve as a reminder that God’s Wisdom is something to be cherished. If only I had listened to the teachings of this Word and my parent’s concerns before taking my course of actions last year! I would have saved myself so much heartache and regret!

Wisdom is worth seeking out; it is a treasure to obtain. The catch is this: you must be willing to sacrifice your personal agenda in order to journey to find this treasure. It was only after I sacrificed my lifestyle and my hurt to Christ that I was able to access the Lord’s Wisdom again. If you want this treasure, it must be the only thing you seek.

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Bite Your Tongue!

Proverbs 30:32

32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. (KJV)
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (ESV)

James said it best:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:5-18, ESV

Lord, help us to control our tongues, to rein in our pride, and to be children of humility and peace.


Adventures in Pride & Humility

Proverbs 29:23

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

A Secret Life

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to see the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Neither of us is particularly fond of Ben Stiller, but every so often he is in something we like watching him. This is one of those.

Walter Mitty is a quiet man who has a tendency to slip into daydreams and out of focus with reality. This occasionally leads to problems at work, in various conversations, and in his love life. When his job is endangered by a superior who is overconfident and displays this overconfidence by picking on weaker-willed individuals such as Walter, Walter sets out across the globe in a series of adventures to save his job at LIFE Magazine. Without spoiling the story too much, Walter finds a confidence he forgot he had, and his superior gets put in his place.

The Next Life

The difference in real life is that the consequences are far different.

If we live our lives overconfident of or full of pride in ourselves and what we can do, we can forget about God or think there is no need for God. This will bring us low … very low … to Hell. Eternal separation from God.

However, if we can live with humility, we will find honor. Humility is understanding the truth of ourselves, and the truth is that we need a Savior: Someone who understands us better than we ever could, knows that we are dreadfully sinful beyond our ability to overcome that sin, and was willing to take our punishment by dying on a cross. Jesus Christ took that punishment because He knows us so completely and loves us still.

If we are humble enough to know and accept this truth, we will be honored with Christ by the Father with eternal life!

Gracious Savior, thank You for Your love and sacrifice for our friendship. Help us to rid sinful pride from our hearts to be filled with true humility to seek You above ourselves and all else.


Getting Fat

Proverbs 28:25 

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat.

The use of the word ‘fat’ in this proverb in the KJV is rather interesting, not to mention challenging. I am already thinking of the larger people at church and having difficulty in relating their physical size to their faith. The other thought that crosses my mind is that not getting physically fat is a daily battle in middle age. While my mind tells me I can eat the things I did when I was younger, my body refuses to process the incoming delicacies at the speed it used to. So I am trying to eat better and less, and exercise more.

But this proverb is not about physical size. It is simply differentiating between those of us who think we have reached the point where our own resources are sufficient, and those of us who know that we have to life our lives totally reliant on God. Jesus said; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Acknowledging that we are spiritual tadpoles puts us in a place where God can begin to work in our lives. That requires trust. When we find ourselves able to trust God, we start to grow, or get fatter in Him.

Problems occur when we think that we can do life without too much reliance on God. Our hearts may not become instantly proud, but bit-by-bit we start to switch off from God as we look to ourselves rather than to God. John Eldredge, in his book ‘Beautiful Outlaw’ talks about a time when family and friends were urging him to take a sabbatical because of his physical and emotional condition. When John Eldredge finally came to Jesus for a solution Jesus told him there was just one problem that needed to be resolved: “You don’t look to Me – you look to yourself.”

John Eldredge writes: “The truth of it was indisputable the moment Jesus finished speaking. All the years of striving, sacrifice, loneliness, heroic exertion – so much of what I took to be noble about my life was suddenly exposed as godless self-reliance.” That sort of sums up this proverb. Proud hearts, self-reliance, call it what you will – it all leads to difficulties and strife. When we learn to look to Jesus instead of ourselves then He will anoint us,  equip us, and bless us according to His will for us. And the word ‘fat’ will come to have a new meaning.


Lions and Bears

Proverbs 28:15

“As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.” – NLT

Tyrants

Plenty of tyrants have no regard for their subjects. One only has to review the last one hundred years of history to come up with scores of individuals who preyed on the poor, helpless, defenseless masses; each one a mad, blood-thirsty animal.

“[They are] brutish, barbarous, and blood-thirsty; [they are] rather to be put among the beasts of prey, the wildest and most savage, than to be reckoned of that noble rank of beings whose glory is reason and humanity.”[1]

Lion

Lion (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Even worse are the kind that convince their victims that the carnage being inflicted is supposedly for their own good. As self-proclaimed kings of the beasts, they claim it is their right to thin the herd, to remove the weak, so the strong can survive. But they are only hungry animals, void of compassion, fulfilling their natural desires.

Tyrant Topplers

To many it would seem like lions and bears are unstoppable. To be sure, those who value life run in fear from them, or at the very least give them what they want whenever they growl. But lions and bears are not invincible.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-35 KJV

Lest the tyrants become to smug and confident in their power, it would be wise of them to remember all it takes to topple them is nothing more than a little boy with a big God.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1018.


Oppressing the Poor

Proverbs 22: 22-23 

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
 and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. (NIV)

Once again the writer challenges our attitudes to the poor. How we treat those who are poorer than us, or even weaker than us is important. Most of us would probably read this proverb and think that it doesn’t apply to us personally because we haven’t robbed or oppressed anybody. Perhaps we haven’t, but are we sure? What about times we have failed to stand up for someone? Take it right back to the school playground where it was easier to walk away than stand up for a fellow pupil facing ridicule or even physical violence. I can remember thinking ‘rather him than me’ on more than one occasion.

Then there is the work place. When I joined the Merchant Navy as a sixteen-year-old cadet it was made perfectly clear to me that I was at the bottom of the pecking order. The chief officer on my first ship used to shout at me regularly, perhaps because he had been treated the same way when he was starting his career. I remember the captain sticking up for me one day and the treatment I received improved a little after that. A few years later when I was an officer I found myself speaking up for a young Rastafarian able seaman who was assigned to my watch. In this case the bosun and another seaman were making this young man’s life a misery, with the knowledge of the chief officer! He had nobody to plead his case until I stepped in. I did not make myself popular in the process, but I could not ignore what was going on.

Oppression takes many forms. Read through these verses again – there is a significant warning in verse 22. Is God challenging you about your attitude to others, or is He calling you to take a stand in someone’s defense today?


The Praise Test

Proverbs 27:21.
“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” (KJV).
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (NLT). 

Student Writing

The Purpose of the Test:

I don’t know of anyone who enjoys tests. I have three children in high school and one child in middle school, and none of them have ever expressed a joy about having to take a test. I’ve never heard one of them come home from school and say, “Dad, I’m so excited, we get to take a test at school tomorrow! I’ll have to study all night. Awesome!” But like it or not, if they were never tested, they would never know if they were learning anything in their classes, and they would never know if they were growing or progressing in their studies.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon tells us that the refiner’s fire is used to test the purity of silver and gold. As these precious metals are heated up, all of the scum and junk that’s hidden within them come to the surface so that the refiner can remove it from the top, so all that remains is precious and pure. In the same way, a person is tested when they are praised.

The Fire of Praise:

When you stoke up the fire of praise, you will quickly find out what is in a person’s heart. Someone said once about praise that “vain men seek it, weak men are inflated by it, and wise men disregard it.” How do you respond when someone praises you?

If someone becomes proud or conceited when they are praised, and take the glory that only God deserves, they will show that they are really a weak or a selfish person. However, if when someone is praised he responds by giving God the glory, and endeavouring to live a life that reflects that shows that they were indeed praiseworthy, then they are a humble or a wise person.

There is a story told that at a Washington, D.C., press conference in 1952, Sir Winston Churchill was asked, “Doesn’t it thrill you to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?” Churchill responded by saying, “It is quite flattering, but whenever I feel this way I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

Giving and Receiving Praise:

We’re not saying here that praise is bad. It’s not necessarily bad to give or receive praise. In fact, Romans 12:3 tells us that we are to give honor to whom honor is due. But we are also warned: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2).

So if you see someone do something praiseworthy, commend them for it! But if you do something noble, don’t boast about it. Do it as unto the Lord, and let him reward you for what you have done. If someone praises you for something you do, then reflect that glory back to the Lord, the one who gave you the grace to do it in the first place. Amen?