Proverbs 17-18

The verses 17:23, 18:11 & 18:16 all address bribery, but with slightly different tones.

Something I appreciate about the Proverbs is that it’s not a list of rules. It’s clever-written sentences of wisdom. Sometimes it paints a picture (nothing haunts me more than the comparison of repeating sin being like a dog gobbling down it’s own bile), allowing you to draw your own conclusion from the analogy given. Instead of “don’t nag or argue”, it says “better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house full of feasting-and conflict” (17:1).  That’s convincing enough for me to disarm arguments. Who wants to sit in turmoil at a beautiful dinner party? 

Bribes will get you places, it reads. But later, it also adds that being able to dole out gifts to get yourself places provides false security. Bribes might get you places, sure, but the text quickly concludes that they’re not places you want to be going. 

Where else do you notice the Proverbs seemingly contradicting itself? Do the analogies help you, or do you prefer a more Deuteronomy-style text? I’m so thankful that God’s word has depth, different styles of literature and wisdom within wisdom. 

What was your favorite verse today? 
-Carly 

Proverbs 15-16

“He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (‭15:32-33‬)

Chapter 15 has a lot to do with the wise accepting discipline and the fool rejecting it. We all want to be born right, but that is never the case. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, which presupposes humility. It all starts, continues and ends with humility. 

Humility isn’t self deprivation, it’s an honest look at God and yourself. 

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (16:9)

In all our efforts we cannot control life’s outcomes. I’ve had many plans, expectations, goals and dreams throughout my life and I never would have imagined my steps would lead me here. I love it.

Being proud is human. It feels correct to believe in ourselves and be confident, but:

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” ‭(16:18‬)

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (16:25‬)

Confidence must be in the LORD. Lately, I’ve been singing to myself an old song:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

I feel under a lot of pressure. My next steps in life are daunting. I AM IN OVER MY HEAD. So I must daily set Christ at the center. I must stand on Him. Not my cleverness, friends, connections, good luck, blah blah blah. HIM! All other ground is sinking sand.

Let’s take an honest inventory of our hearts and weed out some pride, today. We need Him for Everything. He is the only sustainer. 

-Bethany 

Proverbs 13-14

“Those who control their tongues have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” 13:3 

There isn’t much to add to this verse to help it ring true more than it already does. Everyone can relate. The reader who struggles to filter their thoughts. The cynic. The gossip. The careless romantic, blurting their feelings to the most inappropriate recipient. And the Bible is not vague about this struggle! It openly warns us against our greatest foe: our own thoughts spilling out of our mouths. James 3 gives relatable comparisons of the tongue being like a wildfire, spreading without our control and burning everything down. 1 Peter 3:10 chimes in, telling us that controlling our speech will grant us a life protected from evil. 

The proverbs are the only part of the Bible that extend a tangible how-to on this topic. How do we control our tongues? Shut your mouth. 

But seriously, how? I often find myself mid sentence, my inner self pleading STOP TALKING, DON’T SAY THAT as my lips fail me. 

Prayer, people. Prayer is our friend. Sometimes I just ask God to “let me be marked by your control, not mine”. I harp on myself daily for my lack of self-control, but truly I am wildly successful at letting my Self be in control. What I need measurable growth in is being controlled by the Spirit. 

Take inventory of your actions the rest of the day. What prompts the things you say? The Spirit, or your Self? Here’s my list so far: 

-Greeting my toddler at 5am this morning, just a handful of hours after I slipped into sleep. Spirit. 

-Snapping at my husband to just LET ME FINISH MY COFFEE PLEASE before we problem-solve today’s tasks. Self. 

-Offering a gracious answer to the customer service representative who rudely asked me the same question three times. Spirit. 

What’s your list so far? 
-Carly 

Proverbs 11-12

Now we are deep in to the one-liners. What are some indicators of a righteous person?

  • Fair
  • Hardworking 
  • Humble
  • Wise
  • Care for animals
  • Honest
  • Just
  • Respectful 
  • Generous

These attributes are deeply intertwined, as though they are ripple effects of each other. 

It all starts with humility. Will I lay aside my sinful itches to live by my own advice and do whatever most benefits me? It is the nature of mankind to want to judge for ourselves and be self preserving. 

I notice, however, the acts of the righteous greatly profit both them and those around them. There is a overflowing goodness, which comes from humbly living as God intended. It spreads out to benefit all surrounding (including animals!). Now imagine if we all lived this way! Wouldn’t that be heaven??

Sin seems to be forever linked to short sightedness. Having the patience to do something God’s way will be what deeply satisfies, not only you, but those around you as well. 

“By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.” (11:11)

-Bethany 

Proverbs 9-10

This scenario haunts me:

Foolishness, personified as an alluring woman. Inviting you in for a meal, enticing you with temptation of the forbidden. It reads like the end of a chilling chapter in a thriller novel. “But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave.” 9:18

If you are sensing redundancy in the Proverbs, you are paying attention. Foolishness is easy, accessible, a choice we slip into naturally. Wisdom is calculated. And learned.

In the middle of writing this post, I disrupted my son’s plans of pulling out the pin from a fire extinguisher, twice. His reply was “but I want to!” and “stop saying no!”. He’s three, so I extended him grace, moved it out of his reach and comforted his disappointment that I’m preventing him from any and all fun ideas.

Sound familiar?

Let’s not be stubborn to respond to God’s instructions, or eager to fulfill our small-minded desires. Best case scenario, he has mercy on us and takes away the things that could harm us. Worst case scenario, he gives us over to the things we so foolishly want. Like those portrayed in the text, we stagger stupidly towards the stacks of bodies in Folly’s house.

Which proverb grabbed your attention this morning?

 

-Carly

Proverbs 7-8

“I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”‭‭-Wisdom (8:17‬)

Throughout the Bible we are reminded we can ask for wisdom and receive it. It’s different from knowledge, which must be gained through study and experience. True wisdom is a gift from God, and one He wants to give us.

Chapter 8 is beautiful. Wisdom really is glorious. Earth’s greatest treasure, beyond all wealth, timeless and from the LORD. 

I’ve been thinking about Philippians 4:5:

“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”

‭‭The ESV translation swaps out “gentle spirit” with “reasonableness”. NIV calls it “gentleness”. Being reasonable or gentle feels like a lost art (sometimes, when I’m being dramatic), so does being wise.

But guys, we are to be marked by these. The LORD beckons, “ask for wisdom! Pursue her!” The Apostle Paul points out gentleness as something to be known for, also a fruit of the Spirit. 

“For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her… Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine… Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness… My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver…. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD.” (8:11, 14, 18-19, 35‬)

Okay, yeah, that’s what I want. LORD give us wisdom! Fill us with your Spirit, helping us with understanding and gentleness. Forgive me of the pride, which you hate. I need you for all of life’s fullness. Lead me in wisdom where ever I go. May it proceed my reputation.

-Bethany 

Proverbs 5-6

These chapters are powerful warnings against the evils of adultery. Not married? These warnings are for you too. 

Although the text characterizes the sin as an “immoral woman”, I also find it to be an analogy of all sin. The things that lead our heart away from God are often packaged like the woman described in today’s chapter. 

It’s so desireable, at first. This thing can’t be bad, you tell yourself. It’s so good. But then “her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to th grave” (5:5). Such powerful imagery! 

What temptations and sins have you staggering towards the grave? 

A wise person sees the whole picture. Recognizing what your flesh is desiring is the first step. But it’s crucial to also anticipate how that will play out. This is sin’s biggest trap. We tell ourselves that no one else will be impacted by our choice and fail to see the immense consequences. 

What’s the immoral woman in your life? Or, where does your heart wander from God to indulge in your sinful desires? I’ll share one of mine; I let my thought life run wild sometimes. Seems harmless. No one knows what’s going on up there but me. It’s not hurting anyone, right? But then, the next thing I know, I’m rattled from anxiety because I’ve convinced myself Matt is late getting home because he’s died and I have his funeral half planned out. Or I compare my marriage to everyone else’s and discontentment starts to grow. It seems harmless, but being enslaved to fear and prone to jealousy are definitely steps away from life and towards the grave. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God always gives us a way out when we’re faced with temptation. I remember one friend admitting to me that she struggled with self-harm. She also recalled that often, when she was feeling the temptation to indulge, someone would happen to call her right then and distract her. 

Start noticing when God’s giving you a way out. Not only will it redirect your thoughts, it will also remind you that he’s with you. 


-Carly 

Proverbs 3-4

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” (3:5-7)

Proverbs is a treasure trove of excellent advice. It all starts here, though. It’s not picking and choosing what sounds nice or doable. It’s not thinking of someone else who should really be taking this advice. Right off the bat we have the challenge:

Am I going to lean on my own understanding and be wise in my own estimation? 

OR

Trust the LORD, fearing and obeying Him?

Carly touched on the fear of the LORD a bit yesterday. I want to reiterate some stuff because it is so foundational to life and Christian faith, although widely misunderstood.

One tangible application of fearing the LORD is asking yourself three questions when making a decision (i.e. Seeking wisdom):

  1. What am I afriad of? (Social rejection, financial loss, losing approval or disappointing someone, the unknown)
  2. What does the Bible say about this?
  3. Who am I giving power over my life? (Creator God or my fellow man, circumstance, etc?)

The fact of the matter is, we make most our decisions out of fear anyway. We are surrendering to someone’s power. Who will it be?

The Almighty Creator God who loves you, never changes and clearly communicates and has Ultimate power of Heaven, earth and your eternal soul?

OR

Some bozo you want to impress at the moment? (Who may also be yourself)

It all starts with humility, adorning yourself with kindness and truth. How lovely.

Which little nugget of advice stuck out to you, today? There is so much to glean from Proverbs. Participation would be really fun here. Let’s do it together, in all hopes to become wise through Trust.

-Bethany 

Proverbs 1-2

We are scootin’ on back to the Old Testament and reading through the book of Proverbs! You can watch a quick overview of the book here.

In that video, they note that the Hebrew definition of “wisdom” isn’t just gaining knowledge, but applying it. A wise person doesn’t just know what to do, they make the decision to do it. 

Something we’ll come across a lot in this book is reading that the foundation of wisdom is fearing the Lord. Or at least that’s how my translation words it. Are you uncomfortable with the term “fear”? Maybe the authority or paternal figures in your life lorded themselves over you, using fear against you to gain control. The idea of fearing God seems backwards to you. 

I prefer the word “reverence” over “fear”. Our culture has twisted fear into a weird pleasure, focusing on all the unhealthy versions of it; I don’t like it being tied in with my relationship with the Lord. Respect for God is the beginning of knowledge. My awe and submission to him is what steers my discernment. I believe that he has my best interest in mind and loves me, so when he asks something of me, I trust him and (try to) obey. He is God, completely holy, worthy of all revere. 

This concept comes alive for me in parenting. I want my three year old to obey me when I ask him to do something because he trusts me, not because he’s afraid of me or feels pinned under my thumb. 

Take a minute and pray that God would open you up to his wisdom. I echo Solomon’s claim that reading this book and following it’s advice will change our lives.
-Carly 

Mark 15-16

The name Barabbas means “son of the father”. He represents every person. The first of us to have Jesus die in his place.

The climax of history is here:

“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!‘” (15:37-39‬)

“And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.” (6:16)

The Son of God died in our place, removing the barrier between us and God. He became the Passover Lamb. He became the purified way for Israel to touch the smoking mountain and not die. He Himself became the Mediator between God and Mankind. He became the Defeater of Death. Our curse from Genesis 3 became His curse and He stripped it of its power!

Jesus has done it! He has made a way for us in His death, shown us the way by His life and sent us on our way to proclaim “the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” (16:20)

The BEST NEWS IN HISTORY: we can be in close proximity, intimate relationship with the LORD God Almighty. Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, together today, and proclaim the Good News to someone!

-Bethany 

(Carly will kick off Proverbs tomorrow!)