RAF: Knee-jerk reactions are the reactions of a jerk – or more properly, a fool. The one who is easily provoked, is the slave of the provocateur. The only buttons someone else can push, are the ones you give them access to. And if you cannot set the provocative aspects aside to stay focused upon the real issues at hand, you will be forever barred from arriving at solutions to problems. I know. I’ve been there. I have played the fool. Heaven help me to be more like my King, Jesus.
Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
RAF: Do you tend to use your words as weapons – to wound others? Chances are, they were uttered rashly – like the knee-jerk responses of verse 16. But even if not – even if well considered, what a poor use of such a powerful tool – this tongue of ours. Even in reproof, our aim ought to be healing and never simple denunciation or hurting someone back. If someone needs correction, may we truly bring correction, for their good, and not merely give vent to our personal vitriol. Our job is not to punish others with our words. Ultimately, that is never more than our own desire to hurt the other. Even “when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 9). Neither should we.
Proverbs 12:24 “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. ”
RAF: This is as true in spiritual matters as it is in natural ones. The “farmer” who is not diligent to plow thoroughly, plant liberally, water carefully, pull weeds ruthlessly, protect from ravaging pests watchfully and harvest punctually – will not survive. The “Christian” who does not feed their soul on the Word daily, attack indwelling sin viciously, drink in worship thirstily, breathe in prayer repeatedly, seek holiness intentionally and pour grace into others as providence allows – will not survive either. I believe it was A. W. Tozer who said that most of us are not as holy as we wish were, but all of us are as holy as we are willing to be. If your spiritual progress has been stalled, or has taken a back seat – is it not time to see if you are being diligent about the things which make for true growth in the likeness of Christ? We will not rule over ourselves and indwelling sin, if we are not diligent to pursue those things which make for it. Nor should we be surprised then that spiritual matters have become more like forced labor than joyful privileges.
Proverbs 12:26 “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. ”
RAF: Today, this would probably be titled – “Lifestyle Evangelism”. The truth is BOTH, what we say AND what we do matters. When it comes to evangelism, some would lay more or all of the stress in our efforts in proclamation. And proclamation is absolutely essential. People must hear, understand and believe – the Gospel – the message. Others would place the bulk of the stress upon lifestyle and the “what” of our lives. But good actions are not the Gospel by themselves, the “message” of Christ’s atoning death is; and the Message negated by graceless lives is an exercise in futility. We are to be men of women of integrity – of life and message so wrapped around one another that they cannot be separated. The bottom line is – if Jesus hadn’t lived in perfect holiness, He could not have been fit to be our Savior. And if the message of the meaning of His death were not proclaimed, there is no faith by which one is justified. Neither one could be omitted without salvation being a myth.