Text 4:1-3. The opening verses of Mark Chapter 4 reveal that God is a teacher and teaches us through stories. Here we see Jesus calling those around him to lean and really listen – to squeeze the seeds of the gospel, the secret of the Kingdom of God and their lives for meaning – whether it be past, present or future.
Galatians 5:24-26. We are called not to pull others away from God but to push them towards Him. To get out of their way of their contribution, their worship and their gifts. To be interested in them and to serve them.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed. Proverbs 31v4-5 (NLT)
Aside from having to watch The Lion King film too many times when my kids were young, I actually rather enjoyed it.
One of the most moving scenes is where Rafiki, the wise Baboon, walks Simba, the foolish Lion cub, to a watering hole and encourages him to study the reflection in the water.
Rafiki says the reflection shows Simba’s father (the late King) but all Simba sees is himself. Rafiki makes Simba look harder and then Simba sees the image of his father. Rafiki says “You see? He lives in you”. Then Simba hears his father’s voice saying “Simba, you have forgotten me… You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become”.
Being wise, focused and responsible like a king is not meant to be an optional extra. It is who we are meant to be. We are our Father’s children and must seek to remember that and respond to that. We are not meant to surrender our responsibility and duties for the “fleeting pleasures” or “tough times” in Egypt.
As I conclude my 31 day journey into Proverbs I am reminded to start again. Every day, every month and every year… because only by wisdom can I do what I have been born to do, and foolishness will harm me and hurt others. None more so than the Father who made me.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Proverbs 31v4-5 (ESV)
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. Proverbs 29v1 (NLT)
I love these kind of Proverbs. The reason is simple, because criticism is painful and hard to take. I guess it is for most people.
Last night my daughter was discussing personality types and she concluded that I don’t take criticism personally. I am not sure that is true! Whilst I take a degree of comfort that I may have a degree of resilience to criticism which helps me, but the other side of that coin is that it can make me stubborn and unyielding. Over the long haul that is dangerous territory. Key to criticism acceptance is identifying a core of people who have free reign to criticise you. You must know, before the criticism begins, these people are for you, love you and want you to win. Don’t let the criticism change your perception of that. I have seen too many people confidently declare a trust in people, only to distrust them when the criticism comes.
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. Proverbs 29v1 (ESV)
A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops. Proverbs 28v3 (NLT)
I read this Proverb and think it says that anyone who oppresses anyone, going through a similar experience as them, should know better. Rain should be good for the crops. It should not destroy.
In the past year I have seen acts of kindness and acts of selfishness or oppression of others. Some people should know better and some should definitely know better – especially those in the same boat.
There is no excuse for oppressing the poor, and less so if you are poor yourself. This principle applies to any number of circumstances (see the parable in Matthew 18).
We should stand up to bullies and lay firm boundaries in their lives regardless of their background. Background may explain bullying, but it should not excuse it.
A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. Proverbs 28v3 (ESV)
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27v9 (NLT)
This is a short one today. It has been a long one and a good one.
Just a moment is needed to reflect on the blessing of genuine friendship. When this proverb was written “oil and perfume” or “perfume and incense” would have been considered valuable commodities. Therefore so should the input and advice of those people you know love you and are for you. Value friendship because friends are valuable, especially when their friendship is demonstrated by honest communication.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27v9 (ESV)