“When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
When we see gray clouds we know a storm and rain are probably coming. Proverbs leads us to see other connections and correlations from other phenomena and make other important deductions. Just as if we see gray clouds we know rain is coming, if we see pride we know disgrace is coming.
Disgrace follows pride like dessert follows dinner; one comes then the other. Superiority then scandal, self-importance then shame. Disgrace follows pride as surely as two follows one. There’s a sequential relationship. If one is not humble there will be humiliation.
The prideful person, however, may not even see or experience the humiliation though. They may further puff up against the pain rather than confront their inadequacies.
The arrogant are in the dangerous place of not seeing their own ignorance. If we see ourselves as superior, we aren’t in a good place to see our own stupidity. Those who think they stand then should take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthian 10:12).
What is the solution? Humility.
We should be willing to admit we are sometimes wrong. We have done wrong and been wrong in the past, we should know that this could (and will) happen in the future too.
Christianity gives a basis for humility. It teaches us repeatedly that we don’t always get it right. And Jesus said, blessed are the humble who know that truth (See Matthew 5:5ff).
Christians should be willing to listen, willing to learn. We should be humble because our Lord Jesus has called us to humility. We don’t know it all and we should admit that truth.
“With the humble is wisdom.” Those who know they don’t know, are in a good place to know. If we realize what we don’t realize, we are open to realizing.
Pride → disgrace.
Humility → wisdom.
 Christian behavior is not based on knowledge alone, that leads to pride and destroys others, even those for whom Christ died; Christian behavior is based on love grounded in the knowledge of Christ. We tend to think we know all we need to know to answer all kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. As Eugene Peterson has said in his paraphrase of the Bible, the Message: “Knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings.” I appreciate what Richard Baxter said, “If we have any knowledge at all, we must needs know how much reason we have to be humble; and if we know more than others, we must know more reason than others to be humble” (The Reformed Pastor, 144). I also appreciate this from Thomas à Kempis: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God” and neighbor?” (The Imitation of Christ).
 Proverbs also tells us repeatedly that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
Guard your Heart
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
We’ve probably all heard someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” What they mean, of course, is not I love you with the muscle in my chest that pumps blood around my body. That would be creepy.
They say, “with all my heart” because the heart is used as an expression to communicate the control center of one’s being. It is where one does their thinking, feeling, and choosing.
Our hearts, then, are very important. That is why we are not to guard first our eyes or our money but our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart.”
Just as in our physical life, the health of our hearts determines to a great extent the health of our bodies. If our heart is encumbered it impacts our energy and our mental clarity. If our muscles and brain don’t receive the oxygen they need through the heart’s work then we will not function properly and are even in danger of death.
Because of this, we seek to keep our hearts healthy. We know we need to eat healthy foods, get exercise, and take medicine if prescribed by a doctor. We know we need to protect our heart.
Proverbs 4:23 says the same thing of our immaterial heart. We need to protect it, guard it, and keep it safe. The health of the whole of our lives—not just physical—is impacted by the health of our heart at the core of who we are.
Everything we do flows from our hearts. Let’s make sure we guard our hearts and feed on things that will promote health and wholeness. So, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Fear & Flourish
“…Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh…” (Proverbs 3:7-8)
These verses stood out to me in my reading today. They’re important to understand and even more important to apply. There are three main points and they build sequentially upon each other.
1.Fear the LORD
This is essential. If God is not rightly respected the following points of the verses fall flat.
Fear of the LORD is the beginning (Prov. 9:10) and the beginning of freedom from sin.
2.Turn from Evil
We must turn from evil. The cold hard truth, however, is that we won’t unless we know and love the LORD. Actually, we’ll even have confusion as to what evil is.
But, we must turn and even run from evil. If we don’t it will be our downfall. It will be our downfall in a million ways. The start will be subtle but the end will be slow suffocation. Choking out life.
If we turn away from evil, we will…
God, as God, knows how life is to be lived. He knows because He created all life. When we turn from the destructive nature of sin, we turn to the good God intended for us. And it’s life giving. It brings medicine to our bones (v. 8).
So, let’s fear the LORD, turn from evil, and experience the flourishing God has in mind for humanity.
The Resurrection and Our Hope No Matter What
What is the correct response to the coronavirus? Should we have fear or faith?
Well, the answer to that question depends on where you’re coming from and your understanding of this world…
The Bible teaches Christians that through Christ, no matter what we face, we can have faith. We can have hope.
Reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus helps us have faith. It helps us see that we have a solid, untouchable hope.
In Acts chapter 2, Peter refers to Psalm 16 which is a Psalm that king David wrote. Psalm 16:27 says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” In Peter’s message he said: Friends, I can confidently tell you something about king David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us today (Acts 2:29). David is dead and his body rotted.
Not Afraid, Really?…
Photo by JR Korpa
“I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side” (Psalm 3:6).
This verse by itself makes no sense and is even dangerous. I would be afraid and very afraid if thousands of people had it out for me. This would especially be the case if they were on every side. 😬
How could the psalmist write this? Why would David, the author, be so puffed up? It seems he’s either arrogant or amazingly naive.
Of course, with anything that’s written, no less the Bible, context is absolutely vital!
What we did not see yet about Psalm 3 is that David had already written, “I cried to the LORD, and He answered me” (v. 4). And so David could rest even in the midst of a very scary situation. David says, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” (v. 5).
In the midst of all the many difficulties we face, may we with David confess: “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (v. 8). May we cry out to the LORD for help. May we take comfort knowing that He is our shield (v. 3). And then May we rest in His powerful and capable care.
“Be kind to one another”
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
There is a right way and a wrong way to live. That is not popular to say but it is the undiluted truth. The right way is in accord with “the way [we] learned Christ” (Eph. 4:20). The wrong way to live involves “hardness of heart” (Eph. 4:18), callousness (Eph. 4:19), and corruption through deceitful desires (Eph. 4:22).
So, there are certain things we should not do. There is a wrong way to live and act. It is damaging and even devilish (James 3:15).
Therefore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” We should not be resentful. Sinful anger should have no place in our lives. Foolish arguments should never be heard to come from our mouths. We should never speak wrong of others. How can we try to tarnish a person made in God’s image (James 3:9)?! Lastly, how can we have ill-will for someone when God the Son paid the ultimate price for us?! How can we not be transformed by our heavenly Father’s sacrificial love so that we extend grace and love even to our enemies?!
Be Eager to Maintain Unity
“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2).
I quoted this verse to my daughter today and she looked at me with a confused look and said, “What does that mean?”
That’s always a good question. I explained to her that in the Church we are all one big family and so we need to stay together and get along. We need to make sure that even when we’re mad and hurt by each other we work at still forgiving each other.
It is very necessary that we read this verse and heed its exhortation. It will inevitably be a verse we have to apply in our own lives. So, as my daughter asked, “what does it mean?” And I would add, “how do we do it?” and “what motivation are we given to obey?”
What does this verse mean?
It says to be “eager”? That means to want to do or have something very much. What do you do when you want something really bad? You pursue it. You work to get it. Even if there are obstacles you keep at it. That needs to be us. We need to be zealous in our pursuit of unity.
Notice also that we are to want to “maintain” the unity. Unity is not just important at one point in one situation. We should desire and work towards maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at all times and through all situations.
All His Benefits
“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).
If we are to rightly praise the LORD then we must know the LORD. We must know things about Him. We must know things about what He has done. We must know and not forget all His benefits.
“All His benefits.” I like that phrase.
When someone is thinking about taking a job they consider what the benefits of the job are. “Will I get enough vacation? Is the health insurance good enough?”
Yet the Lord gives “all His benefits” for free! Not as payment for work. The LORD heaps benefits on all those “who fear Him” (v. 11) because God is a God of “steadfast love and mercy” (v. 4).
God does not pay us for our sins as we deserve (v. 10). If He did that would be bad news and we certainly wouldn’t get all the benefits we enjoy. Just like a good Father, however, God shows great compassion and care to all who fear Him (v. 13).
The LORD forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, and strengthens (v. 3-5). The LORD is merciful and gracious and slow to anger (v. 6). The LORD’s love is vast beyond comprehension. It is high—higher than the heavens, it is vast—further than the east is from the west, and it is long—from everlasting to everlasting (v. 11, 12, 17).
So, praise the LORD! Praise the LORD because He shows mercy and withholds the punishment we deserve. Praise the LORD because He shows grace and heaps on all sorts of blessings we don’t deserve. Praise the LORD because of who He is and all He has done.
Why did Jesus flip over tables?
“And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple” (Mark 11:15-16).
Why did Jesus drive out those who sold and bought in the temple? Why did He flip over tables? That seems pretty extreme. Why was He so worked up? What was such a big deal? I mean in some ways the moneychangers actually helped people it would seem.
When I was in Germany, for instance, I had to go to the “moneychangers” to get euros. Without the moneychangers, after all, I would have had no schnitzel. Further, pigeons were sold. That is actually pretty convenient. Because who wants to have to haul a pigeon halfway across the known world? Not me. So, what was the deal with Jesus getting upset?
It seems that money was not the only issue. In fact, maybe not the biggest issue. Though, Jesus does mention that the moneychangers were essentially robbers (again, reminds me of the bank in Germany where I got my euros). But I think the bigger issue is what the Temple was intended to be and what it had become. It clearly was never meant to be “a den of robbers” but “a house of prayer.” A house of prayer “for all peoples,” it says.
The moneychangers were in the “Court of the Gentiles,” that’s basically equivalent to where Gentiles (non-Jews/”the nations”) would worship. As you can imagine that would obstruct worship. It would be a hindrance from Gentiles, “the nations,” from worshiping the Lord. This is the converse, as Jesus pointed out, of what Isaiah said: “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is. 56:7).
Jesus brings blessing and salvation to all peoples but at the temple people were hindered from worshiping. That is why Jesus was furious. And rightly so. May we never be worthy of Jesus’ wrath for that same sin.
May we never prevent or hinder people from coming to the LORD, even if they are convenient or important things that we don’t want to give up. May we work to destroy unnecessary stumbling blocks. And may the church be a house and family that welcomes all people in!
We Harvest what we Plant
“If you sow to the flesh you will reap from the flesh, reap corruption. But if you sow to the Spirit you will reap from the Spirit, reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8).
Sowing and reaping are not things most of us are really familiar with, let alone sewing and weeping. So, what does it mean to sow? To sow means to plant seeds.
What does it mean to reap? To reap means to gather, to harvest what was planted.
If a farmer plants corn what do they collect at the end? They gather corn. Whatever we plant we harvest. You can’t plant beans and expect wheat to grow. That’s not how things work.
In life it is the same way. What we plant we gather. Where we work is where we get paid. What we sow we reap.
In this verse, we see that in life there are only two types of seeds to plant. There are only two options of things that we can harvest at the end.
We can plant towards the flesh, that is, we can just care about and live for our physical and material life. What, however, is the end of all physical life? It is death and decay. It is corruption. It is decomposition. If we live merely for the flesh we don’t get a very good return on our work.
If we plant towards the Spirit the harvest is much different. At the end, there will be eternal life. And because this is the case, we have huge motivation to continue planting towards the Spirit. Because we will reap at the appointed time if we don’t give up (Gal. 5:9).