EQUALITY FOR ALL
One of the great ongoing debates in our nation today concerns unequal justice. If the person who committed an offense is on my side politically or socially, for example, it is almost a foregone conclusion that “our side” wants “justice” for that one as they interpret the law. It seems as though most are more than willing to overlook justice for the “wrongdoer” if it will not cause “our side” to lose in the race for prominence, prestige, position or political favor.
How very wrong in the eyes of God! Justice, in God’s eyes, is to be applied equally. He makes no apology or excuse for wrongdoing. One cannot read His Word without coming to the conclusion that “justice must prevail!” This concept is stressed in the Law and the Prophets and in other Old Testament writings. God will not bless or accept the behavior of those who attempt to justify the wrongdoing of anyone for any reason in any situation. In His Word and in His world, wrong is wrong and cannot be negotiated or resolved by getting the largest number of votes.
Injustice is always repulsive to God because it is a violation of His very nature and character. He is a just and holy God and to favor one side above another cannot exist in His creation, and should not exist within His Kingdom.
“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.” One thing to note about this verse is the fact that the words Solomon chose to describe “injustice” is a word that describes the most intense outrage possible to a Holy God. To Him, inequity is repulsive – even if it involves “the home team.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to see right and wrong through Your eyes and in light of Your Word. May justice come to those wrongly condemned, and may justice prevail! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.
COVER IT UP!
Asking for forgiveness is often more difficult than it seems. To have offended someone and not be troubled by the pain it produced in the other person is indeed the sign of a calloused heart and an indifferent attitude: both an abomination to God!
But to acknowledge that we have wronged another person is difficult. For whatever our reason may be, and although we do not admit it, we all seem to think we live a life that is as close to perfect as possible. Our opinions are absolute, and our values are without question, the ones that every person ought to hold.
That, however, defies Scripture and reason. Most of us have a difficult time getting through one day without some conflict about some issue with another person. And, if our opinion or position on the issue does not agree with the other persons, conflict erupts.
Now, conflict is not all bad. Often creativity comes out of conflict and that’s good. If however, we become hardened in our position and refuse to accept the ideas of the other person and use words to hurt and harm them, that is indeed wrong and displeasing to God.
We are all equal in God’s eyes – even when our ideas or positions disagree with another. If we are thoughtless in expressing our differences to the point that we use abusive language to destroy and defeat one of God’s children – that’s definitely wrong. End of discussion.
“He who covers over an offense promotes love.” Here we are advised to plead for forgiveness and “cover it up.” Another way of saying it is to “forgive and pray for the other.”
Prayer: Give us tender hearts, Lord. May we spend time today making amends, where necessary for harming others and blessing them in Your Name. Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
IT GOES IN A CIRCLE
Few events in life are as precious as the arrival of a grandchild. They bring new life to aging parents and hope for the future. They all develop their own individual ways and unusual habits that are endearing and worth tucking away in “memory banks” for future moments. Memories like the names they give us to get our attention, their favorite blankets they cannot live without, or the huge number of stuffed animals they can carry from one place to another without dropping a single one of them are some of mine.
Solomon said it well: “Children’s children are a splendor to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” The inestimable joy that comes with a grandchild is difficult to explain. It is indeed like a burst of splendor that produces pride that is difficult to diminish no matter what happens.
But there seems to be a circle in this verse that we must not overlook. With all of the pleasurable moments we enjoy with our grandchildren, there comes tremendous responsibility. It is in the second section of this verse: “parents are the pride of their children.” Here, Solomon sets a stake in the ground that indicts parents. He insists that we must recognize and accept the responsibility that we who are parents have to God.
To have an honorable grandchild the grandparent is responsible to have been a model parent. This does not imply that parents are to be perfect. That’s not possible. But it does mean that the grandchild’s parents were well mentored by parents who honored God in all things.
Prayer: Father, every parent wants to be a parent that pleases You. Forgive our failures and open our minds and hearts and help us to follow Your example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are a splendor to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
PASS IT ON!
It was just before noon when Joseph walked into my office. His clothes were dirty and wrinkled. He must have been cold from the driving rain and winter wind.
“I know I look nasty,” he said. “I’ve been sleeping in a barn for the past three nights. There’s no heat, and it’s been hard to stay warm. Mind if I sit in your chair over in the corner? It really looks comfortable.”
“This soft drink is all I’ve had for two days. I’m a diabetic and need to eat but I’m drinking this drink as slowly as I can until I find someone who can help me. I was thrown out of my home Christmas Day because I couldn’t pay the rent. Do you have any money you can give me? I’ll have some by Friday and can pay you back then.”
Our offices are located on a state highway, and many folks like Joseph stop by daily. Cal stopped by Monday. His mother, along with his two-month-old daughter, was killed by a drunk driver the day before. He was on his way to Florida to make funeral arrangements before he deployed to Iraq with his Marine unit. He did not ask for anything except prayer. “I saw your Chapel,” he said, “and I knew I could find someone here who could pray for me. That’s really all I need.”
It is difficult to remember a day when no one has stopped by for help. Their stories are compelling, often even heart-breaking. Occasionally they are untrue. In the end, however, they answer to God for what they do. “He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to help those who are poor and in need. You’ve sent them our way for a reason. May we show Your love, mercy, and grace to those in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:5a He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker.
Thinking “poor” is difficult for most of us. We have so much more than we need that it is difficult to understand what it is like to go without, be without, or do without. For most, the distance between a delicious meal and pangs of hunger is unimaginable. Many of us have never had to go without a meal much less gather morsels from a garbage can to survive.
I frequently hear stories of individuals who have invested some of their “things” in those who have represented themselves as poor only to find out that they had been “duped.” Some say they will never give again because they were fooled. I find this attitude disturbing.
There are times when I find myself “guarded” when people come to my office with a need for some “thing.” It might be for money to pay the utility bill, or milk to nourish a baby, or money for a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. Often when I find myself questioning their motives I ask myself: “Who am I to be their judge?”
In Proverbs, there is a verse that says, “For God made both the rich and the poor.” With that in mind, what should my response be to those in need? Is my response an indication of how I would respond to Jesus if He came to me with a need and I did not recognize Him?
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said, “What you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it unto me.” If we fail to respond with compassion to those in need how can we expect God to hear us when we have needs?
When we see someone in need, let us never forget that God brought that one into our lives to help them somehow. It’s not an option. Rather, it’s our obligation to do whatever we can.
Prayer: Lord, give us hearts that are sensitive to the needs of others. May we bless their lives as You have blest ours. May we do for others as You have done for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 17:5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GRAY HAIR
Hair care products have become a major industry in most developed countries in the world. In fact, in 2018, men spent more money on hair care products than on shaving products. It’s not that beards are becoming more popular. It’s simply the fact that “manscaping” or “anti-aging” products for male hair care have increased very dramatically.
Evidently, hair care was not important to Solomon. But gray hair was. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life,” he once wrote. He also wrote that “gray hair is a crown of glory.”
Looking for Solomon in a men’s hair care salon, no doubt, would be a waste of time. He would probably be found at his desk pouring over the law and prophets looking for wisdom and insight. And for good reason.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, there is an important theme: the righteous are rewarded with a long life! How times have changed. Today, bodybuilding and “flat-abs” are much more important than understanding the word of God. Mirror-lined walls in health clubs are everywhere. They are filled night and day with individuals who want to “tone-up their muscles” by weight training and other forms of bodybuilding.
There is nothing wrong with caring for our bodies. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But if we neglect the importance of “soul-building,” what good would the most perfect body be if it was not dedicated to the glory of God to bring men and women into His Kingdom?
Prayer: Father, help us to care for our bodies and use them to bring honor and glory to Your name! May we be more concerned with what’s inside than the outside! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life.
RIGHT WAY – WRONG WAY
“Have you ever made the same mistake twice?” he asked.
“What is this,” I asked in a taunting voice, “a trick question?”
“No, I’m serious. You’re a doctor; you’re supposed to be smart. I was just wondering,” was his response as he shook his head.
“Of course I have,” I replied. “In fact, I’ve made the same mistake several times.”
“You have?” he responded in surprise. “I really thought you were smarter than that. I’m shocked.”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has repeated a mistake more than once. And it doesn’t make me feel comfortable to think about it, either. But it’s true.
Perhaps that’s why Solomon wrote the same Proverb twice: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.” We need to be reminded of this fact.
There is an inherent danger in being successful: we tend to “think of ourselves more highly than we should.” It’s easy to do. We have a new opportunity, or there are some new challenges, and we “rise” to the occasion. We get a new burst of energy, we are excited about a second chance, and we are off and running, believing that we will succeed! No limits for me!
And, that’s the time we need to pause and remind ourselves that “There is a way that may seem right…” It’s very important to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and to admit our own limitations. When things go well, we must thank God for blessing us and give Him the credit. When they don’t, we need to be aware that God is trying to get our attention.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for this reminder. All too often we give ourselves credit when the glory is all Yours! May we do what we do through Your guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.
TRUST AND OBEY
Knowing who or what to trust may be difficult. It may be the result of having someone disappoint us or take advantage of us. None the less, trust once lost, is often costly and difficult to regain.
Years ago a mother and father sat in my office and asked, “Dr. Guido, in light of what our son has done, will we ever be able to trust him again? He has disappointed us time and time again. He has lied to us and he has stolen from us and he has betrayed us. How can we ever believe what he says is true?”
My heart ached as they looked at me. They loved their son dearly. They made many sacrifices on his behalf. They sent him to the best schools and took him to church when he was young. But a gradual change came over him, and they did not know what to do.
After thinking a few moments I replied, “Yes, once we lose trust in someone we love dearly, it causes problems that are difficult to overcome. But, there seems to be one principle that might help you. It begins with keeping our promises. If I say and do it, that’s me keeping my word, and you can begin to trust me. If I say it and don’t do it, I’ve not honored my word, and old doubts will return. The past will invade our minds and hearts, and trust will become more difficult than ever. Keeping my word is the only reason you would have to trust me.”
“Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” We know that we can trust the Lord because He has always honored His word. If He said it, He did it – time and time again!
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know Your Word and place our trust in You. Your record of doing what You said You would do is revealed in Your Word. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:20 –Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
THE REWARDS OF ARROGANCE
“Warning: Construction work next 10 miles.”
Most of us have seen road signs that warn us of impending dangers. Wise motorists follow their warning if they want to be safe. Careless ones normally take risks to prove they make their own rules and create their own destiny. The attitude that “Rules were made to be broken” suggests that they can get away with the limits and boundaries of life.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” is a warning that is well worth admitting. There is little doubt that one of the most fundamental foes Christians face is pride. In fact, Solomon stated in verse five that “The Lord detests all the proud of heart!” Pride, once it invades our hearts, is often the beginning step in walking away from God. Pride will destroy us because it cancels the first rule of wisdom: “The fear of the Lord.” Pride and an attitude of humility and our complete dependence on God, cannot exist in the same heart.
It is well worth noting that the word “destruction” carries with it a picture of the shattering of a bone. When our hearts become filled with pride and we no longer see the need for God to be at the center of our lives, all of our dreams and visions will be shattered and destroyed.
A good way to understand the word “haughty” is to think of the “woozy” feelings that come with being “dizzy.” Life becomes blurred, steps uncertain and unsteady, and will eventually lead to a fall. Warning: pride is lurking in the depths of your heart! “Forewarned is forearmed.”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to understand the subtle power of pride. May we become dependent on You to guide us, guard us, and give us an attitude of humility. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE
My Dad worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for nearly fifty years. He was responsible for maintaining over 200 miles of railroad tracks. Part of the tracks ran from the docks of the harbor on Lake Erie to a steel mill that was the largest manufacturer of pipe in America. Although the distance from the harbor to the steel mill was only a few miles, the tracks formed an intricate system of switches and tracks that had to be carefully laid out and spaced for the engines, coal cars, and iron ore cars to pass each other safely.
One evening when he returned from work, he was visibly shaken. He sat quietly and said nothing. All of the family knew that something serious had happened and we knew not to ask questions. When he was ready to talk, he would tell us the story.
Finally, he said, “We had a terrible accident in Elyria today. The men who worked there did not prepare the “bed” properly for the tracks, and they gave way today. The engine fell over on its side and killed the engineer.” Someone failed to take the time to lay the foundation and build the bed strong enough for the trains to pass safely. That engineer did not have to die and leave his family. Someone failed in their duty, and it cost the engineer his life.
“The highway of the upright avoids evil, he who guards his way guards his life,” wrote Solomon. The word “highway” refers to a raised roadway that is carefully groomed and maintained. We “groom” our highway when we read God’s Word, pray, and seek His way.
Prayer: Father, help us to be aware of the foundations we establish. May we be sensitive to the importance of guarding each step by walking the way Your Son did. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright avoids evil, he who guards his way guards his life.