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.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 13 February 2019

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV).

I prefer to stay on the positive side of this verse.   Those who know me well will find this surprising.   In fact, my wife calls me “Eeyore” because I usually look on the downside of things.   For Everyday Dave, this verse would be a great place to stop.  It’s a lighthouse, warning of rocks just up ahead near the shore.  We’ll probably mess it up anyway.

But that’s an outlook I want to change.  The verse IS a lighthouse, and it’s one that calls us safely home.   Lately, I’ve been daily contemplating Galatians 5, specifically the verses about the fruits of the Spirit.  I read the verses and then look for ways to put them into practice each day, one per month while compounding them.   January was love month; February is love and joy; March will be love, joy, and peace.   You get the idea.  If you haven’t ever really contemplated them, check out Galatians 5:22-23.

Then put them into action because they are the opposite of what Paul describes in verse 9.   And if you think about it, they are the things Paul could say ARE worthy of our attention instead of desire for money, or running into the traps and temptations that lead to ruin and destruction.   How many of us could avoid pitfalls of sin if we would simply find better things on which to focus?   Let’s keep our eyes on the ways Jesus acts, then watch how things begin to improve.

If we are always looking for ways to get ahead, we probably will miss some of the signs around us that point us to ways we can get involved in what Jesus is doing.   Just prior to this verse, Paul had reminded Timothy to be content with only what God provides for our most basic needs.   Anything more than contentment can run the risk of walking the proud walk down the yellow brick road of temptation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Man, those are things worth showing off to the world.   They’re the antidote to swallowing too much desire to get rich.   When we talk about focusing on Jesus, a great way to start doing that is by focusing on ways we can let His Spirit remake us around these behaviors He exhibits.  If we do that, when temptations come, it becomes easier to turn from them.   That’s a wealth worth having.

Eeyore might just agree.

For further reading:   Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 15:27, Proverbs 28:20, 1 Timothy 6:10.

Magnificent Lord, I’m not always a good follower.   I’ve turned my attention away from You.   Thank You for not turning away from Me, and I ask You to remake me in the ways of Your Spirit today.