Do not forsake her [wisdom], and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
In Ephesians 6:10-11 we are told to be strong in the Lord, to put on the armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil. In verse 12 we are told why it is so critical that we stand in the strength of the Lord. We are warned that our enemy is not flesh and blood rather it is rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.
At the Passover Meal, on the night before He was crucified (John 13), Jesus was washing the feet of His disciples. You remember the story – Peter asked Jesus to not only wash his feet but his hands and head also. Jesus responded: “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet”. Why do you think Jesus said such a thing?
When I was a little girl, I loved going barefoot. Of course, by the end of the day, my feet would be dirty from playing outside. It was the routine in our house, every night, before we could climb into bed , we had to wash our feet; not a whole bath, just our feet. And so it was in the days of Jesus. The people wore sandals and there was no pavement on the streets; no doubt their feet got dirty.
However, in His response to Peter, Jesus isn’t talking about our physical feet, He is giving an analogy to make a point about about our spiritual “feet”. As we walk around in this sinful world, no matter how careful we may be, we are exposed to many things, we’re going to get dirty feet; it’s unavoidable.
In today’s lesson from Proverbs 4 and 6, we’re going to look at five areas where we need to constantly guard ourselves to make sure, that at the end of the day, only our feet need to be washed.
What we know (4:1-13)
We know that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7). As we have discussed in previous lessons, the Lord wants to give us wisdom. He wants us to not only know Him, but to have understanding of His person because He knows that the more we know Him, the deeper our love for Him will grow and the greater our fear and awe will be; and He will be glorified!
- We know that we must be open to wise instruction if we are to have insight
- We know that we must be obedient to God’s word to have a victorious life
What we see: (4:14-19)
We are surrounded by the evils of this world. It is impossible to avoid seeing things we wish we didn’t see. I am reminded of the little Sunday School song we used to sing: “be careful little eyes what you see”. Many, if not most of us, are not as diligent as we could and should be of the things we expose ourselves to. As we have already said, we can’t avoid every dark thing but Solomon teaches that there are ways we can guard ourselves from much of the evil we see.
- Avoid wicked places
- Turn away from evil situations
- Separate yourself from wicked people
What we think: (4:20-23)
While we are all subject to wandering minds and wrong thoughts, scripture clearly teaches that we are able to control what we think.
In 1 Corinthians 2:16 Paul writes: “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
And in Philippians 4:8 he says: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Consistent with Paul’s words, King Solomon counsels:
- Fill your mind with truth
- Hide truth in your heart
- Be always on guard against the lies of the enemy
What we speak: (4:24-27; 6:1-5)
Have you ever said something and immediately wished you could take the words back? No? Me either. Of course, that’s not true. I am sad to say that I do so way too often. “Wrongspeak” can come in many forms. Hurtful comments, words of discouragement, negativity, gossip, profanity, deceptions, lies, false promises. Sometimes our harsh speech is unintentional but more often, we know exactly what we are saying. Our conscience warns us but we ignore the warning; we plow forward knowing that we will have to deal with the regrets and consequences later. What we speak is directly and inextricably connected to what we think –
Jesus speaking: And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:16-20).
From our Proverbs passages we learn:
- Put away crooked speech
- Consider the consequences of what you say – before you say it
- Quickly make amends for any “wrongspeak”
What we sow: (6:6-15, 20-35)
I come from a long line of gardeners. My grandmother, my dad and even my sisters and brother have a great gift for planting bountiful gardens. My mother’s mother always had a yard filled with beautiful flowers. Sadly, gardening is a talent that I somehow failed to inherit.
The bible talks a lot about gardening. Sowing and reaping The parable of the 3 soils. The Vine and the branches. Knowing a tree by the fruit it produces.
Let’s look at some of the things Solomon talks about as it relates to the law of sowing and reaping:
- Laziness Poverty
- Discord Calamity
- Fleshly desires Destruction
- Dishonor Disgrace
What we see becomes thoughts, what we think becomes words, what we say becomes actions, and if we aren’t on our guard, our actions become our habits living; when that happens, we have a heart problem. I like the way James explains it:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
God is altogether holy, He is altogether righteous and He is altogether just. Because these attributes are His very nature, there are certain sins which, scripture tells us, He finds abominable. In verses 16-19 we are given 7 specific sins that God hates:
- Wicked imaginations
- Cause others to suffer
- Lies against others
- Trouble makers
What makes these sins especially vile? They are sins of the heart. All the way back in Genesis we read:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Genesis 6:6)
And then God speaks what I consider among the saddest words in all of scripture-
So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)
GOD HATES EVIL!
But thanks be to God, He has made a Way and His name if Jesus. When the sinless Son of God shed His precious blood at Calvary, He not only paid the penalty for sin, He destroyed the power of sin so that we can have freedom from the curse of sin!
We talked about the law of sowing and reaping. As you review the list ask yourself, “what seeds am I sowing”.
Our list today deals with bad seeds that produce bad fruit. Conversely, we know that good seed produces good fruit. Make a list of good seed that you can begin to sow in order to produce good fruit in your own life and in the lives of others.
Read Ephesians 6:1-20. For each of the areas we discussed in today’s lesson, note how you can ‘take up the whole armor God” and use it to guard you in your battle.
READING FOR NEXT WEEK:
Proverbs chapter 5 and chapter 7