January 8 – Don’t Be Cruel

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. Proverbs 25:21-22 MSG

I developed a bad habit when I was growing up of putting myself down. My thinking was then it wouldn’t hurt so badly when the other kiddos made fun of me. I beat them to it.

But that created a constant scrutiny and negative attitude within. So in order to break free, I started changing what I said about myself and forced my mind to build new images.

I think this is more common than we might realize…the enemy is on the inside of me! And when left unchecked, the condition can prove fatal.

Amazingly, the same feelings of ridicule and rejection we feel toward somebody that we don’t get along with (an enemy) can translate into ill feelings toward ourselves in the areas we “don’t like.”

And as far as God is concerned, the right to draw up battle lines against ourselves or anybody else is sad, and quite frankly, just plain mean.

No matter how much that thing about you or that person gets on your nerves, there is rhyme and reason for it. And if you let Him, the One who loves you most will teach you marvelous things about yourself through the very things you cannot stand.

Like a fresh glass of iced tea in the summer is kindness toward an unkind situation. Pour a cupful of mercy toward others, and don’t forget to pour one for yourself!

September 26 – Erasing the Scarlet Letter

Proverbs 7:4,5 MSG

Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
 Treat Insight as your companion.
 They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress.

As long as time has been, the grass has had a tendency to look greener on the other side of the fence. It’s “human nature,” as Michael Jackson once sang, but still, NOT okay. If you’re wondering if our present national divorce rate and number of wandering spouses is something new, check out the Old Testament and look for David, Solomon, and Gomer (more about her later.)

Even though Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, he still was obviously inspired to write these scriptures warning against the “seductress.” (Check out all of Proverbs 7 for a clearer picture.)

And this is refreshingly encouraging! Since we can easily identify with making mistakes, sometimes very serious ones, it is so sweet to know God still loves us and cheers for us . . . much as He did for King David of old.

No, this is not to say that the consequences won’t be severe. But as we’ve been seeing this past week in Proverbs, God hates a gossiper or a haughty look just as much as a murderer (Proverbs 6:16).

Hang on, I’m going somewhere here.

Look at the following verses in Proverbs 7:

Proverbs 7:19, 20 KJV For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

After we are heavily implored to stay away from the “harlot,” verse 19 and 20 says the goodman is away from home on a journey and he will come at an exact and special time. Hmmm. My thought is that the “goodman” represents Jesus. And the rest of this chapter’s instructions about the harlot are for everyone, no matter what the distraction might be.

As with Gomer (the consistent adulteress married to Hosea – their story is the book of Hosea), God’s message is abundantly clear: WE are the adulteress. WE are the unfaithful. But HE is faithful, and unconditionally forgiving!

Yes, Jesus the Good Man is returning. And the distraction level is at an all-time high. So no matter the sin or level of depravity, He is willing and able to erase it all and restore us.

And just as importantly, it’s the time to offer mercy and forgiveness to those around us who are knee-deep in the distractions.

Because, but for the grace of God, there go I.

Jennifer 🙂

September 25 – Truth and Consequences

Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; Proverbs 6:29 AMP

When I got mad and hit my good friend James one day in the hallway of our high school for teasing just a little too much, I went to the office and spent a couple of days at home. It didn’t matter what James did at that point, the bulk of the consequences fell on my shoulders. He talked, but I struck!

Today’s Proverbs gives demands on thievery. Suffice it to say, theft is a universal action that can be carried out in a multitude of ways. And even when it is a result of hunger pains, there is still a just requirement for repercussion and restitution.

When I say I will meet you at a certain time and I don’t, I just stole some time if I didn’t first let you know I would be late. (OUCH!) And that means if you decide to lock the door and go on about your day, or fire me (like one of my bosses did), what can I say? “I apologize and I understand. May I have a second chance, please?” Maybe…

It’s sobering, but so necessary for a generation of us who are at times clueless of this simple profound law of conduct toward our fellow man. There is mercy and grace woven within, and we all do well to remember this during our journey. Maybe then we won’t be tempted to require a “pound of flesh” instead of fair acceptance of personal responsibility.

But if he is found out, he must restore seven times [what he stole]; he must give the whole substance of his house [if necessary—to meet his fine]. Proverbs 6:30 AMP

Verse thirty does apply. But weigh it with Jesus’ reaction to the woman caught sleeping with a married man (John 8:1-11). Some may know it, but the rest of us do well to search and seize it. May we balance the consequences with truth.