As Marcia mentioned in yesterday’s devotion, many of us were at Midwest Family Camp last week, where the theme was “Stand Firm”. In a nutshell, if we don’t have a relationship with the Lord, it is critical that we repent and come into a relationship with Him. If we already have a relationship with the Lord, we need to strengthen that relationship, and stand firm in the faith – no matter what.
In today’s reading in Proverbs 28, there are a few verses that jumped out at me which reinforced that message. The first is found in Proverbs 28: 9, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.” This proverb tells us that if we’re not doing everything to live the life God called us to live, if we’re not following his rules, then He won’t listen to our prayers. Since many of our prayers are about asking for God’s help with various things, if we selfishly want Him to answer our prayers, then we need to obey His rules, and live for Him. As we grow in relationship with Him, we come to long for an even deeper relationship with the Lord. Then we learn that prayer is powerful, and we don’t waste it just asking for superfluous things.
Proverbs 28:13 goes on to say, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” This is saying if we pretend to be Christians, we won’t prosper (you can’t fool God). But if we confess and renounce our sins, and turn completely to God, we will receive God’s mercy. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have His mercy than to have Him holding me back from prospering.
As we continue to read through this chapter, we get to verse 20, which says, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” I’ll take a detour here and comment on the health and wealth teachings we often hear from people who don’t know better. The theory goes sort of like this… “if someone follows God, God will bless every aspect of their life. They will be rich, healthy, and blessed.” Many people who call themselves Christians subscribe to this false belief. Jesus told us in John 16:33, “…In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” We have to remember this life isn’t our reward. This life is the test to see what reward we will receive when Jesus returns. If we are faithful to the Lord now, we will enjoy peace with God now, and eternal life when Jesus returns. If we are just trying to get rich, we are actually worshiping money, not God — our reward is in this life, and we will forfeit eternal life.
1 Tim 6:9-11 says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and have pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”
Instead of trying to get rich, we need to follow the advice given in Proverbs 28:27, “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” Again, I think the idea is that if I’m greedy, wanting to keep all my money for myself, I’m not trying to please God, I’m just greedy for money, and God will curse me for not following Him. But if I’m generous with the things God has given me by giving them to the poor — this mimics God’s generosity to me. When I am imitating God, God loves that. In fact we’re commanded in Ephesians 5:1, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”
So the bottom line is this. We need to do everything we can to reconcile ourselves to God. We need to confess and renounce our sins, obey His laws, be faithful, and be generous. All these things are required to live in close relationship with God. And if we live in a close relationship with God, we will have peace with God in this life, and an amazing reward in the life to come. In Rev 21:4, we’re told, “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” Rev 21:7 goes on to say, “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
How well are you imitating Dad?