Credibility is earned

God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship. God guards knowledge with a passion, but he’ll have nothing to do with deception. Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline. (Proverbs 22:11-12, 15)

A pure heart speaks of purity of emotions and intellect. Many of us struggle with this just because of all the "influence" we experience from the stuff working overtime to bombard our brains with "urgent" input. Guarding what gets IN affects what will indeed eventually come OUT. Gracious speech are the words which some might call "tactful" - marked by kindness, courtesy, and mercy. They reveal genuine compassion - pleasing and bringing "satisfaction" to the ears of the one hearing them. We see God speak often of the condition of the heart and the outflow of the mouth - linking the outflow to what has first been cultivated by what we take in. God gives the frequent warnings against laziness. To "guard" means we have to pay attention, on purpose, all of the time. Any form of laziness on our part will provide an opportunity for either an attack on our emotions, a wandering of our minds, or the relationship disasters caused by words spoken in haste or out of season. Laziness is any form of inactivity which has a negative outcome in our lives. You can judge if you are being "lazy" by the excuses you find yourself making when something happens, or when you are standing there empty-handed.

It is part of human nature to make excuses for our inactivity, especially when it is revealed by what we lack in some regard. Excuses have a way of making us look good in our own eyes, but they seldom change the opinion of the one hearing them. Excuses are just a subtle way of trying to shift the blame - or even remove it totally. Anytime we offer an excuse for our laziness, we are just trying to shift the blame for our lack of progress to someone else - or some circumstance "beyond our control". Excuses are just a way of revealing a lack of good judgment. When a life lacks prudence or good judgment, instruction and correction are needed in order to get that life back on course. Discipline actually assists us in moving away from a posture of laziness and into a posture of positive action once again. Folly is fun for a while, but eventually there is very little to show for our squandered time, talent, and treasure. It becomes excessively costly to make excuses for any length of time, because what is lost may never be able to be made up again.

The wise have learned the importance of living BEYOND excuses. Their life has found a path of consistency - consistent people reveal a credibility in their actions and speech. The wise have learned the importance of having God's word close at hand. This is accomplished by consistent study and exposure to the truths which begin to settle deep within - taking root where excuses once held ground. The word is not only instructional in nature, but it is "prodding". By it, we are moved into action when inactivity beckons us. They recognize the ability of God's word to bring us to a place of trust. Inactivity will produce nothing of this sort in our lives, for we cannot trust a crumbling foundation. That which is maintained will remain strong - that which is allowed to just "coast" or "be on auto-pilot" will eventually crumble. The word is filled with all kinds of advice and knowledge - but it must be mined. This is where the rub comes for the lazy - there is work involved in mining. Effort has to be expended to both lay a good foundation and to maintain it. As long as we make excuses and complain about the effort, we will never be developing deeper trust. Trust is based on truth - truth is mined from God's word.

Listen carefully to my wisdom; take to heart what I can teach you. You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within; you’ll give it bold expression in your speech. To make sure your foundation is trust in God, I’m laying it all out right now just for you. I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—tested guidelines to live by. Believe me—these are truths that work and will keep you accountable... (Proverbs 22:17-21) Listening requires being attentive - on purpose, in the moment. Taking teaching to heart requires getting up off our fannies and doing what the word says. The promise to those who are willing to move beyond excuses - a bold expression in what we proclaim with our mouths - because what comes out has first been purposefully put in! When we stop making excuses for how "tough" it is to understand God's word, truthfully beginning to explore what we can understand right now, allowing God to unfold what we just "don't get", we will be developing a foundation by which our actions begin to change. We come to a place of realizing the truths contained in the Word are actually reliable - they are tested and can be counted on to produce what they are intended to produce. Some will build our faith; others will challenge us to lay down our pride, while others will hold us accountable for either our inaction or our improper action. This is probably the biggest reason why we avoid the word of God - we don't want to be held accountable. It is also the reason we need to make a beeline to it without haste! Just sayin!


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