Tag Archives: Christ

The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’

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Kiss Me Kill Me

Proverbs 27:6

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

It Makes Sense

This is one of those proverbs we can look at and agree with. We all know it makes sense. It is much better to have friends who will be honest with us even when it hurts, then friends who will just pamper and flatter us even when we are clearly in the wrong.

The trouble is something making sense doesn’t guarantee we will follow the advice. In this case there are multiple reasons why we ignore this advice, our society is much more comfortable with flattery, even when it’s false, than truth; it can be hard to receive truth from a friend; we can find it difficult to speak truthfully to our friends in case they decide to ditch us.

First Things Firsts

To see more meaningful relationships we need to be ready to be examples. We need to be people who are good at taking criticism, and also brave enough to give it. Many people misread the plank in the eye parable. They use the excuse that as they will never be perfect, and therefore always have impaired vision, they cannot challenge other’s behaviour. I have even heard parents say that they cannot challenge their wayward ward because they were just as bad when they were children. But we only need to read to the end of the parable to see Jesus intention –

Matthew 7:5 (emphasis mine) ‘You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ 

We are to be wounded and we are to wound. And all the better our friendships shall be for it.


Red Mist vs The Green Eye Monster

Proverbs 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I was never that bothered about hitting 30. I just thought it would be a birthday like any other, the only significance being what others placed on it. I was wrong. Since hitting 30 my memory has declined, I can no longer stay up past midnight and operate the next day, sprained ankles take months to recover rather than days… you get the picture and it’s a grim one. I also noticed I was rapidly becoming a grumpy old man.

Red Mist

I decided to cheer up a bit, I couldn’t change some of the physical stuff but I could change the grumpiness, and I was doing so, and then we adopted a three year old boy! There is nothing that challenges patience greater than a child! I certainly look back on my own childhood now with a slightly different perspective! Raising a child certainly shows me the truth of the first part of this verse. For my son his anger can strike at any time with no obvious reasons and it cripples him. When I get angry it’s easier to spot the reasons but just as hard not to be overwhelmed and suddenly flip into hulk mode. Anger is overwhelming, but anger passes. Losing control is not comfortable, but it usually dissipates fairly quickly. The chemical reaction in our body does its work and then we come down. Our son certainly bounces back quickly, the events seemingly left in the past.

Green Eye Monsters

Just as we all experience anger, we all certainly recognise the pangs of envy. The writer of this proverb seems to be implying that jealousy is worse than anger. I wonder if it is because of jealousy’s lingering nature. Jealous leads us to be consumed by something we don’t yet have. At worst it can make us plot and plan devious schemes to obtain said items, at best it can lead to restless nights consumed with thoughts of our supposed ‘need’.

So What?

We may all agree with the verse in question but so what? Should we favour anger over jealousy? Anger and jealousy are both things that we are told God has experienced – so what is this verse all about? Well firstly I think there is a recognition that anger and jealousy are very much part of the human experience – there will be a day when they are gone, but for now we are stuck with them. But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in them especially when they are both potentially destructive. This verse hints that we may not be able to control when they hit, but we can certainly limit the damage they cause.

Self Control

The problem is a lack of self control, we are encouraged to revel in our feelings as long as they make us feel better. This is world’s apart from the way of life Jesus choose, a life of self control and sacrifice benefiting others before himself. If we want to be more like Him we need to spend more time with Him drawing from His reserves of love, being strengthened to be self controlled and disciplined and getting grace when we invariably mess it up.

Philippians 2:1-11 (The Message) ‘If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.’


A Wounded Spirit Kills

Proverbs 18:14

“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
“A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” – ESV

Ripped from the Headlines

How was I to know that on the same day I sat down to write this entry [originally written 4/07/13], news of the tragic suicide of Matthew Warren (age 27), Pastor Rick Warren’s son, would be all over the headlines? There was no way I could know, but God did.

After a long, long battle with mental and physical illness, including debilitating depression, Pastor Warren’s son ended his own life in a “momentary wave of despair.” Saddleback Church (where Warren is pastor) said in a statement, “Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life...”

Doesn’t “momentary wave of despair” sound a lot like “a wounded spirit who can bear?

Strong Willed

There are countless stories of people who struggled through the pain and suffering of debilitating disease and deformity. Their stories inspire us all to be thankful for what we have, even if it is only bare feet – some people have no feet at all.

Not long ago I saw a video of a man who had no arms or legs. At one point it seemed like he had no future, for it seemed impossible for him to accomplish even the most basic tasks of life. Yet, with perseverance and a strong will, not to mention the belief that he “could do all things through Christ,” he has done everything from surf to dance with his wife at their wedding. As a matter of fact, it was this man who nearly brought Rick Warren to tears on a show he appeared on with Oprah Winfrey.

Crushed Spirit

But when a man or woman’s spirit is crushed, when all hope is gone, life becomes very hard to bear. The fact is that plenty of otherwise healthy people die every day from despair.

Solomon knew what many people discover too late: one can have everything, but life without hope is no life at all. Sick people can endure pain for years, but a healthy man can die overnight from a broken, wounded heart.

Hope for the Wounded

The Apostle Paul once said that “if in this life only we have hope…”, then we are sure to be miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Whether that hope be in Christ, or money, or relationships, or good health; if it is a hope that is only for the here and now, it is pretty much worthless in the long run. Hope that never has a hope of being realized is no hope at all.

But praise God this life isn’t all there is! Job, the most miserably treated man in the Bible, could have given up in despair, but from the ashes of his life he cried out…

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:25-27 NIV

Thank you, O God! Thank you for the Hope we have in You! Bear us up with your Spirit and strengthen our hearts. 


Making Fun of the Poor

Proverbs 17:5

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

Me? Poor?

I live in one of the richest countries on the planet, so who am I to talk about being poor? Compared to some people, I am rich as a king. Even though I may not have the best of everything, or even the third or fourth best, I am still better off than people who have to live in cardboard boxes under a bridge.

Even thought I may not be rich, there are plenty of people worse off than me. However, I do know a little about what it’s like to be mocked. My sister and I were made fun of because my parents couldn’t always afford to buy their children new clothes. When we lived in a house that had no electricity or running water, and one could see the sky through the walls, we were mocked. I know how that feels.

For that matter, I know how it feels to drive a school bus full of public high school football players to a game at a private school where the tuition for one student exceeds $40,ooo a year, not to mention room and board. Not only do the football players get sneered at, but bus drivers like me get treated as “common help.”

Me? Like God?

The lesson that Solomon wants us to learn is that when we mock or make fun of those who poorer than us, we make ourselves out to be better than God. “What? How’s that possible?” you ask.

What if God treated us the way we sometimes treat others? Seriously, is the richest man in the world, even if he owned the whole world, as rich as the Maker of the Universe? The richest of the rich in this world are living in inestimable poverty before the King of Heaven. Aren’t we glad He doesn’t make fun of us?

Thankfully we have a loving Lord who humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8), that we, the poorest of all, could become fellow-heirs with Christ (Eph. 3:6). If He doesn’t feel it proper to mock lowly sinners such as I, then who am I to mock one less fortunate than me?

Wishing Bad

But what if you have never been one to make fun of the poor, or the rich? Does that get you off the hook? Maybe. That is, unless you’ve ever been one to talk of the rich with words like, “I hope they go broke,” or, “I’d love to see them crash that fancy car!”

I asked my daughter, “How do rich people make fun of poor people?” She said, “I don’t know…all I ever hear is all the poor people griping and whining about the rich.” Hmmm.

What did Solomon say? “He that is glad at calamities will not go unpunished.” Maybe we all would be a little better off if we learned to be content.


Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.