Category Archives: Proverbs in 31 Days

Love Does Not Boast

The definition of boasting, “to speak with exaggeration and excessive pride, especially about oneself” is the kind of boasting that is never a part of love.

Love quiets our heart and mouth. Love humbles us before our God and before others. We are not puffed up when we are within God’s love. In love, we do not see how we are better, or bigger, or stronger, or richer, or taller because we are continually expressing our joy in humility. Love engenders humility in us rejecting the idea of being better than someone else. There is no bragging in love because love is “others” oriented. To boast means we are deficient. With love, there is no deficiency, only an overflowing of heart, mind, and soul. When we boast, we ignore others while love is centered on others rather than upon self.

Is there anything wrong with boasting? Not necessarily.

No one likes a braggart. Excessive boasting is obnoxious and rude. It belittles others and serves self. In short, it’s not love. But we should boast…and we need to be careful about how we go about doing it.

Imagine this.

You’re out with friends. The girls are chatting together while the guys share a word. One of the guys starts going on about what he did for his girlfriend on their anniversary, telling all of the details about how much hard work he put into it. This can play out in one of two ways.

He’s either sharing all of this so that his friends know how wonderful he thinks his girlfriend is, and how deserving she was/is of that treatment, expressing regret that he can’t always treat her with this much attention – or, he’s bragging. In the latter scenario, he’s making himself look good, which makes it seem as though he went so out of his way for such an undeserving wretch as his girlfriend, and she’s so lucky to have a good person like him in her life. How would that make her feel? Is that loving?

Our boasting should be confined to what God is doing in our lives and with the people we have contact with. The purpose is to encourage others and further His Kingdom.

God is loving and kind by nature. Therefore, he cannot keep himself from giving us abundant gifts. He gives us homes and families, healthy bodies, wisdom, skills and talents, and knowledge of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, we cannot keep ourselves from taking credit for these gifts and boasting about them. Without God’s gifts, our lives would be miserable. But even with God’s gifts, our lives end up being miserable because we are still experiencing the effects of original sin. The whole human race is thoroughly infected with original sin. Unbelievers don’t understand the seriousness of it, so they act as if it doesn’t matter.

We see this problem, not only in ourselves, but in others as well. We brag about our material possessions, even though these are rated as the least valuable of God’s abundant gifts. Consequently, the wealthy, regardless of whether they are nobles, merchants, or farmers, consider other people to be mere pests. Even more serious abuses exist with the more important gifts, such as wisdom and justice. The fact that God gives his gifts to everyone results in the following predicament: God cannot tolerate boasting, and we cannot keep from doing it.

This was how the world sinned before the flood. Among Cain’s descendants were some of the finest and most intelligent people in the world. But in God’s eyes they were very evil because they had become they had become filled with pride about the gifts God had given them. Then they despised God, who gave them their gifts in the first place. The world doesn’t understand why this is wrong and therefore doesn’t condemn this behavior. But God condemns it.

Jesus never showed off. His greatness is often revealed in what He suppressed, rather than what He did or said.

Love will never boast about itself or about things it has no influence over. If love boasts, it will only boast about the object of its affections, in a way that makes the love grow stronger, and shows everyone how much it has changed the lives of those it has touched.

Love builds others up, it doesn’t tear them down. Bragging brings others down in an attempt to elevate yourself. True love acts in humility.

Verses to encourage you today:

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth. Proverbs 27:2

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But not to use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 NIV

As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 NLT

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Not a result or works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Today’s Challenge:  Refrain from commending yourself. Boast about God and others.

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A String of Pearls

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship; she brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes. She quilts her own bedspreads. She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth. Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council meeting with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. Proverbs 31:10-31

What a list!

I’ve been told by many fellow Christian women that the Proverbs 31 woman is quite intimidating. She intimidates me…that for sure.

This chapter describes a woman of noble character. She’s pretty amazing. Here are some of her characteristics:

  1. Virtue.   Proverbs 31:10
  2. Faithfulness.   Proverbs 31:11
  3. Reverence.   Proverbs 31:12
  4. Goodness.  Proverbs 31:12
  5. Willing Worker.   Proverbs 31:13
  6. Good Manager.   Proverbs 31:14,15
  7. Industrious.   Proverbs 31:16
  8. Strength.  Proverbs 31:17
  9. Endurance.  Proverbs 31:18
  10. Well Rounded.   Proverbs 31:19
  11. Charitable.   Proverbs 31:20
  12. Provider.   Proverbs 31:21
  13. Well Dressed.   Proverbs 31:22
  14. Wife of a Good Husband.   Proverbs 31:23
  15. Good Business Woman.   Proverbs 31:24
  16. Honorable.  Proverbs 31:25
  17. Wise.  Proverbs 31:26a
  18. Kind.  Proverbs 31:26b
  19. Good Mother.   Proverbs 31:27a
  20. Busy.   Proverbs 31:27b
  21. Praiseworthy.    Proverbs 31:28
  22. Attains or Excels.    Proverbs 31:29
  23. Fear of the Lord.   Proverbs 31:30
  24. Fruit bearing.   Proverbs 31:31

Why is she this way? Because she fears the Lord. (verse 30). A woman who FEARS THE LORD is to be praised. This has been a common theme throughout the book of Proverbs. This woman is very strong and has an amazing character. But it’s not because she’s just developed a great work ethic. (Although that is true).

Becoming this type of person doesn’t start with a resolve to work hard. That’s what I tend to do. I read passages like this and think about what it would look like for me to become a woman like that. And I know it won’t happen overnight.

This woman was extraordinary because she feared the LORD. She saw that God had provided the means for her to help provide for her family, so she took advantage of those opportunities, and tried to be a good steward of what God had given her. She saw that there were poor individuals in the community and God has blessed her with the means to help them, so she did. But all of these characteristics were a result of fearing the LORD. She understood who God was and had a relationship with Him that transformed her character from the inside out.

I think sometimes I forget that God calls me to worship Him through my everyday life. That’s part of fearing the LORD and loving God with ALL of your heart. That means that I work hard at the tasks that he has given me (anything from respecting family members that I live with to being diligent and honest at my summer job as a witness to others) because I recognize those as opportunities that God has given me to use for His glory. It goes back to the idea of stewardship. How are you using the opportunities and resources God has given you? If you need to make a change in your life, the solution is not to determine to “do better.” The solution is to confess to God that you need his strength to glorify Him where He’s put you for right now. So (whether you’re a girl or a guy), how do you line up with these traits? Could someone say these things about you?

His Flawless Word

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”  (Proverbs 30:5-6)

When I read these wise words, I am reminded of how many times as a Christian I have neglected to read the Word of God, the Bible.  I’ve spent countless hours studying and reading books in college, mostly about things I’ll never need to know again.  I’ve read probably millions of headlines in the news, and I’ve read so many books for fun. 

If we took studying the Bible even ten percent as seriously as we took studying for school, we would probably be as wise as Solomon.  Yet in this busy culture, we often don’t take the time to really understand and learn to apply the only absolute, eternal truth we know – the eternal Word of God.  I’ve found that the words in the Bible are like a double-edged sword that cut to my heart.  There’s a supernatural power behind the words that changes my life when I read them and apply them, and when I’ve shown others passages of scripture, I’ve seen their lives transformed as well.  No other book, news article, or magazine can give me the encouragement and life that the Bible brings to me when I take time to read it daily.

I’d encourage you to memorize 2 Timothy 3:16-17 below.  Commit yourself to studying and applying the Word of God to your life this summer.  Pray and ask the Lord to use it to transform you and make you the person he created you to be.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Snare of Fear

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.  – Proverbs 29:25 NASB

There are many reasons we might be afraid: wars and threats of war…concerns about terrorism, crime, or disease…problems with a job or boss…conflicts in our marriage and family…pressures in our finances…or simply fear of what other people might say or do.

Over and over, the Bible tells us not to be afraid. It also reminds us that fear of other people “brings a snare.” What does it mean to be ensnared by fear of people?

James Strong says the Hebrew word here means “a noose (for catching animals)…or a hook (for the nose).” In other words, fear of what others say or do literally can capture us and pull us further and further from our destination, as if we’re caught by a noose. This fear can distract us, trap us, and control us.

What is the answer? The Bible simply says the way to be “exalted” is to trust in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord means refusing to give in to worry or fear, no matter what circumstances come our way and no matter what others say or do.

Trusting God is our greatest defense and protection. And our greatest weapon is not resorting to revenge or anger, but resting in Him and letting Him defend and protect us.

In your life, does any person or situation cause fear in your heart and mind? Right now, commit it to the Lord. Turn everything over to Him—the people, the problems, the fears.

Place your trust in Him today. Don’t be snared by fear, but commit your needs to Him. Sow Seeds into His Kingdom with the resources He has given you, and make Him the Rock on whom you depend.

Integrity

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. Proverbs 28:6

Integrity is superior than riches. What we need most is an upright heart, not prosperity. If we measure our society against the Scripture, we can see how far off the norm is.

Integrity derives from the Latin root word of “integer”, meaning complete, wholeness. So, in terms of a person, we can say he is complete in the sense that his personality is not fractured, not double minded.

Of course, I am referring to integrity as singleness of heart in the good sense. We can not say a man who sell his soul to the devil wholeheartedly has anything to do with integrity. Whereas the opposite to integrity is hypocrisy (or corruption), doing things with a hidden motive behind a good cover.

We should pursue spiritual goals over material gains. Let our eyes be used as one.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

I had a little difficulty in choosing today’s verse. Chapter 27 is jam-packed with great information (thanks to God and King Solomon milenia ago), from not praising oneself to how to accept encouragement from others…and everything in between. But..alas!…here I am with the old adage: as iron sharpens iron…because it is so true.

Most everyone knows a dull knife can be more dangerous than a sharp one. Although it seems contradictory, a dull-edged blade can actually do more damage!

That’s because when a blade is dull, it’s harder to use. Not only does it take more force to actually cut something, but also it’s harder to control. That’s why a dull blade can slice a finger quicker than a tomato, and why people spend hundreds on a great knife.

Every knife becomes dull with use. The sharp edge rounds out, and little chips develop. Cutting will render a blade ineffective, and on its own, it will never become sharp again. That’s the first truth about sharpening iron: a knife cannot sharpen itself. Nor can something weaker than iron, sharpen iron.

Proverbs 27:17 uses a practical truth about sharpening iron, to teach a spiritual truth about our relationships with others: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (Msg).

We’ve all had the experience of friends who inspire us to be better than we are, and friends who don’t. A godly Christian friend can sharpen you in areas they are strong. For example, a wise friend can make you wiser. A loving friend can expand your capacity to love. A biblically knowledgeable friend can enhance your understanding of Scripture. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

When we think of sharpening a blade, or sharpening ourselves, it’s always done for a purpose. A chef doesn’t sharpen his or her knife so it looks better lying on the kitchen counter. Sharpening is done to make it more effective and efficient. If we sharpen a knife for years and never put it into use, it will eventually be sharpened down to nothing, with nothing to show for all that honing.

This is just like Christians. We are to be sharpened, and to sharpen others, in order to advance the Kingdom of God. Whether we are talking about a knife, a sword or ourselves, sharpening isn’t done for a passive activity. A blade is sharpened to accomplish a purpose. One reason Christians need sharpening is to be effective in the spiritual battle against sin surrounding us. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Growing as a Christian is important. Choosing friends who will sharpen us is one practical way we can grow. God designed us to need each other for fellowship, and for advancing His kingdom here on earth.

Little to Fear

Have you ever had a time–maybe even now–where things seem to be closing in on you and you don’t know what to do? You question why you of all people should have to deal with such a thing? After everything you’ve been through, you ask, “When will it all end?”

As difficult as it is going to sound, I’d ask you to just step back and believe that you are going to get through it. Whether it is a threat of something due to not having enough money or losing a job while you have debt or struggling with temptations…whatever it is, just pause and give it all to the Lord. Tell him that you’re believing this isn’t for you and that you will rise above it by trusting that God has bigger and better plans for you and that he intends to prosper you rather than harm you just like it is revealed in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Don’t let the deceit of Satan the liar get the best of you. All sorts of calamity may appear to be raining down upon your head or your house, but do not fear. Stuff is always going to happen around you, but you have been given faith in order to have hope and know that there is always a positive outcome in the works of the Lord.

Reflect today on the words of Proverbs 26:2 this time from The Message translation:

You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse
as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.

Believe the curse is undeserved because God would not cause you harm! Treat it as if you were being descended upon by a tiny little sparrow. Obviously, the much-smaller sparrow would not intend you to be its target so you would not be concerned. In Christ, you are bigger than anything any devil would throw at you. It’s time to take a stand and profess in the name of Christ that you are not going to give in to the lies and fear and the stress of this world. Trust in God and he will see you through anything. Even though the sky is dark and the clouds look ominous, you may see the light of day before you see any rain.

Courtesy of http://www.daveingland.com