In The Bible Today; Proverbs 21
Understanding The Bible
The Bible is a timeless text of perennial wisdom. It tells us not only of God and mankind, but it also guides us on our path as spiritual beings in human bodies.
Though the Bible sometimes seems inapproachable and complex, these studies are designed to make the Bible accessible to everyone and applicable to everyday life.
This study uses the SOAP technique: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. As you read through and study the bible, and a verse sticks out to you, write it down. Then write down your personal observations regarding the scripture, along with historical notations and any other pertinent information. After you make a thorough observation of the scripture, meditate on how you might apply the lesson learned to your own life. How can you use this particular verse to improve your life or make your spiritual journey better? Finally, write out a prayer to God, as you think about the scripture.
This technique will help you find more meaning from your study of scripture, and will help deepen your walk along a spiritual path.
Proverbs 21: 3, 27: "3. To do justice and judgement is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. 27. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination: how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind." King James Version
Proverbs 21: 3, 27: "3. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. 27. The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable - how much more so when brought with evil intent." New International Version
Proverbs 21: 3, 27: "3. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (for wrongs repeatedly committed). 27. The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable and offensive (to the Lord). How much more (unacceptable and insulting can it be) when he brings it with evil intention?" Amplified Bible
Observation: The system of sacrifice outlined in the Old Testament allowed people to get right with God. To atone for laws broken, one could make a sacrifice and he would be right before God. The Old Testament is very specific about which sins and what sacrifices are appropriate, and the Israelites followed those laws exactly.
These two verses tell us there is something more important than sacrifice; a good heart. God would rather have us do good and be just people, than be evil, but bring an appropriate sacrifice. God cares more about the condition of your heart than the value of your outward sacrifice.
Many people seem to think they are more righteous, because by outward appearances, they follow strict religious rules and mores. By outward appearances, they are doing everything right. Whatever the particular religion, and the stated rules, they follow them to a T. No drinking? No smoking? No swearing? They follow these church rules religiously, without any room for reproach or scorn.
Some people, are not all they seem. Although they are pure outwardly, on the inside, they seethe with sin. In the secret places, where evil dwells, they feel safe, hidden. No one can see the condition of their heart, or their secret sins. The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable, and when brought a a guilt offering to mask shame, evil, and wrongdoing, it is even worse.
Outward behavior ought to match your heart. Are you a good person, kind and fair? God doesn't care if you don't follow this church, or that doctrine. He cares about intent. An upstanding elder in a fancy church who harbors hatred and evil intent cannot hide his heart from God. Neither can we.
God alone can see the heart. God alone knows the intentions of the heart. He can see if you are a good person, who has done a dumb thing and is truly repentant, or if you are an evil person, filled with anger, who lives an outwardly righteous life. God will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart. He wants us to humble ourselves and live what we say we believe.
A broken spirit and a contrite heart
Application: You always have a choice in life. Only you know your own intentions, and why you do what you do. Remember, that regardless of how you behave outwardly, God also knows your heart. Your intentions do not go unnoticed, and nothing happens without consequences.
Rather than try to live an outwardly righteous life, do the right things for the right reasons. Character is measured by who you are and what you do when no one else is looking. How do you want to show up for your own life, and how do you want to feel about who you really are?
Today, I will work toward having good intentions for everyone I meet. Regardless of the circumstances, I will strive to be kind hearted and share love and forgiveness. I won't beat myself up for not going to church. I won't feel superior to others - I don't know their hearts. In that regard, I won't feel inferior either. I can only monitor the condition of my own heart and the resulting behavior.
Don't busy yourself with what others might think of you. Be concerned with what God thinks of you, and with the condition of your heart. Today, remind yourself that rather than keeping up appearances, do the right things for the right reasons.
Prayer: Lord, you know my heart. You have seen the deep and dark places. I ask that you shine your light of love into my heart today, and let my life be an expression of your love and forgiveness.
Let me release concerns about the judgement and condemnation of others. Let me focus today on being a good, kind person, who shares your love. Help me and strengthen me to do the right things for the right reasons.