Kindness and Truth

Proverb 3: 3 – 4

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

If we were to have a Word of the Day on every verse in Proverbs which is highlighted in my Bible we would be here for a while. Today’s verse is one of the more well known proverbs. It is typical of the Proverbs. It shows a cause and effect, a result and the means by which to attain that result. The result we gain today is favor and a good reputation with God and man.

The thing I particularly like about today’s verse is the translation of truth into “Jesus”. In John 14: 6 Jesus calls himself the truth. So then I read this verse as, “Do not let kindness and Jesus leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” I think when people read proverbs like the one for today, there is an immediate acceptance of the ideas contained within. This verse sounds like a good idea but how do you apply it? How do you bind kindness and truth around your neck?

One of our responses may be, “be people of kindness and truth” and that seems to make sense. Thinking about Jesus as the truth creates a more dynamic model. Because we also know that Jesus is the Word, we can actually write this truth on our hearts. That makes today’s proverb less of an esoteric idea and more of an applied model. That is good for us.
What a pleasant idea it is thinking about binding Jesus around our necks and writing him on the tablet of our hearts. He is our Bible partner. As we seek him through the Word, meditating on Biblical precepts as we do, Jesus becomes more and more ingrained into every part of us. He is his word and he is truth and when we make kindness and truth a part of us then God’s favor becomes part of as well. In addition the favor of man and a good reputation with God and man become ours. All of that makes life here on this earth better and easier.

The Welcome Mat

Ezekiel 33: 11

“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.’”

God isn’t into punishment. He is into salvation. He desires that none should perish. That is why He sent His Son, so that every person may be saved. 

We get skewed ideas of God sometimes, that He is full of hate and contempt. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is love but there are a lot of people in the world who cannot perceive of love nor accept love so they remake God in their image rather than accepting Him as He is. Because they are unlovely, unworthy to be loved, they make God a hateful, unloving God.

Another problem is that God gets the blame when things go wrong. Satan has done an amazing job of camouflaging himself. He has become almost invisible and intentionally so. There are many people who do not recognize his existence any longer. One person told me that she does not believe in the existence of evil. Look around! How can one truly not understand that there are evil actors in the world? Furthermore, some folks get really nervous when you talk, or even teach, about the devil. This has helped him to run around stealing, killing and destroying with impunity. It is even worse than that. Not only does he get away with it, all too often God gets the blame. Satan scores twice with one swipe. And it is not only the unsaved, the uninitiated who criticize God for Satan’s evil deeds, we Christians are guilty of it too. I ought to know. I blamed God for my sports injuries and troubles. I was helped along by Christians who told me that God was doing these things to me in order to make me strong. What a horrible and wrong teaching. God uses love to strengthen you. He doesn’t blow out your knees in order to make your faith and trust in Him stronger. It only takes a small exercise of logic to figure that one out. 

Another common mistake is to judge Christianity by Christians. We are still flawed and make mistakes all of the time. It isn’t very logical when you think about it to judge God by the behavior of people but it is a pretty natural thing to do. Any human institution is going to suffer from the growing pains of its members but God is perfect and so is His love. We certainly are ambassadors for the kingdom of God whether or not we wish to be. A true seeker, though, should exercise wisdom and seek the face of God. I will promise you this. You will not see the face of God and walk away from Him. When a person seeks God they find love and acceptance. When they look at us they sometimes find judgment and condemnation. That is not God’s way. While we are learning to walk and act like God, the wise person will look to Him rather than to judge Him by what they see in us. Actually, if one really thought about it, the fact that the Father loves us enough to accept us should speak volumes about His love. The unsaved ought to look at Christians and say, “If God can love and accept them, then He will most certainly love me.” And it is true. There is no person on this earth that He does not love and wish to spend eternity with. Think of the most vile person you know. God’s will, His heart’s desire, is to save that person and give him a home in heaven.

Favor and Reputation

Proverb 3: 3 – 4

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.

The secret to attaining what we want in verse four is found in verse three. We can have favor with God and man and we are meant to. We also should enjoy a good reputation. You can work hard for a good reputation. You can apply all of the world’s wisdom on how to gain man’s favor, read all of the Positive Mental Attitude and Sales books, or you can take the shortcut. 

If we want to apply the Father’s shortcut the first thing that we must acknowledge and accept is that this is heart work again. You cannot just read the Bible like it is a self-help book and reap the benefits. The power of the Word is that it lives in you, in your heart. We are supposed to take the things that the Holy Spirit is teaching us and write them on the tablet of our hearts. Writing on our hearts is a purposeful act of our own. We choose what abides in our hearts and in this passage our Father is encouraging us to make it truth and kindness. 

Now if you really think about it, you would expect a person to have favor and a good reputation who has prioritized truth and kindness in their lives. No one likes a liar and a person who is unkind will have no friends. I think, though, that we can go even a little deeper with this. First of all, we are not talking about being unkind as much as being affirmatively kind. That is different. It means that kindness goes before you. Overt acts of kindness become one’s calling card. People ought to be able to rely on us responding with kindness. We ought to be predictably kind.

As for truth, there is truth with a little “t” and Truth with a capital “t”. The difference is Jesus. He is the truth. When THE truth is what we bind about our necks and write on the tablets of our hearts then we certainly will be favored among all people. Then telling “the truth” takes on a more profound meaning. Jesus becomes “the way” in our lives. His ways become our ways. Again we become reliable. People can count on us and that is really very important. How many people do you know that you can count on? Those people become precious to you.

God wants you to walk in favor with Him and to have favor with all people. That is why He is telling us how to get it. Favor means that things just go your way, people do things for you, give you things. Sometimes it is nothing more than a good parking place. Other times it is the impossible happening for you. In any event, you are supposed to have favor with God and man and it comes by letting God express His essential nature through you in love, kindness and truth.

Your Divine Reputation

Deuteronomy 1: 34 – 36                            NIV

When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore; “Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb son of Jephunneh.  He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”

God spoke audibly from heaven about Jesus saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased (Matthew 3: 16). We are told of David that he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14) and we know that Enoch walked with God (Genesis 6: 24). You can think of other great heroes of the Bible and their remarkable tales. We see how these Biblical giants are remembered. Do you remember the woman who poured the costly perfume on Jesus? She was criticized for her act but Jesus said that as long as the gospel is preached she will be remembered (Matthew 26: 13). Of Caleb it was said that “he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” The question is, how do we wish to be remembered?

Most of us want to please the Lord and we sometimes talk about what God will say of us when we meet Him face to face. Perhaps we do not individually have the faith of Abraham or the bravado of Peter. Maybe we are not great leaders as was Moses or as trusting as David but I believe we can all attain the reputation of Caleb, that we serve the Lord wholeheartedly.

It is hard in this modern society not to be divided in attention and loyalty but I suppose every generation has had that challenge. Somehow Caleb was able to fix his heart on God and follow Him with all his heart. He was allowed to go into the Promised Land when many, many others were not. Caleb chose to believe God and to follow Him in a time when it was not popular. He was, in fact, part of a small minority. He chose, though, who he would follow and didn’t let anything dissuade him, not even the giants that were living in the Promised Land.

We too can be Calebs in our generation. We can live to God and follow wherever He leads. Is it easy? No. If it was easy the other 83% of the Israelite spies would have articulated their trust in God and followed Him into the land of promise. But just because it isn’t easy does not mean it isn’t attainable. It is a decision. Are we going to believe the 6:00 news or the Word of God? Are we going to allow the appearance of things in the earth determine in whom we believe and what we believe? Truly, the facts don’t count. What counts is our decision about who we put our trust and belief in. That’s it. Caleb chose to believe God despite all kinds of obstacles that he could see in the landscape. He believed that God would overcome every obstacle. We too, then, can be spiritual giants. We must only decide. We can give our whole heart to God and follow Him relentlessly. Abandon all your worldly beliefs and fill your heart with God’s Word until it is overflowing. Then you too will follow God wholeheartedly and be a champion residing in the Promised Land.