Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs’

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Conflict Resolution: Which Path? – Proverbs 15:1

March 29, 2020

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.”

Imagine we have a difficult hike to make. Our destination is a community of peace on the opposite side of a mountain.  This mountain is large and formidable.  There are areas of instability, where a rock slide could sweep us away. There are vast stretches lacking any springs for refreshment.

Obviously, the shortest course will be to go directly over the mountain.  These routes are poorly marked and likely filled with all the hardship of an ill-advised expedition.  Many have tried these routes, but few parties ever arrived at the community of peace intact.

The other route is long.  It meanders along the valleys and ravines. The path is broad, following a refreshing stream.  Travelers wind past hazards while slowly gaining elevation.  

Often, the gains are imperceptible causing travelers to become discouraged and set off on more direct routes. Those routes rarely lead up the mountain.  Often, these impatient travelers find themselves once again at the base of the same mountain or a new one.

The patient traveler diligently stays on the long path with his destination firmly fixed in his mind.  The goal for these patient parties is not simply to overcome the mountain but to summit the mountain as a group, not as individuals.  The long route is the most likely path for the group to achieve their goal and reach the community of peace but it takes uncommon endurance.

I consider conflict a mountain.  Conflicts are barriers to peace and unity, just like a mountain separating you from your destination.  Conflicts are difficult with a lot of hazards which can result in even more barriers if not handled carefully.

Some refuse to deal with conflict.  They are like the travelers that never leave camp.  They sit at the base of a mountain and wonder why the conflict never goes away.

Some choose a direct route.  They say it like it is.  They don’t select their words carefully and rarely listen for a response without an interpretation.  These direct routes often include “words of trouble” that only stir up more anger.  Many, on a direct route, excuse their course as being part of their nature. As if, they had no other choice but a direct confrontation.  

In my experience, directness is not a personality trait.  The direct person is usually either impatient or selfish (unloving).  Those on the direct route rarely get off the mountain of conflict.  It is where they live.  They feel like the world is out to get them, never realizing that they are the ones continuing to raise more mountains (barriers).

Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it causes a break in spirit. Proverbs 15:4 

The long route is hard, mostly because it involves a lot of self-control.  Yet, gentleness takes time.  Soft words must be allowed to seep in and moderate the heart of a conflict.  Kindness has to be kindled and love often must be demonstrated through long-suffering.  Conflict resolution requires consideration, which will rarely be granted when there is a break in spirit. 

Travelers of the long route must value gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.  I don’t see travelers on direct routes valuing those same attributes.  Is it any wonder that a world valuing direct, powerful, harsh, responses is a world mired in conflict?

Conflict is not fun.  However, the mountain will never go away until it is surmounted.  If you are ready to deal with your mountain, what route are you going to take? May I encourage you to take the long way?

 Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3–4

https://ref.ly/Pr15.1 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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The Fruit of Deception – Proverbs 6:12–15

March 20, 2020

“A worthless man, an evil man,
goes around with deceitful speech.
Winking in his eye, shuffling in his foot,
pointing in his fingers,
perversion in his heart, he devises evil;
at all times he will send out discord.
Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing”

I recently had an employee who appeared to be a great “marketer”. He had a big personality; a fill-the-room type of presence.  In the world of consulting engineering, it is hard to find people who like to do the cold-call marketing.  This guy seemed made for it.

He had a great resume. He had great experience.  He had a philosophy for a great cultural fit.

Yet, with all that greatness potential, I fired him.

I fired him because greatness doesn’t trump deceitfulness.

It took me over a year of trying to work with him; trying to get his greatness to flourish without the discord that continued to fester.  It took me over a year to realize that there actually was no greatness.  His shtick was a deceptive illusion.

I had been deceived by a carefully crafted resume that masterfully gave false impressions.  I had been deceived into believing that a person who taught the principles of how I try to manage, would actually practice it.

So, I endured a year of discord.  A year of smoothing down ruffled feathers.  A year of confronting and encouraging the proper behaviour.  A year of scratching my head in hopes that I would not have to give up on someone.

But then came that last straw of deception and I had no choice but to fire him without warning.  

Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing

I always hope when I fire a person that it will be a wake up call and they will change their behavior.  However, I don’t have much hope.  I recently saw his updated LinkedIn profile.  His description of his work while under my employment is…more deception.

Therefore, I conclude that Proverbs is as relevant today as it was in Solomon’s time.  This man has…

perversion in his heart, he devises evil;

This man needs Jesus.  Without Jesus, none of us can ever experience the greatness for which we were individually created.  Jesus is the only one who can cure a deceitful heart because a deceitful heart comes from a perverse heart, which is a evil heart.  

We all need Jesus, every day!  Therefore, this man will stay in my prayers for God to do a miracle and change his heart.  The same miracle He did for me.

https://ref.ly/Pr6.12-15 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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“NOT THE PERSON I WANT” – Mar 14

March 14, 2015

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:14

Why do I think the very thoughts I’ve turned from? Why do I seek out the very temptations that cause me to stumble? Why do I give words to the very thoughts that I know cause hurt? Why do I embrace the very indifference I find repulsive? Why do I embody the very selfishness that denies my worship? Why am I the very person I don’t want to be? Why do I do the very things I hate?

“I do the very thing I hate”, is a confession that every follower of Christ has made. Obedience to the commands of the One we love can be a baffling mystery of cyclical inconsistency. Those who are in Christ live in between worlds. We are new creations in Christ and yet we still live in the flesh.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19

The flesh that we inhabit is bound to this sinful fallen world. Some may use this fact as an excuse to live in sin.  However, our existence does not excuse sinful disobedience but rather it should inform our obedience.

We do not follow Christ through the power of the flesh. We do not yield our will to the commands of the law by relying upon feeling and emotions.

Obedience is an act of will; Will is the result of decisions; Decisions are made either in the mind based on knowledge or from urges of the flesh.

Since the flesh can only produce sin, obedience to the Word of God must come from a mind willfully yielding to guidance of the Spirit in faith.

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:26b

The Christian life should be progressively learning how to subject the feelings and emotions of a rebellious heart to the Christ-like decisions of a mind that loves God more than those fleshly urges. We have to learn how to do this. I find Proverbs helpful.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,  (Proverbs 2:2-4)

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)

Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; (Proverb 2:9)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, (Proverbs 2:16)

So you will walk in the way of the good to the paths of the righteous. (Proverbs 2:20)

Proverbs shows the powerful progression of an engaged mind.

The children of God engage their minds in the wonderful search to know their Lord; praying for the Spirit to reveal insight and understanding; listening for the wisdom of God and inclining their hearts to understanding the comes only from faith.

God promises that those who seek Him in faith will find Him. They will be given the knowledge of God and understand the fear of the Lord. They will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.

The mind will have the understanding that it needs to bend the will from the flesh. Only when an engaged mind is working on the knowledge revealed through the Spirit can it make a decision that takes the flesh away from the forbidden woman and all other enticing temptations and onto the paths of the righteous, walking in the way of the good.

Our flesh will never be inclined to love God. Therefore, stop trying to obey God in your flesh.

Love God with your mind and watch your flesh follow.

“Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.” ~ John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

PRAYER: Lord, you know how often I stray after the flesh.  You know how I disengage my mind to do what I don’t want to do.  Please forgive me.  Father, give me insight and understanding; make my ears attentive; incline my heart to understanding.  Help me to know you; show me yourself.  Teach me how to love and fear you.  I love you Lord; keep my feet on the path of righteousness in glorifying obedience to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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