Proverbs 10:17 says, “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray” (ESV). Another translation speaks about the one who “heeds discipline” as opposed to the one who “ignores correction.” This verse basically says two things: The person who accepts discipline (correction) will be on the path of life. The person who fights again correction will go astray. Some translations even mention these people leading others astray as well.
No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong. No one likes to face the music and accept correction. But we need to do this to develop into who God created us to be—to grow in character and wisdom. Only with correction are we able to confront our faults and change. Only with discipline are we able to have the opportunity for more, not only for our own lives but to lead by example for others as well.
Many times we like to avoid discipline. From childhood on up, it is a way of life for us. Oftentimes we grumble when our parents punish us. We throw a fit when we lose privileges. We get upset when we are punished. Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid” (NIV). That sounds kind of harsh. If we hate correction (discipline) we are stupid? The actual word for stupid means brutish and it relates to the word burn or kindle. It represents a life that has no opportunity to be more, a life that can never become as originally designed. My friends, God’s discipline is helpful. God’s discipline should be welcomed and praised. God’s discipline helps us to continue on the path to life. God’s discipline helps us to lead a godly life to point others to Jesus rather than leading astray. God’s discipline refines us.
Over the years, I have seen the importance of having insurance. Car insurance. House insurance. Medical insurance. Fire insurance. Flood insurance. Life insurance. Insurance is necessary. You never know when something is going to happen and you will need it. I have sadly seen many people have the unexpected creep up and they were without insurance; the results were painful to watch.
In Proverbs, it says: “Good character is the best insurance.” The GOD’s WORD translation says, “Decent people are saved by their righteousness, but treacherous people are trapped by their own greed.” When I personally think of good character as insurance, it reminds me of some people I know with good character. When they got into a situation where they had a great need, dozens upon dozens of people came to help them. Yet when someone deemed a crook or a treacherous person also fell upon hard times, the floods of people didn’t head their way.
In Proverbs 11, it discusses a false balance and it goes back and forth between the upright and the wicked. It goes back and forth between the two types of people. Good character is associated with righteousness, with being blameless, with being humble. The one with good character is merciful, gracious, a guarantor for the stranger. As we read this Proverb, it is quite clear we want so badly to be the one of good character. To be this person, the only way to be this person of good character, is to know the One Who is Righteous and Holy. He is the most gracious. He is the most merciful. He is the greatest Guarantor. He is faithful. He is understanding.
“Good character is the best insurance;
crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.”
-Proverbs 11:6 [MSG]
The other morning when I woke up, I could not yet see because it was rather dark. I ended up walking right into the corner of the door (which had slightly closed through the night) and I hurt my toe. This was not the first time this happened, but last time my head took the brunt of the injury. I am always a bit of a klutz. Sadly, you have to really pay attention when walking in the town I live because there are many pavements that are not smooth and it is easy to trip. I found that out long ago and have some scars for proof.
Today’s verse declares that those people who have integrity “walk safely” while those who do not “slip and fall.” A person with integrity is honest. A person with integrity lives with strong moral principles. Honor. Good character. These things can be said of a person with integrity. If a person is full of lies, or even one big lie, they eventually “slip and fall.” The truth always comes out. But a man with integrity always will “walk safely” because there is no way for him to fall. He’s already living in the truth.
We all can name a person who fell, a person who was found to be involved in a bad situation, a crime, a scandal, etc. We remember how they all fell. We also can remember how we have fallen at times. Thankfully we have a Father who has forgiven us of all the crooked paths we have taken in life. We simply need to believe in Him and walk with Him with integrity. It will be a safe walk—the safest walk!
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” – Proverbs 10:9 [NLT]
“But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NIV]
The beginning of this verse sets the tone. It is a phrase that is sometimes hard to chew on for us. Imagine this—even if God doesn’t do what I am hoping and praying He does—even if God doesn’t show up in the same way I expected—even if I have to face hardship and possibly death—I will not back down. I will stand firm. I will continue to serve God with all that I have and with all that I am.
We should possibly read that paragraph over when we are praying for healing. We should read that over when we just lost our job and are about to foreclose on our mortgage. We should read that again when we are given a moment to defend our faith but it comes with consequences.
That “but” is a hard word to face. These men were facing the possibility of a fiery furnace. What if it didn’t end the way it did? What if they were burned alive, three martyrs burnt alive? We take this historical event and think that it will be the same for our lives. There will be a similarity—God will show up. He always does. However, He might not do what we expect. He could stand with us in the furnace to deliver us and we could come out not even smelling like the fire. But, He could stand with us in the furnace and we might not get out as we planned.
Today, I want to challenge you. Your faith in God should rest on His character, not what He does for you. It is hard; however, we need to face the “but” in life. He is faithful. He will not leave you. He has a plan and purpose for your life—a hope and future. But it might not be what you think. Continue to seek His will for your life, being okay with the “but.”
“For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything He does.”
– Psalm 33:4 [NLT]
A friend of mine is a teacher and she explained to me how she has her students walk as a group to get to their bus. The children each hold hands with each other and they walk forward following her. They don’t look around to see the traffic, the people, and the dangers around them. They simply trust her and walk forward with all eyes on her. This type of trust we are to have in God. We are to have this faith where we give it all to Him and do not think a second more about it. We are to have this faith that causes us to simply do as He asks with no questions asked, not concerning ourselves with the result because we understand He is faithful and has promised us a hope and a future.
A big issue is that faith should not be seen simply as having faith in the power of God. These kids weren’t following the teacher because she had power to keep them out of danger. Danger was certainly possible. They followed her because they trusted her. They trusted her because she was a person of good character. She never let the kids down and they remembered that as she led them onward. Though God is all-powerful, if our faith in Him is only in His power, we will have a problem. Oswald Chambers saw it this way: “Faith is unbreakable confidence in the Personality of God, not in His power… We must have confidence in God over and above everything He may do, and stand in confidence that His character is unsullied. Faith stands under all tests—‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’” (“If Ye Shall Ask”). If we only have faith in God’s power, and not in His character, we will never fully follow God or fully trust Him.
This past summer I was challenged to walk in faith. I could not walk forward simply trusting in God’s power. I had to trust His character. I had to trust His promises. I had to trust His Word. Yes He has the power to do anything in His will; however, is it in His character to use His power in a particular situation or will He sit back and not use this power He has so that we are able to spiritually mature from the circumstance? If we have faith merely in God’s power, where is our faith when God choose to not use His power, when God chooses to be silent? To have faith in God’s character is to truly trust God, to trust His Word and to trust His promises. Knowing that God was leading me forward, I was able to walk in faith trusting in Him. Perhaps He would use His power to take care of anything that would arise, but that didn’t concern me. I trusted Him—I trust God. He didn’t use His power, but He was faithful. He did what He promised. Job trusted God, not simply God’s power. Abraham trusted God, not simply God’s power.
Today I ask you, do you trust God? Do you trust God so much to walk forward even if God may choose to not display His power? Do you have confidence in the character of God? Could you handle trusting God even if you were to be worse off than Job during his time of great trouble? Is your faith in God simply in His power or do you truly trust Him?