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.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2
Reading this proverb makes me think of a rewrite of the Beatles song "Yesterday." My version goes like this . . .
"Vanity, all I ever do is think of me, I'm the greatest person that I see, Cause I'm so filled with vanity."
Proverbs tells us here to "let another praise you, and not your own mouth." When it comes to compliments and praise - it is always wise to let them flow from other people - than to spend time praising yourself. Self-praise is nothing more than arrogance and self-promotion. When you live this way - you will fall into the trap of believing your own press. Since you are the one who writes your own press - there is no objectivity in what is being said. The real danger over time is that in belieiving and writing your own press, you will become less and less responsive to any constructive criticism offered. Do this long enough and you will have a little tyrant in your heart who, when it comes to those who try to help you identify character flaws and imperfections, rejects everything that is said out of hand.
One of the keys to a healthy psyche is the ability to look at yourself honestly and offer self-critique. The ability to receive correction and teaching from yourself and others is vital to not only good psychological health, but more importantly good spiritual health.
The other thing we learn from this passage is when praise matters. Proverbs tells us that the praise we should consider is when a stranger praises us. What is a stranger? It is someone who surprises you with kind words. Another way of defining this person is that they are a person who you don't realize is watching you and examining your works. When they praise you - you are assured that the way you were living was not an act. You were relaxed and living the way you normally would. Thus when they offer praise - it is true praise. What they see is the closest to when you are living without trying to impress anyone.
A personal story that illustrates this is in order. This happened when I was at Auburn University. Unfortunately, I have a normal amount of vanity in my heart that God wants me to overcome by His grace. Sooo - although its embarassing to admit - there are times when I try harder when people are looking to be a better Christian. My desire is for God to deliver me from such pride - and instead, I would live to please and honor God alone. One day, during a testimony meeting at church, a brother stood up and spoke of how he desired to follow the Lord due to the example he saw of God's grace in my life. Boy was I shocked! I had spoken to him a couple of times - but was not particularly close to him. It not only shocked me, but it also concerned me as well. The thought went through my mind immediately, "I didn't know he was watching and looking for an example from how I lived." Rather than feel proud - I actually felt a little freaked out. Another thought went racing through my head, "I wonder who else is watching?" At that moment the Lord sent a third thought across the bow, "I am!" Suddenly all other praise from men went silent. There was only One before Whom I should walk and live. If I had His praise and approval - that of mere mortals meant nothing. Even better than this - the lack of praise from mere mortals would not affect me negatively - for I wouldn't be seeking it. By the end of this event a lot had changed in my heart. I was thankful for the gracious words of my brother - but there was a more important Person Whose praise I truly desired. This kind stranger had been a blessing in two ways: first, he offered encouragement that I was growing and honoring God in what I was doing, but second, he was used by God to turn my eyes away from any other praise than that which comes from above - and which is true in every way.
Here is wisdom for today . . . live not for praise that originates from your own vanity - or from those before you can perform. Live for the praise of those who watch from the secret places of your life - who cheer from the wings. But most of all - live for the evaluation that will come at the end - when each man will receive the "true praise" which is due him from God.
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
"Just trust your heart," is a phrase that we hear often in our world. Yet this counsel runs absolutely counter to what God tells us in Proverbs - and honestly - everywhere else in Scripture. How could there be such a wide discrepancy between the common wisdom of the world and that which God gives us in the Word?
To trust in your own heart is to be confident in it. The word means to feel safe and secure - to feel that you can rely on it in every situation. God calls the man or woman who lives this way a fool. But there is a reason God says this - a good reason. The world in all its philosophies usually does not want to take into account the fall of man into sin and rebellion against God. Those stories of a garden and a tree of good and evil are just that - stories. So they write off the rebellion of man - and choose instead to trust their own rebellious hearts. But the one who does not take into account the fall of man is a fool. He does not realize the corruption of his own heart. It is like trusting a watch that has been set incorrectly. No matter how accurate you think it is - it is fundamentally flawed. So is the man who trusts himself and does not see his sin.
The one who walks wisely is promised deliverance. We've seen these words before in Proverbs. Walk speaks of our lifestyle - the way we walk about the world. The walk of this man is according to wisdom - which is "chokmah" and means a wisdom - but one used with skill - meaning a practical wisdom that is lived out in a myriad of decisions every day. The one who walks this way will be delivered. Delivered? From what are we to be delivered? What are we escaping?
When we walk wisely according to God's ways - we will be delivered from our sinful ways and tendencies. We are declifered . . . from ourselves and from a fallen world that walks contrary to God's wisdom. Believe it or not, that is the primary trap set for us every day - to turn to ourselves rather than to turn to God. Only the wisdom of God's Word will deliver us from such a fate - such a natural fate that it seems like the height of normalcy to live that way. Yet, to fall into those normal patterns of the flesh - trusting ourselves rather than living in a conscious dependence upon God - well - that is a fate which we all need to be delivered from every day.
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.
Thank you for visiting our website! Everything on this site is offered for free. If, however, you would like to make a donation to help pay for its continued presence on the internet, you can do that by clicking here. The only thing we ask is that you give first to the local church you attend. Thank you!
Copyright Calvary Chapel Jonesboro | all rights reserved