(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 5a: a heart that devises wicked schemes

(This is part 5a in the series.  For the start of this Proverbs 6 series, click here: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6)

 

A Heart that Devises Wicked Schemes

A heart that devises wicked schemes is very problematic because a problem with our hearts is a problem with the very core of who we are (Matthew 12:33-35, 15:18-20).  The questions below can help us root out some of our heart problems.  Next week we’ll look at some verses that can help us rend our hearts and turn them back towards God.

1. Do I do things I know are wrong?  [Lie, badmouth my husband, gossip, visit websites I know I shouldn’t visit, skip quiet time with God, etc.]

He who plots evil will be known as a schemer.  The schemes of folly are sin, and men detest a mocker.  (Proverbs 24:8-9)

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

2. Do I say things I know are wrong?  [Things that aren’t true, or aren’t kind, or are otherwise against God’s will.]

A scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.  (Proverbs 16:27)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29-30)

3. Do I try to get others to join me in doing things I know are wrong so I don’t feel as bad about it?  [Maybe trying to get other women to complain about their husbands so I don’t feel so guilty for complaining about mine?]

A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good.  (Proverbs 16:29)

4. Do I influence those under my authority or care to join me in things I know are wrong?  [Maybe encouraging employees or children to stretch the truth to avoid an uncomfortable situation?  Or maybe setting a negative example for others in general?]

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.  “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”  (Matthew 18:6-7)

5. Do I condone wickedness, even if I don’t actively participate in it?  That is, do I stand up for what is right, or do I pretend to not see injustices?

Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  (Romans 14:22b)

6. Do I make plans that I know will cause harm to other people?  [Perhaps because I don’t like them?]  Do I make plans without considering whether or not they’ll cause harm to other people?  [Perhaps because I’m more concerned about what happens to me than about what happens to them?]

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 2:3-5)

7. Do I make plans that I know go against God’s Will?  [These don’t have to be plans that are “bad” per se.  They might just be things I want that I know God doesn’t want for me at that time.  Also consider: After I make these plans that I know go against God’s will, do I then ask Him to bless my plans?]  

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?  (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)

8. Do I make plans without consulting God?  [Maybe because I’m afraid of what His answer might be?  Or maybe because I just forgot to talk to Him?  And, again: after I make these plans without consulting Him, do I ask Him to bless my plans?]

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:13-17)

9. Do I think about doing things I shouldn’t?  [Maybe I think about big things – committing adultery, for instance.  Or maybe I just dwell on mean thoughts – the fact that I really don’t like a particular family member, or the fact that I’m happy that my neighbor’s kid got in trouble because she always goes on and on about how perfect her kids are, for instance.  Even if I don’t actually take any action based on these thoughts, do I spend time and energy that belong to God thinking about these things?]

Finally, brothers, 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)  [In a few weeks I’m going to post more about this verse.  I think it’s one of those that we quote a lot without really thinking about.  I think it demands and deserves more thoughtful attention.] 

10. Do I look for ways to commit my pet sins that make them seem like less of a sin?  [Gossip in the form of “prayer requests.”  Nagging my husband, but only about “good” things, like going to church or spending more time with the family.  Etc.]

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  (Matthew 23:27-28)

11. Do I do good things with the wrong motive?  [Do I work at church for God’s glory or for attention/praise from others?  Do I ask after someone because I care about that person or because I want to hear the latest gossip?  Do I help others because God’s love fills my heart or so I can act like an overworked martyr?  Etc.]

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.  (Proverbs 16:2)

12. Do I (secretly) wish bad things for people, even if I’m nice to them in person?  [Do I wish that my cousin’s kid would finally get in trouble for what he does so she’d stop acting like her family is perfect?  Do I wish that other people could see how fake my neighbor is so we could exclude her from get-togethers?  Etc.]

Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.  (Proverbs 26:23)

13.  Am I a little disappointed when good things happen to people I don’t like (or maybe even people I do like) because they didn’t happen to me?  [Do I have trouble being happy for my friend who got a promotion that I wanted?  Am I disappointed to hear that my neighbor’s kid got into a top college?  Am I jealous when my cousin gets more attention at a family get-together than I do?]

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  (Romans 12:15)

Most of us can answer yes to at least part of one of the questions above, which indicates that our hearts are divided – divided between loving ourselves and loving God.  This week I challenge you to ask God to “create in [you] a pure heart” (Psalm 51:10).  Ask Him to search you and reveal any impure motives you might have (Psalm 139:23-24).  Next week we’ll look at why it’s so important to have pure hearts – and how to get them.

Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 2

Last Week: hands that shed innocent blood

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Is nagging our husbands really a problem?  Why I think it is: How culture is sabotaging our marriages

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

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