One of the key verses Sweet T and I have committed to memory is found in Chapter 4 of the Book of Proverbs. The latter verses (20-27) in Proverbs 4 encourage us to take a personal spiritual inventory to check and see if we’re actually living a life that is pleasing to the Lord and in obedience to His will for our lives. In particular, verse 23, struck a chord with both Sweet T and myself.
Taking inventory is something I’ve had experience at, as I’m sure you have too. Unfortunately, most of us are adept at taking other people’s inventories. During recovery, after admitting I was powerless over my addictions, recognizing my life had become unmanageable, believing a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and deciding to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understood Him, the time came to make a searching and fearless moral and spiritual inventory of myself. Taking my own inventory caused me to face my own shortcomings, take responsibility for my actions, and admit where I had hurt others. Humbling and cathartic, taking stock of who you are in the light of God’s word and the commandments to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself, is also liberating. It is where the rubber meets the road and real transformation begins. Apart from taking a deep, honest look at ourselves, we cannot venture very far down the path of change.
God’s will for your life may seem hard to grasp at first, but it’s actually pretty clear and simple: to glorify Him in all that we think, say, and do. If we measure our thoughts, words, and actions against the weight of glorifying God, we get a better understanding of the areas we still need to work on.
Proverbs 4:20-27 (NIV)
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
What enters our ears, influences our minds, hearts, and decisions. We must listen for God’s voice when we hear others speak so that we can avoid ungodly counsel. Is what we are listening to helpful to obeying God? Is it going to spur us to glorify God more or less?
Our eyes and ears seek what our heart loves. We must be careful with the thoughts that we entertain in our inner being–in our heart–in our core. They will shape who we are and how we engage others. Hidden desires, untended, take root and spread like a virus, infecting our inner and outer lives.
The truth of our heart comes out through our speech. Are my words gracious and seasoned with salt or are they harsh and hurtful? My words should be pure and honest if they are to honor and glorify God.
To walk by faith, I must keep the right perspective on life, trusting God and keeping Him front and center in all aspects of my world, including home, work, and play. I must remain focused on eternal things, not investing my resources in temporary stock.
For me, I need to take inventory frequently, keeping my list short so that I can readily make right any wrongs. I also have to focus on my own inventory, not spending time foolishly measuring others. I need the courage to change the things I can (me) and the wisdom to accept the things beyond my control (you). If I do that, surely love will follow.
How about you? Do you struggle with taking other people’s inventory? Are you successful at glorifying God with all that you think, say, and do? Let me hear from you in the comments below. We’re all recovering from something. The good news is that we don’t have to go it alone.
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The Devotional Guy™
Ironside, H.A. (1908). Notes on the Book of Proverbs. Loizeaux Brothers. Neptune, New Jersey.
Lockyer, Herbert (1966). All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Wiersbe, Warren W. (1995). Be Skillful: God’s Guidebook to Wise Living. OT Commentary: Proverbs. David Cook. Colorado Springs, CO.