Browse Tag: Proverbs 23

All the Day Long

All the Day Long
All the Day Long

I was thinking this morning about how my heart is not in a good state right now. My “flesh,” as St. Paul terms it, has gained an advantage over me. It has taken the higher ground. It has its foot upon my chest and is ready to sever my head while I am fallen in my weakness.

My “flesh” is my mind. It is not just my physical anatomy, as if that were the residence of sinful passions. No, my flesh includes my sinful mind, my fickle often hard heart. Even if there isn’t an outward manifestation of sinful behavior, the thoughts are there in my mind. Lust is running amok in my mind. It usually does show itself in my body sooner or later, in one way or another – even if it’s only the slightest glance of my eye in a lustful manner. My “flesh” is in my mind and body.

I have not been mortifying my flesh – in the sense of putting these things to death through the Holy Spirit. I want it to be dead at the source – in my mind. I want a pure heart – not just reformation or restriction of my behavior. But right now I am so far from that. Anger and passion and worldliness. The pursuit of pleasure. How did it enter in when I was walking closely with God? (Or maybe just thought I was.) How have I again resorted to idolatry?

This is where it has lead me: to a place of mind and heart where I can’t read the Scriptures with a true desire to walk in God’s ways; I can’t pray with a full united heart; I can’t speak to others about Truth without hypocrisy; I can’t love others. This is hell and death and barrenness.

Reflecting on these things, I then thought, I must repent right now, pray – however feebly, and open my Bible. After all, I am 61 years-old. How much earthly existence do I have left? I should prepare my heart for my exit. I should be banking up treasure in heaven with much more determination than I have in piling up cash in my retirement fund. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately. Oh God! Help me to learn the lesson: VANITY! VANITY! VANITY! Twelve chapters proving the emptiness of earthly existence. BUT: “Let us hear the conclusion of the WHOLE matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the WHOLE duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)

So, I got up at that moment. I did open my Bible. As my habit is, I first ready my daily chapter of Proverbs. Since today is the 23rd, I read chapter 23. What did I find there?

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Proverbs 23:17, 18

The words that struck me most were, “All the day long.” It pressed upon me that my concern should be for THIS day. Fear the Lord THIS day – for that is the whole duty of man – THIS day. The whole duty for THIS man THIS day. Forget the past – with all its failures, all its wayward moments, all its hardness of heart. Focus on THIS day. Forget the future – with its anxieties and fears. It’s tempting to say the cliched line, “One day at a time.” But it’s true. “TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:7, 8) “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) “All the day long” are words that brought me abruptly to the present. Honestly, it’s a relief. Didn’t Jesus say, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34) The verse before it is better known to most of us: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That is very much in line with the words from Proverbs 23: “Let not thine heart envy sinner: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” God keeps bringing us back to the present. That is where the action is. The present is where we live. The present is where we can obey Him and walk with Him.

But also He points us to His righteous future kingdom: “For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” Expectation is hope. Ultimately, what is our hope? It is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” our “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13) I was going to now point “us” to the previous two verses in Titus 2. But I need to shift from “us” to “me.” I need to speak verses 11 and 12 to myself: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, DENYING UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” I must have the hope of that glorious future. For surely there is an end! “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I must walk by faith, certainly. “For surely there is an end!” It is a sure and certain fact, which my faith holds onto, that Jesus Christ will appear! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) What is the very next verse? “AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM PURIFIETH HIMSELF, EVEN AS HE IS PURE.”

I cannot escape the message: I must mortify my flesh THIS DAY! The blessed hope gives me incentive and courage to begin hammering the nails to crucify my flesh. Come, Holy Spirit, make such death of my flesh real and effectual THIS DAY! Help me, Lord, to let go of the anger, to resist the lust – to cut off my right hand and pluck out my right eye. Breathe Your life into me. Create me anew, with a clean heart and a right spirit. Bear Your fruit through me this day, Lord. Keep me moment by moment to fear You. For there is the place of peace and joy and love. There is where kindness and goodness dwell. Lord Jesus, let me desire what You desire. Let my heart beat with Yours.

Surely There Is An End

Come Lord Jesus
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Proverbs 23:17, 18 and Psalm 73 go together nicely. Asaph vividly portrays the perspective of a believer who is envious of sinners: their seeming prosperity, their strength, their pride, their increasing riches. “They have more than heart could wish.” (Psalm 73:7) Asaph’s envy brought him to bemoan his own efforts at piety: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” (Psalm 73:13, 14)

Yet there is the injunction from God:

Proverbs 23:17, 18

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

This perspective was turned around for Asaph when he “went into the sanctuary of God.” For then he says, “I understood their end. Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places! Thou castedst them down into destruction!” (Psalm 73:17, 18)

SURELY there is an end! Lord, all I desire is You. Please walk with me and guide me today. What a fearful and amazing thing: that You, the Living God, who is a consuming fire, should love me and want to dwell with me in the person of Your Son Jesus Christ! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! MAY TODAY BE THE END. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done – in me today, Lord. Amen.