School starts right after Labour Day – at least until the pandemic hit. As a retired teacher, I must admit that September seemed more of a start to a new year than January 1. The postponement and then the staggered start days seem so strange! As a result, I’ve decided to ‘extend summer’ this week and continue with verses from Proverbs. Next week, we’ll go back to going through a book of the Bible. We’ll be looking at Nehemiah, a book about a man who faced a mess and tried to figure out how he could fix it. That rather resonates with our times today.
Proverbs 27: 1 – 2; 19; 21 NLT
Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring.
2 Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.
19 As a face is reflected in water,
so the heart reflects the real person.
21 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
but a person is tested by being praised.
Solomon is warning us to be thoughtful about our opinion of ourselves. We need to be careful that we’re not ‘tooting our own horn’. We also need to be careful that we don’t fall for the praise coming from others. That may make us too proud, and as a result, too careless. We might get a swelled head. On top of all that, we don’t know about what will happen tomorrow. We are foolish if we think we have it all under control. When you get right down to it, Solomon is warning us not to get too confident in how wonderful we think we are. We need to take a good look at who we are down deep – in our hearts.
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.”
What does God want us to know about ourselves?
The first thing we need to know is that God created us to be somewhat like him and to ‘rule’ this earth. Genesis 1: 26 – 31:
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings[a] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[b] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.”
So, yes, we have intelligence and creativity. We long for relationship. We like to organize things. We have many of the characteristics of God – “So God created human beings in his own image” (v. 27) We are special creatures on this planet; we are in charge here.
But, we are not perfect. We are not God. Sin has made a huge difference in the way this world operates. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3: 23) We still have all those amazing characteristics that God created in us, but they are flawed. Does that mean we should look at ourselves as pathetic, not worthy? No!
We are loved by God. Each one of us is special to God. (I don’t want to take up too much space in writing this devotion, but if you struggle with self-esteem, read Psalm 139.) There are so many verses in the Bible that reassure us that we are loved by God. Let’s take a look at them, and understand our worth is based on God’s love for each one of us.
Romans 5: 8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Romans 8: 28 – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the god of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8: 35: 38 – 39 – “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Ephesians 3: 17 – 19 – “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ.”
Our song for today is Jesus Loves Me by Chris Tomlin