Diligence. The word itself almost makes you tired, doesn’t it? But maybe that’s because we typically misunderstand the true meaning and value of diligence. (Hint: It’s not the same thing as being busy!) Proverbs helps us out. We’re offered wisdom for growing out of our sluggardliness and into an alert, enegertic, joyful engagement with God’s world.
Proverbs 6:6-11; 12:11; 13:4; 15:19; 19:23-24; 21:25-26; 26:13-14, 16 »
A true friend—a dependable, honest, self-sacrificial, burden-bearing, advice-giving, loyal, forgiving friend—is an incredible gift. Most of us realize this. But how do you make friends? Keep friends? BE a friend? These questions require wisdom. Good news, God gives us wisdom for friendship in the book of Proverbs.
We make make plans and set goals for the future all the time—whether casually or carefully, whether for tomorrow, this weekend, next year, or the rest of your life. How should we make these plans? Is planning contrary to living by faith? God gives us wisdom as we face the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Proverbs 11:3; 12:5, 15; 15:22; 16:1-4, 9, 25, 33; 21:5; 27:1
Our words matter. They have the power to give life; they have the power to kill. They create and cement—or deter and destroy—relationships. Which is why it’s good news that our words can improve and grow. What happens when wisdom starts to define and direct the who/what/when/where/why/how’s of our speech? The book of Proverbs tells us.
Proverbs 9:7-8; 10:18; 12:23; 15:1, 28; 17:9, 14, 27; 18:2, 8, 13, 20-21; 20:25; 24:26; 25:15, 20; 26:20, 24, 28; 27:5 »
How do we get wisdom? The book of Proverbs is a good place to start. Join us as we kick off this new study on the topic of practical wisdom for friendship, money, work, sexuality, decision-making, and more. But first, what is it? What does it mean to get “wiser”? After all, you can be “smart,” “rich,” “a good person” … and still be a fool.
Hit the pause button on your personal profit so you have something to provide for the poor. This is the message of the “gleaning laws” found in this passage. God has blessed us with “olives,” “grapes,” and “sheaves” of grain—that is, rich skills, abilities, resources, and experiences. And he calls us to offer them to the refugee, widow, and orphan. Which brings us to the important questions: What are your “grapes”?
It’s Sunday morning, 10:31am. The worship service has just begun. Two visitors come in the doors, almost at the same time. One of them is clearly wealthy, highly educated. You can just tell: it’s the way he’s dressed; it’s the way he speaks; it’s his body language; it’s the way he’s glued to his iPhone. The other man, on the other hand, is poor. He’s from humble circumstances. This, too, is pretty clear. For all their outward differences, they’ve got a few things in common: Both are local neighbors. Both are new to the church, possibly to the Christian faith. Both are experiencing the Grace Meridian Hill community for the first time. So, what do they experience? What they MAY experience, according to this passage, is what James describes as favoritism based on economic status.
When Jesus calls his followers to love each other across economic lines—the poor and rich in community together—he calls them to be more than servants. He calls them—calls us—to be friends. How does making friendship our matrix for ministry change the way we serve, give to, and care for our neighbors? Here’s a starting point: Hearing Jesus say to you, “I have called you friends.”
You know the saying, “You are what you eat.” James is tackling another version of the saying, one embedded deep in our hearts and lives: “You are what you’ve got.” Whether “rich” or “poor,” we build our identity on the material wealth we have or wish we had. The alternative? An identity built on something that lasts — one that looks beyond outward circumstances to the spiritual status we have through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
You get to the end of your life. Or to the end of human history. You’re standing before Jesus, along with the whole human race, on the threshold of eternal life (or condemnation). What do you think he wants to talk about? How you’ve cared for the poor, needy, and marginalized. Apparently, this matters to him. As a church community endeavoring to love our local neighbors, it should matter to us.