Guidance for the Heart Proverbs- Week 9- Day 2

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:19

Explanation:
Remember that the context here is a father warning his son of the temptation of envying those who are enjoying sin.

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17-18

Before he makes this very practical in verses 20 and following, he takes the time in verse 19 to give his son 3 imperatives.

  1. Hear.
    As a young person I am tempted not to listen to those older than me. It’s easy for me to think that I know better. The father tells his son “hear.” Listen. Don’t disregard what those who are older are telling you. There is so much value in learning from the experience of those who have lived longer than we have.
  2. Be Wise.
    This may seem like an obvious statement that has been said over and over in proverbs. So many people ask the question “What is allowed?”, rather than the better question, “What is the wise thing to do?”. Our aim should be for wisdom.
  3. Guide your heart.
    Young people are often told to “follow your heart.” Yet the Bible presents a different prescription.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Instead of following our hearts, we must recognize that on our own the heart desires the wrong thing. We need God to transform our hearts. Here the proverb tells us not to follow our hearts, but to, with wisdom, guide our hearts.

Application:
I want to submit to you, before we read the next few verses on what can be a controversial topic, that the way we can hear, be wise, and guide our hearts is by having a close interaction with the Word of God.


For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12


The Word of God is a voice we need to listen to, the greatest repository of wisdom of all time, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts. We must carefully and regularly listen to and obey what it says.

Response:
Recommit yourself today to live according to what the Word of God says no matter what.

God’s Sovereignty- Proverbs Week 8- Day 1

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. (2) All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

Proverbs 16:1-2

Explanation:
As we have been studying the book of Proverbs, all of the passages before this week had some kind of structure that connected verses. These verses come in one verse format. Even though each verse isn’t necessarily connected to the verse before and after in terms of flow of thought, there is a thematic connection in this passage.

In these two verses we learn about the sovereignty of God.
Verse 1 could be interpreted in a deterministic way. One could interpret it to mean that everything that happens in a man’s heart and everything a man says was determined by God. I do not believe that this is the proper interpretation of the passage. The idea here is that a man can plan and prepare, a man can give an answer, and in the end trust God to guide our actions.

Verse 2 tells us that God sovereignty means He can see the heart. He knows our thoughts and our motives. We may think that what we are doing is right, but ultimately God is the judge of our actions and our motives.

Application:
On the one hand it is good to rest in God’s sovereignty. We have the responsibility to think wisely about how we ought to live. When we make plans and devise a way, we must do so wisely, looking to God for direction and trusting that He will intervene and guide our paths.

On the other hand it is important for us to understand that God’s sovereignty means we cannot outwit, hide from, out-maneuver God. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. This truth should cause us to fear him.

Response:

  1. How does God’s sovereignty impact the way you plan?
  2. How does God’s sovereignty impact the way you think about your sin?

Secrets of the Heart Proverbs Week 7- Day 3

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.    Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. 

(Proverbs 14:10,13)

Explanation:
Remember that we are examining the verses that we are each day because of the text we are reading being a part of a chiasm.  Click here to read more about that if you missed it.  Today we are looking at verses 10 and 13.  Both of these verses speak about the heart of a person- the inner man, and make some interesting points.

Verse 10- The Privacy of the Heart. 

In verse 10, the author indicates that there are some emotions felt so deeply, like bitterness and joy, that they can only be fully accessed or fully felt by the individual.  No matter how clearly you speak, or how passionately you share what you feel, there is a part that cannot be felt by another person.

Verse 13- The Sorrow of the Heart.

We must take verse 13 as a possibility and even a probability and not necessarily as universally true.  The idea is that laughter and “mirth” are not always an indicator that everything is ok.  There are those who may be laughing or smiling on the outside, but internally are dealing with sorrow.  As in verse 10, there is the possibility that someone’s expressed feelings or demeanor do not disclose the totality of their emotional or intellectual state.  Again, this is particularly true with joy and sorrow.

Application:

The implications of these truths are profound.  We are all called to minister as believers.  We are told to feel something along with other people. 

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

(Rom 12:15)

Here are three implications that we must recognize:

1. Recognize the Uniqueness of a Person’s Grief or Joy

As we minister to people it is important to understand that each person’s grief and joy is unique to them.  We can sympathize with their pain, but we cannot know exactly what they are thinking or how they are feeling.  I have had the chance to walk with people through difficulty very similar to things that I have experienced, and this verse conveys to me that I must be careful about saying things like, “I know exactly how you feel”, or “I’ve been exactly where you are.”  A better alternative would be to say, “I can’t know exactly how you feel or what you’re thinking but I have endured something similar and this is my experience.”  There is a compassion in this.  We can sympathize with them while allowing them the room to express as best they can what they are dealing with so that we can minister to them well.

2.  Recognize that We Can Assume Wrongly about Another Person’s Emotional and Spiritual Health.

As this verse seems to relate, we could be laughing one moment and crying the next.  There are times where people look like everything is great.  They “put on a front.”  They smile and greet you.  You ask them how they are, a common greeting, and the answer will always be “Fine, thank you.”  And yet they may not be fine.  Not really. 

If this is true of others it can be true of ourselves.  We must recognize this reality and know that it is not healthy to isolate ourselves.  We must find people to share our thoughts and feelings with, and we must be a safe person in which others can confide.

3. Recognize that the only person who can perfectly know our hearts is Jesus Christ.

This is not explicit in this passage, but is known to be true in principle by the scriptures.  Consider these verses:

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 44:20-21

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

Now you may read the previous two verses and think, “God knows and sees my heart?  That is not comforting.  I’ll just get in trouble.”  I share your sentiment, yet I would counsel the both of us with two thoughts.  First, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Knowing that God knows our hearts makes me want to make sure it is right before Him.  Secondly, the One who knows our hearts became one of us and died for our sins in our place.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

(Heb 4:14-16)

We can trust the Lord with our hearts.  We can go to Him boldly and share with Him, the best we can, what we are feeling.  When we do we can trust that our hearts are understood beyond what our words are able to express.  He weeps with us.  He rejoices with us. 

This God who knows our hearts has promised to save us.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

(Rom 10:9-10)

He will cleanse our hearts and restore our joy when we ask.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

(Psalm 51:10,12)

Response:

  • Is there someone in your life that you need to rejoice with or with whom you should weep?
  • Is there a sin that you should confess to God today?
  • How is your prayer life?

Are You Wise or Simple? Proverbs- Week 7- Day 2

(9) Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour…(14)The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

Proverbs 14:9,14

Explanation:

In yesterday’s text we talked about the fact that this passage is a chiasm, and this is effecting how we are addressing each of these texts.  You can read more about that here. 

A second literary concern also helps us understand this text.  There are Chapters 10-14 uses parallelism.  They are mostly one sentence contrasts or comparisons.

In verses 9 and 14 you have two kinds of people.  Each respective description are describing the same kind of person. 

1.  The Fool and the Backslider in Heart. 

The passage says that the fool makes a mock at sin.  This means that the fool takes sins lightly.  They don’t view sin as a grave offense against God, and may not even see it as a category at all.  The “backslider in heart” speaks of someone who has the fools perspective on sin and God.  This phrase is used in the Old Testament to speak of someone who ignores or disbelieves in God.  Verse 9 seems to talk about the actions of the foolish/backslider in heart, and verse 14 seems to describe the result of that action.  The fools mock sin, and then are “filled with their own ways.”  This means that he will be “fully repaid” for his actions.  He gets the natural consequences of his actions.

2.  The Righteous and the Good Man. 

The righteous find favor with God because of their attitude and interaction with sin.  The result, found in verse 14, is satisfaction of the best kind.  The righteous will receive reward in the same way. 

Application:

We can tell what kind of person we are, according to this passage, by our attitude toward sin.  Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Do I take sin seriously, or do I think that sin is “no big deal”?
  2. Am I allowing an acceptable level of sin in my life?   Are there sins I am participating in that no longer bother me?
  3. When I think about the sin in my life do I compare myself to others, or think “everyone does this”, trying to minimize our guilt?

If the answer is yes to these kinds of questions then know that if you do not deal with these issues you are a “fool and backslider of heart”.  At some point you will be “fully repaid” or facing the consequences of this involvement in sin.  Choose righteousness!  How?  Consider the response below.

Response:

The challenge today is to name the sins, pray a prayer of repentance, and make a plan to forsake that sin with God’s help, and possibly the help of others in your family or local church.