Monthly Archives: March 2014

Friendship, Something We Could All Use 0

Friendship is something we could all use more of, especially true friendship.

So, what is true friendship?  You know that friend you can pick up the phone and call anytime, day or night.  That person you know will answer the phone and be there to help.  Someone who sticks by you when everyone else abandons you.  How have people put it? That person who walks into your world when the rest of the world walks out on you.  All of those forms of friendship are described by several of Solomon’s sayings in Proverbs 27.  For example, the friend that is there for you even when your family can’t be:

10b Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.

Proverbs 27:10b ESV

So how can you surround yourself with that kind of friendship?  Well the first part of the same verse gives us a little insight into that.  Start by being a good friend:

10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.

Proverbs 27:10 ESV

Stick with your friends, and your father’s friend.  For some of us that’s pretty tough, especially the second part.  Maybe your father isn’t around, maybe he is, but has made poor choices in friends, or maybe they just simply don’t get along with you at all.  Well, Solomon doesn’t tell us that friendship is easy, just that we should do all we can on our end to not walk away from friends.  And maybe there is another way to look at this, maybe for you, getting started with someone that has been like a spiritual father to you would help you learn how to become a better friend to your actual father’s friends.

Solomon also indicates that friendship isn’t always rosy.  Sometimes friends hurt us, deeply.  But he reminds us that it’s better to have friends that hurt us than to have enemies that appear to bless you:

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
And in the end, isn’t having a friend that is willing to ask you the tough questions and give you the tough answers the kind of friend you want to journey through life with?  That kind of friend makes life so much sweeter:
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Foolishness, Something We All Should Avoid 0

Fools, how to avoid them, and how to tell if you have some fool in you.

Today’s chapter covers foolishness, foolish behavior, and general traits of a fool in quite a bit of depth.  Here’s a summary of the things fools do, in case you were wondering if you fall into Solomon’s definition of a fool.

  • Ill fitting of honor
  • Unworthy of delivering messages
  • Useless like a lame man’s legs
  • Unable to understand proverbs
  • A danger to hire
  • Repeating the same mistakes over and over again

Sometimes I have felt like these things, other times I have actually done some of these things.  Do people in your life come to mind when you read that list?  If it’s someone other than you first, you should probably re-read verse 12:

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Be sure you are not being wise in your own eyes before you start pointing fingers or listing off foolishness of others in your life.  It’s also great to get someone in your life that can play the part of identifying your foolishness for you and agreeing to work to remove it from your life.  So much freedom comes with such accountability.  Once you have someone doing this for you, you can start being this for others.  The action in verse 5 should only be take if you are already a recipient of that action in your life:
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.
The real trick with foolishness is that we can stumble into it in many areas in our lives.  Be it in our finances, friendships, daily routines and habits, our diet, our exercise or lack thereof, our occupation, foolishness creeps in easily as we let our guard down, as we take our focus off the things that matter; and most easily when we are not willingly allowing ourselves to be held accountable for how we behave in any area of our lives.
So, my encouragement to you, today start the process of finding people whom you can trust to hold you accountable in one or more areas of your life.  You may not see the benefits today, or tomorrow, but over time, you will see yourself transforming into someone that is fitting of honor, worthy of delivering messages, useful to others, more understanding of proverbs, desirable to hire, and most importantly someone that learns from their mistakes.

Humility as Defined by Solomon’s Sayings 0

Solomon’s sayings have a refreshing definition of humility.

Today the summary of Solomon’s sayings point overwhelmingly toward one virtue, humility.  From the early portion of the chapter:

6 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Part of this thinking just seems to be commonsense pragmatism, something that tends to be missing in our world today.  We are so often focused on letting others know what we are doing, who we are, why they should be thinking of us, how they should look at us, etc.  This perspective instead places the importance of others first, and allows for recognition that is genuine, and comes from a place higher than ourselves.  Of course in most of our democratic societies today, we don’t have a king, but we do have forms of kings in our lives.  Be it your parent, employer, pastor, teacher, or manager, we all have someone in authority over us on a regular basis.  Next time you are in the presence of one of those “kings” in your life, think about their needs, their position first, and ask yourself if what you are about to do or say places them first, or you first.  Solomon gives a sharp warning about putting yourself first before your king:
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.
He also indicates that it may take time before you are recognized, patience and humility tend to walk hand in hand.  Today, humility may be the first piece you need to add to your character if you want to eventually have a place in influencing the “kings” of your life.

We are Called to Take Action 0

Wisdom demands that we take action

One of the core items that struck me with today’s reading is the need for us to take action.  There are several verses that would indicate we need to take action.  From seeking wise guidance to getting your work ready or preparing for your work in the fields before you build your house, we are to be doers.  Another core idea is getting and using wisdom.  You will also notice that the doing is not to be without planning, guidance, and wisdom.  Wisdom provides hope for the future, it tastes sweet like honey for those who find it.  Wisdom also provides the guidance needed to wage any war and find victory.  We all have our wars, including the wars against procrastination, addiction, laziness, complacency.  Wisdom can provide us with motivation to get going and start doing.  And the real test of doing comes in verses 11 and 12.  We are called to not just see things happen, but to step in where we can and help.  The ESV puts it this way:

11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

This reminds me that someone is always watching, if not man, then for sure God sees all we do and don’t do, including our heart’s motivations.  Accountability hurts so good, it lets me know my good deeds and motivations are seen and recognized, and on the other side, it reminds me that I need to allow God’s light to shine into the dark areas of my heart.  It also reminds me there are several things I need to take action on today.  Catch you tomorrow.