“Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice” (Proverbs 16:8).
In establishing what is really important in life, the preacher here contrasts taking right actions and conforming one’s life to the will of God with pursuing wealth by illicit or dishonest means.
This passage, along with others in this section of scripture, deals a great deal with the heart—that is, focusing and getting our heart going the right direction so that we establish our priorities properly. Without doing so, we can easily be led down the wrong pathway in life.
Earning an honest living or even accumulating some degree of wealth is not condemned here, but being dishonest in the process is. As well, Solomon teaches that pursuing material gain, either honestly or dishonestly, to the exclusion of our spiritual welfare will not put us in good stead with God.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
In giving general admonition to the Ephesian congregation that has no serious problems, the Apostle Paul provides encouragement for members there to walk steadfastly in the Christian pathway.
To walk “circumspectly” means to walk accurately or in the right way. “Redeeming” the time is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders that means to buy the opportunity or, in this context, to use their time wisely. “Evil” means dangerous or troublesome.
The message couldn’t be plainer: Christians are to show themselves wise by walking in the way God’s word directs, using their time wisely, and recognizing the spiritual dangers around them.
Paul could not have given any admonition that would have been more appropriate as we begin a new year and, hopefully, renew our spiritual commitment to more diligent attention to living the Christian life and to greater service for the Cause of Christ.
Thought for the Week.07-31-16. Be Realistic in Self-Assessment
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
Many times in scripture, the word bitter is associated with food or taste, but at other times it is used as a metaphor describing a harsh or hateful attitude as it is used in James 3:14 in describing envy. James actually is talking about harsh, extreme jealousy in contrast to one who is wise.
While James is talking about controlling the tongue in the context of those who teach, the lesson applies to every child of God. James is saying that we should never possess an overactive jealousy of others nor seek to promote ourselves above others. To “lie against the truth” refers to one who would even deceive himself in self-aggrandizement.
This powerful lesson hits at the heart of humanity. It is somewhat natural to want the respect of others, but we should be realistic in our self-assessment: we should never deceive ourselves into thinking our way is the only way nor that we are superior to everyone else—such a conclusion is usually not the “truth.”
Thought for the Week.07-24-16. Source of Wisdom
“And to man He said,
Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
In the middle of a lengthy discourse, Job answers one of his own questions, which he poses in verse 20: “From where then does wisdom come?” And the answer he gives is quite unexpected. Some confuse wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is information gathered, and wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge in the most effective way.
Job has already pointed out where wisdom is not found: not “in the land of the living” (among human ideas), not “in the deep” (that is, in the sea), and not in the vast riches of the earth. Rather than giving a highly philosophical answer to his profound question, he poignantly directs our minds to the ultimate source of wisdom: to the fear of God.
The one who truly becomes wise will have such a healthy respect for and fear of God that he will be diligent in following God’s direction in all aspects of his life. Such a decision will cause him to turn from doing evil to doing good, showing he has come to a full understanding of God.