"Advent carries a meaning “coming” or “arrival”. In the Christian calendar it has become a season to celebrate the fact that Jesus came or shall we say crashed into the neighborhood of humanity as a baby only to fulfill all that the scriptures detailed the Messiah and savior of the world would do."
We have all been around people wanting to start trouble. And frankly most of us if not all have been that person! The deadly conversation starters include but are not limited to…
“Did you hear about _______?… Did you know that Tony ________”
One powerful way to examine any conversation you are having about someone is this… would I want that person to be talking about me like this? Another good motive examiner is Would I say these things to the person I’m talking about and will I? If you hear someone start the conversation like this, please pay attention and stop anything that sounds like gossip.
Look, life is going to have its troubles and quarrels. It starts early in life, and continues until we leave this ball of dirt we call the Earth, so the way you handle it will determine the outcome of so many situations in your life. So handle it well and make sure you help others navigate it as the scripture teaches. What Proverbs is telling us is that when quarrels start, the words spoken either cause the ambers of a fire to go out, or cause the ambers to start a fire. Gossip either starts or stops the fire. Period. What the scripture is saying here is that when we are party to something like this, we have an obligation to shut it down. We have an obligation to find a loving way to stop the gossip and bring life to the situation. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” You have the power of life and death in youth mouth so be on guard.
This principle works for everyone, not just followers of Jesus. So help everyone in your life speaks words of life and not death. Words that encourage and not words that tear others down.
Ephesians 4:49 says,
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This means that we need to be lifting people up with our words to other people and not tearing them down.
May we find ourselves speaking life and not death about others. May the gossip in our lives end with us, and may we be people stopping quarreling and strife and not stirring it up.
Check this video out to see what people on the street say about gossip, and then reveal how they felt about the one being gossiped about… Do you agree with their assessments?…
You may have heard it said “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”… just flying by the seat of your pants and the whims of the world may work for a season, but it’s not a very good way to live your life. I understand that people want to be spontaneous and organic, but never having a plan takes spontaneity to a whole different level.
It’s important to note that in this Proverb God is not only telling you and me that we should have a plan, but that our plans should be filled with a multitude of wise counsel. We don’t need to incorporate all counsel into our decisions, but having multiple voices speaking into the process is always a healthy thing. That is to say, we are not going to make everyone happy, in fact getting multiple voices in a room and then making a decision based on those voices guarantees you that someone is not going to be happy, but their voice is necessary anyway. They may not like that you didn't take their ideas, but hopefully they can get past themselves and root you on anyway.
This proverbs can only be followed by people who decide pleasing God is more important than pleasing everyone else.
When we set up the leadership at One Community we decided specifically to include women into that process… some people think this should not be so, but I believe that men just have too many blind-spots (can I get an Amen ladies) and because of those blind-spots, 10 men in a room does not define “many advisors”. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” The many advisors in these verses should include people who look and think differently than you because if everyone in the room just agrees with you because they think they should or they think just like you… you have not met the definition of many advisors. Safety is found in hearing out voices different than yours, hearing from people who take a different angle on things than you, and then making plans having heard all of those voices.
Surround yourself with people who will challenge you to re-consider everything, not because you should change anything, rather because if you’re like me experience has forced you to reconsider some things you once held as necessary or true… and I for one am grateful for these experiences… they exposed my blind spots.
What Matters More to You?
Consider this scenario:
A business owner is presented with the opportunity to expand her business. She’s been struggling to keep the doors open for years, but a situation presented itself that would completely turn things around. The only catch—she’d have to slightly flub a couple of numbers to make the business look a little more successful than it is, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone else at all. What should she do?
I’m not saying this is an uncomplicated situation and that there is a solid, answer without considering the depth of the situation, but it is a question of integrity. You may not relate to this kind of scenario, but I’d venture to guess that you face the opportunity daily to “put on” integrity, so to speak. The question is, “Are you going to allow yourself to value integrity over success?”
According to these words of wisdom in Proverbs 11, honesty, integrity, humility, and righteousness are all interconnected. I love the way you can see tell where the writer is going with his progression. If we seek personal gain through dishonesty, pride, and unfaithfulness, it will bring nothing but sorrow, but if we practice integrity, things will work out in the end.
Easier Said than Done
It’s easy to take a hypothetical situation and apply these biblical principles to it. The difficulty comes when we’re faced with real decisions. How do I stand on these principles when my needs are real and can be met by straying slightly from what I know to be true and right?
In the simplest terms, integrity takes practice. Faith takes practice. Sometimes you simply don’t see any benefits to doing what is right (especially when you choose to do what’s right when no one is even watching), but you’ve got to have faith that if God asks for integrity, he’s going to reward it in some way. I wish there was an easier answer, but it seems, in my experience, that things that are worth doing are never simple.
Today, pray that when the situation arises, God grants you the wisdom to choose integrity over personal gain.
We all need direction in this life. As children our parents are constantly in a state of helping us see and correct the wrong things that we do. The truth is as a parent myself, there are days when it seems like the only thing I do is correct and discipline my kids. Thankfully God offers the direction that we all need through His word.
Learning God’s way is no different when it comes to teaching wisdom to our kids… this proverb starts with “whoever heeds discipline” which can be translated, “whoever pays attention to or is mindful of instruction/ correction shows the way of life”. If you and I want to live by the way of life we need to be mindful and pay attention to God’s way and his instructions. As we pay attention to them and care about how they intersect with our lives, we will show others the way of life.
If that is true, the opposite must be true which is the second half of this proverb. If we “ignore correction” we “lead others astray”. Correction and instruction is something we all need from time to time. As children we needed it 24/7. Even though I find myself constantly correcting my children, the hope is that the more they pay attention and apply my instructions the less I have to give it to them. The less they need discipline. My frustration comes when I give them instructions and they fail to apply it and the very thing I warned them about happens.
This leads us to two application points or questions… do you have a way of listening to and hearing God’s instructions? And more importantly do you learn from your mistakes when you don’t heed His wisdom?
We should all listen to God’s wisdom and instruction, but let’s be honest… we are all going to listen and at times go our own way. The sign of wisdom is not that you know everything, but that you are willing and able to learn from your mistakes and consequently make the necessary adjustments to never make those mistakes again. If you want to learn and grow in your relationship with God, heed His wisdom and make the proper adjustments when you fail.
This is the “way to life” as Proverbs 10:17 says.