September 19, 2018: More Practical, Biblical Advice
September 18, 2018
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; 16 restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.
Such is the challenge of being married to a spouse who is constantly arguing, quarreling, or disputing with you about the various matters of life that will constantly arise in any marriage. What is the solution? It is good to recognize at least that it is hard. Some marriages are easier than others. Some marriages are harder. But we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church. And the church is at times a quarrelsome bride too!
17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
The relationships between people can at times be fiery; good relationships allow truth to be spoken. But in the same way that iron sharpens iron, so a godly and strong person has the impact of sharpening another person too.
18 The one who guards a fig-tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.
An interesting comparison! We sometimes think of those in authority over us – our bosses or our leaders – as needing nothing at all. They are immune to attacks and all criticism; they seem impregnable. But, of course, “masters” are human too: and if you are someone who “protects” your boss, then you are more likely to be honored by your boss. This does not mean excusing immoral activity on the part of someone in power; but it does run contrary to the fashion of our day which is to assume that anyone with authority is automatically under suspicion.
19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
The heart is the well-spring of life. The way to generate fresh energy, commitment, fruit and effectiveness is to start with the heart. What is motivating you? What is discouraging you? What is your heart (in Hebrew = your mind, your emotions, your will, altogether) committed to? Feed the inclinations of your heart through prayer, the Word, and community in the church.
20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.
We tend to always want more. As soon as we have something that we wanted, soon enough it becomes not enough. We want the next “thing” or the next possession of one kind or another. Have the wisdom to show restraint; to know when enough is enough. And be content.
21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise.
When someone criticizes you, we tend to think that is the real test. But no, the real test is when someone praises you. Do you believe your own “press reports”? Do you become puffed up and proud? Do you not bother to put in the work you need to for the next task assuming that you can do it now without effort? Praise is a real test. The solution is to look to God and receive our real praise only from him.
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.
It is easy to become too sentimental, or overly optimistic about the power to change people through our own efforts. God can do anything! But we are limited in our abilities to create change in other people. There are certain kinds of people that it is wiser not to attempt to change. Jesus said the same: do not throw your pearls before swine.
23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24 for riches do not endure for ever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. 25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, 26 the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. 27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants.
Good advice for someone who has risen to prominence in politics or some area of public life or has suddenly become well-known. There can be for a while a source of revenue that is generated through such acclaim, or that goes along with the position you occupy. But such status is fickle; and there will come a time when you will need to rely on more prosaic sources of funding. In the ancient world that meant the farm. For some today that means making sure that you have invested in your pension fund or saved “for a rainy day” or not become so enamored by the calls to give interviews or appear before the media that you have forgotten your day job. Make sure you give attention to what actually “pays the bills.”]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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