Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Romans 3:24-26

In Romans 3:24-26 we see again that Paul’s gospel centers squarely in Christ Jesus. Salvation is possible because of the redemption found in Him. God cannot give us His righteousness apart from Jesus Christ. There are no options.  There is no plan B. …“through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Redemption carries the idea of buying back something, and involves cost. God pays the cost and so we are justified freely. There is no way we could ever pay the cost of redemption on our own. It is His grace and mercy that makes it possible.

The idea of redemption means that Jesus bought us; therefore, we belong to Him. Jesus, by His death (by His blood) was a propitiation (substitute sacrifice) for us. As He was judged in our place, the Father could demonstrate His righteousness in judgment against sin, while sparing those who deserved the judgment. It’s a word we don’t use much – propitiation – but it is so important as we understand God’s way of saving us. This shows that Jesus did not somehow appease a reluctant, unwilling Father to hold back His wrath. Instead, it was God the Father who initiated the propitiation. It was His idea and His plan.

When Jesus died for us on the cross it freed God from eternally punishing us as He passed over the sin we have committed. Those sins have been completely paid for. “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” God, in His patience, had also passed over the sins of those Old Testament saints who trusted in the coming Messiah. At the cross, those sins were no longer passed over, they were paid for. The Cross dealt with all sin – past, present and future – and completely covered that sin for all time. Jesus paid the price once and forever.

At the cross, God demonstrated His righteousness by offering man justification (a legal verdict of “not guilty”), while remaining completely just (because the righteous penalty of sin had been paid at the cross). He had no choice but to be righteous, as that is His nature and character. But with the Cross, He was able to justly review our sin nature and yet justify us because Jesus had paid the ultimate price to free us from the penalty of sin. It was by the blood of Jesus that we were set free. “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

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Proverbs 29:21-24

In Proverbs 29:21-24 Solomon begins by addressing the potential of what happens if we aren’t careful about how we treat those who work with or for us. He talks about pampering a servant from childhood which today can be related to treating someone in a soft and generous way from the start making their work life easy and pleasant without accountability. That will come back to haunt later. “Whoever pampers his servant from childhood will in the end find him his heir.” Pampering isn’t always a good approach.  It can make the person so attached that the master ends up with another obligation and the servant feels entitled and expects an inheritance or special treatment in every situation.

Solomon goes on to refer to the man who stirs up strife, or anger as it is called today. It is in the nature of the angry man to spread his strife to others. With peace lacking in his own soul, it’s easy to put his inner strife upon others. His inner emotions of anger boil and his resentment for others explodes outward to those around him. “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.” A furious man abounds in transgression: When the angry or furious man spreads his strife, it makes transgression abound. Sin that abounds in this atmosphere is marked by a lack of self-control. Anger often takes people to extremes.

Solomon again reminds us of the danger of pride. Because God resists the proud, pride will naturally bring a man low. Like Satan, the one who hopes to rise higher through his pride will fall. Pride comes from a root meaning ‘to be high’ and often leads us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, even to the point of elevating ourselves to no need to listen to or follow God’s laws. “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” The opposite of pride is humility. And just like God opposes the proud, He gives grace to the humble. God’s gracious blessing to the humble in spirit means they will gain and retain honor.

Solomon talks about the misguided loyalty around being connected to a thief. To partner with a thief is to reject wisdom and embrace folly. The one who steals from others will steal from you, and perhaps with violence threatening your own life. The law makes no distinction between the thief and the accomplice. Consenting to sin, receiving the stolen goods, involves us in the guilt and punishment. “The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.” The partner to the thief is the kind of man who will repeatedly vow to tell the truth, but reveals nothing about his partner’s criminal activity. He places loyalty to his friend above his loyalty to God. This won’t end well as the partner will be guilty by association.

Proverbs 21:25-31

In Proverbs 21:25-31 Solomon returns to a common theme – the sluggard. The lazy man has desire; he just doesn’t have the initiative or the energy to fulfill it. His life of unfulfilled desire is unsatisfying and feels as if it kills him.  He has cravings, but no motivation to actually execute and do things to achieve what he desires. “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.” Having a desire for good and blessing and prosperity, but not the desire or willingness to work, the lazy man lives a life of constant frustration and disappointment. He does not know the satisfaction of achievement.

How we live matters.  And no amount of ritual or ceremony will ever cover for our sin and evil ways. God said in his Word that to obey is better than sacrifice. Religious ceremonies do not cover a wicked life, and God may regard those religious ceremonies as an abomination. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.” The religious ceremonies of the wicked are bad enough; they are even worse when made with evil intent. When a sacrifice is offered, the priest or observers may not be able to see the intent, but God certainly can. He cares about the heart.

Truth is one of the things God cares about.  He does not tolerate falsehood. God is against all liars, but a false witness is a special type of liar. The primary idea is of one who lies in court, such as those who gave false witness at the trial of Jesus. “A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways.” One characteristic of the wicked is that they may be unsympathetic to others. Their face is hard and unfriendly to others, especially towards those in need. The upright man does not face the same obstacles the wicked man faces. His way is established and made sure by God.

God’s gonna win. That’s a fact and the victory is already complete. To fight against God is to fight a losing battle. One can never succeed against the sovereign God of the universe. God’s will and ultimately all His purposes will be accomplished. God is the God of all wisdom and understanding and counsel, so those things are always for Him and never against the LORD. “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Though it is wise to make the best preparations for battle, ultimately one should not trust in horses or preparation, but in God Himself. Victory comes from the LORD, not only from horses and preparation.

Proverbs 21:5-8

In Proverbs 21:5-8 Solomon talks about the importance of planning.  It requires attention and diligence, but it can lead to good results. When good planning is combined with diligent work there will be a harvest of plenty. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Trying to make short cuts and just doing hard work itself won’t lead to the desired outcome.  The one who wants to avoid work, find shortcuts, and cut corners will find that failure instead of plenty. Their path leads surely to poverty. It is combination of deep planning and hard work that will deliver a great outcome.

He next deals with a familiar topic – a person with a lying tongue.  There are some who hope to talk their way into money, and to do it with fast talking and the use of lies. They plan deals and make promises that aren’t honest, hoping it can bring them treasures. “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” The hope of great treasure through lying words is a dream of those who are on the path to destruction. They hope to find great treasures with little work and put their trust in fleeting fantasy instead of in God. A positive result happens only when we align with God’s expectations.

Wishing harm on another is a bad plan according to Solomon. The wicked often love violence and use it for their gain. This does not please God, and God allows such people to reap what they have sown. Those who enjoy watching others suffer, will likely receive the same in their lives. “The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just.” It isn’t only what the wicked do; it is also what they do not do. What they do is violence; what they don’t do is justice. God cares about both what they do and don’t do, and will pass judgment over both. How we treat one another matters in God’s eyes.

God is watching our path and how we take the trip through life. Every one of us is on a journey, and some people walk in a way that is twisted and perverse. Those who walk such a crooked way are guilty before God and will stand before His judgment. “The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.” The crooked way belongs to the guilty man, but right work belongs to the pure man. The path we walk will display who we are. People don’t wonder if we’re righteous or wicked – our path shows that clearly.  God knows our hearts, which also are expressed by the road we travel.

Proverbs 21:1-4

In Proverbs 21:1-4 Solomon reminds us that God is ultimately in control of all things through all people. God holds and can guide the human heart. If God can do this with someone as powerful and noble as a king, He can do this with any man or woman He chooses. Sometimes we despair when we see the stubbornness and hardness of man’s heart against God and His will, but the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD and He can guide it wherever He wishes. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” In moving a river, one does not need to carry each drop of water to where you want it to go; if one can shape the banks and guide the direction of the river, the water will go there on its own. God can move a man (or king) through arranging circumstances like banks of a river to guide the flow where He wants it.

Man always sees things through his own lens. By nature, we justify ourselves. Sometimes we do this in sincerity, sometimes with deception, but stubborn pride makes us generally think our way is right at least in our own eyes. God looks at it from a different perspective. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” We are measured not through our eyes but against His perfect standards. He looks deep within. Men and women are confident in their own way, but God knows. We justify things according to our hearts – “It was in my heart” or “I must follow my heart” or “In my heart I know” – but God weighs the hearts of men and women, knowing that the heart itself doesn’t justify anything.

God cares how we live and treat one another.  He has standards around that as well. The way we treat people – what might be called our horizontal relationship – is important to God. He wants us to do righteousness and justice in this world. He has us here to be a difference to those around us. “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Animal sacrifice was a way to walk in right relationship with God – what might be called our vertical relationship. God here says that how we treat others is more important than how we perform religious ceremonies such as sacrifice. It’s a matter of the heart.

Solomon warns against a couple of things that cause us to go astray. Often a proud heart is displayed through a haughty look. There is no shortage of either among humanity. Until God’s Spirit reveals a man to himself, he does not think this warning applies to him. “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” These things – the look and the heart of the wicked are each called sin. Our eyes and our heart lead us to take actions that are wicked and are sin in God’s sight.  When we let haughtiness and pride be the lamp for our path, we’re headed down a wrong road and will ultimately meet sin head on.

Proverbs 20:25-30

In Proverbs 20:25-30 Solomon reminds us to be careful about committing things to God for His use alone.  It can be an emotional and rash promise, yet God expects us to do as we say. “It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows.” Wisdom protects us from making vows that are unwise before we open our mouth. A wise earthly ruler not only knows how to carefully examine the wicked, but then also how to bring whatever punishment is appropriate, to use what is wise and necessary to separate the evil from the good. “A wise king winnows the wicked and drives the wheel over them.”

God has a way of revealing what is in our inner being since He created us uniquely.  Each of us have mysterious truths that we think are hidden, but God’s light can reveal all that constitutes us as humans who are spiritual beings with moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacities.  He can see and reveal it all. “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” God’s word – can search the depths of a man’s heart like nothing else. This is because God’s word is living and active.  It is the perfect standard by which we are measured today, and for eternity. God has placed a conscience in each of us to enlighten us through His Spirit.

Leaders may be preserved by God’s steadfast love and faithfulness that are shown to them from God Himself, but are also kept in place through that same love and faithfulness shown to those he leads. God set the example for the way leaders should have a servant and covenant love for their people, and rather than have leadership upheld by force and power, it is most effective when earned and established through caring for those you lead. “Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.” Jesus is the ultimate example of a servant leader who loved His followers faithfully and fully!

God designed human development in a way that young men excel in physical strength, and this is an important attribute to them.  But what the old men lack in physical strength, they should make up for in wisdom that is appropriate for those who have a gray head of hair. “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” Pain is a burden, but it can bring a benefit. If we allow the unpleasant fire of pain to refine and cleanse away evil, then our sorrow and pain was not wasted. God desires to refine us and make us pure and clean. “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” If we receive discipline with wisdom, it will purify us.

Proverbs 20:21-24

In Proverbs 20:21-24 Solomon gives us another take on the idea that ‘money is the root of all evil’.  He basically says that too much too early will spoil us. When we get too much too soon, it is often isn’t helpful for us. So, a large inheritance that comes hastily and towards the beginning of our life is a dangerous blessing. We are not equipped to manage it well. “An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.” This is often how it ends when someone gains too much, too soon, apart from their own work and initiative. When large amounts are freely received, it can work against blessing at the end.

Our tendency is to ‘get even’ when someone does something that hurts us or someone we love.  We want to immediately strike back. But the wise man or woman should never have that motive and say they will repay someone for what they have done. Wisdom and obedience to God teach us that vengeance belongs to the LORD.  It is not ours to take into our own hands. “Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” This does not mean that wisdom is indifferent to evil and will never oppose it; it means that wisdom recognizes that there are many times – more than we think – when we should let go of any kind of retaliation towards evil and wait for God to act.

Solomon returns to another area he’s been vocal about in numerous parts of Proverbs – being honest and doing business fairly. God is righteous in all His measurements. When He measures something in the physical or moral realm, His measurement is always true. God tells us to imitate Him in this aspect, and to understand that He regard dishonest, false scales as sinful. “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.” God cares that we do business honestly. The world often tells us that it doesn’t matter how we make our money, but God warns us that dishonest scales are not good. Just like it matters how we live, it also matters how we choose to do business!

He returns to the topic of planning to once again remind us that ultimately God is in control of what happens, no matter what our plans may be. Men and women rightly make their plans, but God guides steps according to His own will and wisdom. He certainly doesn’t leave it all up the choices and plans of men and women. “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” This proverb teaches us humility in regard to our life plans, choices and path. We should not think or act as if it were all in our control or all according to our planned steps.  We need to plan, but we also must recognize that God alone is in control of what happens with those plans and the outcome of life!

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