How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. (Proverbs 16:16)
Christians live in a material world, but our citizenship is in heaven. Jesus taught us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. One way to do that is to “get wisdom and understanding” by fearing God and keeping His commandments. King Solomon had both great wisdom and great wealth. He was in a unique position to judge which of these is more valuable. He concluded wealth will not ultimately satisfy the soul – it is vanity: “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). But, to possess wisdom equips both the rich and the poor with necessary tools to live with God now as well as obtain eternal riches in the next life. The choice is yours – and there really is no comparison. Be wise and lay up for yourself treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
The ability to keep on forgiving one who repeatedly sins against us is to imitate the divine quality of forgiveness. Peter undoubtedly thought to forgive an offending brother seven times was being truly lenient and merciful. But, God places no such restraint on forgiving sinners who turn to Him in repentance. Jesus used the exaggerated number of “seventy times seven” to teach the limitless, boundless nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness must be from the heart, for without such, we will not be forgiven by God (read Matthew 18:23-35). Develop your heart to forgive others “even as Christ forgave you” (Col. 3:13).
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)
God’s law serves the valuable purpose of restraining people from sin. The purpose of God’s law is not to prevent people from enjoying life (a common lie told by those who prefer sin instead of righteousness). “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). When people choose to ignore and reject God’s revelation, the gospel of Christ, they cast off the only moral compass that insures the path of happiness. It is a lie that contentment and joy are found by living a life that is free of God and His truth. Such a life is ultimately empty and ends in eternal despair. God wants you to be happy now while preparing for eternal life with Him. You can – by accepting the purposes of God for yourself and keeping His commands.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
There is beautiful symmetry between the Christian’s obedience to Christ and God’s work in that Christian’s life. God “works in you” while you “work out your own salvation”. That does not mean you in some way earn your right to be saved. Neither does it mean you decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. No, it means that as a faithful Christian you bring your salvation to a full or complete accomplishment or conclusion as you reverently obey God. You grow to spiritual maturity by being obedient to God. When you do that, God is accomplishing His good pleasure for your life. Allow God to work in you by obeying Him today.
“For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:7-10)
Christians follow Christ, “the light of the world” (John 8:12). This not only gives us great comfort, it also places upon us the great responsibility of faithfully following Him. Faith, love and hope are not defined by the night and its drunken activities. We have been appointed to “obtain salvation”, not “wrath”. We do not practice the sinful things of darkness. We are “of the day”, walking soberly in the light of truth. If you have strayed from the path of truth, then return to Jesus now. Faithful Christians are appointed to live forever with Christ, but all who walk in darkness are appointed to wrath.
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:43-44)
Only through willful rejection and open denial that the Bible is the word of God can someone claim there is no heaven and no hell. A popular song states a common attitude toward heaven (and by implication, hell): “Everybody wants to go to heaven…but nobody want to go now”. Living that philosophy will never get you heaven! Heaven is reserved for those who fight the good fight, finish the course and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7-8). In today’s passage, Jesus uses exaggerated language to warn against sin and it’s result: hell. Remove every obstacle that keeps you from entering into life eternal – no matter how dear to you. If it is your hand; cut it off. If it is your foot or your eye; do the same (Mk. 9:45-48). Are you willing to sacrifice the things that are valuable to you in order to go to heaven? If not, then because of your sin you will be “cast into hell” – just as Jesus said (Mark 9:43, 45, 47). Yes, heaven is real, and so is hell. Jesus died for you so you can go to heaven. But, you must live for him in order to go there. Be sure you are living for heaven.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” (Proverbs 14:29, ESV)
God expects Christians to control their temper. It is not a virtue to have a short fuse or quick temper. In fact, it is sin: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking but put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31). Outbursts of wrath come from a heart not yet trained in longsuffering, patience, meekness and self-control. Explosive displays of wrath harm your relationships, damage your influence and prevent you from doing the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). You can control your spirit; you can put away anger and wrath. Do not make excuses for losing your temper, and do not blame someone else; take responsibility for your sin and then change your heart (repent). Replace outbursts of wrath with a soft answer that “turns away wrath” (Prov. 15:1). Nothing good comes from losing your temper. So, be wise and control your spirit. Refuse to lose your temper and act like a fool.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Youth is a wonderful time of fun and adventure. God’s word advises young people to rejoice in their youth, but to also understand that you are morally accountable to God for the choices you make in your youth (Eccl. 12:9). Young people are trying to find their place in this world; they want to be heard and respected. If you are young you should recognize that you are not entitled to respect; you must earn it. While you enjoy being young you realize that the moral choices you are making are defining you and whether or not you deserve to be heard. Choose to follow God when you are young, and no one will be able to successfully discount you simply because you are young. Set an example of faithfulness in the words you speak, in the way you conduct yourself, and in the love you show for God, your family and others. Live a pure life and you will be worthy of respect. That’s sound counsel for Christians of any age.
“He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1)
Wrong is lovingly yet consistently reproved in order to produce correction: “Whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12). That is why the father tells the son “do not despise the chastening of the Lord” (Prov. 3:11). However, when a person repeatedly refuses to accept correction, stiffening his neck against the truth of God, punishment will come suddenly. There will be no remedy for sin in the day of judgment; that opportunity will have passed. Choose now to accepts God’s discipline of your sin, repent and accept his mercy and forgiveness. Never harden yourself against the yoke of Christ. It is easy when you willingly accept it and follow his truth. To reject the correction of the gospel is utterly foolish.
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17)
Knowing and doing are two different things. Over and over the Lord Jesus Christ taught that blessings from heaven come when we do God’s will. Knowing God’s truth yet not obeying the truth is faithlessness. When Jesus spoke today’s verse he had just taught his disciples a stunning lesson of humble service by washing their feet. They had been too involved in arguing among themselves over who should be considered greatest among them to stoop before each other to perform such a menial task (see Luke 22:24). Jesus taught them humility serves others and is great in God’s sight. How then do we think we serve God while refusing to do His will? Elaborate theological arguments are offered to reject the role of obedience in salvation. But still the Savior says, “he that does the will of My Father in heaven” will enter the kingdom of heaven, not those who merely say “Lord, Lord” (Matt. 7:21). Yes, there is a big difference between knowing the truth and doing the truth. Do God’s will today and the Savior will bless you for your humble service to Him.