Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 25 July 2019

Encourage older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, love, and patient endurance.  Titus 2:2 (EHV).

Just the other night, I had a conversation with my uncle.  He’s 84 years old and in mixed health.  I’ll try to not puff him up too much since he reads this blog, but in my eyes, he’s the kind of man the Apostle Paul was describing in verse 2.   He’s temperate (of attitude and disposition), worthy of respect (because he’s worked hard to live an upright, Jesus-led life), he’s self-controlled (which is amazing considering the volcanic temper of his father:  another of my heroes), and sound in faith, love and endurance (all of which he has always modeled for those who know him and even those who don’t).

When I get to be 84 (IF I live to be 84), it’s my hope that someone will say those same things about me.   But I doubt it.   I’m not the man my uncle is, and that’s ok.   I’m my own man with my own experiences thanks to the life God has given me to live and the talents with which He’s blessed me.  Perhaps in my own way I’ve made a positive impression on other folks.   It’s my best hope that, if that has happened, they will turn around and do the same for someone else.   That’s how Jesus’ Kingdom grows.  It’s a lesson I have learned, in part, from my uncle.

But no matter what someone thinks of him, me, or anyone else, Paul’s standard is still solid gold.   We want our older men to be men we can look up to.   Both in the church and out of it, we want grandfathers and mentors who we can model, copy and honor.   It’s especially true in the church, where elders are supposed to be worthy of respect and the kind of people we want to be.   Especially the elder men.   But it matters in all walks of life.   Just ask my son, who has been taken under the mentoring wing of a rough cowboy boss who’s teaching him valuable work and life skills.   It’s a pleasure to see.

Perhaps that “patient” quality is the one that makes the most impression.   Patience is the culmination of those other five attitudes.   It’s the demeanor and behavior that both identifies experience and implements reason.   I think of the best leaders I’ve ever known, especially in churches, and, to a man, they’ve all been patient.   There’s a time and place for quick action, even impetuous action.   But in most things, patience is preferred.   Work well and work deliberately, then let’s let things unwind as they will; as God wills them.

I’m thinking both my uncle and my son’s mentor would agree.  And it would make Jesus happy.

For further reading:  1 Timothy 5:1, Titus 2:2

Lord Jesus, thank You for living out here through good men.   Help me to better model their behavior because I’m modeling You when I do that.

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Practical Proverbial, from Ruth, 31 March 2014

When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”  Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”   Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3, verses 16-18

“For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Have you considered that another way of saying this is “there’s no time like the present.”   In fact, that statement is true of every time, of every day because the only day we are guaranteed is today.   We’ve already lived through yesterday and tomorrow is not guaranteed.   But we are here and now, right now.   You and I live in the present, in today.  So does God.

Boaz understood this, and so did Naomi.   Ruth is learning it.  She’s learning it because her mother in law advised her that her prospective suitor lives in the present and won’t let the sun set on his task at hand.  Live in the present and be patient.

That’s good advice for us as well.  Boaz and Ruth are dancing a romantic dance, and they have signaled their mutual intent to marry.   They have spoken about obligation, honor, faith, commitment and tradition.  Now Ruth is being implored to be patient and trust God (by trusting Boaz).  When was the last time someone implored you to be patient knowing that a resolution was actually close at hand? 

Heck, I think my wife implores me every day to be patient about something.   She’s usually right, too.  And she’s usually right when the solution to whatever is vexing me is right around the corner.  Sometimes, in the throes of impatience, it’s difficult to keep calm and carry on.

We need to live proactively in today, to not count on tomorrow but, instead, take advantage of where God has us today.   Where He has each of us is exactly where He intends us to be.   He intends for us to use the gifts He gives us to the betterment of His kingdom, which in whatever way means the betterment of ourselves.   

And then He intends for us, asks us, desires for us to trust Him and be patient.  To do our best, then to do our best to let Him take the wheel.   To let things play out as they will. 

Lord, thank You for the challenges of today, for letting me live in today, and for modeling patience for me.

 

Read Ruth 3.

Do you struggle with being patient?

Do you struggle with letting God take control?

 

Daily Proverbial, from James, 12 September 2013

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  James 1, verses 19-20.

My project is experiencing delay.   We are one year out from implementation of changing codes and practices that have been in place for over forty years and we are experiencing yet more delay.   It’s true, there are valid business reasons for this; competing projects, unavailability of resources, limited funds, simple overwork, and corporate intransigence.  As a project manager, my client is paying me to advise them on how to avert crises, then make plans for how to still complete our tasks.   Some days that seems for naught because, when all’s said and done, we’re being delayed, and every delay increases risk, cost, and the likelihood of problems.

It makes me angry.

Now, it’s true that there are situations where it’s ok to become angry.  Dictionary.com defines anger as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.”   Fair enough.  Jesus understood anger.   He became angry at the moneychangers in the temple.   He strongly but angrily defeated Satan in the desert when the devil tempted Him.   He rebuked His close friend Peter when Peter displayed ignorance and pride.  Anger can be ok.   Within us, it’s a hard-wired psychological response to a physiological condition.   God calls us to tap into that condition on matters that offend Him.   When we’re confronted with actions, words, etc that are contrary to Jesus, He tells us that it’s ok to be angered by them so that constructive action for the betterment of the Kingdom may result.   Righteous anger should lead only to righteous following.

Yet James, inspired by his Brother, reminded us of the fine line between human anger and the righteous anger of challenged faith.  He reminds us that, even when being righteously angered, we should temper it.  Temper the anger with patience and wisdom instead of fueling it with impetuousness.  Looking and listening serve to inform and may just open our eyes to things God may be doing in the moment.  If there is a need for our anger, that need will only be correctly focused if it is better informed by Him. 

Those are good lessons to remember today when I jump back into project meetings.   It’s not that the customer is always right, especially as regards delaying things that shouldn’t be delayed.   It’s their decision and their prerogative.  I serve my customer better by offering choices, outlining consequences, and planning for contingencies.  The way to do that is to listen, to keep my mind on first principles, and to pay attention to what God is doing in things that would otherwise have fueled my sinful anger.

Lord Jesus, teach me more to be angry only at the things that anger You.   Remind me, I ask, to listen, watch, and learn to better be led by You.

 

Is your anger on a tripwire?

What things anger you?

Is your anger a reaction or is it righteous?