It's amazing how often the Bible calls us to self-restraint, particularly when it comes to what's coming out of our mouths. This has become an increasingly difficult task in a culture that rewards quips and harsh messages on social media with re-tweets, shares and likes.
Just this morning I was reading a Twitter exchange about President Donald Trump and I observed complete strangers openly calling one another "idiots," among other names. As I read the back-and-forth, I wondered: Would these people actually say these things to one another's face? Possibly. Culture is a bit of a mess these days, so who knows.
Either way, the tools we now have to communicate have surely emboldened us — and I'm not arguing that this is necessarily a good thing. Either way, as Christians, we are called to watch our behavior and our words, and to work diligently to be good representatives of Christ.
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Proverbs 12 is filled with all sorts of advice, but Solomon holds nothing back in Verse One, dropping a simple proclamation that left me laughing this morning (NIV):
"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid."
I can be a bit of a hard-head, so this verse spoke to me. Sometimes, we need to be called out; sometimes we need to be corrected. Perfection is an attribute that only one person achieved — and we're not Jesus.
In addition to speaking about correction, the chapter focuses quite a bit on the "fruit of our lips" (i.e. what we are saying). Here are some verses worth considering:
"From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward." - Proverbs 12:14
"Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. - Proverbs 12:16
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." - Proverbs 12:18
"Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment." - Proverbs 12:19
These verses are all important, but one that struck me was Verse 16 — the call for overlooking an insult. In the midst of a debate, especially on social media, we are oft-times incentivized to push back at others, looking for a way to "hit" them with a good zinger.
Is this prudent? Is this how we should behave? The reality is, self-restraint matters. We are called to be better — and we're also called not to follow culture's cues. So, when nastiness and divisiveness abounds, we should have no part of it.
And, finally, Verses 11 and 27 speak about the importance of hard work and dedication. The lazy, the verses indicate, don't end up having the resources they need to live comfortably. In a culture that sometimes is characterized by entitlement, these truths matter.
Verse 11 reads, "Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense" — and verse 27 adds, "The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt."
So, there you have it: self-restraint, hard work and respect. These are some serious values to aspire to. Let's be better.
Be sure to also check out my quick devotions and reflections on Proverbs 1, Proverbs 2, Proverbs 3, Proverbs 4, Proverbs 5, Proverbs 6, Proverbs 7, Proverbs 8, Proverbs 9, Proverbs 10 and Proverbs 11. And...curious about what all this means? Looking to better understand who God is? Take the next step.
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