Growing in wisdom

I feel that it’s best to keep in mind that the book of Proverbs is a collection of generalised wise sayings. Consequently, the spiritual benefit of reading and understanding the principles found in ‘Proverbs’, can only occur, once you have a relationship with Jesus.

In today’s study, I found these words written by Selwyn, to be worth repeating here: “Seek wisdom so that you might more effectively represent Jesus Christ. And beware of legalism that soul-destroying attitude that takes greater pleasure in principles than in the Person who is behind them – our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

If you still don’t know Him then bow your head this very moment, repent of every sin you have committed and quietly surrender your heart and life into His hands. Committing your way to God is the beginning of wisdom; continued trust in Him will see it develop and grow.”

Finally, this is one great verse from Proverbs (9:10, NLT): “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

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[Tomorrow, we start the Sept/Oct issue of Every Day with Jesus: ‘His Story – Our Story’. Mick Brooks (Consulting Editor, CWR), says in his introduction: “In this issue of Every Day with Jesus, we explore with Selwyn the plans and purposes of God. Our lives, because of Jesus, have great meaning – each of our individual ‘stories’ has been taken by God and woven into His great salvation story. In the Bible, we see this great storyline unfolding in which we all have a part to play.”

Looks like a great issue – do you have any early thoughts on this topic?]

No one has a double

Selwyn now considers his “sixth and final step to developing friendship: stay loyal and loving to your friends as far as you possibly can.”

Scripture tells us that we must love God more than we love our family and friends. If our friends are leading us into sin then we must step back. As Selwyn mentions – ‘loyalty and love in this case would mean continuing in (persistent) prayer for your friend’. In such cases, friends often become angry when rightly challenged about their sinful intentions – it may be some time before they respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you may require a truckload of warm Christan love to get you through the ‘winter’ of your friend’s discontent, while you place your trust in Jesus.

What is your view on today’s study?

When not a true friend

Selwyn continues to discuss the steps needed to be taken, in order to cultivate friends.

He says: “The third step is be prepared to be vulnerable … to be hurt … no relationship is free from pain this side of eternity. … Fourth, love your friend enough to talk with him or her about anything you feel is not (spiritually) right.… ask yourself: Am I prepared to lose this friendship in the interests of God’s kingdom? If not then you haven’t got a true (Christian) friendship. You are in it for your own reasons, not God’s. … Fifth, allow your friend to have other friends also. Don’t suffocate your friend by being possessive and demanding that he or she maintain just your friendship and no one else’s.”

Most of the above is intuitive for many of us – basically, words of wisdom that would benefit anyone.

I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying for the past few days – take this issue, to God, in prayer. Allow Him to direct you, in regard to the friendships you make, keep in mind that you are developing relationship that can last for eternity. Plus, remember that any faults, that you may (correctly or incorrectly) see in your friend, will be erased when they reach heaven – they will be perfect, as you will be –  and, hence become perfect friends. No isn’t that something upon which we should seek God’s advice?

Steps to friendship

Selwyn continues his discussion on friendship – his seventh and final pillar of wisdom.

His topic, today, is – how do we go about making friends? Selwyn suggest that the first step is: to be friendly; and the second step is: allow time for friendships to develop.

To be friendly, as Selwyn implies – is to be interested in other people and not to be totally self-absorbed in your own interests. How many people do you know, who spend most of a conversation telling you about their activities – never once pausing, to ask about the important events of your life. Except, perhaps to use your responses, as a launching pad into yet another chapter of their critical, on-going, life experiences.

Yet, I liked Selwyn’s conclusion; “Some relationships you have with people may never develop into close friendships. Don’t be upset about that. If you are open and friendly then God will guide you and show you where deep friendships are to be developed.”

I’ll repeat what I said yesterday: if you really would like to have more friends, to share the ‘ups and downs of life’ – then first, pray about it – ask Jesus to bring you into contact with people who will honestly walk with you on this journey – and, share the joy and burden of carrying your cross, as you follow in the footsteps of Christ.

The first step – is always prayer – nothing can be achieved (in a spiritual sense)  without first talking it over with Jesus.

‘A friend with skin on’

Selwyn, today, tells us his favourite definition of friendship: “A friend is someone who knows all there is to know about you and loves you just the same.

In regard to Selwyn’s conclusion. I would like to rearrange his words and change the order to read, something like this: The more effectively we relate on a vertical level with Jesus (God, with skin on), the more effectively we will relate on a horizontal level with our human friends. It’s our love for God which enables us to love our ‘neighbours’; and then, for some of our ‘neighbours’ to become our close friends.

Our ability to love our friends, together with a genuine spirit of forgiveness and understanding; depends entirely on the extent we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. True, strong friendships do occur between people who don’t have God in their lives – but these friendships, end with death. However, those whose friendships are based on Christ, their friendships survive for eternity! What do you think?

The verses set for reading and meditation. follow (Proverbs 27:17-27, NLT):

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded.

As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.

Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.

You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.

Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.”

Synergy

Selwyn has set the following verses for reading and meditation, Proverbs 17:1-17 (NLT):

“Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.

A wise servant will rule over the master’s disgraceful son and will share the inheritance of the master’s children.

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.

Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.

Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler.

A bribe is like a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper!

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.

Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished.

It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness.

If you repay good with evil, evil will never leave your house.

Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – both are detestable to the Lord.

It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

The one bit, I did like, from today’s study – is this: ” … friendship is so exciting because you don’t quite know what exactly is going to happen or where it will lead. Christians, of course, who bring their friendships under the authority of God and His Word need not be concerned about anything that comes, for they have – an internal security that enables them to deal with anything and everything.”

I think it’s a good policy that before we go out and mix socially with other people, seeking friendship; that we always first, pray to Jesus, seeking His guidance and protection, asking that He will lead us into friendships, which will be beneficial for us while on our spiritual journey.

What did you get out of today’s study?

The fusion of friendship

Overall, I don’t agree with Selwyn – the verse from Ecclesiastes 4:12 (‘Through one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’) Is a verse that is talking about strength through unity; and the greater the number of members/strands/friends, then the greater their collective strength. However, I do agree that out of our Christian unity with others, comes a power and strength, that is greater than the sum of the parts – only because this unity is based on Christ. It is through Jesus that we can share in His power.

Did you agree with what Selwyn wrote, today?