Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: words

Solomon's biggest warning

After telling his son that the most important thing for him to do is to guard his heart, Solomon gives his son the longest warning on any one topic in the book of Proverbs.  For almost three entire chapters, Solomon warns his son about the dangers of breaking the seventh commandment God gave to Moses.

Proverbs 5:1-8
My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding
so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.

Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil,
in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol.
She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.

So now, my sons, listen to me, and don’t turn away from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her.  Don’t go near the door of her house.

The words from the lips of the forbidden woman are seductively enticing – and deadly dangerous.  The young man has a choice – whose words will he listen to?  The smooth words of forbidden woman or the wisdom of Solomon?

Solomon gives the best defense against the siren’s song – don’t go near the door of her house.

If she is purposely avoided, then her smooth words cannot ensnare him.  However, if he foolishly gives in to this temptation, Solomon warns that it will cost him severely:

Proverbs 5:9-14
Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel;
strangers will drain your resources, and your earnings will end up in a foreigner’s house.
At the end of your life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed,
and you will say,

“How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction.
I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my mentors.
I was on the verge of complete ruin before he entire community.”

If he gives in to her temptations, the young man will not be able to undo the path his life will go down.  Any profit will go to another, and he will only be left with regret.  The destruction to himself, his family, and his community cannot be undone.

We see this play out today as well.  Sexual sin is one of the greatest destructive forces in today’s society.  “Sex sells” is what we’re told, and the numbers don’t lie – advertisers prey upon our inability to control our sexual appetite.  The world’s system is set up to ensnare both men and women.

If we consider its ultimate cost, what that moment of pleasure will take from us in this life and in the next, we can see why Solomon spends the next two chapters continuing his warning.

Proverbs 5:20-23
Why, my son, would you be infatuated with a forbidden woman
or embrace the breast of a stranger?
For a man’s ways are before the Lord’s eyes,
and He considers all his paths.

A wicked man’s iniquities entrap him;
he is entangled in the ropes of his own sin.
He will die because there is no instruction,
and be lost because of his great stupidity.

Sexual sin is a great stupidity.  It cannot be simply managed or contained.  The only safe way to deal with it is to take Solomon’s advice and don’t go near the temptation.  Avoid it, because you don’t want to pay everything it will ultimately cost you.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Undercutting relationships

After warning the Colossian believers to pay attention to the negative, selfish words that can come out of their mouths, he gives one last warning about a type of speech that has the potential to destroy a relationship.

Colossians 3:9-10
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator.

When my boys were young, there were only two misbehaviors that would warrant getting spanked.  The first was willful disobedience – we give a direction, they would blatantly defy.  The second type of behavior that would result in spanking was considered much worse than the first – lying.

We typically lie to someone else in an attempt to make ourselves look better or to maintain someone else’s impression of us…that we’re really rather nice, or have disposable income, or not rude, or not selfish.  Sometimes we tell ourselves that we lie only to protect others or ourselves; but in reality, lies only protect the façade we’re trying to project.  When the truth comes out – and it eventually does – we find that the lie we used for “protection” has now severely undercut the relationship.

This is why we made such a big deal about lying with our children.  When a parent lies to a child, or a child to his parent, their relationship is taken out at the knees.  While trust in a specific instance was violated by the lying, we justifiably begin to wonder “When else has that person lied to me?”. 

The same thing happens in God’s family when we lie to each other.  Seeds of mistrust will eventually lead to a harvest of dysfunction.

Paul says that our habit of lying can be set aside, like all of our sinful tendencies, as we continue to identify with who we are now in Jesus instead of being like who we were before we met Jesus.  We put on the new man when we first trusted Jesus as our Savior.  Our identity is forever wrapped up in His, however, that is just the start of our relationship.

Paul says that our identity is being renewed, or growing up, in knowledge according to the image of [our] Creator.  The better we know our Savior and Creator, the faster we grow up in our new identity. 

When we recognize who we are and how well we’re loved in Christ…we won’t need to promote a façade, we’ll see that there’s no reason to lie about ourselves. 

So our lying habit won’t be fixed by washing our mouths out with soap, putting a dollar in a jar whenever we get caught, or by promising to do better next time.  The fix for our brokenness is found in spending time with Jesus.  Are we taking the time to develop in the knowledge of our Creator?

Keep Pressing,
Ken
 

Harsh words

The quickest way to change a situation is to open our mouths and have something selfish and negative come out.  With just a few harsh words, the tone of a conversation can be altered and the general mood of the room is radically different.  Depending on what we say and how we say it, relationships can be damaged for a significant amount of time. 

Recognizing this, it’s easy to see how careless words can tear apart family members.

After warning the Colossian believers to put to death any idolatry and greed that comes out of their hearts, Paul encourages them to take their conduct up to the next level by closely watching what comes out of their mouths.

Colossians 3:8
But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.

Paul says that these types of words must be put away.  The Greek word for put away means to “put off or aside”.  This action is intentional, and there’s no wiggle room here, it must be done.

Not to be self-congratulating, but I would like to use an example from my own life – I have decided there are some things that my boys will never hear from me.

I can clearly remember stories, jokes, and advice given to me over the years…but I will not repeat them.  Some memories go way back into my youth.  The stories and jokes were meant to be funny, and honestly, I laughed quite a bit at them.  My immaturity was in full bloom as I listened intently to my friends’ stories, trying to add in some off-color or inappropriate joke of my own.  My quick wit was good for that, or so I thought.

I also have distinct memories of “advice” given to me by people who were lashing out in anger and frustration, either at someone else or at the world in general.  I can still hear their voices say those words as they angrily warned me to avoid certain individuals or people groups.

However, I will not place the burden of these words on my children, or anyone else around me.  The memory of these words will die with me.

Now that the memories have been put away, the real challenge is to follow Paul’s direction and keep anything new from springing out of my mouth.  Now you must put away he says.  Paul’s direction needs to be applied moment by moment – even when things go sideways at work, or I’m caught off-guard, or my plans for the evening get wrecked, or I am hurt (yet again) by someone close to me.

Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to be upset, frustrated, or even angry; we just need to be watchful for how our mouths express those emotions.  Guarding what comes out of our mouths is vital for maintaining healthy relationships within the family of God and with those outside of the family. 

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Tracking thankfulness

We keep tabs on a lot of things these days.

We get tracking numbers for every item we order online.  We scour stats of our favorite sports teams, even looking at how they perform in a game under specific circumstances.  We have programs to track our kids’ use of technology in the home.  We even track our steps and activities toward fitness goals.  All while we continue to keep an eye on a host of other things.

What are we looking for with all this tracking?

Typically, we are monitoring for progress or patterns.  We want to know how close our package is to its destination and how many more steps we need to take before we hit our goal for the day.  We watch for patterns in the websites our children use, and we look for deviations from their normal routines.

But what if…what if we tracked our speech, and counted up all the words we use on a daily basis.  What trends would stick out?  Is our speech different at home than it is at work, or school, or church?  Which words do we use the most, and does it change based upon our location?

When we track through Paul’s entire letter to the church in Colossae, certain words stick out.  This is an especially important observation to make, considering the letter is rather short, consisting of only four chapters.

Colossians 1:3
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you

It’s only the third verse in and we have the first time we come across the word “thanks”.  However, it is the first of six times in the letter.  While that might not seem like much emphasis, it comes to about one mentioning every 14 sentences. 

So what is Paul saying about giving “thanks”?

1:3 – We always thank God…when we pray for you
1:11,12 – May you be…giving thanks to the Father
2:6,7 – walk in Him…overflowing with thankfulness
3:15 – Be thankful. Let the message of the Messiah dwell richly among you…
3:17 – Do everything…giving thanks to God the Father
4:2 – Stay alert in prayer with thanksgiving

As a bonus, Paul also says in 3:16 – sing…with gratitude in your hearts to God

Notice how every time Paul brings up giving thanks or having gratitude, it is directed toward God?  Whenever we stop and honestly thank someone, we are shifting the focus off of ourselves.  We recognize others for what they have done for us.  We recognize them for who they are and what we have become because of their influence.

Being thankful is focus-shifting experience.  Being thankful towards God puts him in the proper place in our lives.  We’ll explore each of these thanks-giving sections as we work our way through the letter to the believers in Colossae, but we should probably stop and ask ourselves:

Imagine if one out of every 14 sentences that came out of our mouths, we were thankful to God.  How would our speech change?  How would our mindset change?

Keep Pressing,
Ken