Monday, July 21, 2003

[These are thoughts that have crossed my mind as I've read from this fantastic Old Testament book through the years.]

Proverbs 5:8:
[advice to a young man regarding the sexual advances of a woman of loose morals] "Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house."

This reflects advice--implied and overt--which fills the Scriptures: the best way to deal with temptation is to run from it. Fast!

It's what Joseph did when the wife of his slavemaster was insistent in trying to entice him into the sack. Although having been turned down by Joseph, she was able to convince her husband that she had been a victim of rape and thereby have Joseph imprisoned, Joseph never regretted doing things God's way. It was simply inconceivable to him that he would violate God's will or the sanctity of his master's marriage. Joseph ran away from temptation and so, even during long years of unjust imprisonment, enjoyed God's favor.

The New Testament says: "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it" (First Corinthians 10:13).

To the person who is seeking to follow Jesus Christ, God sends definite signals--a thought, a remembered passage of Scripture, a friend's words, the fortuitous ringing of a telephone--that will help them to avoid temptations that could drag them down into the swamp of sin. We can ignore those signals and the more often we ignore them, the weaker our connection with God becomes. But God is willing to help us to run from what's wrong in order to run to a life filled with life, joy, peace, and fulfillment.

When we have run away from living God's way, we still have a fantastic promise. The New Testament book of First John says: "...if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (First John 2:1-2).

Proverbs 6:6:
"Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise."

This is an awesome passage, one of my favorites. God wants us to be productive.

To each of us, God gives talents, abilities, and passions. From this raw material, he wants us to develop our lives and our habits and be the very best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Often, people learn that we become acceptable to God not because of anything we do, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ and they think that means that we can simply sit back and put our lives on cruise control.

In fact, being freed from worrying about death frees the follower of Christ to really get on with the business of living--using the potential that God gives to every one of us and being all we were made by God to be. (I readily admit that I usually fail to fulfill my own personal potential, something I regularly come back to God to be forgiven for and helped with in overcoming.)

Work then, when done to love God and love neighbor and do something useful, isn't punishment, or drudgery, or something to be endured. It's a sacred privilege. Even when our work is done in such a spirit, there will be times of tedium and even of boredom. But God will revive our flagging spirits when we remember who we are and why we do the work we do.

An awesome passage of the New Testament says: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life" (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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