Day 4 in Proverbs
Proverbs 4: 20-26 “My child, listen carefully to everything I say. Don’t forget a single word, but think about it all. Knowing these teachings will mean true life and good health for you. Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life. Never tell lies or be deceitful in what you say. Keep looking straight ahead, without turning aside. Know where you are headed, and you will stay on solid ground.”
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” – Author Unknown
You catch on pretty quickly in Proverbs that Solomon is writing to his son as he gets ready to celebrate a special kind of independence day….adulthood. A difficult time for most parents….and a time where there is a certain amount of urgency to make sure that the lessons they have been teaching all of their child’s life have stuck. My guess is that most people who have children who have left the nest, or will soon be leaving the nest, can relate to the need that Solomon has to know that his son is listening to him. There are a lot of pleas of “Listen carefully to what I am saying to you. This is a matter of life or death.”
You probably can also imagine the look on his son’s face as he rolls his eyes at Dad’s lectures. But my guess is that whether he did everything suggested or not (and my guess is that he probably did not), he heard every word. And when he didn’t do what Dad suggested, the phrase “Oh…..Dad was right again” came to mind.
I’m a believer that thinking something is not wrong….it’s something for which we have only a limited amount of control. Thoughts just happen, and if we believe we are by nature sinners (as I do), then some of those thoughts are not good. We don’t need to give birth to them and let them develop. What makes thoughts wrong is when we give life to those that should die on the vine. Giving them life….nurturing them, feeding them, growing them….is what gives them power. That is something that we can control.
When my nieces and nephews graduate from high school, they get a choice of two gifts. One is money, the other is they get to take a trip with me. They can go anywhere in the continental US or on a Caribbean cruise for that trip. The value of the trip will always be greater than the money. I like spending time with them….so the trips are going to be fun and hopefully create good memories for both of us. Because one of my passions is travel, I hope I can share it with them and teach them to love it as much as I do.
I also hope they gain a few life lessons from me in the process. There are things I have learned in life that I hope they learn at an early age. I think it will make for a more abundant life for them. I want these life lessons to be the gifts they really value as they grow older. Though they may not be my children, I love them so much that I want them to have the best lives they can. I want their lives to make a positive difference in the world. But I also am not convinced they are wise as of yet and aware of the price of their freedom. Or aware of the power of their choices.
I want them to be able to travel the world without fear, and to celebrate the differences in people instead of just seeing the similarities. I want them to open themselves up to different ideas and thoughts and experiences and not just float scared through life. I want them to learn to live life with enthusiasm and passion and not just exist. But like Solomon I want to encourage them to develop and exercise wisdom even now. I want them to realize that they have a lot of freedom to make choices and that freedom is a wonderful thing. But there is a price to all freedom and a consequence to every action. I want them to see it isn’t all about them….but consider that everything they do impacts other people. And even the smallest action can change their life, or someone else’s life, forever. These smallest actions begin with a thought….and their choice to either grow it or kill it.
One of the greatest freedoms is the freedom to tell the truth. Telling lies always puts us in bondage. We have to remember what we say and who we say it to, and then who may know the truth, and then develop excuses in the event it all comes back to bite us. We become not who we really are, but a fantasy, and so no one really knows the real us. That’s a lonely existence….to never know if someone loves and accepts you just because you are you, or because they love the fantasy you have created. And once again, it stifles your life. As does maintaining the base of lies you have created.
Being found out in even a small lie may make someone look at us differently forever. I know I put it in my memory bank when I see it….and I continue to watch and listen. There are some great liars in the world and they are a sight to behold. I have learned not to totally judge someone on the basis of one part of their character….but you also have to keep it all in context. If someone will lie about a little thing, they are more prone to lie about anything. To not have someone trust what you say? It really limits your credibility and your ability to live a life of purpose.
Those of us born in this country, who have adopted this country as our own, or who live in another free society, have been given great independence. But still the choices we make matter. Making wise choices brings us good life and good health. Doing a little mind control on ourselves…..to grow the good thoughts and kill the weeds….. can lead us to a full, healthy and satisfying life. As Solomon wanted it for his son, that is what I want for all of us. Happy Independence Day! Live free. And well. And purposefully. And thoughtfully.