Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. Proverbs 27:23-24 As we look at this passage in Proverbs 27, we are examining the Ministry of neglect. This proverb is encouraging us to know the condition of things in our lives well! The example used is for our flocks - and yet many of us do not have any livestock. The wisdom that is offered is that we know well the things that are important in our lives. Over the next week we'll be looking at six different areas of our lives in which it is wise for us to avoid the "Ministry of Neglect" that just seems to come to naturally to us all. The first area we will look at is our personal lives. In this area we need to know well the condition of our heart. This speaks to our spiritual condition before God. How are you doing spiritually? Are you being more Christlike in your actions and attitudes? Are you showing spiritual growth so that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in how you live? On a different level, are you reading the Word of God daily? What about prayer - are you praying? Are you sharing your faith with others - and being an instrument of God's grace and love in your local fellowship? A good thing to do, if you want to keep up with such things, is to occasionally have a brother or sister in Christ lovingly, yet honestly, answer these questions. Want a real challenge? Ask your wife and your children. Another area of our personal lives is our health. This is one that if often overlooked - and yet according to 1 Corinthians 6:19 - our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. So the question is applicable - how is your health? Are you eating well - or is the sin of gluttony resulting in health issues for you? Are you exercising regularly? Are you getting enough sleep and resting on a regular basis (God suggests 1 out of every 7 days for this). If you do not take care of yourself - you should not be surprised if your body - and even your mental state begins to fall apart. I am not saying that we should turn into health and fitness fanatics - just that we should do a basic job of caring for ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you practicing good mental health? Do you live in reality - or is most of your time spent in a fantasy land - either on television or in an online game. Are you living for online relationships more than those around you in your home? Too many find themselves locked into the online world rather than the real one. Then there are mental habits. How are you doing with your mind? Are you reading and learning anything? This is something people don't grasp in our society. We are becoming a society of morons - because we don't do anything to benefit our minds. There is so much out there besides television (and especially besides reality TV) that can help you become a smarter person. Are your reasoning skills advancing - or are you letting the TV, radio, and others think for you? Oh, how much we lose when we don't practice good mental habits. The potential here is massive - and few if any of us tap into it. One last area that I'll meddle in is our personal finances. How are they going? Are we exercising wisdom in how we are handling the money God gives to us? Do we look like a wise or a foolish steward of what God places into our hands? It is actually wise to occasionally take a step back and see if we are being wise - and are practicing self-control over our spending habits. If not - we can suddenly find that our bank account will not sustain us at a level we are currently living. I can only imagine how much many have been offended by this particular post. We are not exactly an honest people when it comes to stepping back and taking a real look at ourselves. If it helps any - I was pretty convicted in several areas of my own life just writing this. Doing this can help us so much though. Remember - this post is about the Ministry of Neglect. It is too easy for us to forget areas of our lives - until they come back to bite us in the rear. That is why I would encourage you to schedule a quarterly check-up . . . for yourself. You might be shocked at how it helps keep you on track. I know that writing this has made me consider a few ways that the ministry of neglect has been active - and - I can see how if I continue to neglect things - I'll end up paying a lot more than I want to in my future.
Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17
In order to learn this proverb in the way we will never forget, we should find a large, doberman - whom we do not know - and grab him by the ears and shake him a little. Yeah - don't think you'd want to do that either. Want to know why? Because you'd come out of that situation with one less hand (possibly two if you are slower).
I love when God uses pictures that are not only graphic - but pretty funny to consider. This sounds like a bad clip from "America's Funniest Videos." Nevertheless, it is great for those of us who have a bad tendency to get involved in "strife-filled" situations when we have no reason for doing so. There are just some of us who think it is our place to fix every situation where people are having problems.
Note several things about this person. First, he is simply "passing by" a situation that is ongoing. He has not been invited to enter it and offer counsel. He just feels that these two people who are fighting need his particular expertise and wisdom. Second, this is a situation "not belonging to him." That removes him even further from the picture - or at least it should. Third, he enjoys "meddling" in other people's business. Add all these things up and you get a recipe for "relational disaster stew!"
This is one of those proverbs that needs to be featured in the University of Duh. Anyone with a remote "lick of sense" knows better than to grab a dog by its ears. Do so and you will anger the dog - who will then bite your hand. Do it to the wrong dog and more than just your hand will be attacked. So also is the foolishness of someone who just will not stay out of other people's business. This particular fool won't stay out of other people's ANGRY business. The word "riybah" is used here - and it means strife, controversy, or contention. It speaks of a quarrel or dispute - which often involves open hostilities. Why would anyone want to step into something like that - when they don't even know the people all that well? To do so is stupid! But it seems that "stupid" here just cann't help himself or herself. They insert themselves into the conflict - and later are shocked when they walk away battered and bruised by the words or actions that they run into in the midst of it.
Stay out of other people's business! That is something my mother taught me. It has been a very wise saying - and one that I did not know at the time was biblical. Whenever I have obeyed her counsel I was blessed. But I've ignored it a few times . . . and I have the emotional dog bites to show for it!
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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