‘The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails – given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.’ (vv11–12)
Friendship with Jesus provokes us into building credible lives of service reflecting His character. All four Gospel accounts present a picture of how Jesus lived, yet we quickly discover we lack the power to live His way without the power of the Holy Spirit, deposited within us by God’s grace when we say yes to Him (Rom. 8:9). Of course, we start as newborns in the Christian life (John 3:3) and are encouraged to grow through childhood and adolescence into adulthood (1 Cor. 3:1–3). Physically we may have the attributes of an adult but behave like an ill-tempered toddler. Learning to live the Christian life is discerning and serving Jesus consistently.
Despite knowing how to behave, we will also encounter times that test us to our limit. We might hope for ‘normal circumstances’, but there’s no such thing. We are all inclined towards conservatism deep within our human make up, a desire to protect ourselves from things that appear to destabilise and threaten our existence, from sickness to financial instability.
If such conditions consume us, it becomes more difficult to apply our Christian learning and understanding. We can feel isolated, with few sources of encouragement to calm our legitimate fears and keep hope alive. Each of us will need to learn to practise our faith in both calm and storm conditions. Context will impact and shape our faith with Jesus, always providing our example whilst also guiding us (John 16:33).
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Job 40:1–5, 42:1–6; 1 Cor. 13:4–13; Eph. 4:14–32.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, lead me into maturity in every circumstance. Amen.’