Tag Archives: Proverbs

Wednesday Wisdom – Proverbs 20:5 Plumbing the Depths of the Heart

Proverbs 20:5 “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

It had been a hard few years of marriage. John and his wife hadn’t had a peaceful week as long as they could remember. Each day brought new struggles. Their intimacy was marked by frustration. Their conversations were always volatile.

As Philip drove the car and listened to John speak in general terms about the frustration he felt, Philip finally said “I bet that’s really hard man. Does it make you doubt that God loves you when that happens?” John paused for a moment and said, “I think so.” Philip proceeded to ask questions and for the first time in a long time, John opened up and began to speak and weep deeply. It was as if Philip had uncovered a spring in John’s heart that had been long sealed up.

Our hearts are deep chambers. God made us that way. We were created to love and hope deeply. Sin has, however, wounded us. Our hearts tend to become calloused and deadened over time. We try not to feel as much because it hurts. We’re honest less because we’re not sure anyone really cares how we feel any way. So we hide it all away in the depths of our hearts. Very often we don’t even know what’s stored away in there.

Our proverb instructs us of the importance of being around people of understanding. We need people who are filled with God’s Spirit who are able to draw out from us the deep waters of our soul. At the same time, it seems right that we ought strive to be these kind of people. We should pray that God will fill our churches with people who love one another enough to draw out the depths of one another’s hearts.

We need to have and be people who will draw out sin from the heart. We are liars by nature who hate for our sin to be exposed. We must not allow surface convos to suffice. Have people around you who ask hard and probing questions. Allow them to walk around in your soul and open up the draws of your heart. At the same time, seek to be the kind of person who loves others enough to dig into their hearts. Of course you need their permission, but ask deep questions and leave no sin buried away.

We also need to have and be people who draw out fears from the heart. Fear is the kryptonite to faith. To grow in devotion to Christ, we must have people who help expose the areas of fear in our lives. We need help getting behind our protective shells of hypocrisy and to honestly deal with what keeps us from trusting God. We should at the same time ask God to help us serve others in this way. Ask Him to give you wisdom, insight and understanding into the lives of others.

Our hearts are deceitfully wicked above all things (Jer. 17:7), so there is no telling what things might come up when we begin to plumb the depths of our hearts and the hearts of others. We should however love one another enough to pray for God to use us in each other’s lives to draw out what is in our hearts. And as we do this, we do it with great hope because we know that no matter what sins or fears are exposed, the love and the grace of God can cleanse them all and replace them with the promised fountain of Christ, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 14:4)

May we have in our lives people of understanding and may God make us those kind of people as well.

Wednesday Wisdom – Stop Your Dream’n Start Your Do’n – Proverbs 13:4

Wisdom Wednesday – Stop Your Dream’n Start Your Do’n

 Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Each year there’s a top draft pick in the NFL who “has all the talent in the world, but lacks commitment to put in the work.” Because of this, they underachieve and end up failing to stick in the league. They came in with great dreams of hoisting championship trophies and having their bust placed in the Hall of Fame. But those dreams will not come to pass – not necessarily because they weren’t good enough, but because they had a flaw that cripples even the most gifted of athletes. They are what the Bible calls “sluggards.”

A “sluggard” is someone who isn’t willing to put hard work and extra hours into the task laid before them. The sluggard has a dream but he lacks planning, initiation, persevering and the discipline to act upon his desires. You can desire a high school diploma, but if you won’t go to class, won’t crack a book, won’t study – then you won’t graduate. Achievement requires effort.

A “diligent” person is someone who is willing to put in the effort. They come early, stay late and work hard while they’re there. They make goals, make plans and carry them out. They are willing to endure setbacks and overcome opposition. They believe that the desire they have is worth the blood, sweat, and tears it requires to achieve it.

The difference between the sluggard and the diligent is not the desire. Both people have a desire. The difference is acting on that desire. As a friend once told me, “all men have great ideas in the shower, but the great men are the ones who get out of the shower and act on them.”

This difference between the sluggard and the diligent is seen in every area of life, including our walks with the Lord. Being used of the Lord is something that begins with grace, is carried through by grace, and will be completed by grace. This is true. But the fact that God supplies abundant grace doesn’t mean that we lack responsibility to engage and be diligent in the work He has called us to do.

As an old pastor friends used to say, we must not “lean on a shovel and pray for a hole.” God has given us tasks to do. He gives us desires to do it. He gives us energy and strength to carry it out.  But for us to be lazy and expect things to “just happen” is the mark of a fool.

Certainly God helps those who can’t help themselves. This is the heart of grace. This proverb isn’t talking about earning our way to heaven or working in our own strength. This is drawing our attention to the fact that we need to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7) and engage boldly trusting that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

The sluggard craves the fruit of diligence without the diligence that gains it. Having a heart that is lazy toward the Lord and the great task He has laid before us is eternally more concerning than an athlete who won’t do extra wind sprints. As Charles Bridges said, “the halting step will not bring us to God. To expect the blessing without diligence is delusion.”

Are you diligent in seeking God? Do you desire to be near to Him and be used greatly by Him? Those are good desires, but desire without diligence is not promising. The diligent are richly supplied, not the sluggard. We must read. We must study. We must pray. We must engage with other people about spiritual realities.

Here’s an insightful quote from D.A. Carson on this subject, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

May we be a people who are marked by grace and diligence. May the Lord richly supply us with more of Him and more opportunities to make His Name known.

Wisdom Wednesday – Don’t Cash in Your Character – Proverbs 28:6

Proverbs 28:6 “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”

Yesterday I had coffee with a dear brother who’s facing serious financial strain. As we talked he confessed that he’s considering doing a business deal that is, let’s say, less than honest. He knows that financially, it would turn a better profit and make life much easier.

As the conversation went on however, I could tell he knew it was wrong. I could also tell he felt trapped. He felt that if he would compromise just this time that he’d be able to do so much more for his family, and so much more for the Lord.

He even said, “if I do this, I could give a full 10% to the Lord, wouldn’t He want that?” I listened patiently and then gave him a simple challenge: don’t cash in your character. Nothing is worth more than your character.

We all face the temptation to compromise in order to get ahead. If we just tell a little lie, we can get out of big trouble. If we neglect a few details, our plan can pass through undetected. If we stop playing by the rules for just a season, we finally get over that hump. If we do a little wizardry with our accountant, we can line our pockets with a few needed pennies.

These temptations are not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t unimposing. The path of compromise always promises to be a joyful ride, but it never is. We would do well to remember that it is always better to be poor and walk with integrity than to be rich and walk a crooked path. Nothing is more valuable than the integrity of our name.

Why is this so? Proverbs 28:6 simply says it’s “better.” I’d like to propose 3 reasons why it’s better.

  1. 1.       Integrity is better than wicked wealth because we can enjoy what we do have more.

Living a lie is a hard thing to do. Knowing that you live in a house built with stolen money will haunt your conscience. Eating delicious meals at the cost of someone you’ve swindled will eventually make you sick. It’s an empty pursuit trying to enjoy awards you know you cheated to get. Sure there are temporary comforts that can be gained through compromise, but they will ultimately prove to be empty.

To be able to look at yourself in the mirror and have no regrets is a priceless possession. It is better to be poor and walk with your integrity than to be rich and walk in the crooked way.

  1. 2.       Integrity is better than wicked wealth because we rightly represent Christ.

By walking in integrity, we rightly reflect Jesus to those around us. If we are Christians, we are walking billboards that tell about Christ. We proclaim what Jesus is like with every word we say, and every business deal we make. We must be very careful to not take the Lord’s name in vain by spreading lies about Him for a few pennies. Judas made this mistake, we should avoid his example at all costs.

To rightly represent Christ is a high honor that is worth more than any amount of money. It is better to be poor and represent Christ well than to be deceitfully rich and dishonor His glorious Name.

  1. 3.       Integrity is better than wicked wealth because we will answer to God for how we live.

As I told my friend, he can’t do the shady business deal because one day He will have to stand before the Lord and give an account for everything he has done. I explained to him that the Lord would rather receive an offering of a penny from clean hands and a pure heart than a full 100% from hands coated with compromise. I told him that no matter how much comfort he gained by selling his character, he would sorely regret when he stood before the glorious God of heaven.

Jesus calls us to follow Him on the narrow road that leads to life. Each step on that path will be tested by calls to compromise. We must daily consider the last day and as J.C. Ryle once said, “Live as if you thought that Christ might come at any time.”

To stand before God on that last day with fewer regrets will be a treasure that will be incalculable. It is better to be poor and stand pure before God than to be rich and shutter with shame.


The good news of the Gospel is that Christ lived the perfect life that we crooked path walkers have not. We have all compromised, we have all cashed in our character. The good news is that Christ has perfect integrity, and that He laid down His life in the place of all those who would repent and believe in Him. If you have cashed in your character and become corrupted by compromise, cry out to Jesus and he will forgive you and clothe you with His perfect character.

Wisdom Wednesday – Proverbs 21:1 – Who’s Really in Control?

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

Who really has power in the world? At first glance, it appears that those who are elected into office or who inherit great places of authority. God’s Word tells us a different story. Our text says that a king’s heart is but a tool in the Lord’s hands.

That means that God can change men’s minds, any time He wills. The man of power can be very opposed to something one minute and have quite a different opinion in another minute. God can do that. God can open men’s eyes and help them to see the end of their way and give them grace to make a change in direction. This is no difficult task. It is like a child playing with bath water. God is able to redirect any man’s steps.

Do not be tricked into thinking that because a man is known for something or seems unlikely to ever change his position on a particular issue that things will always be that way. If we doubt that a man can change, then we are likely doubting the Lord who is mightier than any man’s ways.

When we look to those who hold authority, let us never forget who gives it and who takes it away. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will have the final word.

Wisdom Wednesday – Listen Before You Lecture (Proverbs 18:2)

Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Do you hear what others have to say before you give your opinion?

Do you only pause in a conversation to plan what you’ll say next?

Would you say you’re a good listener?

If not, you may be a fool.

Simply put, a fool is someone who’s is characterized by not being teachable. Whether it’s out of ignorance or deliberate decisions, they resist listening and learning from others. Ultimately, it’s because they think they know what’s best.

Are you foolish when it comes to listening?

Take a moment to reflect on the two areas this shows up most.

Our relationship with others

Do you listen well to other people?

I have a friend named Zach Schlegel who’s a wonderful listener. He’s a humble brother who loves other people and it shows by the way he regularly asks questions and listens to people’s responses. When I get done spending time with Zach, I feel refreshed because I know he’s listened to me and actually cares about what I’m saying. That quality makes someone a good friend and a good spouse.

Are you a good listener?

This morning I met with a brother and during our conversation I found myself interrupting him. I must have done it 3 or 4 times. I wasn’t listening well, but rather I was processing my thoughts and looking for an opportunity to spit them out. I was acting foolish.

Listening well to others is always important, particularly in conflict. A regular exercise we use in marriage counseling is for me to ask a wife to summarize what she sees as an area of struggle in their marriage. When she’s done, I ask her husband to summarize what she has just said. Very often he’ll give it a go and then I’ll ask his wife if he was understanding her. Most guys fail the first few times…because they aren’t listening.

Do you take pleasure in understanding?

If not, you might be a fool.

Our relationship with God.

Do you listen to God?

How do you begin your day?

Is it in a humble posture of coming to the Lord and asking Him to speak to you through His word and through prayer?

Do you meet with God before you meet with other people?

One of my mentors, Tommy Nelson, used to say that “if you don’t pray or read your Bible it’s because you have more confidence in your ability to run your life than you do in God’s ability to run your life.”

Do you listen regularly to God?

Or do you try to make it through life on distant conversations you’ve had with Him in the past?

Is His Word fresh on your heart each day?

If not, you might be a fool.

Do you ever get away?

Just you and Jesus?

Is the only quiet you ever have when you lock yourself in the bathroom?

The devil’s greatest tool is distraction. He wants our minds cluttered and lives busy with things to do, things to say, and things to keep your attention.

When was the last time you really stepped away for more than 30 minutes into a place where it was just you and God and His Word?

No people. No phone. No texts. No Tweets. No Facebook. No email. No TV. No radio.

Just you and God, alone – with ears and heart attentive.

Do you take pleasure in understanding what He has to say to you?

If not, you might be a fool.

Let’s not be foolish. Listen to others, listen to God. You’ll increase the likeliness that you’ll have something good to say.