Tag Archives: honor

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.

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People Preferences

Proverbs 22:2

The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.
Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Personal Preferences

We all have people we like more than others. This is why we have friends and families. There are just some people we like having around more than other people.

There is nothing wrong with liking some people more than others. Even Jesus had close friends (see His Twelve Disciples, and of those Peter, James, and John who were His closest friends).

The real danger comes when we show preferences for others for selfish reasons, when love for others is not the primary cause.

Favoritism

We must remember that God sees all people equally: as His loved children.

He does not love one more for having money and possessions or for not having money nor possessions.

God cares most for those who express their love and devotion for Him, yet He still shows love and grace to all people in some fashion.

We should do likewise, and, in fact, we are commanded to.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:1-4, ESV

Our Great God, thank You for Your love and grace. Help us to live out that love and grace with all people, regardless of wealth or social standing. Help us to love everyone as You have loved us through the cross.


Why Worry?

Proverbs 21:21

21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Can’t Take It With You

Most of us have heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you when you die!” This is one of those euphemisms to allude to the fact that stuff does not matter, and the pursuit of things and money ultimately is pointless.

So many people struggle with getting enough or having enough, and their lives only have trouble or emptiness. Either they are always seeking more or greater, or they feel like they are failing to provide or failing at life.

This can even be true among Christians. We all only want to provide for ourselves and our families, to create a full life, so we seek out the means to do that.

Seek first …

However, God tells us the best and ultimately the only way to provide our needs.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

When we seek God’s holiness and more of Him in our lives, we will want the things God wants. In the process, God will take care of all our needs. This is not just making sure we have food to eat, water to drink, clothing, and a place to sleep.

In return for our faithfulness, God, in His faithfulness, gives us eternal life, righteousness, and a good name (honor). All of this comes through His Son, Jesus the Christ.

Heavenly Father, lead us by Your Holy Spirit to seek only You. Give us a thirst for righteousness and mercy, that we may not feel the need to worry and to bring glory to Your name!


Paying For It

Proverbs 13:13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

Scorn and Respect

There is a danger in avoiding responsibility and not listening to a warning.

Are you aware that we are each responsible for all of our decisions? Are you aware that every choice has a consequence?

The NIV states this verse thusly: He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.

If you are told not to do something, and you do it anyway, you will pay for it. If you are told to do something and you do not do it, you will pay for it. Whether it be having an upset stomach for eating too many sweets before dinner, losing a friend for breaking trust, going to jail or prison, or losing your life, being told not to do something and doing it will cost you. It may not happen immediately (Think about heartburn! It comes hours after you ate that chili-cheese hot dog with hot sauce, not immediately!)

However, if you show respect and heed what you have been told, you will be paid back for that trust. Whether that comes through enjoying a great meal, growing closer to a friend, staying out of trouble, or having great health and/or wealth, it will go well with you in life.

Sometimes the consequences come later … much later.

I like the King James Version for the implication that comes through.

God has sent us commands by which to live. We all failed at keeping them perfectly.

God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah and the Word of God, to keep those commands perfectly and then suffer the ultimate price for our failure. In doing so, the commands are summed up in two simple commands:

  1. Love others!
  2. Love God … by loving others and believing that Jesus died that you may live.

If we “scorn instruction” and “despiseth the word” of God, we have the promise that we will be destroyed. While there is debate on what this means, there is a guarantee that it is not pleasant nor desirable (Revelation 20:14-15).

However, if we respect and fear God’s commands, we will be rewarded with eternal life and peace with God (Galatians 6:8).

Gracious God, forgive us for despising Your word and commands. Give us the grace and power to overcome our sinful desires and follow You. Help us to love others for Your glory.


Fortress Wisdom

Proverbs 4:8-9

“Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

Building Wisdom

The defense of many iron-age villages in the UK relied on huge mounds of soil being piled up to encircle a settlement and create a primitive fort. There is one of these ancient earthworks close to where I live. It is situated on the highest point for several miles and must have taken a herculean effort to build. The scale of the earthworks is not immediately evident when walking on its remains, and much is left to the imagination. What is not in doubt is that the earthworks were essential to the safety of those who lived inside. Why else would a group of Ancient Britons have invested so much in the construction of such a formidable barrier?

The word ‘exalt’ at the beginning of verse eight could be applied to the construction of an iron-age fort. Wisdom needs to be built up, and constructed into a formidable barrier to defend against everything that life and Satan have to throw at us. It is useful to remember that iron age forts were not built overnight. Solomon may have been blessed with a gift of wisdom by God, but the process of building wisdom began with the early example and teaching of his parents  (Proverbial Thought – Proverbs 4:1-2 and Proverbs 4 3-4).

Embracing Wisdom

It is not enough to embark on a building project alone. The builders of the earthworks could not spend their entire lives inside never facing the dangers outside. And how good a defense would the earthworks have been if lookouts were never posted to provide warning of possible intruders?

The reason that Solomon tells us we need to embrace wisdom is because he knew that there would be times when however good and strong the earthworks of wisdom around us may be, we still have to venture out, sometimes into the unknown. Solomon is also reminding us in these verses that we need to remain alert. Why? Because danger is all around. Stand on top of the earthworks and take a good look outside:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

The journey is not over yet, but look out from the ramparts and you will see that the reward for exercising wisdom is in view.

 


True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with they substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the servant and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.


Discretion Delivers

Proverbs 2:12 

“To deliver thee from the way of the evil [man], from the man that speaketh froward things;”

Discretion that Delivers

How many of you have ever heard the phrase, “discretion is the better part of valor?” Well, whether you have or not, the phrase comes from the words of a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Actually, it was a cowardly knight, Falstaff, who faked his own death in order escaped being killed. He said, “The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.” – Henry the IV

As opposed to acting with courage and honor, Falstaff justified his cowardice by essentially saying, “Look, I assessed the situation and determined that doing the honorable thing would have left me a dead hero. My discretion has saved my life and allowed me to fight another day.” In reality, Falstaff disgraced the ideas of both valor and discretion. He was just a coward and a sneak.

True discretion, however, can prove a real life saver. Discretion can deliver.

From Deadly Ways

Look again at verses 11 and 12, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man…

Do you realize that evil people typically walk the same road of life? And were you aware that these evil people would love for you to walk with them, even if the road they’re traveling leads to destruction? Believe it or not, the world is full of them. You need God’s wisdom to help you determine the right road, the Way.

We will see later that there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end of the way is death (Prov 16:25). Wise discernment will help you determine whether or not the road you’re being called to travel is healthy, or deadly.

From Hungry Wolves

In Acts chapter twenty, the apostle Paul called upon the elders of the church from Ephesus. He informed them he was going to be leaving, and upon his leaving they should remember to watch out for wolves. What kind of wolves? The kind in sheep’s clothing.

Paul said, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch…”(Acts 20:29-31a). Believe it or not, there are some slick talkers out there who want to devour you like lamb roast.

Be discerning. Be careful of whom you listen to. Wise discernment, the kind that comes from God, will help you determine whether or not their words are pure, or “perverse.”

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. – John 6:67-68 NKJV

 

(originally published 4/11/12)