Tag Archives: Counsel

Motivational or Motivated?

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. -Proverbs 28:23, KJV

This verse reminds me of a couple different people today.

One is many pastors today who preach a message of happiness, comfort, and/or wealth. They are quick to speak well of others, yet they hesitate to speak of sin.

The second are those who do a better job of calling out wrong behavior, such as Jordan Peterson and Simon Sinek.

I bring them up because they are popular. Why are they popular? Because of what I just said: they are not afraid to tell people that something is wrong and needs to change.

Regardless of whether you agree with them, these men (and others like them) show that people are hungry for direction.

Simon Sinek in particular has very few detractors, and all he basically says is stop being lazy, stop making excuses, and interact with people in this world … in person, not online!

I have met many people who used to belong to one of those churches in which they were taught that God wants us happy. They left when the only response they got to difficulties in life was that they lacked faith or hadn’t go en enough money to the church.

It was people like Peterson and Sinek that turned their lives around.

We, as Christians, should not be afraid to lovingly call out sin while drawing others to faith in Christ. If we have the truth, we should be bold in proclaiming it, not worried that we might offend someone.

This is the truth that will change their lives, both now and for eternity.

Are we being more like motivational speakers, or are we motivated by the power of Christ to change our world?

Advertisements

Have a plan

moses-2628535_1920Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. 

He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When He moves left, they move left.  When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents.  Kind of like a cosmic GPS.  What could be easier?

Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave.  It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite).  Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them. 

“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’  ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”

Hold on.  I thought God was their guide…?  Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush suddenly gotten cold feet?

As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case.  We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park.  It’s more like taking over Chicago.  God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.

Now, I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”.  Okay, true enough.  But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility.  Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand.  It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.

ThreadBecause sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.

Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 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.


How Do YOU Respond To Correction?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:8‭-‬9, KJV

Schooling

I taught 7th Grade mathematics last year. There were a handful of students who, whenever corrected or disciplined, would lash out. One in particular said he hated me. Who was I to tell him how to live his life?

Most of the students in the class reacted negatively to correction, to be honest, but a few (and eventually more) saw the benefits of following through with the correction. Somehow, I became the favorite teacher of many students.

The Church

Now look at the yourself and even others in the Church. When presented with biblical truth about sin, what is the response?

If your reaction is to lash out, deny, or get angry, ask yourself, Why? If it is not true, why get upset?

Fighting a correction can cost more than listening, such as hurt/broken relationships and/or wasted time.

The wise person wants to change, for the goal is to be Christ-like, perfect as God is perfect. You may even find you love that person more for helping you grow closer to Christ.

That is not possible if we continue in sin.

Refusing to even acknowledge the need for correction could imply you are heading the opposite direction, and you come to hate those who offered the correction.


Heeding the Warning

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 5:7-14 ESV

I look for the context when trying to understand any message better, so when I hear the warning summed up in verses 12-14 in this part of the proverbs, I look to the verses preceding it to understand why it is given.

The audience of this passage is being urged to listen to a particular bit of wisdom and not forget it: keep far away and do not come near (being unfaithful to God). I see this as a big, bold-lettered sign on the straight and narrow path saying “wrong way” or “danger, keep out”. This is a warning against things of the flesh, the ways of the world, or in other words, that which causes us to sin (to separate ourselves from God).

It can be rather easy to get caught up in our own designs, or so focused on following certain directions (like a figurative GPS) that we miss the warning right in front of us. Honoring others and putting our trust in false teachings or false teachers will lead away from the best path, no matter how good it sounds or in line with current thinking. Yet, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the unfamiliar territory and turn away.

Giving our years to the merciless, those who do not have our best interests at heart will lead to wasted time and possible destruction. For when we follow someone else’s plan, as opposed to Gods, many wrong turns and necessary U-turns will be sure to follow. Yet again, if we adhere to the truth and “do not depart” from it, we will be able to see the wrong turns ahead and continue on the straight and narrow path instead.

As much as any journey is to be enjoyed, wrong turns and wasted time can be exhausting. And when the purpose of the journey is for anyone or anything against God’s glory, it is worthless, for “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Instead, adhere now to God’s wisdom and see the danger in being unfaithful to Him, lest you find yourself on the path to utter ruin.

 

 


Worthless Legs

Proverbs 26:7

“The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.”

This verse and verse 9 are very similar; both talk about worthlessness of wisdom given to fools. In this verse we see a parable compared to a crippled person’s legs. In verse 9 we will see a parable compared to a thorn in a drunk’s hand.

Parable

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand what a parable is. One dictionary defines a parable as “an extended metaphor or simile which compares a religious truth with a common experience or circumstance in life.” [1] But if that was too confusing, a parable is “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.” [2]

Jesus was famous for using parables to illustrate certain truths to His disciples. For example, you may remember the parables of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31), the seed and the sower (Mk. 4:3), and the ten talents (Matt. 25). Each one was used to illustrate a point in such a way that the hearer could relate truth to a common experience.

Legs of the Lame

The King James version describes the legs of the crippled person as “not equal.” At first glance it may seem like Solomon is talking about one leg that is shorter than another. However, That “not equal” is another way of saying limp, worthless, or shriveled.

Imagine legs that have no strength, unable to bear the weight of the owner. They are deformed, curled under, twisted, and completely useless. Taking into account the original meaning of the Hebrew term (see Strong’s H1802), they may do nothing more than hang like string.

Parable In the Mouth of a Fool

Now, take the image of crippled legs that you have in your head and imagine them being a parable. How good is a parable that is incapable of illustrating truth? How good is a story that bears no resemblance to common experience? A parable like that can’t even stand on it’s own two feet.

How worthless, then, is the advice of a fool? What good is his counsel? Why should we listen to him?

Keep that in mind the next time you are offered emotional, spiritual, relational, and marital advice from someone who doesn’t even believe there is a God.


[1] David H. Wallace, “Interpretation of Parables,” ed. Ralph G. Turnbull, Baker’s Dictionary of Practical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967), 107.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Know the Certainty

Proverbs 22:17-21

17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
19 That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

The Importance of Scripture

Over the course of the past 22 chapters of Proverbs, we have seen all of the commands to hold to wisdom and take heed of the words that have been shared.

The Psalms speak repeatedly of God’s Law and the words of Scripture being so important, that we should memorize and act on these words.

What is so important about these words of wisdom and instruction?

Pointing to Something

As has been mentioned before, Jesus is the Wisdom of God (Proverbs 8, John 1).

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17, NIV)

He also said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44, NIV)

And Paul also mentioned Jesus: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV).

Finally, because we know this, we find in Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV):

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dear Lord, help us to hold fast to Your Truth in our hearts and minds, that we may be changed to impact our world for Your glory!


Innocent As Children?

Proverbs 20:11

11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

I can remember growing up hearing “Why did you that? You know better!” whenever I would misbehave. It started around the age of four years or so. It was always said in response to something I had previously done or went against common sense, even for a child.

As a culture we seem to have a certain expectation of children, that they are sweet, innocent little angels who become corrupted by age and experience. Even at a young age we expect our children to behave a certain way, and when they do not they need to be corrected and reprimanded.

If our children have the expectation to do what is right, how much more should we expect teens and adults to do what is right?

You know better!

How do we know we have these expectations of people? We all seem to have an innate understanding of what is right and wrong.

It is seen every time we get upset with someone for doing something stupid or that hurts someone else.

It is seen every time someone does something considered morally wrong. All religions and atheists admit to a moral code.

All people fall short at some point, and it always seems as though we can hear someone saying “You know better!”

We have God’s Word to reveal to us how we each have gone astray from what is right. Honestly, it is put in such simple terms that children can understand it.

Yet we fail time and again.

But God helps us and changes us through His Holy Spirit.

Even children know how to do what is right if they are told.

God has shown us. May we, as His children, listen.

Heavenly Father, You are so holy and amazing. May Your Kingdom be lived out through our lives, that the world may glorify You.  Let our actions speak of Your perfect will and grace, that the world may know what is pure and right: You.