1 Peter 5:5-6
Submit to God, Resist the Devil
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Welcome to the Workplace, Lord
Corporate America has a way of taking a toll on everyone. Universally, it appears the office environment is all the same – backstabbing, rumor mills, brown-nosing the boss, pushing to get ahead. It’s a wonder any work gets accomplished with all the extracurricular activity among the worker bees.
It had been a particularly grueling day with a high level of anxiety, conflict, arrogance, nastiness and general tension among my co-workers. I had pushed through the day, counting down the hours to call it a week, and I was looking forward to spending the rest of the evening at home with my husband and boys.
I secluded myself from the office activities long enough to pray: Lord, am I the only one here who gets You today? Do these people even know you exist? And if they do, can you please help them see what a mess they are making of my day?
I felt very alone – very isolated from people who show kindness and compassion to each other — Christian people. God knew I needed to feel some inclusion again, so He made the drive home an interesting one.
Just a mile from the office, I pulled up behind a car with the license plate “1ST PRAY”. Once on the Interstate, I changed lanes and ended up behind a car sporting “13 COR 13” (Corinthians 13:13 – “…the greatest of these is love.”)
I was starting to see God’s message in the traffic. A couple miles up the road, a truck pulled in the lane ahead of me – his bumper sticker said: “Jesus Saves”. In the lane next to him, a car displayed the ichthus (fish).
OK, God, I prayed. It’s very clear. Even when I don’t always see it, I’m surrounded by You and people who love You.
I continued to thank God for providing such a clear visual for me. But in my prayer, I wondered how many days I, too, act in an unpleasant manner, just like my co-workers were doing that day? How many times do others wish they could count on me to provide a Christ-like environment, but I don’t offer them one? Were there days my co-workers also felt isolated from kindheartedness, and I was a reason for their pain?
In 1 Peter 3:8 NASB, he lists the characteristics of a believer as
“… harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.”
I knew how badly I felt that day at work, existing in an environment that reflected none of these qualities. Exodus 23:2 says:
You shall not follow the masses in doing evil …”
And I was sure I had.
For years I’ve driven around with my own ichthus on the trunk, proudly showing other drivers there’s a Christian behind the wheel of my car. And while it gives the impression they’re sharing road space with someone who loves the Lord, it’s not enough. People need, and deserve, to see more than a sign of Christianity.
They need to see Christians living it daily.
“For, the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, …” (1 Peter 3:10-12 NASB)
The Fruit of Her Hands
JANUARY 29, 2020
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16 (ESV)
At one point in my life, I was terrified to turn to Proverbs Chapter 31 in my Bible.
I could flip from Proverbs 30 over to Ecclesiastes 1 like the pages were glued together. I’m pretty sure in those days I couldn’t have recited a single phrase of the chapter by heart. All I knew was that, whoever that Proverbs 31 woman was, she wasn’t me.
Given my difficult background and unstable home, nothing frightened me more than the fierce, familiar yellow of a tape measure. Because I was sure I wasn’t going to measure up.
Over time, however, I came to love this passage. I no longer saw the Proverbs 31 woman as a threat. I saw her as, quite literally, a host of possibilities. She loved her home, and she also traveled. She was family-oriented and business-oriented. She could throw her head back and laugh over the future, yet she never forgot the poor. I came to like her. And to want to be like her. And to pray to be like her.
The line in the poem that became my unexpected favorite in the last two years is found in verse 16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”
Perhaps she never more beautifully reflected the image of her Creator than when she put her hands to the soil. One of the earliest facts we learn about God is that He is a Planter. A Gardener.
I’m rarely bothered by the reminder that work preceded the fall of humanity in the Garden. Work was not part of the Curse (found in Genesis 3). It was the call of God to come, take part with Him and contribute to His world. He fashioned us with a need to contribute. In fact, I believe it’s quite possible we can live with pain more easily than purposelessness. I think most of us yearn to be part of something important. Something enormous.
And we are.
We who call Jesus Lord are part of the Kingdom of God, called to contribute to the only thing that will outlast time.
But more often than not, it takes time to do what outlasts time. So slow it down a little bit. Take some time. Go deep, not just fast. He’s the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Sprint. Pay attention to the process. Fast fruit is never ripe.
We’re being infected with impatience in our culture. Before a word hits our tongue, we’ve published it on social media. Before the second song in a worship service, we’re checking our phones. We want our online orders overnighted, or at least I do. We want to be grown — without ever growing.
But that’s not God’s way.
He planted the Garden of Eden. He didn’t just landscape it, sliding potted plants off the back of a flatbed truck into pre-fertilized soil from huge plastic bags.
Yes, Proverbs 31:16 has become one of my favorites, especially on a recent project, because I’m reminded that fruit-bearing takes time.
The research, writing, rewriting and fine-tuning process feels like the tilling, planting, grafting, watering, pruning, inspecting and harvesting of a vineyard. I told myself things like, You can’t rush fine fruit. Don’t try to harvest when you ought to be pruning. Take your time. Appreciate the process. This perspective helped immensely.
And this is true of virtually any God-ordained work. It’s His way. In due season, He says you will reap if you do not give up (Galatians 6:9). So what if everybody speeds past you? Let them. If they don’t slow down, all they will have is a harvest of seeds and sprouts. No stalks.
“With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Whatever work you’re cultivating, that’s a vineyard you’re growing, beloved sister. God intends it to be gorgeous. Take your time, and the fruit will be sweet … and lasting.
Refresh Your Soul with Humility
By: Jon Bloom, desiringgod.com
What God Gives the Humble
What the proverb is doing is turning the diamond of a profound truth in the light of God’s wisdom so that we see a different refraction of that light. What is this profound truth? We learn more explicitly further down in the chapter: “toward the scorners [God] is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor” (Proverbs 3:34).
Proverbs 3:34 is one of the most quoted verses in the whole Bible. If you don’t recognize it, that’s probably because you are simply more familiar with the Greek translation of the verse (from the Septuagint), which both the apostles James and Peter famously quote: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
“Cultivating humility before God is among the healthiest things we can do for our souls.”
That is the truth-diamond the writer holds up in this chapter: God gives grace, his favor, to the humble. When he turns it one way, the light of God’s wisdom refracts verses 5–6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . and he will make straight your paths”). When he turns it another way, it refracts verses 7–8 (“Be not wise in your own eyes . . . [it will be] refreshment to your bones”). Guidance in life and soul-restoration are both graces God gives to the humble.
But since we are so familiar with verses 5–6, let’s linger over the refraction of God’s wisdom we see in verses 7–8 and the grace promised us if we heed it.
You Aren’t as Wise as You Assume
First, look at the command: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
To be told, “be not wise in your own eyes,” has a different effect on us than “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” It immediately heightens our awareness of and confronts the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), the pride we all have as part of our sinful natures. This is the pride that assumes we can adequately understand the knowledge of good and evil, and judge rightly between the two. It is a perilous assumption.
The proverbial author knows how seductively deceptive this pride is and warns us against its folly throughout the chapter. What’s so seductively deceptive is how easily choosing evil can appear wise to us because of the benefits it seems to provide those who do. When we read his examples of evil behavior (Proverbs 3:28–34), we might be tempted to think we’re above such behavior. But the fact is, we notoriously underestimate how confusing things can appear in the pressure of real-life situations, when we are afraid or angry or suffering or threatened.
This command is a great mercy for the complex and difficult situations and decisions we all face. There are times when we need the soul-jolting, in-our-face, direct warning not to trust our own wisdom and to turn away from evil more than to be merely told to trust in God. We need to be reminded how untrustworthy our own wisdom is.
Humility’s Restoring Power
Lastly, look at the powerful promise to those who aren’t wise in their own eyes, but fear God and turn away from evil:
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:8)
Note the words the writer chooses here: “healing” and “refreshment.” These are restorative terms. Why does he use them?
Because this experienced father knows the violence done to the soul by the doing of evil and the temptation to evil. He knows that “a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). He knows what David meant when he wrote, “When I kept silent [about my sin], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). He knows how evil violates the conscience and creates terrible conflict with God and man. And he wants his son and all of his readers to experience peace (Proverbs 3:2), or to return to peace if he’s strayed into evil.
And the path to deep, refreshing peace from God is living humbly before God.
The apostle Peter was thinking of the truth-diamond in Proverbs 3 when he wrote,
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7)
“Guidance in life and soul-restoration are both graces God gives to the humble.”
God gives grace to the humble. To those who humbly trust him with all their heart, he gives the grace of guidance. To those who humbly refuse to be wise in their own eyes, he gives the grace of refreshing peace. To those who humble themselves under his hand, he will give the grace of exaltation. And to those who humbly cast their cares on him, he gives the grace of carrying their cares.
It is good for us to be as familiar with verses 7–8 of Proverbs 3 as we are with verses 5–6. There are times we must remember to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and there are other times we must remember to not be wise in our own eyes. They are similar, related, complementary, yet different refractions of God’s wisdom. And both remind us that cultivating humility before God is among the healthiest things we can do for our souls.
Streams in the Desert – January 30
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
I will be as the dew unto Israel (Hosea 14:5).
The dew is a source of freshness. It is nature’s provision for renewing the face of the earth. It falls at night, and without it the vegetation would die. It is this great value of the dew which is so often recognized in the Scriptures. It is used as the symbol of spiritual refreshing. Just as nature is bathed in dew, so the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same thought of spiritual refreshing is connected with the ministry of the Holy Ghost–“renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result they lack freshness and vigor. Their spirits are drooping for lack of dew.
Beloved fellow-worker, you recognize the folly of a laboring man attempting to do his day’s work without eating. Do you recognize the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna? Nor will it suffice to have spiritual nourishment occasionally. Every day you must receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost. You know when your whole being is pulsating with the vigor and freshness of Divine life and when you feel jaded and worn. Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master’s presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence; then go forth to your next duty with the conscious freshness and vigor of Christ.
Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest–absolute rest, so to speak–before it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and fully reached.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!