Before we start today, this is a reminder that for most of the rest of the summer, devotions will be topical and random. We will start going through books of the Bible again in September. Last summer, I started going through Proverbs choosing verses in each chapter for the day’s topic. Today I’m going to pick up where we left off last summer, and begin with verses from chapter 20.
Proverbs 20: 3, 15, 18 – 19
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honour;
only fools insist on quarrelling.
18 Plans succeed through good counsel;
don’t go to war without wise advice.
19 A gossip goes around telling secrets,
so don’t hang around with chatterers.
15 Wise words are more valuable
than much gold and many rubies.
One thing I’ve noticed about this pandemic time, are the arguments about how we are to keep safe, and what rules and regulations are needed from the government. It seems more pronounced in the United States where opinions seem to be lining up along political lines. But in Canada, there are differing points of view as well.
Some folks are very cautious. I walk early in the morning around the Aspen Lake (pond) near the WFCU Centre. There are some people who walk wearing masks, even though one might only meet 5 or 6 people around the whole pond, and distancing is easy with the wide paths. Other people appear to be quite nonchalant since you see them gathering in parks, beaches, and bars in large groups. Most of my conversations with people have been in the middle gray area – we talk about how much we need to clean things, is it safe to have a few friends over for coffee on the patio or can we go into each other’s house if we still keep apart, etc. And of course, there are the questions about how safe is it to open churches.
So how do Christ followers deal with this conflict? These verses in Proverbs 20 tell us a couple of things. One is that we need to look for good advice. In a practical sense, we need to listen to the medical and science advice from our top experts both provincially and federally. Covid is a new virus and they are learning as we go, so things do change – but they are the ones with the most information. “Wise words are valuable” and “plans succeed through good counsel”. Try not to get caught up in the chatter of folks in fringe groups. It’s interesting to see some of the posts on Facebook about the conspiracy theories – there is no virus, the government is trying to subject us to totalitarian rule. Proverbs warns, “Don’t hang around with chatterers”.
Another piece of advice from Solomon is to avoid fights. “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honour; only fools insist on quarrelling”, is an interesting verse. Sometimes in our culture, I think we look at people who appear to avoid arguments as weak. I’m not advocating to stay quiet in the face of wrong. But many arguments are about differing opinions. Solomon in these verses seems to be advising us to keep the peace and look for good advice. Listen instead of arguing.
In Colossians 3: 15, Paul tells us as Christ followers to be known for peace.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
We have a peace from our relationship with Christ. We know God is working in our lives and that we want to submit to his will. We don’t have to get all worked up over what is happening in our world. Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)
We can listen to each other’s opinions. We can treat each other with respect. We can look for good advice. But down deep, we can trust God.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isaiah 55: 12)
Our song for today is from Bethel Music – It Is Well