The Christian faith is countercultural to the world. The world says that it's okay to hate your enemies, but the Bible says to love them and be kind to them. If we are only kind to our friends, we're no different to the rest of the world.
Loving our enemies has several purposes:
1. It shames them;
2. It shows that we are different from the rest of the world;
3. It shows the love of Jesus.
Next time you're tempted to hate your enemies, do something kind for them. You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Proverbs 23:31-32 says, So be careful with wine. It is pretty and red as it sparkles in the cup. And it goes down so smoothly when you drink it. But in the end, it will bite like a snake. Alcohol can be appealing but it also has some dire consequences when you drink when you drink too much. Here are some of them:
Proverbs 23:17-18 says, Don’t envy sinners. But always respect the Lord. If you do, you will have hope for the future. Your wishes will come true. It's hard not to envy people when they plaster their good fortune on social media for the whole world to see - their perfect figure, perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect boyfriend, perfect house, perfect family, etc. No wonder everyone is experiencing FOMO. It's important to remember that these images usually don't represent their reality. It's also important to remember that for every social media influencer who appears to have the perfect life, there are millions of others worse off than you. Proverbs 23 tells us to honour and respect God. The hope for the future that we have is eternal life with Jesus and that's better than any mansion, luxury home, or designer wardrobe. Those things won't last, but a relationship with Jesus will.
Proverbs 22:24-25 says, Don’t be friends with people who become angry easily. Don’t stay around quick-tempered people. If you do, you may learn to be like them. Then you will have the same problems they do. Do you know anyone who is a bit of a hot head? They get get angry very quickly and their anger often isn't proportional to the offence. Proverbs says to avoid these people in case you become like them and have the same problems as they do. What kind of problems do you think they would have? Here's some ideas:
James 1:19-20 says, My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things God wants done. Another good reason not to get angry is that it prevents you from doing the good things that God wants you to.
Proverbs 22:4 says, The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches, honour and life. I love the Enduring Word definitions of humility and fear of the Lord.
Humility = proper view of self
Fear of the Lord = a proper view of God.
Often we have an unhealthy view of ourselves, we think or behave like we are God's gift to the world. We focus on our wants and desires, and not those of others. Sometimes, the opposite is true where we think that we are nothing. This isn't a helpful attitude to have either. The truth is that God made us and loves us, but he wants us to love others, not just ourselves.
We often have an unhealthy view of God too. Sometimes we are too serious and see God as an angry judge who will punish us if we sin. Sometimes we are too casual and see God as our best mate. Both are true to a point.
John 15:15 says, Now I call you friends, because I have told you everything that my Father told me.
Acts 17:31 says, He has decided on a day when he will judge all the people in the world in a way that is fair.
So have a healthy respect for God and a healthy view of yourself and he will bless you with riches, honour and life.
Proverbs 21:21 says, Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
I love this verse in the NIV because pursue is such a strong word. It doesn't say 'have righteousness and love,' or 'get righteousness and love,' but 'pursue righteousness and love.' The word pursue implies diligence, persistence, commitment, enthusiasm, etc.
To be able to pursue righteousness, we have to know what it means. Righteousness is speaking and acting rightly from pure motives. God is the only truly righteous being. Righteousness is speaking and acting in a Godly way; in a way that lines up with what the Bible teaches.
Pursuing love is self-explanatory. It's not pursuing romantic love, but loving other people, especially those who are hard to love.
The rewards for doing this are:
Life - life that is full of purpose and meaning, peace and joy.
Prosperity - this is sometimes translated righteousness. If you pursue righteousness, you will get righteousness. You will get a right reward. The ultimate reward of righteousness is eternal life with God. Prosperity means plenty, or an abundance. Honour - you will enjoy a good reputation and respect.
People pursue a lot of different things: money, fame, possessions, praise, success, etc. What are you pursuing?
Proverbs 20:22 says, Don't try to get even. Trust the Lord, and he will help you. It's human nature to want revenge when someone wrongs you. They might have spread some gossip or lied about you, said something unkind on social media, or even to your face. But the Bible says not to seek revenge.
Romans 12:19-20 says, My friends, don’t try to punish anyone who does wrong to you. Wait for God to punish them with his anger. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one who punishes; I will pay people back." But you should do this:If you have enemies who are hungry, give them something to eat.
If you have enemies who are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this you will make them feel ashamed.
Rather than getting revenge on those who have hurt us, we should be kind to them. God will ultimately avenge all the wrongs done to us.
Proverbs 17:22 says, A happy heart is like good medicine. But a broken spirit drains your strength. As I write this, I have been sick with Covid and then a sinus infection for almost two weeks. I could be miserable and moan and complain but that wouldn't change the way I feel. Even though I am sick, I can still have a good attitude and be grateful for the good things in my life. Even though I feel like death warmed up, the sun is shining and the weather is beautiful, I have family and friends who love and care about me, and God is still good. Science has actually proved that happier people are physically healthier! No matter what your circumstances, be happy, have a good attitude and be grateful - it's like medicine!
Proverbs 16:23 says, Wise people always think before they speak, so what they say is worth listening to. James 1:19 talks about being slow to speak. You should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. Someone once said, 'you have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.' Most people don't really listen - they're usually busy multi-tasking, thinking about what they're going to say next, or what they're going to have for lunch. Next time you're talking to someone, really pay attention to the person you're talking to, be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.