I recently moved into a new home. Before I moved in, there was a work crew here making sure that all of the blemishes were no longer visible. The nail holes were patched up. The walls were painted. Where there once was a mark on the wall, there was fresh paint. You know paint can cover up so much. For example, you can have a scrap on your car and a bit of touch up paint will make it go away. It doesn’t mean the scrap didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean you didn’t get a little too close to the garage. But it looks like nothing happened.
Long ago they would whitewash the tombs. They wanted to be sure that the graves were easily marked, some would say covered with lime or chalk, but it helped them consider it pure in case someone walked up to the tomb. Otherwise, if the whitewashing didn’t occur, a person would be contaminated, defiled for being in close contact with the dead.
Today’s passage says we cannot whitewash our sins. We cannot cover them over. We cannot pretend they aren’t there. We cannot take a paintbrush and cover it all up. Instead, we are to admit our sins. We are to confess and repent. If something you have done has not yet been confessed, get it out now. God is quick to forgive. You simply need to confess your sins and move forward. Don’t hide them behind some whitewash and think they will go away. Receive God’s mercy. Confess and receive His mercy.
“You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”
-Proverbs 28:13 [MSG]
Did you ever fight tooth and nail for something? Perhaps there was some injustice in the world that caused you to stand up and boldly state your resistance. Maybe you had a circumstance arise that demanded you fight hard. Today’s passage speaks of a love for God’s law, a love that causes one to fight tooth and nail.
Fighting tooth and nail means fighting with every means available. You don’t hold back. You use everything you got in the fight. You put it all on the line because you care so much. Today’s passage says that if you love God’s law, you will fight just like that to defend it, to stand up for it, to uphold it.
Did you realize you were in a tough battle in this world? Not only is there a battle for your soul which Christ already sealed as a victory so long as you believe, but there is another battle all around this world. People are battling to knock God out of His creation. People are trying to take away public prayer. People are trying to ban people from practicing Christianity. People are stealing Bibles, twisting Scripture, and improperly representing Christ. If you love God’s law, if you love God, I pray you fight tooth and nail. He doesn’t need you to fight for Him—you need you to fight for Him. It’s about passion. It’s about love. It’s about being all in though many in the world are totally out. You can sit on the sidelines and desert God and His Word—“you’re free to embrace depravity,” or you can fight. You can stand firm. You can boldly declare the Name of Christ and embrace His will for your life.
“If you desert God’s law, you’re free to embrace depravity;
if you love God’s law, you fight for it tooth and nail.”
-Proverbs 28:4 [MSG]
Everyone seeks pleasure. We all desire pleasure. There is an addiction to thrills that I am sure we each have dealt with at one time or another. We want to have fun. We want to have a good time. We love the rush. It makes us feel good; however, that pleasure goes away. It never lasts.
As much as we try to be satisfied by pleasure, it is a short time of happiness. It goes away quickly and we feel empty. Think of the great vacation plans and the joy felt in a beautiful environment, the peace felt relaxing on the beach or in a cabin. It is fun while it lasts but eventually you go back to work. Consider the thrill of a roller coaster ride, and then how quick the ride is over. The thrill never lasts.
We cannot get our fill of thrills because they so quickly pass. The void is then there. The only way to truly have pleasure in life, the only way to find satisfaction, is to have a relationship with Christ. With Christ, your life is never empty. With Christ, you are fully satisfied. With Christ, the void is filled. You can spend your entire life trying to achieve a lasting pleasure, trying to fill the void in your life and to be happy, but you will never truly be satisfied in life if Christ is not part of it.
“You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.”
-Proverbs 21:17 [MSG]
I have a problem accepting help from others. I am a very independent person and throughout my life I have grown very accustomed to doing things on my own. It is my first hand nature to simply roll up my sleeves and get to work on whatever needs done. Whether the washing machine breaks or the lawn needs mowed and I’m wearing an eye patch and can barely see to mow it, I get things accomplished. I push through the pain. I stretch myself. I even get overwhelmed trying to get it all done, but I get it finished.
Asking for help is something I do not like to do but I am getting better. There was a time when it was a pride issue. Then it turned into an issue of not wanting to inconvenience anyone. But today’s passage makes it clear that when something needs addressed, it is important to seek advice from others, to get help from others. Wise guidance. We all need wise guidance. The verse refers to getting this advice before we make war; however, help is needed in many facets of life.
We are not meant to do life alone. We are supposed to have a community of people to which we belong, and the community is to help encourage, strengthen, comfort, equip, support, and interact with each other. When someone needs help, the group is there. When someone falls, the group helps to pick them up. Ecclesiastes made it clear that two is better than one so we need to never push people away. We need to remember that counsel is important, and that we should appreciate and take all the help offered. Refusing is denying the blessing. Refusing is piling the burden on your shoulders. Refusing to do life with others is living in a way God never intended.
“Form your purpose by asking for counsel,
then carry it out using all the help you can get.”
-Proverbs 20:18 [MSG]
I love candy. I was born in Hershey. How can you be born in Hershey and not love candy?!? I know the difference between good candy and bad candy. I know the nasty taste of cheap candy. I remember when candy would be passed around in school or during a holiday and it wasn’t something very familiar. Sometimes it was bought at a bargain store; sometimes it was on sale because it was out-of-date. Either way, the candy was disgusting. It made me sick.
Today’s passage speaks of gossip—listening to gossip. “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy” – YUCK!!! “Do you really want junk like that in your belly?” Well, do you?
Gossip is horrible. It is not good to be the spreader of the gossip. It is not good to be on the receiving end either. It is certainly hard to get the gossiper to stop talking or to change topic. I know I have a problem with this because I don’t want to be rude. The best thing I have been able to do is to change the subject. I cannot always do it, but I try. You have to let the gossiper know you don’t want to hear that stuff. Truthfully you don’t want to hear that stuff. It is junk in your belly. Plus it might get the gossip to realize his or her bad actions. Remember that whether you are the gossip, or the hearer of the gossip, both bring about trouble. You don’t need the cheap candy to sicken your stomach. Change the topic. Walk away. Tell them you don’t want to gossip. Do whatever you need to do to keep the words from entering your ears.
“Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
do you really want junk like that in your belly?”
– Proverbs 18:8 [MSG]
This morning I walked into work and stood at the time clock. Around the corner someone was in their office; however, they knew it was me standing outside their door. Why? Because I’m “always humming.” Why do I hum? Well I don’t want to scare people away with my singing. Seriously though, I am humming praise music. All day long I am humming praise music at work. It certainly keeps me upbeat through the day as I continue to worship Him, switching from song to song, reminding myself of His greatness, of His Word, of His love.
Proverbs 15 speaks about “a cheerful heart (that) fills the day with song.” People can tell that I am cheerful when I am humming. Trust me, when I’m not humming I get asked “what is wrong.” It is very true that when I am not humming, I am not feeling very well, whether it be pain, depression, sadness, etc. It usually doesn’t take me long to get back to the humming when I realize I have stopped.
Do you really have something to be cheerful about? If you know Jesus, I would definitely say you do. Perhaps you aren’t a hummer, but can people tell that you are cheerful by your actions or would people probably say you are miserable? There’s this person I know who always is smiling, always upbeat, always shining with each person she meets. It doesn’t matter if she is in pain, if things are not going her way, etc. She always is cheerful. I can see it. I can feel it. Everyone around her can. Why? Jesus. Every day she wakes up and thanks the good Lord for another day. A cheerful heart fills the day with song.
“A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.”
-Proverbs 15:15 [MSG]
People often tell me that it does not matter who they spend time with because they will be who they will be whether or not they are hanging around with people doing bad things. They have control. They are their own person. I have heard it again and again. And yes, some people have more self-control than others and some people do not follow the crowd as much as others; however, the people you spend time with ALWAYS matters.
If you spend time with someone who talks a lot about politics, you will likely hear and learn a lot about politics. You might even become more political. If you spend time with a group of people who are all Christians, you should be able to see a difference between them and the rest of the world. You may partake in more theological discussions, do more studying of God’s Word and pray more. When you interact a lot with those who listen to a particular type of music or talk a certain way or do certain things, you will be soaking in those things. Your dialect could change a bit while you are with them. You might be listening to different music than usual and start humming songs you never thought would come out of your mouth.
Some of the truths of life that I learned came from hanging out with wise people. Spending time with pastors, with ministry laypeople, with strong Christians, has taught me a great deal and has challenged me, helped me to grow, encouraged me, and guided me to who I am today. I remember a time when I was hanging out with those who many would deem “fools” and I can attest that part of my life was falling to pieces. So remember this Proverb. Remember this choice. Remember the importance of who you walk with in life. Wise walking will help you to grow and get where God wants you to be in life. Foolish walking is walking backwards. God has so much more for you. Believe me. Or better yet, believe Him.
“Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”
-Proverbs 13:20 [MSG]