Monday, November 23, 2009

Proverbs, chapter 27

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth. – Proverbs 27:1

Should we think about the future? It is always wise to plan ahead. God wants us to plan ahead, but He also wants us to be mindful that each and every day is a gift. We cannot get so caught up in future events that we forget about today. I know there is nothing more disappointing than the feeling of going to bed at night knowing that the day felt wasted. It is a frustrating experience, especially when I am working some job that seems like a waste of my time. All we can do is trust God in these situations that our efforts that day were not in vain.

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth. – Proverbs 27:17

It is hard to do something by ourselves. As much as I want to be put out on an island sometimes because of the way some people act, this proverb strikes true in my heart. We need other people around us to challenge us. This helps us to achieve personal and spiritual growth. This is how ideas get generated. This is how we gain knowledge. It is even how we spread God’s Word, which is our primary reason for being!

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man is tested by the praise he receives. – Proverbs 27:21

This is a major test of our character when we receive praise. If we respond to praise with a boastful attitude it can be counterproductive. I am reminded of a time in college when I was playing a game of pickup basketball. This one player on the court was openly mocking my abilities. He said I couldn’t shoot, couldn’t score. After enough of this I finally pulled the trigger and hit a long 3-pointer. I started talking loudly going back down the floor about how bad of a player I was. On my team’s next possession he said I couldn’t do it again, so I hit another three. As the game went on he kept talking, but I had the best stretch of basketball I ever played, hitting shot after shot, getting a few steals, dishing out a few assists, until finally hit the game winner. After each basket I got louder and louder in my responses to his challenges, much to the delight of my teammates.

After the game, this player came over and actually congratulated me on my game. That usually doesn’t happen in a pickup game, but he came over and singled me out, saying I was a heck of a player. In that moment I could have continued to be boastful, rubbing it in that I stood up and dominated against his challenge. In reality, I knew it was a lucky streak, as I am not normally that good of a player. I thank him for his praise and said he was a great player too, but I just got hot.

Sometimes life teaches us a great lesson in how we can handle the praise before us. I could have gotten too big of a head there and it wouldn’t have been good in the long run. If I started taking every shot eventually I would have started missing, then my teammates would have gotten upset. Instead, I stayed within myself, as God wants us to do, and didn’t overstep my abilities.

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