Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 5 February 2022:
Genesis 34:1 – “Now Dinah… went out to see the women of the land.”
Engaging the world is extremely dangerous. Because so much of the world seems so appealing, we can forget the destructive power of sin and to what extremes to godless can go. Some of the evilest people appear to be the ‘nicest’ people.
Genesis 34:5-12 – Shechem did a disgraceful thing and deeply offended Jacob’s family, but Shechem apparently desired to make restitution and seek reconciliation – “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give.” However, in their self-righteous indignation and anger for what happened to Dinah, the sons of Jacob sinned terribly against the House of Hamor. Their resentment resulted in great destruction and hatred that would last for generations to come. Christians have been given the ministry and message of reconciliation and must continually work for peace with those who have offended us. We cannot let hurt stand in the way of the sort of love to which God has called us –
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 — All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- Luke 6:27-36 — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
- Hebrews 12:3-4 — Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
- Luke 14:27 — Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Genesis 34:13, 27-39 – “The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah…. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.”
Jacob’s sons returned sin for sin, resulting in the slaughter of many who had nothing to do with the original offense. Following Jacob’s bad example, the sons of Jacob slaughtered countless unsuspecting, peaceful bystanders. If we are not careful, we too can let our anger get out of hand and hurt the innocent around us while inciting others to do the same. For example, strife between a mother and father hurts the children but also teaches them to be hurtful people.
When you respond to sinners with sin, you become as guilty as they are, regardless of who started it, and you only cause further pain which escalates. Pain and anger is never a justification to sin, and vengeance is always in defiance to God.
- Proverbs 20:22 — Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
- Romans 12:17-19 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
- 1 Thessalonians — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
- Proverbs 24:29 — Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.”
- 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
- Deuteronomy 32:35 — Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’
- 1 Peter 2:23 — When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
- Matthew 5:39 — But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
- 1 Peter 4:19 — Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
- Psalm 37:34 — Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
- Psalm 27:14 — Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
- Lamentations 3:25-26 — The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
- 2 Samuel 16:12 — It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.
- Isaiah 40:31 — but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Jacob was a model of deceit for his children as was his father and mother before him. What did you learn from your parents, and what habits are you teaching others? Do not let sin continue from generation to generation but rather faith and faithfulness. Be the one in your family who breaks the cycle –
- Deuteronomy 6:5-9 — You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
- Joshua 24:15 — And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Genesis 34:30 — Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.’
Jacob was not as concerned about the spiritual significance of what he and his sons did as he was about the social and tangible impact. Jacob was only concerned about his own skin. You will see this character trait continue to play out as we read on. About what are you most concerned on a daily basis?
Psalm 13 – Sometimes when God is silent during trials, you may feel as if God has forgotten you; even John the Baptist needed reassurance that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord, the Savior. Someone once said, during the exam, the teacher is silent. Faith is tested during times such as these. Faith is trusting God now and acting on that trust. Hope is trusting God with your future. Love is an affection for God that gladly surrenders all to God regardless of outcomes – faith, hope, love – these three remain. We are weak, but He is strong: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” (v5)
Proverbs 5:1-6 — My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
Wisdom enables discretion which gives us the self-control to resist the temptation for instant gratification now in order to preserve our greatest possible future. Wisdom is never short-sighted but rather can see the long-term implications of even the smallest decisions.
“…that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.” (Proverbs 5:2) Have God’s words on your lips, ready for the moments of decision when you need God’s word to keep from being deceived by your natural passions and desires and from doing what you want to do rather than what God commands you to do. If there is an area in your life where you know you are easily tempted, memorize Bible verses on that topic and recite them to yourself regularly, particularly in moments of weakness.
“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” (Proverbs 5:3-6) Sin is selfishly choosing pleasure and self-gratification over love, faithfulness, and obedience, with no consideration of the consequences or the inevitable destruction to follow. The sinful are blind to the reality of sin because their eyes are not on God, and they aren’t viewing things from God’s perspective. All sin, even secret sins, hurts both the sinner and others. Sin hardens the heart of the sinner and leads to further sins which grow. All relationships are based on trust, and sin destroys trust. Sin says God can’t trust you to do what is right, you can’t trust you to do what is right, and therefore, others can’t trust you to do what is right. This creates an environment of distrust (first internally and then externally) which causes defensiveness, division, deception, and dispute, destruction, and death.
“She does not ponder the path of life.” (Proverbs 5:6) Sinners do not stop to truly consider the seriousness of their sin or what they are doing
Proverbs 5:7, 8 – “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.”
Laws and social moral codes cannot keep you from sin, only faith, hope, and love can. Faith gives more value to the unseen than the seen. Faith is more motivated by God’s word, which cannot be seen or handled, than the appealing physical things right in front of us. Faith trust God to do the right thing now, and hope trusts God with the future outcome of that decision, and love puts God and others above self and is the only motivation which is stronger than self-gratification. Ultimately, rules and regulations will not keep you from doing what you really want to do, and when in your heart you desire to sin, you will eventually sin. However, love truly desires not to sin and, therefore, doesn’t need the restraint of regulations or external reinforcements. Love does what is right naturally out of a passion for God and others. Do you believe God and His Majesty is more real and more wonderful than the ‘shiny apples’ at your fingertips? Do you love God and others more than the forbidden fruit of temptation?
“Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” (Proverbs 5:8) If you know that certain things or certain situations entice you to sin, then the best thing you can do is stay far, far away from them. Don’t be complacent with or toy with temptations. We must choose to stay very far from all sin. Sin is nothing to take lightly and nothing to play with. I am not sure how it is possible to maintain this principle and watch TV today.
Proverb 5:11, 12 — “And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!'”
You will reap what you sow, and when you do, you cannot change what you planted and cultivated in the past, and you cannot make up for a lack of investment. Whatever you plant and cultivate (or fail to plant or cultivate) will eventually and inevitably produce fruit of consequences and character for all to see. “…. and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed.” People choose between two pains: the constructive pain of discipline (self-control) today, or the destructive pain of regret tomorrow. Successful and godly people carry the light burden of discipline daily to avoid the crushing load of disappointment, disillusionment, depression, and defeat in the future.
Today is a great day to start doing what you should have been doing. Don’t worry about the past – it’s over. Don’t worry about tomorrow – it is out of your control. Today, is in your hands – make the most of it, joyfully, thankfully, energetically, courageously, and obediently. This is your best way to correct what has been done and promote a positive tomorrow. As the Chinese proverbs says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is today.”
Proverbs 5:15 — “Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.”
Much sin starts with dissatisfaction over the gifts God has given you. Be grateful for that content with what God has given you, and do not compare your situation with that of others.
Proverbs 5:17 – “Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.”
Protect and take care of what God has given you, rather than worrying about what God hasn’t given you. You are only ready to receive more when you can prove faithful with what you already have.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 5 Feb 22: A theme in today’s readings is trusting God in all of your circumstances and trusting Him enough to obey Him and do what is right at the moment, regardless how difficult, with complete confidence that faithfulness will be rewarded by God in the future. Today, trust and obey with joy and contentment, and don’t respond to people or circumstances with negativity. Rejoice in all things, yes, all things, and pour out nothing but love in His name.