by Steven Chan
How do we live our everyday lives? Are our lives influenced by what everyone else is doing in the community? Do we just go with the flow? Everyone goes to work and so, likewise we do the same. Everyone goes to school or colleges, and so we do likewise. Everyone finds a partner and settles down and so we do the same. Everyone grows old and so will we, and before long, we wonder what we have accomplished with our lives. Have we ever stopped to think of what we really ought to be doing with our lives? How do we make the decisions of our lives? What should guide us in our everyday living?
The Bible provides a brief guide for us in Prov 3:1-10 which we will do well to consider:-
“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; 2 For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first-fruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
The most important decision we must make early in our lives is “not to forget God’s law, and to resolve to keep His commandments”. If we keep this all-important principle of life, then “peace” will be added to our lives. The emphasis is on both remembering God’s law as well as observing them. It is sad that some do not have God in their minds (Rom 1:28). The Bible says in Psa 1:2-3: “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
We must always possess the attributes of “mercy and truth” – they must be worn around our neck as constant guides and embedded deep within our hearts. Luke 6:36: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” We must not be judgemental and overly critical of others; rather we must exhibit God-desired mercy. Consider James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The legalistic Pharisees were very judgemental and devoid of mercy: recall the attitude and prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee and that of the penitent tax-collector in Luke 18:9-14.
A close companion of “mercy” is that of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). The Bible says in Eph 4:25: “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.” The Bible exhorts us 1 Peter 1:22: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,” and in 1 Peter 2:1, we must “lay aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” Hypocrisy, lying and deception should not characterise the Christian.
Another important practice of life is to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). We must learn to trust God – 2 Cor 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” – fully & not half-heartedly – “for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”(James 1:6-8). The Bible says “in ALL our ways” we are to acknowledge Him – in other words, God should be central to all our decision-making process. He should be consulted, His wisdom, guidance, blessings and will sought at all times – then He shall guide our paths. Do we seek God to guide us in all our paths?
Watch out for the danger of “being wise in your own eyes” instead of remembering to “fear the LORD and depart from evil so that it will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” There is perhaps no greater tragedy than for one to be so bloated up in his ego so as to think that he is the wisest! Prov 16:18 warns that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In 1 Sam 13:11-14, we read the tragic account of King Saul who acted foolishly in Gilgal when he “felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering to God” and thereby failed to keep the commandment of God. If such an incident were to occur today, some of our “wise” brethren would have contended that King Saul’s action was not wrong – after-all his heart was sincere as he wanted to seek supplication from God, and Samuel was late in coming, and he was offering to God and not to some other gods!! We must show proper respect to God at all times and in all that we do. Prov 30:6: “Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
Always remember to “honor the LORD with your possessions and with the first-fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty” (Prov 3:9-10). All that we have are from God. James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” What do we mean by honouring the Lord with our possessions? “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.”(Ex 23:19). In Matt 15:1-7, in the discussion concerning honouring your parents, it is evident that the failure to give financially to our parents constitutes a failure to honour our parents. So, likewise, a failure on our part to give to God of all that we possess as well as from the increase of our possessions, constitutes a failure to honour our Lord. 1 Cor 16:2: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him” We must remember that we need to give our best as well as the first portion of all our increase.
We are not perfect and there will be times when the Lord will chasten or discipline us: Prov 3:11-12: “11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” When we are disciplined by God, we should not get all upset or become disappointed with God. We need to realize that God does it because of His love for us. Instead, we need to learn from such situations and resolve to be more faithful and to trust Him more.
Brethren, we will do well to examine our lives and resolve to put on these attributes in our lives so that we will glorify God in all that we do. Are we aware of God’s law? Are we following His commandments? Do we exhibit mercy and truth? Do we trust God in all that we do? Do we pray continually to Him for His blessings and guidance? Are we constantly on the look out against our ego and pride? Have we honoured God with all that we have and with all of our increase? Have we learned to accept God’s discipline with the right attitude? We need God to be our guide in this life and also, when we cross over to the other side. If we do not learn to walk closely with Him in this life, how comfortable will we be to walk with Him when we cross over to the other side of life?