Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wise Walking

Proverbs 13

Take a walk today. I know, it's raining and cold outside. But, I'm not talking about that kind of walk. I'm talking about a relational walk. We are counseled in verse 20 to walk with the wise. "He who walks with the wise grows wise" (v. 20a). A quick glance through this chapter will reveal the qualities of the kind of walking partner to hang out with. This person is obedient and respectful (1, 13). His conversation is beneficial (2-3). He is characterized by diligence and hard work (4). He is an honest man (5), full of integrity (6). He is open to advice (10). He is patient and prudent (11-12). he gives instruction (14). He is full of knowledge and understanding (15-16). You can count on this trustworthy person (18). He learns from his mistakes and is open to correction (18). He is a righteous person (6, 9, 21-25). He does not avoid the unpleasant work of discipline required for effective parenting (27).

Who are you hanging out with today? Do you have mentors, teachers, a life coach that is guiding you in the way of the wise? Do you have friends who ask the tough questions and share the overflow of their wisdom walk? Do you have wisdom to share? Is there someone you know who is eager to follow, learn and grow?

The wise never walk alone. When two or more are gathered (in Jesus name) they grow wiser. Let's walk wisely together.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Get Moving

Proverbs 12

I'm generally a hard working person so when I read verse 24 & 27 about laziness there was a part of me that said to myself, "I don't have to think much about this". But, if I want to be a wise man I must listen, learn and look honestly at my heart. No doubt there are degrees and shades of laziness in all of us.

When I think of laziness, I think of someone who sits on the sofa, munching on snacks and watching TV. But let's think more broadly than this image. Laziness is essentially an attitude that refuses to put forth effort, either physically, mentally, emotionally, socially or spiritually. Laziness wants comfort, ease, wealth, success, advancement, self-gratification, growth without putting forth any energy or personal cost. A lazy person may not even want a whole lot of anything. All they want is to exist without fear of failure, interference, resistance, discomfort, inconvenience or pain. To move is to lose -- lose their comfort zone, lose safety, lose a risk free life. They don't want to pay the cost that comes with building relationships, a family, a friendship, a career, a bank account, or anything else of much value. It's all just too hard, too painful, too risky, too much.

Again, we all dismiss any resemblance to us because this description is just too extreme to identify with. But to be wise we must ask the question, "What shades of laziness inhabit our attitudes and actions?". When answering this let's think of words that are both opposite and similar to laziness. The opposite actions would include effort, movement, forethought, planning, and intentionality. Similar lazy behavior would include avoidance, procrastination, stuck, resistance, apathy and passivity. These all suggest movement or the lack of movement whether mental, physical, emotional or spiritual. Are there areas in your life in which you are procrastinating, avoiding or you are just plain stuck because you don't know what to do or how to do it? What areas of your life need effort, movement, intentionality, forethought and planning? These usually fall into two categories, things to add to your life and things to remove from your life.

The book of Proverbs is replete with instructions to get us unstuck, started moving and to stay on the right path. The way of the wise does involve effort and cost, but remember, "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor" (12:24). Get moving today and you'll come out on top tomorrow.

Word Glue

Proverbs 10 speaks a lot about the righteous man in contrast to the wicked. One quality of the righteous definitely stood out. The righteous speak words of wisdom (13, 31), and knowledge (14). He knows when to speak and not to speak (10-11, 19). The mouth of the righteous withholds words, even true words, in order to cover over another persons sin (12; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Cor. 13:5). The righteous withhold their tongue even when they are wronged and treated unjustly. When he does speak, his words have value (20). They build people up (21) and bring people together (12) and say what is appropriate or fitting for the situation (32).

The best way I can describe the words of the righteous is that they speak words of reconciliation. This is the kind of speech that brings people together to each other and to God. You could say righteous people "reign people in" with their words so that God can reign in their lives. Didn't Jesus pray that we be one as he and the Father are one? Let's draw people into intimacy with our words.

Our words should act as glue to hold our lips together when it is wise not to speak, and when we do speak, our righteous words should draw people together like super glue.