The Long Obedience

Opening Prayer

Father, help me to refocus my life on Your paths. Please guide my life today.

Read Proverbs 4:10–27

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Reflect

Coming to Scripture today, review Wednesday’s recollection of temptations. Have you faced similar struggles since?

A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God talks of our modern religious culture’s failure to arrive at the place of spiritual completeness and maturity before God because of our lack of desire to put in the necessary time and commitment. To live a life of holiness as God calls us to requires a consistent and determined focus that Proverbs describes as a gaze straight ahead (25), avoiding careening off the wise path by swerving to the right or left (27).

The parental teacher in today’s passage emphasizes the need to keep hold of wisdom (13) and to follow the one path for the long haul. There will be other directions you can take, and they will seem enticing, but the Teacher doesn’t so much give advice as issue a command: “avoid it… turn away and pass on.” Wisdom (21) must be held firmly, and that deepest place of our desires and affections—the heart—kept clear of the kind of pollution that destroys us. So, watch your speech, be careful what and who you look at. And that temptation to nourish ill-will and disdain towards others? Clean it out now.

Apply

Have you signed up for the long haul toward holiness? Commit to walk in God’s ways today.

Closing prayer

Lord, sometimes following You seems such a hard road. Give me delight in Your grace to keep me keeping on.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider