Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you.
Proverbs 3:27-28 (NIV 1984)
With the recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters, we’ve seen this verse in action. Where I have to watch my human nature is when a neighbor needs something at 9 or 10 at night.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
– Proverbs 15:1 (WEB)
When I was younger I ran into someone at a stoplight. I wasn’t paying attention, and the line of cars at the light was longer than I expected. I looked up, slammed on the brakes, but too late. My front end crumpled, the back of his vehicle crumpled.
I pushed open my door to get out. He got out, spitting mad. He yelled at me. What did I think I was doing? Why didn’t I look where where I was going?
And this verse crossed my mind. I tamped down my instinctive reaction to start yelling back at him. Instead, I responded calmly, answering his questions “gently.”
The transformation in him was instantaneous. He immediately settled down and responded to me in kind. We traded insurance and waited patiently for the police and tow trucks.
I have to admit, that incident is one of the few times that I’ve applied this verse. I’m guilty of escalating many, many arguments by responding with “harsh words.”
But that day, after running into the guy, I followed this Biblical precept and it worked.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)
We can’t really begin to truly process our world and understand it without first acknowledging God.
John Gill in his commentary on this verse wrote:
By “the fear of the Lord” is not meant a servile fear, a fear of punishment, of hell, wrath, and damnation, which is the effect of the first work of the law upon the conscience; but a filial fear, and supposes knowledge of God as a father, of his love and grace in Christ, particularly of his forgiving love, from whence it arises, Psalm 130:4; it is a holy, humble, fiducial fear of God; a reverential affection for him, and devotion to him; it includes the whole of religious worship, both internal and external; all that is contained in the first table of the law, and the manner of performing it, and principle of acting: this is the first of all sciences to be learned, and it is the principal one; it is the basis and foundation of all the rest, on which they depend; and it is the head, the fountain, the root an source, from whence they spring; and unless a man knows God, knows God in Christ, and worships him in his fear, in spirit and in truth, according to his revealed will, he knows nothing as he ought to know; and all his knowledge will be of no avail and profit to him; this is the first and chief thing in spiritual and evangelical knowledge, and without which all natural knowledge will signify nothing . . .
So this fear of the Lord involves getting to know Him. We can do that through reading the Bible. And until we start that process of fearing the Lord, in the filial way Gill describes, all other knowledge pales in comparison.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV 1984)
One of the best proverbs, simple and pure! I like the way the old NIV puts it best, but KJV is always good, too.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
– Psalm 119:11 (WEB)
Scripture has a funny way of inserting itself into your thoughts. The Lord changes the way we think as we read and meditate on His word. In many ways, our thinking becomes aligned with His.
Not in all ways, of course. But in some ways you begin to see things the way He wants you to. For instance, habitual sins are easier to break when reflecting on specific verses. There is power in God’s word.
An excellent online resource for dealing with and breaking habitual sins is Focus on the Family’s Life Challenges page.