Wednesday, May 28, 2008

to be faithful

"A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent."

Proverbs 28:20

People tend to make much of success. Success propels us to riches, fulfillment, and fame. Underlying all true success, however, is something we often overlook--faithfulness.

In Luke 16:10-11, Jesus taught that those who are faithful in little will be trusted with much:

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?"

True success is never achieved overnight. It's built on the back of many days of doing the right thing, the necessary thing, and the good thing. This holds true no matter what arena of life you're in.

Solomon specifically addresses riches: the usual measuring stick for success in business and career arenas. He says that while a faithful man will abound with blessings, a man who tries to "get rich quick" will not only ultimately fail, but he will likely wind up in sin. A rush to success without faithfulness leads to a loss of innocence.

This is true in our spiritual lives as well. Many people spend their time chasing "spiritual highs" or attempting to be super-Christians before they've laid a foundation of faithfulness. We hear about heroes like Billy Graham, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller, or William Wilberforce, and we want to be like them. But the fact is, their spiritual "success" didn't grow out of a vacuum. When we think of such heroes, we think of the highlights of their lives. But those highlights grew out of lives of faithfulness: faithful prayer, faithful study, faithful hard work, and faithful love.

As I pray for myself and for others, I will pray that God would make us faithful.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


"Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."

Proverbs 27:1

One of scripture's recurrent and perhaps most important teachings is that we are "but men"--we are here today, gone tomorrow, a vapour in the wind. Nothing is guaranteed us but God's love, and even that must not be taken for granted--if we spend our lives trying to run from it, as a wise man has said, someday we'll succeed.

To me, Proverbs 27:1 is a needed reminder that I can't count on circumstances to be what I expect. All I truly have is this moment: How am I using it? James echoes Solomon's exhortation:

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."

James 4:13-15

This morning was a gentle reminder of this truth. I am a naturally lazy person. I knew I had work to do, but none of it felt especially pressing, and so I gave in to my too-great love affair with my pillow and slept the entire morning away. In the mail this afternoon, I received a large package I hadn't been expecting--the materials for a contest I agreed to judge and had totally forgotten about.

Now, catching up with this extra work is not going to break me. The hours I lost this morning are not, in the big picture, a major deficit. But they reminded me that my time isn't mine alone. God has work for me to do, and the time in which to do it is limited. If I am faithful in little, He will entrust me with much.

I am grateful for a God who is good enough to give gentle reminders, and I pray that I'll take them seriously. If the Lord wills, I will use tomorrow better than I have used today.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

putting out fires

"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth."

Proverbs 26:20
Imagine this proverb as it might work in a family. Sister A gets mad at Sister B. She tells C, who takes up an offense and also gets mad. A and C tell D and E all about it. In the meantime, B doesn't even know anyone's mad--but by the time she comes home, she's stepping into a hornet's nest.

The tongue has the incredible power to escalate things, keep them fresh in our memories, and pass on negative emotion and prejudice. As Christians, we're called not to fuel the fires of strife, but to make peace--"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).

Hebrews 12:14-15 gives more thorough instruction: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Hebrews 12:14-15).

As I grow in the Lord, I pray that God will guard my mouth, teaching me to love peace, bless others with my words, and regularly put out fires instead of spreading them. Words can fan the flames, but they can also bring new perspective, soothing, and conviction.

How are you using yours?