“Our own heart, and not other men’s opinion, form our true honor.” Do you find the opinion of others concerning you important? If you do, you are not much different than the vast-majority of people in this country, even the western world. It is a shame, however, when God’s saint finds the opinion of another to be of greater importance than the Lord’s opinion of him (or her). The Lord’s opinion is always true and steady, never wavering (James 1:16-18). This can’t be said about the opinion of man, even one’s best friend. Your own heart, if you are wise, will be directed by the Lord’s way of thinking and not that of man who is uncertain of himself when he does think! Let your true honor come from the Lord; He loves you and is your security and has the only opinion that counts!
Ash Wednesday and Lent are two days on the religious calendar that is not recognized by the Bible. In other words, the New Testament gives no sanction to either one of these days or periods of time observed by a good many people, both religious and not. Paul, in something of a similar context, wrote to the churches of Galatia about their own desires to observe days and months. He writes, “You are observing religious days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain” (Galatians 4:10-11, NET). The context in which Paul wrote relates to a great many people who desired to continue observing the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses had all the markings of religious teaching, and certainly full of wisdom. In Paul’s time, there were some who promoted it as the acceptable way to please the Lord. Paul, writing by the authority of the Holy Spirit, would have none of it. Neither should we. Let us live holy all the time, and not just part of the time.
“Our own heart, and not other men’s opinion, form our true honor” The obvious wisdom of this remark really does not need any explanation to the thoughtful person. It is almost intuitively known. Almost. There is very little wisdom gained and sustained if one finds security in self. Consider for a moment: If security is found in self, then if “self” makes bad decisions, is “self” going to be less secure? It would stand to reason this would be the case because security is associated with good decisions. But, with bad decisions, then the protective wall begins to crumble. On the other hand, if one finds security in the Lord, then bad decisions are neutralized because the Lord’s decisions relative to life have already been tested and found to be secure. It is only up to the individual to implement the Lord’s decisions for life. Paul did (Galatians 2:20), and you should also.
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18, NKJV). “Pride” is one word in our English language that is both good and bad. For instance, when one says, “I am proud of my grandchildren because they graduated with honors from high school.” One does not hear this is any negative sort of way. The word “pride” in this proverb means, “an inordinate self-esteem, conceit” (Webster’s 1451). This is perfectly illustrated in the story of Esther, where Haman was so consumed with himself and his defeat of Esther’s guardian, Mordecai, that he failed to see clearly that his plans for the queen’s fatherly figure was actually a trap he laid for himself. P-R-I-D-E equals personal–ridicule toward other individuals wherein one’s personal destruction of ego is forthcoming! How’s that for a definition! However one might try to describe p-r-i-d-e, it will surely lead to a downfall! RT
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul (Proverbs 16:17, NKJV). Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. No man can go to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). This means that if a person desires heaven, then he must listen and obey Jesus. We all travel on a highway through life; it is the desire of many to arrive at a destination that is restful and pleasant. The thoughtful person even desires that place to be heaven. But it won’t be heaven if he/she does not listen to Jesus and obey. The reason for this is simple: The Lord gave directions as to how to get there, but if a person hears nothing of those directions, then no possibility of arrival exists. Even if one did listen, but then changed her mind about listening further, the result will be straying from the less traveled path the Lord walked on, and onto a path well-traveled by many who don’t know where they are going. RT
How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Proverbs 16:13, NKJV). The value of wisdom above wealth is obvious to any and all mature people. The value of wisdom helps one make proper use of what is possessed. Unfortunately, there are an untold number of people who value material possessions to the point they are consumed in thinking about them. Whatever value there might be in material things, in comparison with godly wisdom it pales! How can it not pale? Wisdom is great, but godly wisdom is greater still! With godly wisdom one knows the direction of life and the destination after life is over. With godly wisdom one knows how to handle the nuances of life because the Lord has set the proper course for each of us. Yes, it is true, there are some circumstances in life where one may not know what to do, but none of those circumstances will pertain to how to live morally, because the saints know how to live. He lives for God. Wisdom and understanding is FAR better than material wealth.
It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness (Proverbs 16:12, NKJV). Any institution that desires longevity must have two things in place: a) a coherent structure, b) a moral foundation upon which it is built. Without a coherent structure (such as a community government, administrators of one sort or another, etc.), it is not long before confusion, followed by chaos begins to rule the day. Without a moral foundation, or an ethical policy, the structure will soon come tumbling down, falling in on itself. People within the structure won’t know what needs to be done, how it is to be done or even why it needs to be done. If the structure is in place with a moral foundation that is greater than the individual man, then the institution is strengthened. But if the leadership at top is committed to self-service rather than service to the community, then the community suffers. In time, the community breaks down, falling apart. How much more so about a nation?
“A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work (Proverbs 16:11, NKJV). In this exhortation of the Holy Spirit, the king over his people is not one who is to sustain his own pleasures with corrupting influences. Instead, he lives by the standard that is of God. When issues need to be properly judged, the king is to have a standard that is even-handed and right. The only standard known to man that is that way is the standard that belongs to the Lord. Too often man gets in the way of himself as he tries to administer justice; the subjectivity of evaluating motives makes even-handed justice difficult at best. A prime example of this is secular progressivism, or liberalism. There is no chance for justice to be rendered evenhandedly across the board because the standard of measurement is always floating, changing and fluid. My friends, reject the ways of man (Proverbs 14:12) and accept the ways of the Lord.
A well-known New Testament scholar made this remark: “At least some of the calumnies down the years are unfair, even ridiculously incorrect. For example, he was certainly no misogynist! For one thing, his numerous positive references to women co-workers and leaders in his churches testify otherwise. He was, to be sure, a man of his time, and so he seems to have held (with most others of the day) that a wife was bound to her husband. But he also held, unusually for his time, that a husband was equally bound to his wife, including a sexual exclusivity that husbands as well as wives owed to their marriage partners (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). This effectively challenged the “double standard” in sexual behaviour otherwise commonly approved in the Roman period.”
The disappointing aspect of this paragraph is in the remark that pertains to the sentiment of Paul being a man of his times and seems to have held that a wife is bound to her husband. The author of the blog is not speaking against Paul, it must be said. I am only troubled by the words used and what may be conveyed with the use of them.
That Paul was a man of his times is perfectly normal to understand, and even accept. We are people of our time also, struggling with the variety of opinions holding sway. So fluid are some of these opinions is almost boils down to what day of the week the opinion holds sway, and on that day some accept, but on other days not.
Yes, it is true that Paul was a man of his times, but that which he wrote was not as a man of his times, but by the authority of God (1 Corinthians 14:37). When Paul spoke favorably about women he did so, not as a man of his times, but by the authority of God. Whatever Paul thought about the role of women, to himself he kept it and allowed the authority of God to guide his pen and his teachings. I am confident, however, that God’s opinion became Paul’s.
Would it not be great if preachers did the same today?
In Numbers 20, we are reminded that one can do the Lord’s work and still be accused of self-serving motives in their doing of it. This is what happened to Moses and Aaron as the children of Israel were on the cusp of entering into the land of promise, having traveled a long journey from Egypt to what we know is the land of Palestine today. Moses and Aaron responded to the murmuring going on with a segment of the Israelite community, but their response was not received well by the Lord. Already, the Lord was displeased with the larger community, but now His displeasure rested on the actions of Moses and Aaron. In this scenario (Numbers 20:1-13), there is a lesson for us. I suppose there is not a single reader of the Old Testament story that can’t relate in one way or another with Moses/Aaron, but whether one can relate or not, the proper response (lesson) is not to allow the one’s anger and emotion to control, but for the Lord to control. Not easy, but necessary.
A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment (Proverbs 16:10, KJV). In the role of governing, it is sometimes forgotten that great responsibilities under-gird the position. As a judge implements the force of law in relation to the accused, those in government should exercise discretion in leading. In our current society, many wonder if a judge or an elected official is properly executing the responsibilities of the position. In the ancient society, the Lord took away these temptations when He gave man His law. With regard to a king who reigned over the nation of Israel, that which came from his lips (or should have) was that which came from the mouth of God. History, however, tells us that even with these things in place by God, determined people with corrupted ways of thinking would not be thwarted. Many of Israel’s kings were not stopped because the people who were subject to these kings had themselves already stopped hearing the Lord. Thus, no divine sentence came from the mouth of a king, only corrupted words.
1. Hear & Heed (Romans 10:17)
2. Seek & Anchor (Colossians 3:1)
3. Hide & Prevent (Proverbs 4:23)
4. Bless (Matthew 5:16)
5. Preach & Live (2 Timothy 2:15)
6. Rejoice & Value (Philippians 4:4)
7. Meditate & Direct (2 Corinthians 13:5)
8. Resolve (Colossians 3:5)
I read in a “Dear Abby” letter (1.3.2017) of a woman who desired to have her niece’s son baptized, but without the consent of the parents. Evidently, the parents are not religious, and the family heritage is to have each new-born baptized some short time after birth (the child is 1-year old). Abby replied that such an action without the consent of the parents is unwise. This is obvious on its own, but it brings up another point that needs some consideration.
Exactly how should one look at God’s command to be baptized? That it is a command of God makes it essential to be pleasing to God, but as it was indicated in the inquiry of Abby, is it the one act/command/ceremony that assures one’s entrance into heaven? The way some people look at the word and command of baptism, those same ones are convinced of such. They regard it as God’s “stamp” of approval before entrance is made; some Christians look at it the same way.
Baptism, as a command of God to be obeyed, is for one who believes, understands what he (she) believes, is willing to repent (change his way of thinking), and put his hand to the plow, having the ground already plowed for him by Jesus following that path. Baptism is for one who has decided to not look behind, but long for the new life promised. This person has made a conscience choice to leave behind the ways of the world (Luke 9:62).
I am afraid many have not done this. A great many have been baptized, but the life lived after that baptism is a reflection, not of God, but of this world (and the god of this world; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Therefore, many people who were baptized really did nothing more than get wet, and this includes children. In submitting to the Lord’s authority, one is submitting to the Lord’s way of living and thinking. This way of living is completely different than what the world presents. In fact, the Lord said those who love Him will not love the world or the things in the world (cf. 1 John 2:15-17).
Baptism is not for one who does not understand that which I wrote above. Through the years, I have seen children baptized without understanding this. I am afraid many of these same children, now turned adults, are just as lost as if they had not been baptized; their “lostness” is the result of a life of unfaithfulness to the Lord, which brings to mind a question: did they understand what they said they did?
No doubt, many (if not all) who were baptized because of a genuine belief and desire to obey God – but was there (is there) a proper understanding about what this entailed? Some have doubted and, consequently, for many, a “rebaptism” soon followed. Along this line, it is worth notice in the New Testament, Acts especially, those baptized are men and women. There is a reason for this.
Baptism is a point of entry, but in that entry, it is simply the culmination, the completion of a process of the heart’s desire to please God. In that point of entry, there is a releasing (sins forgiven). Nothing in baptism (in and of itself) will release one’s sins from “clinging” to the one immersed in water, who is brought up from the plunging in water. Unless it is coupled with faith and a penitent heart, in submission to the Lord’s authority, baptism is an empty ritual; it has no value. RT
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding (Proverbs 15:32, NKJV). This has a perfect application in a recent discussion I had on a Christian discussion page on Facebook. The conversation surrounded the role of the females in teaching in a mixed assembly of Christian men and women. There were two women who made a strong effort to say the teachings of the Holy Spirit in 1 Timothy 2:8-15 had limited application or no application at all to the church today. After a good bit of discussion, the women (and some men) saw that Paul’s words held sway and could not be easily dismissed. One became, I think, a little bit embittered by the conversation, while another seemed to be open to truth (hopefully so, anyway). As you look at the proverb, think about a personal application in an area of life that you have struggled with; have you allowed the teaching of God to instruct you? RT
Are you the kind of person who has the faith that Abraham had? Are you the kind of saint that is deferential as Abraham was? When Lot and Abraham gathered much in material possessions, it was Abraham who deferred to his younger nephew for a decision to be made (Genesis 13:8-9). In truth, it should have been Lot who deferred, but Abraham was more interested in unity with his family member than he was with regard to protocol. In God’s spiritual family, let us take a lesson from this. Are we (am I) more interested in my way than I am in taking the “lower” position for my brother’s sake? Paul addressed this in Philippians (Phil. 2:3-8). I do believe we know what the lesson is we should make. RT