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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs’

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:10 (NASB)

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Photo by Caleb Oquendo from Pexels

 

Do we find favor? Or, vice versa, does favor find us?

The question lingers on.

Yet, favor with God is entirely different from favor with men.  The Lord is said to look at the heart, while man is caught up in the outward appearance.  The world looks on and assesses what is on the outside and obvious, but the Lord searches the innermost parts of man and in His secret places for what is hidden from the natural eye.

Paul’s argument to the Galatians is that seeking to please man disqualifies you as a servant of the Lord, according to Galatians 1:10. The context of his argument is based on the profession of the Good News as the gospel and that there is no other gospel for consideration. His argument was rooted in the inherent defense of the Word of God against those who would twist and manipulate it to lead others astray with unnecessary ritualistic demands. What Paul was saying to the Galatians was that their faith should remain rooted in the gospel that touched their hearts and changed their lives.

When we read the early chapters of Galatians, we can sense how deeply immersed Paul was in the upkeep of the faith of these fellow believers. But we also get a sense of how much Paul did not worry about the favor of men.

22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” – Galatians 1:22-23 (ESV)

Something here shows us that Paul was not seeking notoriety for His Damascus Road experience or a warm reception from those whom he once persecuted. Paul just sought to be known for “preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” That was the case with Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen Baldwin. Their efforts to disprove and destroy the effects of the Good News on others led to their own conversion.

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But can one find both favor with God and man?

The words from Proverbs 3:4 simply say it is possible: “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” The upbringing of the Lord Jesus demonstrate it is so, saying: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52, ESV).

Proverbs 19:6 helps us to understand that: ” Many seek the favor of a generous man. . .”  People will desire the favor of those who seem to have power and authority as in Proverbs 16:15 and 19:12. The problem is seeking man’s favor alone will never truly satisfy our souls.

So, it is possible to have favor with both God and man. We just cannot allow the pursuit of favor with man to outweigh our desire to find favor with God. Favor with man is just an added benefit that might come along with favor with God.  It is not a given that those who find favor with God will automatically also find favor with man.

The prophets experienced this firsthand. They were given the message of the Lord for the people, but they also were viewed as troublemakers and considered disruptive to the prosperity and peace that the people of God had discovered and tried to enjoy.  Oftentimes, the prophetic books of the Bible open with the fact that their message was a burden to bear for the sake of the people and in obedience to God.

Look at the life of David. He was anointed as a lad but not appointed until later.  Imagine living that life under the nose of King Saul. He served under him and you were married to his daughter as well as best friends with his son. But he was also destined to rule in Saul’s place. This put David at odds with Saul later.

Just imagine if what made you special made others skeptical.

What if it made them suspicious of your motives?

What if you being marked out for something special also left you marked as a target for ridicule and resentment by others?

Take a brief moment and think back to the last time you graciously showered someone else with favor. Was it a transforming experience or was it purely a transaction? Have you ever shared your power and influence in favor of someone who cannot even get their foot in the door?

Maybe it is time that you reflect back to the times when you needed favor.  Even better yet, think about the times when you fell out of favor and how badly you desired to regain your status.

To be a little more godly, we’re all going to have to figure out how to be a little more gracious and generous. When we do so, we can freely give to others without seeking anything in return.

 

 

 

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“…But wisdom brings success.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10

I think it is safe to say that we all hope for success in life. No matter how you determine and measure what success is for you, you can be honest about how you view it. Success, for many of us, is a goal. For others, it is a destination.

You can’t get there without some work. You can’t reach it without some determination. You can’t get there without some faith. But you surely cannot obtain it or sustain without wisdom.

Solomon appraised life in its entirety through the lens of wisdom. He advised and admonished through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. He pointed out how vanity led to misery and poverty, while humility led to honor.

Make it a point to be more successful. Add wisdom to your daily agenda and diet.

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Do not wear yourself out to get rich;

do not trust your own cleverness.

– Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)

Riches are fleeting.

If you don’t believe me, just look at how this preceding verse is followed up.

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,

for they will surely sprout wings

and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

-Proverbs 23:5 (NIV)

The very money that you worked yourself into an early grave to obtain can “sprout wings” and “fly off.” That doesn’t sound like a solid and prudent investment of anyone’s time and other resources like energy and thought.  It sounds like a waste.  In fact, the Scriptures are not saying that wealth is a waste.  The words relate to the effort that other versions and translations of the Bible consider to be an effort to “overwork.” It gives a connotation and warning not to overwork to become rich.

The Book of Proverbs advises a different approach in chapter 13;  “. . . but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Ask yourself which way you are going about obtaining wealth and riches.

Are you doing yourself a favor by gathering it “little by little?” Or, are you doing yourself a disservice by seeking to “overwork” to get there?

At the end of the day, the choice is yours.  You can work yourself into a frenzy and have little to show for it except for a bunch of stress and agony to go along with an ulcer or panic attacks of anxiety.  You can also see all of what you have saved to go away right out of your own hands and into the hands of another.

 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.     – Ecclesiastes 6:2 (NKJV)

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8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

As Christians, we say that we follow Christ.  If you can recall some early church history, prior to the label Christian being placed us at Antioch, Christians were called people of the Way.  We were all about the Way, the new thing that God would do among us as He had spoken of through the prophet Isaiah.  It was not until many had been martyred, tortured and persecuted for the sake of Christ that the name Christian  had become acceptable.

We see others suffering and we refuse to sit by silently.

We hear about torture of women and children who abandon the faith of their ancestors to become Christians and our hearts weigh heavily with compassion and sympathy for the Christ-like suffering of these modern day martyrs.  Yet, we refuse to let it go on without our voices speaking against such atrocities.

We see men and women turn their lives around and turn their entire lives over to Christ in rehab centers, halfway houses, homeless shelters, street missions, prison chapels and on street corners.  We praise God for His mercy, grace and forgiveness right along with them.  Yet, we speak out against the temptations and other ills that sucked the life out of them throughout their addiction, imprisonment and other ordeals.

We speak loudly.  Speak through bull horns.  We speak into microphones at press conferences and from pulpits as well as behind podiums and on top of city hall steps.

We speak boldly in public spaces.  Just as Elijah called out the king of his prophetic days, we stand boldly before leaders and hold them accountable for justice, equity and liberty among the citizens.  We spoke boldly of the truth being covered up for greed and gain.  We speak boldly about the crimes and corruption of the scoundrels and scam artists.  

We let our voices ring as loud as church bells.  We let our voices sound out like sirens.  We lift our voices and uphold our fellow man for the sake of common good regardless of his or her station in life.

Let your voice be heard.

Let people remember that you have a voice and that you are not afraid to use it.

Speak up.  Speak out.

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