My kids from early on will let me know that they believe they are old enough to do it themselves. I have written about the “my do it” attitude before. Lately, my daughter (7 months) has been pulling herself up on things and letting go. She seems to think that she is able to walk already. Of course, what she thinks is reality is restrained by the truth of her lack of physical strength. This is actually a positive thing, both for her and for us.
The truth has a way of reminding us of what actually is, versus what we think actually is. I know for teenagers, the moment they get their license they think that they are free. Then they are hit with the truth; cars cost money and don’t start sometimes. That’s the truth.
When it comes to God, we experience freedom that is also restrained by truth. This truth is what affects all the different areas of our lives. Everyday we use restraints in positive ways. We use a seatbelts, put pets on leashes, fences around yards and locks on doors. All of these things restrain something, either us or others. In all instances, restraint is a positive thing, something that keeps us safe..
Truth is in short supply today. Instead of really asking the question, “what does God desire?” people will just go with what is popular or they like the best. True is true, no matter what is going on.
Truth Restrains Our Activity
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” – Proverbs 23:4
Notice that there is a struggle with getting rich. People work themselves ragged trying to make a lot of money. So often people who pursue wealth run themselves non stop in order to make more and more and more. There is no end in sight to it.
But, it says to show restraint, limit how you behave because riches are gone in an instant. Riches do not last.
Whatever it is, your activity needs to have the truth applied to it, in order for there to be some restraint on things for your good and God’s honor. The Bible does speak to more things than just money, even in this chapter of Proverbs. The important part is to know the truth so that our activities are restrained. This is a positive thing because it honors God and protects us against the traps of the devil.
Truth Restrains Our Input
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23: 12
No body enjoys discipline, but discipline is important for our success in life and also for our own good. This is something I teach my children. It is important to know where the boundaries are and why we tell them not to do certain things. The other night my oldest son got mad at me for something, grabbed the hook on the wall and it broke off. The hook cuts his finger. He felt bad about it, but I didn’t have to make a big deal about it because he had learned a lesson. Listening to the input of wisdom is helpful to the safety of our lives.
It is also dangerous to listen to the wrong people. Popular cultural icons are not really looking to help you, they are looking to make money. Music instructs people and steers thoughts. There needs to be a filter there also so that, as it says, your heart is applied to instruction. But, not just any instruction, the right instruction, the truth. Whose input into your life do you actually care to listen to?
Truth Restrains Our Desires
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23: 17-18
You could take the path of the fool, which looks like fun but leads to death, or you could take the path of wisdom (God’s way) and look like a fool to the world, but in the end it leads to life.
I know in my home my kids will sometimes desire things that their brothers have. It is then that I get the question about why they are able to have that thing when things are supposed to be fair. Well, the same question is sometimes applied to our life as a believer. Why do they get away with all of that sin? Why should I even bother to live a godly life when they aren’t and they seem to be alright.
Envy is more than jealousy. If you envy someone, you are on a far more destructive path in that it embitters a relationship with someone and you are in pain that this person has something you don’t have. But, see, we are told not to envy, instead to be zealous for the fear of the Lord. In other words, our focus should not be on what others are doing, but rather on how you are living your life in response to God. Let God take care of them, you just make sure you are honoring God with your life the best you can.
Why? It says here that you have hope. Those who don’t follow Jesus, might be having a great time now, but their great time is only temporary. Yours, as a follower of Christ, lasts forever.
So, of course you will not have it easy now. But the day is coming when all will be set straight. The truth reminds us of that and restrains us from doing sinful things that take away from that and take us away from the blessing of God.
This all boils down to three areas of reflection for each of us. All of this is about letting the truth of God’s Word limit us, not because God wants to ruin anyone’s fun, but because God wants to protect us from all the destruction of sin. It is a blessing to be restrained by truth!
1) Activity — Hands — What is on your hands? Does it honor God?
2) Input — Eyes, ears — What are your ears and eyes receiving? Is it truth or is it lies?
3) Desire — thoughts — What do you dwell on? Is it envy, bitterness, hatred, revenge or love joy, self-control and obedience to God?
** Please feel free to share your thoughts about this below