The only way to enjoy the benefits of the gospel is to listen to the word of God and then, here’s the most important part, keep the Word in our minds so that we can apply it to our lives. It’s great if we can get an A+ on a Bible trivia quiz, but if we are not living the lifestyle of Christ, if we are not doing what Christ wants us to do, then our knowledge—our A+ on the trivia quiz—of the Bible is worthless.
The true test of the Christ follower is when life gets involved. Trouble splits our attitudes. Anger meets our hearts. The desire to be different consumes our behavior. Our talents are overlooked and we aren’t getting the respect we deserve. In those types of situations, what does the Bible say to do? Most of the time, it says pray about it.
“Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you” (Proverbs 20:22).
Let’s say that we do wait for the Lord. But it doesn’t look like the Lord is doing anything on our behalf. Our trouble still finds us, daily, so we lose our patience. We lose our faith, and we let our expletives fly at the next person who does something we don’t like. We disrespect authority. We disrespect the people in our lives. We allow hate to flow out of us and into our environment. And we treat the cause of our anger as if it were the most disgusting thing we’ve ever seen.
Guess what, the Lord is watching, and he no longer sees he or she as the cause of our trouble, but now he sees that we are the cause of a lot of trouble. As a result, he will not deliver us from our troubles, but he will allow more to heap up on top of us.
“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).
A life that isn’t worth living is a life that is flying high one minute and down in the dumps the very next. Thrill seeking, adventure, high energy activities, these are all good, but if they are the only source of our happiness, then we have seriously missed something in life.
“Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure” (Proverbs 20:28).
Loving others is difficult to do, because love is not self seeking. What does it mean to be “self seeking?” Does it mean to want to succeed? Does it mean to want to do the best we can for ourselves? No, it doesn’t mean either of those things. We are suppose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and every one of us wants the best for ourselves. What a self seeking individual does is lie to get his way, tears others down to get his way, uses others without mercy, takes advantage of those who are poor, weak, or inexperienced, slanders people.
“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses” (Proverbs 28:27).
In other words, a self seeking individual doesn’t do to his neighbor as he does to himself. He himself wishes to be respected, high ranking, and honored, yet he makes others miserable.
“When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding: but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive” (Proverbs 28:28).
God considers those ways of getting things done as “self seeking” because they hurt other people. They are greedy. They take all of the pie. With those methods, not only do we acquire what we want, but we also take it to the next level. We satisfy our evil desire to tear other humans down to a level of sadness, depression, lowness. And why do we do it? Because we think that it will help them? Because they deserve it? Or is it because it makes us feel good? Are we so greedy that we need to not only take all that we want but also grind another person into misery just because we will get a few seconds of satisfaction from it? Are those few seconds worth a life?
“A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe” (Proverbs 28:25).
To succeed in the Lord’s way, we must be smart, be faithful, and be loving toward others. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be confrontational or stand up for justice or stop others from doing wrong. That means that we shouldn’t be greedy. We shouldn’t tear others down because we lose our temper. We shouldn’t manipulate people to get our own way. We shouldn’t deceive people so that we can take advantage of them. We need to be considerate of others. We need to change ourselves before we change the things around us.
“A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him” (Proverbs 28:22).
If we see that someone else is completely wrong according to God’s word, it isn’t up to us to fight back in the same way they are fighting. It isn’t up to us to correct that person rashly, because it’s one thing to correct someone, to help them learn, to teach them earnestly, to tell them they are wrong sternly, but it’s another to feed our emotional desires to hurt the person because we can’t control our own emotions. Yes, revenge feels good, but it is a guarantee by God Almighty that giving in to our sinful emotions will have us flying high one minute and the next will leave us down in the dumps wholly lacking in the good things of life.
“The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out” (Proverbs 13:9).