Monday, 04 May 2020
Son, listen to your father’s instruction, as he listened to his. Take hold of it with all your might, mind and will, and you will live.
Get wisdom at any cost and do not forsake it; she will protect you
Wisdom will never let you down, she will not dishonour you.
Receive and take firm hold of wisdom’s lessons so your steps will be true always.
Keep your heart away from the path of evildoers.
Avoid the way of the wicked because their end will be destruction.
Follow the life-giving words of my plea, . . .
. . . decide to give your heart to God, guard it . . .
. . . beware the words of your lips . . .
. . . and stay firmly focussed on the path of righteousness.
Last month when looking at Proverbs 4, the emphasis was on verse 23, which is arguably one of the key verses in the whole of Proverbs.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)
I would like to share a thought on verse 23 and the next verse, verse 24.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (NIV)
24 Remove from yourself deceitful speech,
and abolish devious talk from yourself. (LEB)
Do you think there is a reason why verse 24 comes after verse 23 in the way it does?
The Lexham English Translation is interesting and eye-opening. For ‘deceitful speech’ the literal phrase is “crookedness of mouth” and for ‘devious talk’ it is “deviousness of lips”. I wonder whether the fact that this verse with a stern warning comes right after the verse regarding one’s heart is significant. The exhortation in verse 23 is to guard one’s heart.
What does this mean?
To digress briefly, the original language Proverbs was written in was Hebrew. And the word heart in Hebrew context is very different from how it is used in English. In Hebrew, the heart consists of the seat of thinking (cognition), the affective element (feeling) and choosing (volition). The heart is the mind, the emotions, and the will. In the Bible when a person lacks insight or judgment, he is said to lack heart. The heart, in other words, thinks and feels. But the heart also plans, makes decisions, and renders judgment. In the Bible and in Proverbs, anxiety, bitterness, peace, good cheer, the attraction of a beautiful woman, envy, love, hatred and so on are all motions or states of the heart. In other words, the heart is one’s innermost self. [Adapted from “The Place of the Heart in Godly Living by Rev Dr Robert S Rayburn”]
So, verse 23 reads:
With all vigilance, keep your heart,
for from it comes the source of life. (LEB)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)
There is almost a caution here, as it were, that if one does not keep one’s heart, does not guard one’s heart, that is, one’s whole inner being, out of it will spring the issues of life. We need to guard the things we look at with our wandering eyes, the things we read which appeal to our desires, the words and songs we allow ourselves to listen to, which may draw our worship away from the Lord Jesus. And, of course, the company we keep, as has been repeatedly stressed in Proverbs.
If we are not careful, most imperceptibly, ever so subtly, when one’s guard is down, one does not even know that values have changed in one’s innermost core, one’s heart.
A friend shared this story:
You are holding a cup of coffee when someone clumsily comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Strong words come from your lips and reactions follow.
Someone who did not see the incident asks “Why did you spill the coffee everywhere? Why the reaction?”
“Because someone bumped into me!!!”
You spilt coffee because there was coffee in your cup. The other thing you spilt was also because you had 😠 in you.
Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. Had there been ❤️ in you, you would also have spilled ❤️, not 😠.
Whatever is inside (whatever!) of your cup, of you, is what will spill out. Sometimes very loudly.
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.
So, we need to ask ourselves… “What’s really in my cup, my heart?”
Joy, gratitude, peace and contentedness? OR
Anger, bitterness, impatience, harsh words?
Today, let us work towards filling our cups, our hearts with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others. Let us re-affirm the Lord’s great commandment: 37 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39. (NIV)
May we revive our hearts afresh if the MCO and the swirling rumours regarding Covid 19 have taken away from us the joy of our salvation and replaced it with some anxiety. Let us rekindle our love for reading God’s Word daily and spend time in prayer for our loved ones, unsaved friends, the church and the nations where the pandemic is still raging.
On a personal level, let us reconcile with one another if you know there is someone with anything against you, or there be any unforgiveness between parent and child, husband and wife, brother and brother and brother and sister. – Matthew 5: 23-24
And let us forgive our brother or sister who may have wronged or sinned against us – Matthew 18: 21-22.
If you think you have grown cold and indifferent, seek God, ask God for forgiveness and restore to you your first love. Take steps. Seek counsel; we always have a listening ear.
Do not let the opportunity accorded by these special circumstances pass.
Prayer for Today
Our gracious Heavenly Father, once again, thank you for the dawn of a new week. This week will be so different for so many of our brothers and sisters, and indeed for the whole nation after 47 days of the Movement Control Order.
Bless those brothers and sisters and loved ones who will be returning to work. Lord, we cannot be under the mistaken notion that the virus has been defeated. It is still very much out there, still very active. So we pray for caution and that absolutely no risks will be taken which might result in infection.
Protect those brothers and sisters and loved ones daily as they go back to work. Bless the labours of their hands because there is much to catch up on, many business associates to re-connect with. May you give them success.
We thank you that during these past almost 7 weeks, we have had to opportunity to draw closer to our family members at home. Thank you for the many meals we had together and times of sharing which have been meaningful. Help us cherish, appreciate and be grateful to each other more and more. Going forward, we pray we will make time for each other as we embrace the new normal with its unpredictable demands.
Thank you Lord that you created us with the individual capacity to decide, to feel and to assess using our hearts. Thank you for combining this capacity so wonderfully in us that we can make choices. We pray always that we will discern your best choice for us and that we will make that right choice. Help us in this Lord, for we are weak, and prone to go our own way and make choices with bad consequences.
Once again, we commit this week to you, our Father.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Ps Cheng Cheung
The Lexham English Translation很有趣也令人大开眼界。 对于’欺诈的口’，字面意思是”口的歪曲”，而对于’乖谬的嘴唇’，字面意思是 ‘嘴唇的狡猾’。紧接着关于人心的经文就是这句带有严厉警告的第二十四节。我在想，这是否有什么特殊意义？ 第二十三节的劝诫是要谨守自己的心。
来谈个题外话：箴言的原文是希伯来语。 希伯来语的 “心” 与英语的使用方式非常不同。 在希伯来语中，心由思维（认知），情感元素（感觉）和选择（意志）组成。 心是头脑、情感和意志。 在圣经中，当一个人缺乏洞察力或判断力时，那他就是‘缺乏心’。 心，换句话说，就是思考和感受。 但心也计划，做决定，并判断。 在圣经及箴言中，焦虑，痛苦，平安，欢呼快乐，美丽妇人的吸引力，嫉妒，爱，仇恨等等都是心的动态或状态。 换句话说，心是一个人的内心。（ 改编自The Place of the Heart in Godly Living by Rev Dr Robert S Rayburn）
这里几乎显着警告：如果一个人不谨守他的心，也就是说，一个人若不谨守整个内心，那生活的问题就由此而出。 我们需要注意到处漫游的双眼，那些吸引我们目光的读物，那些我们允许自己听的话语和歌曲，这一切都有可能使我们远离敬拜主耶稣。 当然，箴言也不断强调益友与损友之分。
喜乐、感恩、平安和满足？ 或 愤怒、痛苦、急躁、苛刻的话？
今天，让我们努力地以感激、宽恕、喜乐、肯定的话、恩慈、温柔和爱，填补我们的杯子。 让我们重申主最大的诫命：“你要全心、全性、全意爱主你的 神。这是最重要的第一条诫命。第二条也和它相似，就是要爱人如己。”（马太福音22:37-39）
赐福那些将要重返工作岗位的弟兄姐妹和亲人。 主，我们不能错误地认为病毒已经被击败了。 它仍然存在，仍然非常活跃。 因此，我们要谨慎祷告，绝对不会冒任何可能导致感染的风险。
每天保护那些回去工作的弟兄姐妹和亲人。 祝福他们手所做的，因为有很多事物要赶上，需要重新联系许多业务伙伴。 愿你让他们成功。
我们感谢你，在过去的七周，我们在家里有机会更加亲近我们的家庭成员。 感谢你，我们共享很多餐饭以及有时间有意义地彼此分享。 帮助我们越来越珍惜、欣赏和感激彼此。 展望未来，我们祷告在面对这新常态有其不可预测的需求，我们会抽时间在一起。
感谢主，你创造我们有个人的能力，用心来做决定，感受和评估。 感谢你将这种能力如此奇妙地结合在我们身上，使我们可以做出选择。 我们祷告我们常常能辨别你给我们的最佳选择，并且我们能做出那正确的选择。 求你在这方面帮助我们，因为我们软弱，容易走我们自己的路，做出不良后果的选择。