The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 19:1-10 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool. Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs. The foolishness of man ruins his way, And his heart rages against the Lord. Wealth adds many friends, But a poor man is separated from his friend. A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape. Many will seek the favor of a generous man, And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone. He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good. A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will perish. Luxury is not fitting for a fool; Much less for a slave to rule over princes.
Ephesians 5:15–17 instructs us "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Oftentimes we will hear children engaging in a round of "I can't wait until I am this old, so then I can fill in the blank." Adults do the same thing. It sounds more like "I will have children after my career is up and running", or "Son, perhaps we can play catch next weekend". Putting off till tomorrow what we could do today, or hastening towards some distant point in the future are both ways in which we fail to be good stewards of a gift God has blessed us with, a commodity called time.
The days of man are short-lived and numbered (Job 14:1), fixed by our Heavenly Father in such a way that not one thing you can do, or not do, will hasten that day in which you are called to stand before Him. Likewise, we cannot slow time down, and hold off God's hand of judgement upon us. We will stand before God as His will has decreed, the very moment he decrees it, and not one microsecond early, or one nanosecond late.
Years ago there was a movie in which the main character found a remote control which had the uncanny ability to fast forward time through all of the undesirable or painful parts of life, to get to the “better part”. What this man found out in the end was that he wound up missing out on many of the most precious moments of his life, time with family, wife, and children especially.
This time that he hastened away could not be regained. He discovered what the writer of Ecclesiastes taught: “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all. Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them”.(Ecc 9:11,12)
How frequently while doing ministry at the nursing home, or during the eulogy of a neighbor or family member who has passed away, do we hear the heartbreaking story of a life which was squandered away in the pursuit of bread and drink which does not satisfy, and now, there is only sorrow, and emptiness?
Brothers and sisters, the Proverb today warns us that he who hurries his footsteps errs. How often do we find ourselves engaged in a constant string of what-if’s and wishful thinkings about some far-off future goal, planning and toiling endlessly towards it, all the while neglecting the calling which God has given us right here, right now? In what ways might you be erring this morning, wishing away today, or the next two hours even, led along by your desires like a donkey chasing after a carrot on the end of a stick? Opportunities to love your wife, submit to your husband, discipline your children, and honor your father and mother are brushed aside as we hurry through life. Perhaps we waste away a chance to speak truth into someone’s life, to open our mouth boldly as we ought to. Maybe we let pass an opportunity for conversation, or service towards someone trapped in sin and error, to instead pursue after a goal whose end is our glory rather than God’s. These everyday elements of the Christian life pass you by as you toil away on your own course, with a tunnel vision fixated on temporal, worldly promises of comfort, peace, and glory, but in the end all your toiling and striving goes to the man who comes after you (Ecc 2:18).
This is not an admonition against planning, but rather an encouragement for you to ensure that your plans are aligned with the will of God, with a recognition that He will direct your steps. It is a warning to you, to evaluate your goals and examine your steps, to ensure that you are on that old path.
How easy is it for us to see a course of action before us which promises all the good things in life, so we rush headlong down it, never considering the will of God? The Proverb today says that to hasten our steps, is sinful. To not examine your plans and path in light of scripture, to race ahead of God's will, to trust in you, with all your heart, leaning upon your own understanding, is a recipe for disaster. Our hurried plans, our neglect of God's will in the here and now, our hope in some far off goal line that we must hurry and get across, are all ways in which we ignore, seek to subvert, and ultimately replace God's will with our own. It is a sinful abuse of the time God has blessed us with, and we ought to repent lest we likewise perish.
If you are able, let us kneel together as we ask our Heavenly Father to forgive us of our sins.
May thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee.
I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me.
I am undeserving, but I look to thy tender mercy.
I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; thou art full of grace.
I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin;
All my powers of body and soul are defiled:
A fountain of pollution is deep within my nature.
There are chambers of foul images within my being;
I have gone from one odious room to another,
walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations,
pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.
I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself;
I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns
and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away;
I live bare and barren as a winter tree,
unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt.
Lord, dost thou have mercy on me?
Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride,
at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before thee.
But thou hast given me another Master and Lord,
thy Son, Jesus,
and now my heart is turned towards holiness,
my life speeds as an arrow from a bow
towards complete obedience to thee.
Help me in all my doings to put down sin
and to humble pride.
Save me from the love of the world and the pride
from everything that is natural to fallen man,
and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day.
Grant me grace to bear thy will without repining,
and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned,
but separated from the old rock where I have
been embedded so long,
and lifted from the quarry to the upper air,
where I may be built in Christ for ever.
In Jesus Holy Name we pray, Amen.
(Prayer from the Valley of Vision, titled “Heart Corruptions”)
Please join me in standing, and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 07/05/2020 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)