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Daily Reflections April 5, 2017

April 05, 2017By: Paul Carter and Jody Cross

Proverbs 23

The sweep of counsel in Proverbs 23 covers matters of social conduct, domestic leadership and personal restraint.  A few highlights from each category:

A: Social conduct

It is hard to know whether these Proverbs originated with Solomon or were gathered by him for the benefit of his son.  Either way, the counsel assumes social contact with people of wealth and influence.  Verses 1-2 remind the young man to govern his appetites while in the company of other people.  I am reminded of the old saying “Revolutions are not led by fat men”.  The saying is not a comment on obesity, rather it reflects upon the fact that a man or woman who cannot control their appetites will not likely be able to lead, organize and motivate other people.

Verse 3-4 offers counsel regarding the allure of wealth and delicacies.  The Bible is very attentive to the matter of motivation.  It is good to work for food, the Bible says:

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV)

The Bible suggests that God has hard wired the world in such a way that labour is related to basic provision.  A person should be able to meet their own basic needs on the basis of a hard day’s work.  When that relationship is severed a society finds itself in jeopardy.  The Bible warns against being motivated by physical pleasures beyond the level of basic needs:

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  (Isaiah 55:2 ESV)

The Bible counsels us to work for what we need and to use our remaining energy and resources in pursuit of more enduring things.  Beware of a desire for luxury and trinkets.

B: Domestic leadership

Solomon remarks:

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13–14 ESV)

Solomon had unique insights into what happens when a father struggles to discipline his children, he was after all King David’s son.  The Bible recognizes that a good father will have a hard time being adequately firm with his children.  We love our kids and we hate to hurt them, even when it is ultimately for their good.  I spend a fair bit of my time worrying that I am not strict enough as a parent.  I find the encouragement of this verse very helpful.

C: Personal restraint

Verses 29-35 offer an extended caution against excessive alcohol use:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. (Proverbs 23:29–30 ESV)

Alcohol is not a sin, but the wise use it sparingly or not at all.

Lead Pastor Paul Carter

1 Thessalonians 2

What motivates you to pay the price for the high calling of being a disciple maker? Simply, love for God and the love of God that compels us. Paul writes, 

…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV)

We are stewards, called by God and entrusted by God with the gospel. Therefore we speak for God’s glory and his approval. The Word of God has come to us by godly servants who have preached the truth and backed up the preached Word of God with lives of integrity. Paul did not want his life in any way to detract from the gospel. He wanted people to trust him and trust the Word. 

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.  (1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)

The Apostle sought at all costs, by any means, to win souls to Christ and to disciple them to maturity (see Colossians 1:28). He was a faithful steward who was willing to suffer greatly because he loved God and people greatly. 

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 ESV)

Paul was accused of being insincere, greedy and deceitful. However, he did not preach error, nor did he have any impure motives when he brought them the gospel. He worked hard, day and night so as not to be a burden to the church. He didn’t use words of flattery to win their favour. He didn’t deceive them for his own gain. He concluded his defense in this way, 

You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.  (1 Thessalonians 2:10 ESV)

In this chapter he Paul uses a number of familial terms to underscore his great love for this church. First, he was gentle among them like a nursing mother tenderly caring for his children in the faith. 

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV)

Second, he taught and corrected them like a father. He gave them an example to follow. He gave them the truth to obey. He called them to a high standard of godliness. He encouraged them in their walk of faith that they might walk worthy of the Lord.  

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)

Let’s pray for spiritual leaders to be people like the Apostle Paul who loved God and loved the flock. Thank the Lord for those who bring you the Word of God. Pray for them to live lives of integrity, strengthened by the Lord, and kept from evil. Pray this in order that we might mature and walk in a manner worthy of God. 

Associate Pastor Jody Cross

Category: General, Daily Reflection

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