A Small Investment

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We all are drawn to things that please us.  The beauty of a sunrise.  The aroma of a bouquet of beautiful roses.  The taste of an exquisite meal. The joy of a treasured friendship/relationship.  If we only spend our time focusing on things that please us, we would live a very self-centered world.  In the quest for pleasing ourselves, there usually lays the carnage of people behind us that were in the way of or had to be used so we could get what we thought would please us.

I recently watched a secular video about how to improve your life.  As I listened to the video, I was amazed by how many Biblical principles were included in the talk without using the Bible as a reference.  God’s Word has been with us for thousands of years and the principles that God wants us to live by have been around for even longer.  So why do so many want change in their lives, yet they do not want to put into practice the things that will bring about that change.  As a general rule, we are seeking immediate gratification without thought of the long term effects.

If we choose to eat dessert or overindulge in a particular item at dinner, there may be no immediate results but over time those additional calories add up to extra pounds that were much easier to put on than they are to take off.  So why not exercise the pain of discipline now rather than having to deal with the pain of regret later?   We generally do not choose this route of avoiding dessert because we want to please ourselves right now.

God has given us many verses in the Bible that direct our attention towards how we are to live.  These directives are not given by God so He can laugh at us and watch us suffer.  Rather He wants us to live lives that are not just pleasing to Him, but also will produce for us good fruit.

We could use the analogy of a farmer who gets what he sows.  What about the principle of investing or saving now while denying ourselves a short term pleasure for a greater long term dividend.  The principle of pruning a rose bush of all the dead growth produces more beautiful roses in the end.

It is the little investment now that reaps huge benefits later in life. When faced with a choice, no matter how small there will be a consequence to that choice.  When we say yes to one thing we are saying no to something else.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.”  (Proverbs 12:22)

If what we say is not truthful or partially truthful, we set ourselves up for mistrust in our relationships.  Trust is easy to lose, but very hard to regain.  The lies may be “small white lies” but something so small can generate large levels of mistrust in our relationships.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6)

What kind of person do we want to be around? One who is proud or one who is humble?  Yet, we make choices each day that support our pride or our humility.  They may seem like small choices, but they do add up.  As they add up, our reputation will precede us as a proud or humble person.

“Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

I am always up for a little bit of competition.  Have we ever thought about loving and honoring others so much it becomes a bit of a competition?  It changes who we think about.  It changes our focus from what we get to what we can give.  We all appreciate when we are shown honor and respect.  Yet, why do we not do the same thing for others.  Do we look for ways to show honor to every person we meet.  Jesus did not order the disciples to wash His feet, rather He outdid the disciples by showing them honor and washing their feet.  Those that are looking to compete in the honor category do not demand to be served, rather they look for ways to serve.

The list could go on, but I think we get the point.  What we invest will in the end not just benefit those that are around us, it will also benefit us.  God gives grace to the humble not the proud.

If we say yes to something we say no to something else.  If we embrace the pain of discipline now we will enjoy being free of the pain of regret later.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Grandma and Mom – Two Women who Fear the Lord

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“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

If we take a minute or two and watch commercials on TV, we see how enamored our society is with charm and beauty.  The men and women portrayed in commercials and on most regular TV programs have been touched up and wear the perfect clothes, have perfect hair, and wear the perfect make-up.  Yet who decided what was perfect?  Where did we get this ideal?

Men and women looking for spouses have fallen for the same trap of looking for charm and beauty.  Too often we set ourselves up for defeat, looking for Prince Charming or waiting for a prince to invite us to the ball.  We sit at home pining for a prince, hoping for the magical invitation, and the magical dance only to be filled with disappointment when none of this occurs.

Rather than looking, we should focus on being.  If a man looks for a woman that is only charming and beautiful, but does not take the time to really evaluate her character, the charm and beauty becomes an illusion when the reality of life hits the newlyweds square in the face.   When the woman has won her man, she no longer has to be charming and her true character is revealed.  Instead of a charming woman with an attitude of graciousness, the mask of deceit is removed and the true woman is revealed.  Her charm was a facade that was only used to win the heart of her husband.  Her true character is revealed when the laundry needs done, meals need to be made, or children need to be cared for.  When old age hits and that beautiful and voluptuous body the man was drawn to becomes saggy and wrinkly, will he beat a hasty retreat because that is not what he signed up for?  Or will they spend thousands on cosmetic surgery so she can keep her girlish figure and looks even at the age of sixty?

So if a man is not to be wooed by a woman’s charm and beauty, what should he be looking for? A woman who fears the Lord.  This woman may be attractive, gracious, and charming; but at the root of her character is the fear of the Lord.”  What does this look like?

  1. What does she talk about? Superficial things that have no value tomorrow.  Or the things of the Lord-what she learned in her devotions or what God is teaching her?
  2. What does she do? Is she looking to be entertained or does she look for opportunities of service?  Is she lazing about or serving her family and “reaching her hands to the poor?” Proverbs 31:20).
  3. Who or what does she care about? This is seen by her actions.  Is she a drama queen looking for attention for herself or is she “opening her hands to the poor?” (Proverbs 31:20).  Is she known for her compassion for others or is she looking for ways to take advantage of someone or of a situation?  What are her true motives?

Solomon in his musings in the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes finally came to the conclusion that “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).  Where is our search in becoming the virtuous woman?  Are we seeking to “fear God and keep His commandments” or are we seeking to fulfill our own selfish desires through our charm and beauty?  In the end “every secret thing God will judge.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30).

Questions:

  1. There is a lot of discussion about our outward appearances. God made women beautiful and appealing to men.  However, He wants us to remember that our true character does not fade.  How does I Timothy 2:9, 10 relate to this concept?
  1. Read Psalm 115:13. What is the promise?
  1. Read Proverbs 2:5. What will you gain?
  1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13. What is our duty?
  1. Are there any other verses you can think of that relate to the “fear of the Lord?”
  1. What does “the fear of the Lord” mean to you?
  1. How do we acquire “the fear of the Lord?”
  1. Read Daniel 6. What was the most important thing to Daniel?  Can the same be said about you?