Be Quiet!

Proverbs is one of the Bible’s Wisdom books along with Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs.  One of its major themes is the consequences of actions and words.  According to the bible, discipline in what we speak, how we manage what goes into our bodies and what we do with our time all matter if we want to lead a godly life.  It is the root meaning of what it means to be a disciple.

One of the great disciplines of the Christian is stillness.  “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) is easier said than done for most of us.  It is essential though if we are to hear God.  If we don’t hear the Holy Spirit within us we cannot pray.

Inner stillness can be disturbed by many things.  What we eat can disturb our bowels  making us uncomfortable and unable to stay still.  What we have said to someone can disturb us, we may be aware that we have hurt someone with our words.  Proverbs is full of admonishments to restrain our lips (e.g. Prov. 21:23) so that our souls and lives can be preserved.

Inner turmoil is exposed as soon as we try to be still.  For that reason many people avoid trying to be still as much as possible.  Some will work all day (usually older people), others will play video games or continuously interact with their smartphones (usually younger people).  Continuously blaring music of all sorts is a very common way of avoiding being still for many of us.  Constantly having the TV on or the radio when travelling is another way of avoiding inner turmoil.

Inner turmoil can keep us awake at night.  Our aching bellies, unfulfilled desires, our troubled conscience, worries and fears are unavoidable at night when everything is quiet and still.

God’s answer to inner turmoil is for us to bring this bag of wind and tossing to His word and to be still before it.  That is why there is so much right emphasis in Christian circles on having a disciplined daily quiet time with God – usually before we do anything else in a day.  The word of God is living and active, it will cast a light over all that is going on within you and separate out what is of God and what isn’t (Hebrews 4:12).  As we are still we can pray and the Holy Spirit will teach you about how to live (John 14:26).

Be still.  Jesus commanded the wind and waves.  He can do that for you also.

Easy to Understand, Hard to DO

Jesus’ definition of a hypocrite was someone who did not practice what they taught (Matthew 23:3).  In my experience this is a surprisingly common phenomenon especially in my own life!

James also said this about the same type of thing:

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. 

(James 1:22-25)

So, here are some things that are easy to understand but hard to do that are challenging me lately.  Perhaps you can identify with some of them:

  1. The cure to being overweight is to eat less.  In my case, if I simply cut out eating cakes and biscuits with my teas and coffees I would do all I need (taking into account point 2 below) to get to my best weight.  The trouble is I really like cakes and biscuits with my teas and coffees.
  2. The cure for flabbiness is more exercise (and point 1 above).  In my case a few exercises every morning for about 15 mins coupled with 30 mins walk or a 20 mins cycle will do the trick.  The trouble is I don’t like going out in the rain.
  3. The cure for impure thoughts is to catch them as they appear in my mind and bring them captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  4. The cure for poverty is to live within my income, not to spend more than I earn.  The trouble is I want the “freedom” that comes with being able to buy something when I want it.

The reality is that we are all, by nature, hypocrites to some degree or another.  We can be no other way.  Paul talks about this phenomenon in Galatians 5:17 (see also Romans 7:22, 23):

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 

He also tells us the cure:

“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh.”

That is the real challenge.