By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
One after another, chatty teens spread out over the sticky vinyl cushions. Roller coasters clanked and screams whirred through the wind as we turned the key and threw the lines onto the dock. Hooking the tow-line to the tube, my husband’s face suddenly became distressed.
The previous day, we had taken a long cruise, farther then we’d ventured in our current boat, and rolled in at sunset across a calm great lake. Wondering if we’d run out of gas, suddenly my husband yelled,
“I can’t steer!”
His voice launched us into action, grabbing for the dock before we slipped out into the channel of the marina. Somehow, I willed my arm to grip the last pole, and we were able to grab the lines. But, what a close call! My first thought was to thank God we weren’t drifting aimlessly with other people’s kids on board! And then, I flashed back to the long day on the lake …and marveled at the providential hand of God to get us home safely that night. We lost our steering at the dock! Praise Jesus.
Proverbs 18 serves as a steering wheel for our hearts. Verse 10 is encouraging and mild in comparison to the sharp turns it begs us to be aware of in our lives. Searching our hearts daily for sinful tendencies protects us from losing our way. God goes before us, faithful to alert us of coming obstacles and challenges, malfunctions and breakdowns. Sometimes we listen, sometimes life just happens in a fallen world and He is there to mourn with us.
When we seek Him with all of our hearts, even when the steering malfunctions, He makes sure we somehow grip the last beam of the dock before we slip aimlessly down the channel. If we seek Him with all of our hearts, He is there. Even when do lose our way, He waits, ready to receive us when we turn to Him.
There are many truths in Provers 18. Here are just five we can steer our lives with.
“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgement starts quarrels” (Proverbs 18:1).
We can all immediately recall someone who behaves this way in our lives. Unfortunately, difficult people often serve as a mirror to our own tendencies. The reason we recognize the behavior which bothers us means we have been guilty of it, ourselves. Maybe not to the same degree, but our disdain for their behavior is a dead-giveaway we’ve battled a thread of the same sin.
Friendliness is key to the Christ follower’s life. Christ was able to be firm in His beliefs and His purpose, but never unduly cruel to others. Unfriendliness often highlights our own insecurities and pain. Hurt people, hurt people. And we all know hurt, of some kind. We can meet each other with compassion in this life, knowing God places us in each other’s lives purposefully.
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2).
In this list of what not to do and how not to act, we can all relate to someone who interrupts and overpowers conversations. Personally, I get so excited to talk to other people I have to constantly discipline myself not to interrupt! The temptation to let our thoughts drift onto what we would like to say next or how to fix the problem being presented to us is strong!
A true friend, who listens without agenda, is a rare gem in this world. Each day, I pray my children will be and have Christ-centered, loyal, kind, and honest friends. Perhaps I should pray, too, that they would be good listeners. The root of loyalty, kindness, and honesty is to listen. Life within the love of Christ commands we follow Him, listening to and for His hand on our lives. Listening intently to the Lord helps us to know how loved we are.
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3. Words Are Powerful
“The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream” (Proverbs 18:3).
A Bible study leader once introduced a study asking the participants not to give advice, but to keep conversation focused on the truth of God’s Word. In a world full of opinions, it’s awfully hard as of late to decipher what is true. To sort through opinion versus truth, we rely on the only Truth we know is unshakeable – the Living Word of God. The ancient text inspired by God is rock solid truth relevant to every area of our modern life.
Scripture reminds us over and over how powerful the tongues is, and how big an impact our words make. As we guard our hearts from what we hear, we have God’s Word as a truth filter. When we are asked for advice, let us slow to let the Spirit help us remember the truth we have watered in our souls to share in love with others.
4. A Critical Spirit
“The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8).
Gossip, slander, and condemnation are not behaviors modeled to us by Christ Jesus. Yet, we often let our insecurities entertain and divulge in gossip, slander, and condemnation of others – and even ourselves. Each person on this earth has been beautifully and carefully created by the hand of God and given a purpose only they can walk out in this life. When we look at others, let us pray to see them through the filter of their, and our, Creator.
Our enemy aims to fill our filters with lies, and his goal is to kill, steal and destroy. But God created us to be relational. When we choose to gossip, or entertain it, Scripture says it goes down to the inmost parts. It has more of an effect on us than we visibly see and consciously understand. We can pray each day for God to search our hearts, and cleanse us from hidden sin. When we gossip, we can confess it immediately. We are called to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Gossip can be answered by a compliment towards the victim being talked about – a different perspective.
“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
When I first started to study Scripture, I prayed for humility. The small group Bible study I was a part of at the time snickered and laughed a bit. When I asked why, one answered,
“Oh, He’ll humble you, all right. And it hurts!”
She was absolutely right! Often, the things we lack humility in and towards don’t hit our radar. We think we’re doing alright, until God brings an ugliness to the surface we didn’t see before we asked Him to reveal it! Some lack of humility is obvious, but others are not. When we prayerfully practice humility, we trust God will be honored by our lives. He will provide and care for us as we learn to live out His will and purpose for our lives.
Related: Listen to Our FREE New Parenting Podcast! Christian Parent/Crazy World with Catherine Segars is now available on LifeAudio.com. You can listen to the first episode by clicking the play button below:
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Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.