The Holy Spirit - Learning from the Proverbs
‘Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares’ (Proverbs 1:20). ‘Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm’ (Proverbs 1:33). The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed. Why is it so important that we tell others about our Saviour, Jesus Christ? - It is because He offers salvation to all who come to Him: ‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13). Later on, in Proverbs, we read. ‘he who wins souls is wise’ (Proverbs 11:30). Those who are wise will pray for a greater fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses ...’ (Acts 1:8). Filled with the Holy Spirit, we will speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).
The way of obedience is the way of life: ‘keep My commandments and live’ (Proverbs 7:2). This is not a shallow legalism. It is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is ‘walking in the Spirit’. It is living as ‘a new creation’. We do not glory in our own obedience. We ‘glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 5:16; 6:16,14). Obedience is a mark of spiritual maturity. The ‘mature’ are ‘those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14). In His Word, God shows us how we are to live and how we are not to live. We must ‘listen’ to God. We must ‘be attentive’ to His Word, thinking on and doing ‘these things’ which will glorify Him (Proverbs 7:24; Philippians 4:8-9). ‘Sin so easily entangles... let us fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Proverbs 7:25-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).
‘A perverse man will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man with the fruit of his deeds’ (Proverbs 14:14). Jesus speaks to us about ‘good fruit’ and ‘bad fruit’. He warns us not to be deceived by those who have no real love for Him: ‘You will know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:15-20). How does good fruit grow in the ‘tree’ of our lives? - ‘Blessed is the man... whose delight is in the law of the Lord... He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season’ (Psalm 1:1-3). There is good fruit to be enjoyed when we take delight in the Word of the Lord. There is bad fruit to be thrown away. Let’s throw away the bad fruit - ‘...strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness...’ - and enjoy the good fruit - ‘love, joy, peace...’. Let ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ grow in you - ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:19-24; Ephesians 5:18).
What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? We are to be God’s people - people who are learning to live a life of ‘love’ (Proverbs 17:9). How do we learn what love is like? We learn from God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loves us - ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...’ (John 3:16). In the Son, we see perfect love - ‘The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Through the Spirit, our lives are filled with love - ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’ (Galatians 5:22). We can only be an influence for love if we are learning to be influenced by love. We are to be people ‘under the Influence’. We are to live our lives under the influence of God’s love. This is the Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - the life of love.
‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1). We need to learn the truth of these words - before it’s too late! There is a better way than the way of drunkenness. It is the way of being filled with the Holy Spirit: ‘Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). We must not ‘live according to the flesh’. God calls us to ‘live according to the Spirit’. He warns us against making the wrong choice: ‘To set the mind on the flesh is death’. He shows us the way of blessing: ‘To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace’. ‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’. May God help us to turn from ‘the works of the flesh’ and seek ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6; Colossians 3:2; Galatians 5:19-23).
‘Keep your heart on the right path’ (Proverbs 23:19). How are we to do this? We must seek ‘truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding’ (Proverbs 23:23). We must give our hearts to Christ. He is ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6). We must open our hearts to Christ. He is ‘our Wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Opening our hearts will mean opening our Bibles. Giving our hearts to Christ will mean giving time to reading God’s Word. As we read ‘the Scriptures’, we will receive ‘instruction’. We will learn about ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. We will receive ‘instruction for right living’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17). As we read God’s Word, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will give us ‘understanding’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).
‘The Lord will reward you’ (Proverbs 25:22). The work done by God’s servants is tested by fire: ‘the fire will test what sort of work each one has done’. There is work of real ‘quality’ - ‘gold, silver, precious stones’. There is work which has no real value - ‘wood, hay, straw’. God wants us to think about the work we do in His Name. We are to ‘remove the dross from the silver’ (Proverbs 25:4). We are not to be content with superficial work which does not lead to changed lives. Our words are to be ‘apples of gold in a setting of silver’. They are to be words of wisdom, words which are ‘better than fine gold’, words which ‘surpass choice silver’ (Proverbs 25:11; Proverbs 8:19). We are to bring God’s Word -‘good news’ - and God’s Spirit -‘rivers of living water’ - to our hearers (Proverbs 25:25; 1 Peter 1:12,23-25; John 7:37-39).