Look before you leap.
23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am The Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says The Lord (Jeremiah 9).
Our actions and words are first a thought, before acted upon. We have so many thoughts that swirl in our minds, most of them we shrug off. There are times we act before we think, then we regret the outcome. We may have to evaluate our thoughts before we act upon them. Our words and actions will always have an impact on others, and will also reflect our character. It’s imperative to use our better judgement—wisdom, before we speak and act. Wisdom comes from those who are well-versed in knowledge and personal experience. God’s Wisdom is supreme and dependable. His Wisdom can guide our thinking, attitudes, character and our relationships. By conforming our thinking to His Character, we learn how to make the best decisions. By obedience to Him, in our words and actions, we can live a more fulfilling life.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4).
At every turn, there are people, and we have to interact with them one way or another; verbally or nonverbally. The best way to do so, is to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should respect others and treat them with the dignity they deserve. As emotional beings, we must consider how we react to or approach those who we cross paths with. If we love someone we will not say or do what will undoubtedly offend or hurt them. If we love God we will not displease Him either, by disobedience and rebellion. We can’t claim to love someone we don’t listen to or continuously disrespect. If we love God we must keep His Commandments. One such great Commandment is that we should love others as ourselves.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19).
If we claim to love God, Whom we have not seen, we should be willing to love those we see. Our perception of others tells us how we feel about them. Sometimes our thoughts make us think we are more superior to others—self-righteous or smarter. Eventually, our thoughts will express themselves. Our thoughts will exude in our attitude and approach to others as bias, criticism, envy or resentment. Evaluate your thoughts about others and ensure they are not offensive to God, first. If your thoughts about others seem unacceptable before God, quash them. Tune out spiteful and disparaging thoughts towards others that are based on hearsay or assumptions. Our hidden thoughts are within earshot of God. Halt any thoughts that denigrate others. God will always have their best interest on His Mind.
8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the Presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2).
When we are offended by what others say or do to us, we often become infuriated and resentful. It’s human to be angry and frustrated. Though we should not let these emotions fester to the point of hurting others. There’s a time for everything under the sun, and we can’t remain stuck in a cycle of flashbacks that continuously churn bitterness and venom. The decision to forgive will cross our minds, just as often as the reminder of the incident. We should keep in mind that Christ’s is ever present with us and is in us. Either we forgive in His Presence, or we let Satan get the best of us. Satan acts on our self-will—what we are already thinking to do. He uses our emotions to his advantage. He would prefer that we become less like Christ, by doing what we please at the moment. When we choose to forgive, we do so before Christ and the offender; and the same applies, when we hold on to a grudge. We can play right into Satan’s hand, or we can manifest Christ’s Character that has already been imparted to us.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. 6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. 7 Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your Wings I will rejoice. 8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63).
Take stock of the day before you turn in. What did God reveal about Himself and about you today? Where did you falter, and what could you have done better? He carries us through each second, of every minute. Think of God’s Love that guided you to the finish line. God is our help from the start, to the end of the day. Better to go to bed with thanksgiving than misgivings. Remember God on your bed; how He guided your path, and kept you under His Wings. Recount the many ways God’s Goodness sustained you. Rejoice in joyful utterance at the end of the day; as you fade away to deep sleep. Put aside all worry and anxious thoughts before you sleep. It will not matter who pushed your buttons, and rubbed you the wrong way. Sleep in peace, and with thanksgiving on your mind.
28 And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of The Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding (Job 28).’ ”
If we know God is watching and listening, then we would mind our Ps and Qs. The fear of God is the foundation of wisdom. Just as we are careful to slow down when we approach a police car, we must be cautious in our awareness of God’s Presence. The fear of God elicits a foreboding thought of being castigated for disobedience. Why do people feel ill at ease, or even offended by the notion of fearing God? Children become afraid of their parents, when they are about to break rules. If they were once disciplined for insolence and disobedience, they will remember not to cross that line again. So it is with God; the fear of God should steer us away from sin. Restraining ourselves from what would likely be against God’s Ways, reveals that we understand what is required of us. We must repent when we see the error of our ways. Commandments are meant to protect us, just as rules protect children, and laws protect a society from running amok.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left (Proverbs 4).
Make a determination to advance and not regress, in doing better each day. Keep a rein on any inner thoughts that defile your character. Establish yourself in righteous living, and don’t let your guard down. Don’t let the temptation of dissipated living cloud your better judgement. God gives us instruction and wisdom by His Word in Scripture; so that we can live the fulfilling life He intended for us. He is the Giver of Life, Who’s Wisdom is still as time-tested as it was in years past. He knows more about life, as He is The Author of it. Think about how to please Him—this is the fear of God. Don’t succumb to works of darkness; turn away from the paths that lead to sin—this is understanding.
I said, “I will guard my ways. Lest I sin with my tongue, I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me (Psalm 39).”
If you are anything like me, I have trouble restraining myself from telling others precisely how I feel. I have a strong-willed personality and I love to shoot straight from the shoulder. But if I don’t want to look or sound anything like the other person, then I have to decide who I want to be. We have to think about what our words and actions say about us. We can’t blame others for our response. Yes, we are to defend ourselves, if we are threatened. Our adversaries will always want to see if we are capable of holding our own, while under attack. They would like to find something to use against us, especially if we are Christians. Again, we are Christ’s representatives in the world. What we say or do will test our character in The Lord. Guard against impulse, by considering how to respond to opposition, or others who may be difficult to deal with. Our tongue is the most difficult to tame. But we can choose whether we act on our fleshly lusts of rage, anger and vitriol or we let The Spirit of Christ take control of our being.
There’s much to consider daily about how we act or speak. God is watching and listening and so are others, who are affected by our choices. We should treat others with respect and courtesy. We are what we think of others; biased, hateful, respectful, caring or loving. Our thoughts affect our attitude towards others. They are an open book to God. We should silence anything that is not in line with His Character. We renew our mind by what we put in it. If we add to our thinking God’s Wisdom, we will fear Him enough to please Him. We should not forget to do an introspection and be forward-looking in becoming better, day by day. At the end of the day, we can still lay our heads down with thanksgiving, and put aside anxious thoughts. We are a work in progress; we become less like the world and more like Christ. We should not let Satan take advantage of our emotions. We are to consider what is the acceptable Will of God, and act upon it. A good life is one that has been well lived, and well-thought-out.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12).