Read Proverbs 12
Again we have more contrasts. Something is better than another or this course of living leads to good results and another to one’s demise. They are excelling pairing to consider one by one, but there are also some common themes.
Among those themes is that our thoughts matter. What we think matters. The things that we do have two beginnings. One takes place in the mind. The other is executed by our body. The thought comes first.
A disciplined thought life is essential to a life of wisdom. Paul would say that we should hold every thought captive to Christ. We may not be able to control what pops into our heads, but we can take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
What does that mean?
Let’s try this in legal terms. We have jurisdiction over every thought in our minds. Not every thought has standing in our cognitive courtroom. Standing is the right to appear before a special court or jurisdiction. If the thought isn’t consistent with the mind of Christ, it has to go. It doesn’t get to make an argument. It is not entitled to an appeal. It has no standing to appear before us.
How do we know if the thought is consistent with the mind of Christ?
Study God’s word, especially the teachings of Jesus.
We consider the Bereans. Having heard the gospel as presented by Paul, they tested it against the scriptures. They didn’t rush to accept this new thing. As fantastic as it was, they first compared the good news to the scriptures.
And we of this age are blessed with the body of Christ. Our fellow believers are a great sounding board.
Our thoughts matter. We can’t have an undisciplined thought life and stay the course of wisdom.
Another major theme is to be genuine. We gain nothing by pretending.
9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food. (NIV)
Consider this verse in the Good News Translation.
9 It is better to be an ordinary person working for a living than to play the part of someone great but go hungry.
Sometime ago I read an article that cited a study that about half of the people with their cell phone to their ear while driving are not talking to anybody. That struck me as totally absurd. But the desire to be seen as somebody special sometimes gets the best of people.
What we need to realize is that we are somebody special because we are made in the image of God. We are God’s children. Jesus died on the cross for all of us. We sing whosoever will may come, and don’t follow it with a list of exceptions. Just any ole body can come and with the help of the Holy Spirit profess Jesus is Lord!
Why fake it? Why pretend things are going great when we can’t pay the bills and don’t have any peace in our lives? Why put up a front?
We might think that this applies only to those who don’t know Christ, but it doesn’t. Somehow, someway, we have a boatload of Christians who think that to follow Christ is to be stoic.
“I’m carrying my cross. Nobody can help me. It is my cross to bear. Go on with life. I’ve got this.”
To be a Christian and put up a front is to say that we don’t trust God. God gave us the body of Christ in the here and now. Yes, we experience God’s own Spirit in our lives. Sometimes the experience is so strong we are overwhelmed. But for most of the time, it is the body of Christ—the family of faith—that needs to respond to our needs.
We live in the Covenant Community. We feel each other’s pain and share each other’s joy and meet each other’s needs. We should never feel the pressure to fake it. How can we be encouragers to one another if we don’t trust each other?
Fifty years ago, we in this country put into widespread use the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones.” The term actually emerged in newspapers 100 years ago, but we incorporated it into our lifestyles in the latter half of the last century. It was addictive.
If you couldn’t keep up, you had to pretend that you could. You faked it.
Wisdom says be real. Be genuine. Don’t fake it. It is better to be content with the blessings that you do have and enjoy that peace that comes from living within your means that to trade it in for the world’s synthetic version of peace.
We are also counseled to choose our friends wisely. The wise not only capture their thoughts, escape the trappings of their vanity, but they also are selective about who their friends are. Paul counseled that bad company corrupts good character.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t eat dinner with sinners. It doesn’t mean that we don’t eat dinner with Pharisees. Jesus did both of these, but he kept company and made friends with those who sought God and his kingdom and his righteousness. Jesus ministered, taught, and died for all, but he did not subscribe to their way of life.
There is but one way. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. If we want to know the Father—if we really want to know God—Jesus is the only way.
If we want to know how much we can gratify ourselves, we have chosen another way. This proverb counsels us that the way of the wicked can lead us astray.
The 12th chapter of Proverbs has many little quips of wisdom, but these three themes seem to stand out clearly for people of our age.
· Thoughts do matter. Lead a discipline thought life.
· If you fake it you might not make it, and you sure are not going to have any peace along the way.
· Choose your friends wisely.
We are God’s children. We will always be loved by him. We are brothers and sisters to Christ. Our salvation is assured. We will know life eternal.
In the mean time, we should experience life abundant. Wisdom in what we think, in living genuinely, and in choosing our friends help to keep us on the narrow but abundant path of living God’s way.