Proverbs – Life Skills
I still remember my senior paper in high school. I based my research on the current, acceptable norms of our society at that time (1969). I wrote about the moral decay of our world and how it was affecting our lives. I wrote about how the moral boundary lives of behavior kept moving back and away from what we knew to be right and good. The lines were becoming consistently blurred. More and more was acceptable in media and movies. “I promise you, just ignore the language and the nudity, there really is a story here” was becoming the norm in conversation with each other. Moral decay was settling in and rot was beginning to form. And we allowed it, excused it and then accepted it.
My English teacher was a bit surprise that a seventeen year old would write this essay on the world. I was a bit anxious when presenting my paper to the class wondering how much sarcasm and ridicule I would get, but there was none. There was no rebuttal. It was weirdly surreal.
Now, it is 2020. What we see with 2020 Spiritual vision is the result of consistently pushing the envelop of morality with no boundaries in behavior. Anything goes. Some ask, “has God changed His boundaries so He can accommodate us?” Absolutely not. In fact, God’s boundary lines of living at His best for His glory have not moved. God’s Word still stands and has not changed.
Limits and Lines actually provide security. That’s why in God, we trust. When we know and trust that He wants the best for us, we readily and willingly obey. The more we realize His love for us, we love others more like He loves us. We see people, situations, circumstances, and God’s justice with new perspectives based on God’s love and discipline in a new light, a brighter light. Decay spreads quickly in dark places.
We must live within God’s boundary lines. When we do, we find God expands our territory and our lives without moving the lines of what is right and good.
Our next proverb tells of the “cure” for this moral decay.
Proverb 22, The Message
The Cure Comes Through Discipline
A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!
3 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
4 The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.
5 The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it.
6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.
7 The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.
8 Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
and bullying anger sputters into nothing.
9 Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he’ll have nothing to do with deception.
13 The loafer says, “There’s a lion on the loose!
If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!”
14 The mouth of a whore is a bottomless pit;
you’ll fall in that pit if you’re on the outs with God.
15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.
16 Exploit the poor or glad-hand the rich—whichever,
you’ll end up the poorer for it.
The Thirty Precepts of the Sages
Don’t Move Back the Boundary Lines
17-21 Listen carefully to my wisdom;
take to heart what I can teach you.
You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within;
you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.
To make sure your foundation is trust in God,
I’m laying it all out right now just for you.
I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
and will keep you accountable
to those who sent you.
22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.
24-25 Don’t hang out with angry people;
don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—don’t get infected.
26-27 Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hocking your house against a lucky chance.
The time will come when you have to pay up;
you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.
28 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
staked out long ago by your ancestors.
29 Observe people who are good at their work—
skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don’t take a backseat to anyone.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Paul tells in Romans 5, “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”
Morality is the issue. Do we have the moral discipline to live in the wide open spaces of God’s grace for his glory?
OR do we limit ourselves to going along with the crowd because, frankly it’s easier?
What is acceptable behavior today that wasn’t a few years ago?
Has God moved the lines or have we?
When we move the moral boundaries of our behavior we actually shrink the space we live in until it consumes all our space. Decay rots the soul. Decay takes life. God gives life, an expanded, abundant life. By living by His power we actually live in a bigger space!
“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.”
Every person is called of God, their creator to make a choice. The two choices are clear;
–Live in the wide open spaces of God’s love, mercy and grace with a life that never ends…
–OR life that is catastrophically closing in which leads to no other options but death.
Rough talk, you might be thinking as you read this, but God is serious about His relationship with us. So serious, that He sent His Son to lay down His life for us in the most cruel way possible. Yeah, it’s serious stuff.
When we focus, truly focus on all You are, we see how much we accept as okay in our behavior. We repent. Cleanse our hearts. Help us to live, truly live like we say we believe. Expand the work of your salvation in us. Show us your ways then help us live Your best. Your plan and purpose, not ours.
In Jesus Name, Amen