Day 23: Proverbs 23:17-18
Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day
Surely there is a future
And your hope will not be cut off
- What might it mean to envy sinners in your life?
- The first verse (v17) contains two commandments. The first is a negative commandment (telling us not to do something). The second is a positive commandment (telling us to do something).
- The fear of the Lord has come up in previous verses in Proverbs. How do the past verses containing this phrase influence this verse? (Proverbs 1:7:, 2:5, and 10:27)
One of the most powerful weapons that our enemy has in his arsenal is the appeal that sin has when we first come across it. After all, if sin didn't have any sort of appeal to it than we would never do it. That appeal might look different for you than it does for me, but what this verse tells us is that not only is that appeal real, but we need to be wary of it.
In Addiction counseling there is a tool that is often used called, "substitution." When an addict is trying to break him or herself of an addiction it is often easier to substitute the unhealthy habit with a healthy one, than to simply stop the unhealthy one. For example, if your goal was to stop eating chocolate it might be easier to start eating apples instead of chocolate instead of quitting chocolate cold turkey.
The second part of the seventeenth verse is God's way of, "substitution." When we stop our lives of sin we are going to sometimes want to go back to that life. That's the appeal part we were just talking about in the first part of this verse. God's substitute is to, "continue in the fear of the Lord all the day." Now this does not mean is that we should be constantly afraid of what the Lord could do to punish us. What this phrase does mean is that those that have a healthy love and respect for the Lord act in a certain way. When we come to know and love the Lord we substitute our sinful life with one that we know brings pleasure to the Lord. This looks different from person to person based on what the Lord calls you to do, but some universal things that a person walking in, "the fear of the Lord" can do is pray, read scripture, and worship just to name a few.
Verse 18 is a promise. A promise we have from holy scripture. A promise that comes from God, and one that we should not take lightly. When we begin to substitute our sinful life with a life that is pleasing to God it can be a struggle at first. Reading your bible can be challenging or boring, you may not know what to pray for, and worship can seem awkward. What this verse brings to those people is a promise of hope, and of a future. As you begin to live your new life in Christ, rejecting your former sinful life, rest in the promise that there is a grace that covers all your mistakes, there is a love that is vaster than we can imagine, and there is a hope that greater than all the hardships of this life.
Lord, thank you promises that you give me. Promises that encourage me and build me up. Remembering those promises, I pray that by the power of your Holy Spirit I can start to reject my life of sin, and to live into the life you are calling me to.
- Deacon Michael Schwandt