Chapter 18 is about CHURCH! God uses church as an environment for His children to learn to be like Him.
Here are some interesting verses:
(15) The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
We go to church to listen for Him to speak to our hearts through:
- The pastor- He is the primary person to whom God will speak concerning the body. We are to honor him and his position as head of our “environment.”
- The teachers- They put forth the Word, which will change lives–YOUR life.
- The music- The message of the songs can circumvent our intellect and shoot straight to our hearts, but we MUST participate. “Passive worship” is a contradiction in terms. If a person doesn’t sing, then he must actively listen and allow Himself to be carried to His throne.
- Each other- God uses His people to speak to His people. It’s one of the reasons we should take our time together very seriously, looking for opportunities to share His love and each other’s burdens.
(1) An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
When a person chooses to be unfriendly, he shuts down the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. If he’s not careful, he will get caught in a holding pattern in which he will stay until he chooses wisely the next opportunity the LORD gives him. Being confrontational is rarely godly.
(2) Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
We must come to church to hear from the LORD. Most times, that means keeping our mouths shut concerning our opinion and listening to what our leaders have to say. It’s not a matter of hierarchy, but of office. See James 3:1-2. If you are a church leader, be it a deacon, teacher, or otherwise, you must serve with a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just like Me.” Matthew 20:25-26. “Servant leader” seems like an oxymoron, but it describes Jesus’ own attitude.
(3) When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.
At church, we must strive to NOT hold people in contempt, but to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit will bring conviction in their lives if we:
- Are living a godly life ourselves;
- Pray fervently before speaking to them about their sin and situation;
- Hold out the “olive branch” of peace to them if they repent;
- Continue to pray for them as they wrestle with their decision regardless of their reaction/response.
(10) The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
I want church to be a safe place for Christians to come and learn and grow and experience the presence of Christ manifested in corporate worship. Let’s all strive to be additions to His peace rather than subtractions.
Abba, as we go to church this morning, may we humble ourselves in Your sight, O LORD, so that You can lift us up. May we always take the lower seat at the banquet table (You will move us up IF you so desire). May we study to show ourselves approved, rightly handling Your Word of truth. May we experience Your love as we love each other through word and deed. May we feel your joy as we draw close to Your throne. May we spread Your peace as we interact with each other today and all week. “Make us like YOU, O LORD. You were a servant; make us one, too.” I love You, LORD. May I share that love to those around me today. Amen.