Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Beginning of Wisdom
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:20-21). Many times I have uttered the words "I wish I had known as a youth what I know now." May I take a little time to share some insights I have received from the Word and Godly men and women over the years. The Proverbs tells us listening to "The instruction of a father (4:1) will spare a child heartache and misery. The instruction we receive has a powerful influence on us in life. The Proverbs give us insight into life by stressing the importance of "Seven things the Lord hates" The sin of a "Proud look" (6:16-19) is where He begins. Of all the sins mentioned in the Bible pride naturally comes first, for it precedes all other sins (see Genesis 3:5). A smirk on the lips is a sure sign of pride in the heart. The sin of pride is the root of which all other sins are the fruit. All sin involves selfishness in some form or another. Pride consists essentially in sinful self esteem, delighting in the thought (typically false) of ones superiority over others. The other six deadly sins are manifestations of hatred against ones neighbor and four consist of displaying falseness and malice proceeding from the mouth. By not restraining our speech we can lose some of the effectiveness of our witness for Christ. We ought to be instruments of blessing to others. The older I get the less I talk and the more I listen. According to Ecclesiastes 5:3 we can detect the voice of a fool by his multitude of words. We all reveal our heart by what we say. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:23). Have you ever noticed you can evaluate yourself by taking note of the things people come and talk to you about? Are your ears receptacles for gossip and garbage? Jesus said "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things....by your words you will be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned" (Matthew 12:35,37). The things that we see and hear, especially if they are evil, are stored in our minds and are often used by Satan to tempt us to sin. I am learning to "Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." If we refuse to control our thoughts, in time they will control us. I am learning that I can plan until the cows come home (I grew up on a farm), but if God isn't in it, it won't work. Life is getting too short to do anything but His will. Every morning I turn my life over to God and tell Him its His His world, its His plan, I am His child and I will do what He wants. The Lord is teaching me that prayer accomplishes more than any thing I can do. Preaching may touch the heart of men, but prayer moves the hand of God. I believe the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man still accomplishes a great deal. I used to come to the end of my rope and tie a knot and hang on. Then I took over, and came up with my own plans. Lately the Lord has been saying "Forget the knot, let go and I will catch you." He is God and I am not. His purposes still stand, and He still "Works all things together for good to them who love Him." Thanks for listening to a guy who is perhaps to soon old and too late smart. I thank God that I am His and He is mine. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.