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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 20
20 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
those who anger him forfeit their lives.
3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
4 Sluggards do not plow in season;
so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.
6 Many claim to have unfailing love,
but a faithful person who can find?
7 The righteous lead blameless lives;
blessed are their children after them.
8 When a king sits on his throne to judge,
he winnows out all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;
I am clean and without sin”?
10 Differing weights and differing measures—
the Lord detests them both.
11 Even small children are known by their actions,
so is their conduct really pure and upright?
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
the Lord has made them both.
13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
stay awake and you will have food to spare.
14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
then goes off and boasts about the purchase.
15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet,
but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.
18 Plans are established by seeking advice;
so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
19 A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid anyone who talks too much.
20 If someone curses their father or mother,
their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
21 An inheritance claimed too soon
will not be blessed at the end.
22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.
23 The Lord detests differing weights,
and dishonest scales do not please him.
24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand their own way?
25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly
and only later to consider one’s vows.
26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
he drives the threshing wheel over them.
27 The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
through love his throne is made secure.
29 The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.
30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
and beatings purge the inmost being.
We often read Scripture as a list of “do’s” and “don’ts“. We may even read it—wrongly—as a list of good things God wants to keep from us. The truth is Proverbs reminds us Scripture is not describing ways God holds goodness back from us, but rather ways God offers the best for us. He wants to give guidelines on where true wisdom is found, as well as who is truly the judge.
Proverbs 20 can serve as a reminder of the justification that comes from Jesus and the sanctification through the Holy Spirit. Jesus justified us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead—righting our relationship with God. Sanctification is simply the process of becoming more like Christ through His Word, His Spirit, and the fellowship of believers. On our own, we could not be justified or sanctified. Instead, on our own we are led astray (v. 1), have quarrels (v. 3), are sluggish (v. 4), claim things without understanding the truth (v. 6), conduct actions with the purpose of being seen (v. 11), and more. We are foolish because we forget our dependence on Jesus.
We can do nothing apart from God. “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How can anyone understand their own way?” (v. 24). Additionally, in John 15:1-8, Jesus talks about being a vine. When we are not attached to the vine, we can do nothing. We would be useless left to our own ways and efforts. We have to abide in Him daily and attach to Him like a branch on a vine. We cannot view Him as a well we turn to when our buckets run dry.
God sees our foolish attempts to try to do things on our own. He directs us elsewhere through His Spirit, His Word, and His people. He knows what is best for us and guides us. Even when we do not see, know or think God is working, he still does. God preserves His Word not to just tell us what to do or what not to do, but rather be reminded. We need to be reminded that it is in our foolishness that Christ justified us and continues to sanctify us. We are solely dependent upon the cross for our salvation.
- Do you depend on the Lord or yourself?
- When you read Scripture, how do you imagine God speaking it over you? Is He disciplinary? Angry? Graceful? Loving? With a pursuit of holiness for you?
- In what areas of your life are you trying to do things yourself?
Listen to the song “Abide” by The Worship Initiative and make a list of the ways you need to surrender to the Lord your own ways and receive the goodness of God’s grace in asking you to remain in Him.
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