11–17 March 2018.
One of the big questions we have to face in life is: How should we live? What is the principle that should guide our lives and guide our behaviour? As parents we want to make sure that our children are following the right path; but these questions aren’t just important for young people. As adults we also need to ask ourselves: “What am I really directing my life towards?”
For many people, the answer to that question is power. There are many ways we seek power. One of the most common ways is through money and riches – because we’ve learnt that in this world money makes us look respectable and gives us the power to look down on others who earn less. But we also fight for power using the way we speak. We use our words to cut other people down; we criticize others, gossip about them, and spread lies. How many times have other people used their words to shame us, hurt us, and even destroy our lives? And how many times have we done this to others?
We act this way because we think that seeking power is the best way to live. When we have that mindset, we don’t care where power comes from or what it takes to get it. We use corruption, we cheat in business, and we use all kinds of hurtful speech and lies to push other people down. When we are the victims of that behaviour, we feel how deeply wrong it is. But when we are the ones doing it to others, we tell ourselves that this is simply the way the world works. After all, if everyone else is behaving this way then shouldn’t we do the same?
But this is where the Bible stops us and tells us this is not the right direction for our lives at all. Over and over again in Proverbs 11 we read warnings against living this way. Yes, people cheat at business, they use corruption, ambition, dishonesty and evil plans to get ahead; with their words they hurt those around them, they spread lies and gossip, and they use their words to destroy other people’s lives – and they think this is the pathway to success. What’s worse, we then admire people who act that way and want to do it too! But Proverbs 11 tells us just how wrong this is. A life lived that way is not a success, it’s a life full of failure.
So how then should we live? Proverbs 11 tells us that a good life is one that focuses on honesty, integrity, wisdom, and righteousness. A life that rejects gossip, rejects cruelty (in both what we do and what we say). A life lived the way God wants us to live is a life that really is good and right and true. Sadly, it’s not easy to live like that, and it’s certainly not always painless. But then true success never comes easily. Yes we could give up and just live mean little lives focused on money and power, but I hope we don’t give into that temptation. With God’s help, I hope we can follow the narrow path of love, goodness, and kindness, and truly live the good life God wants us to live.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis