Category Archives: materialism

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3c: a lying tongue (continued again)

Last week we looked at some of the negative consequences of lying.  As we discussed, lying damages our relationships with others and our relationships with God. We ended, though, with a peek at the wonderful effects of honesty!  Today we’re going to look at some other blessings of honesty.  For instance:

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.  (Proverbs 15:4)

Our tongues have great power, and a deceitful tongue can crush a spirit in a number of ways.  Clearly, lies told specifically to hurt someone can crush that person’s spirit.  But that’s not all.  As we discussed last week, our lies can also crush the precious spirits under our authority –/, by destroying our credibility, their trust and/or morale, and potentially their characters as well.  And our lies can also crush our own spirits, by quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  But the opposite is also true: an honest, healing tongue gives life.  It gives life by rightly rewarding honesty and hard work in others.  It gives life by setting a strong example for those under our care.  And it gives life by bringing us closer to God and involving us in the life-giving work of His Holy Spirit in our lives.

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.  (Proverbs 24:26)

I love this simile.  Just as “a lying tongue hates those it hurts,” so honesty can be a beautiful act of love.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  (Colossians 3:9-10)

Lying indicates a return to the old man.  Honesty, on the other hand, brings us closer to God and His good design for us and our relationships.  As new creations, we are being renewed in God’s image – and honesty is part of that process.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.  (Proverbs 22:1)

This proverb questions what we value.  Is gaining wealth (or privilege, or our way in some petty matter, or whatever we’re after) worth ruining our reputations over?  God says no.  And, ultimately, it’s God’s approval that we should seek.  Honesty doesn’t just improve our reputations in the eyes of others, but – far more importantly – in the eyes of God. 

And so, finally, it’s important to look again at how God feels about lying.  (As Jesus asked, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44))  And while He tells us in Proverbs 6 that He hates lying, that’s certainly not the only place He mentions it.  Consider just a couple of examples:

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.  (Proverbs 12:22) 

Truthfulness is a delight to the Lord.  Think about that.  Oftentimes we detach ourselves from Scripture by focusing on rules and forgetting their purpose: Our relationships with God.  Don’t make this mistake.  Your relationship with God is your most important relationship, on earth and for eternity.  Given that, shouldn’t you want to do things that delight Him, instead of things He detests?

Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.  (Proverbs 16:13)

God, as the ultimate King, takes pleasure in us when we’re honest!

 So this week, consider your level of honesty in all of your interactions.  “Make it [y]our goal to please Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).  Prayerfully consider, too, how any damage you’ve caused by lying can be undone.

Next Week: hands that shed innocent blood

Last Week: a lying tongue, continued

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

Want to read more?

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

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

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(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 2: haughty eyes

Prestbury war memorial - northern face "G...

"God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Haughty Eyes

Of course the list of things God hates starts here.  Just in case I thought I was going to go into this series of posts feeling pretty proud of my ability to hate the wicked things God hates, I have to start with the one I have the most trouble with.

The first item on the list in Proverbs 6 of seven things God detests is “haughty eyes” – proud eyes, in other words.  The question, then, is this: Are there areas of pride in your life?

Below are some questions that might help us focus on this area.  (And it was helpful to me to really try to answer these as I wrote them.  I didn’t always like the honest answer, but as we’ll talk about in the next post, God also hates dishonesty.  So trying to cover up my pride with dishonesty is probably not a good choice. 🙂 )

1. Do I feel superior to others with regard to intelligence?  Or education?  Or accomplishments?  Or finances?  Or appearance?  Or patience?  Or wisdom?  Or holiness?  Or ……..?  (And am I too proud to see the irony in almost all of this?)

2. Do I look down on others because of these perceived differences?  Do I ever treat others differently because of this?  Am I less likely to associate with people I see as less intelligent, attractive, etc.?  Do I avoid people who look or dress a certain way?  Etc.

3. Do I take pride in my gifts and accomplishments (or the gifts and accomplishments of my husband or children) without remembering to give God the honor and credit and thanks?

4. Do I feel that I “deserve” certain things?  A certain size of house?  Certain clothes?  A certain amount of respect because of my job or wisdom or other gifts and accomplishments?

5. Do I act like I want to help people, but secretly enjoy thinking I’m better than them?

Most of us can answer “yes” to at least one part of one of these 5 questions.  So, if that’s the case, how do we start fixing our haughty eyes?

First, I think it’s important to remember whom we are apart from God: No one.  We are condemned, helpless souls.  With God, though?  We are children of the King.  We are recipients of His blessings.  That’s where we get all of our intelligence, wisdom, holiness, wealth, beauty, patience, and so on.  From God.  Each of these is a blessing that He’s chosen to give us.  And this is true of “the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).   All blessings come from God – “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17) –  whether or not we decide to acknowledge it.  So, no reason for pride there.  God tells us this in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

            This is what the LORD says:

   “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

What do we have to boast about?  Knowing God!  And the more we know God, the more we know we don’t have anything else to boast about.  Think you have something else to boast about?  Use that as a motivation to get to know God better!

Paul knew where his pride should be too, when he said in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he [God] said to me [Paul], “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

So there’s another thing we can boast about: God’s strength in our weaknesses.

And Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

So there’s another thing: the cross.

Finally, in 1 John 2:16, John reminds us where our desire to boast about ourselves comes from:

For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

So, to summarize: God hates selfish pride and boasting.  Our desire to boast about ourselves (or our families, etc.) comes from the world, not from God.  The only things we really have to boast about are knowing God, God’s strength in our weakness, and the cross.

So what does this mean for us in our daily lives?  A couple of things:

1. We have to get rid of our selfish boasting.  This doesn’t mean we can never tell our friends that our son scored a goal or our daughter got an “A” or our husband got promoted.  What it does mean is we have to do those things prayerfully.

Before the words come out of your mouth, ask yourself (and God) these two things:

 a. Can I honestly say that I am sharing this information in a way that encourages someone else or brings glory to God?

b. Does God want me to share this information right now?

 Asking these two questions has kept me quiet on numerous occasions.  And it’s HARD.  Boasting is a really natural thing to do.  We want to feel good about ourselves and our families, and we want others to as well.  But whose glory are we seeking in this case?  We should be seeking God’s glory and helping point others to Him.  Does what you’re about to say meet either of those goals?

2. We have to get rid of pride.  Boasting is the outward manifestation of a prideful heart.  Getting rid of boasting is important, but it doesn’t solve our heart issue.  The pride in our hearts (maybe even pride about the fact that we aren’t boastful!) is the real problem.  Remember, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

A couple places to start with this:

a. Focus on building others up.  When you’re talking with a friend, for instance, resolve to only ask questions about what she’s talking about, instead of steering the conversation toward yourself.

b. Memorize some of the verses above to defend yourself against the devil when he tempts you to be prideful — and he will.  Don’t let the devil turn a gift or accomplishment God has blessed you with into an occasion for sin!

What have you found that helps you guard your heart against pride?

Read Part 3a of the series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3a — a lying tongue

Missed Part One of this series?  Click here: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 1

Want to read more?

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

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) a good steward: “mine, mine, mine?”

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.  –1 Chronicles 29:14b

 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”  –Psalm 16:2

It seems that during the Christmas season, needs present themselves in a more apparent way than throughout most of the year.  Or maybe we’re just more attuned to them.  Probably some of both.  With coat drives, food pantries, Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, Operation Christmas Child, the Salvation Army ringers, and the countless other worthy charities out there, it’s almost a relief when the season is over and we can go back to being a little less attuned to these needs.

One of the reasons all these needs seem so overwhelming is that it seems like no matter how much we give, there’s always someone we’re not helping.  And that’s because there always is someone we’re not helping.  But what should be our response to this as Christians?  Try to hide from the needs around us?  Spend our time feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as we try to meet every need we see?  Neither of these seems right.  Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at being good stewards and prayerful volunteers.  In an attempt to better understand what God wants from us in these areas, we’ll start with the 1 Chronicles and Psalm verses above.

The point of these verses (for the purposes of this discussion, anyway) is two-fold.  The first we’ll get to this week.  The other we’ll tackle next week.

The first point is to start acknowledging (or to continue acknowledging) that everything we have everything comes from God.

Every dollar, every can of food, every scrap of clothing, every car, every minute of our time, every piece of toilet paper or paper towel, every ounce of laundry soap, every hair product, every book, every electronic gadget, every loved one, every academic degree, every talent, every toy, every shoe, every DVD, and every game is a gift from God – and belongs to God.  We’re merely the managers of these things.  We’re not the owners. 

This can be a freeing thought.  If we’re just managers, then our job isn’t to hold on as tightly as possible to “our stuff.”  Instead, our job is to care for God’s stuff (tangible and intangible) in a way that is pleasing to its Owner.  Our focus should not be on how to best use God’s gifts to serve our own needs and desires, but how to best use them for God’s glory and God’s kingdom.

A lovely couple I know put this into action in an interesting way several years ago.  They didn’t have children yet, so they picked boys up from a local boys’ home and drove them to church, took them on outings, etc.  As this couple put it, they had an empty backseat — which they were hoping not to have too much longer.  While they had it, though, they wanted to use it to glorify God.  A backseat.  Not something we usually think of as belonging to God.  But it does.

Consider: What do you have that you don’t usually think of as “belonging to God?”  How might you use it for His glory? 

 

Today, I’d encourage you to take an inventory of the things God has entrusted you to manage.  The list above can help you get started.  It isn’t necessary to write down every individual thing (unless you feel God leading you to) – broader categories should work just fine.

Then, spend some time thinking about — and maybe writing down (if that helps you) — how you most often use those things.  Are most of the things God’s given you to manage used to serve yourself or to serve God and others?

As you go through your week, add things that you notice to your lists.  What do you discover during your week that you hadn’t thought of as belonging to God?  What thing(s) were you surprised to realize you use in a primarily self-serving way?  Or, on the other hand, where were you pleased to see you’re doing well in using some of God’s resources to serve Him and others?

As you make your lists and as you go through your week, pray and ask God if there are any changes He’d like you to make in the way you use the stuff He’s given you to manage (the visible and invisible).  How could God use the things He’s given to you to manage for Him to make an even bigger impact on your relationship with Him and your relationships with the people around you?

Please feel free to share lists or ideas below!

Next week we’ll look at the Superwoman Complex!

Want to read more?

Are you a worrier?  Then you might enjoy Monday’s Post: (becoming) less of a worrier

Interested in discussions about how to be a godly wife?  Check out the Wife Series: (becoming) a more godly wife: why won’t he . . . . . . ?

Want to go deeper in your walk with Christ?  Click here for the start of the Fully Submitted Series: (becoming) fully submitted

Still basking in the glow of the Christmas season?  Click here for the start of the Christmas Posts: (becoming) peaceful

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