Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
We have begun a New Year. It is no longer 2022 but 2023. That is a boundary. The Bible says that boundaries are a God given gift to be respected. A classic verse on the subject is Proverbs 22:28:
Do not remove the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.
What is that about? It means that in ancient Israel farmers marked the boundaries of their lands (allotted by God through Moses) by large stones or piles of stones. A greedy neighbour could sneakily move those stones over time and enlarge his land at the expense of his neighbour.
The world is filled with myriads of boundaries at God’s design. Because God designed them they are good and not to be understood in a negative way as many might see words like ‘division.’ They are good and we’d do well to respect them. Some boundaries like those at Creation are fixed and immoveable: day and night, land and sea, etc. Other boundaries are moveable. Yet it is only in our pride that we seek to move what God has fixed. This is because in our desire to be as God (Gen 3:5) we don’t respect God or others but move those stones to our own advantage. (Even the Creator-creature distinction is a boundary, Ro 1:25. We can’t actually move it but we try!). How we respond to God’s boundaries can be appropriate and inappropriate, good and evil. All sins and troubles, particularly of the inter-personal kind, stem from, in pride, breaking God’s boundaries.
Considering just some of the good God-given boundaries that we find in the Bible:
Perhaps with this in mind you might now see more boundaries in Scripture and identify them in the world around us.
May we repent of boundary breaking, seek the boundary Maker for forgiveness, and find the Holy Spirit’s renewing power to respect the boundaries that God has established for our good.
Where there is strife, there is pride. (Pr 13:10a)
Few like strife, but it is with us.
An argument, a child throwing a tantrum, someone maligning another, a fight; strife comes in many different forms, in many different settings, by many different people.
We may even be the cause of strife ourselves: an impatient heart, not getting our own way, anger, speaking out of turn, etc (c.f. Ja 4:1–3).
Proverbs 13:10 is very revealing. When there is strife know that it is because of pride. Pride is the desire to be as God, to be worshipped, the centre, to have our own way, to determine right and wrong. It may be someone elses pride, it may be your pride or it may be two or more people’s pride, but what it cannot be is no-one’s pride!
Wherever there is pride there is the need for repentance and the Lord’s forgiveness in the Gospel. Repentance—a humbling—is always the solution to strife and always produces peace.
When there is strife, we must diligently examine our own hearts. Are we at peace with the Lord? What is the cause of any strife in my life? Next, so far as it depends on us (Ro 12:18), are we living at peace with all people (even seeking to be peacemakers)? These two steps won’t necessarily remove strife from us if its presence is beyond our control but may it not be said of us that we were the stirrers of strife for that is pride and pride is sin.
Our world is obsessed with itself (yet “God opposes the proud,” Ja 4:6). Think of how vain we can be when we shamelessly draw attention to ourselves:
Think of how Jesus commanded his followers to pray in secret (Mt 6:5–6), fast without flaunting it (Mt 6:16–18), give in secret (Lk 21:1) and take the less prestigious seats at gatherings (Lk 14:10). Listen to how Jesus described vanity in His own words on the subject of giving to the needy and how seriously he condemns it (Mt 6:1–4):
6 “Beware of practising your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
There is no place for vanity amongst Christ’s followers. We do not make a spectacle of self but live to give all glory to Christ. Let us not live empty lives but full lives that centre upon Him.
 It is not wrong to speak of oneself discretely, but what is our motive? That is always the most important question. We can appropriately share in natural conversation with others about our lives when we’re mutually interested in others and when what we share is in the pursuit of sharing wholesome truths (e.g. come see the birds at my feeder, I think you’ll really be interested vs. I’ve got a new feeder, come see how nice it is).
Why do people pursue vanity? For some it is sheer pride, the desire to be God. For others it comes for competition's sake. Still others do it to meet some unmet need in their life (relational affirmation). On the latter, they ought to find affirmation through knowing the love of Christ through faith in Him, which of course is what all three ultimately need.
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