Reading Proverbs chapter 23 this morning... truly great wisdom regarding the inner man.
"When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food." Prov 23:1-3 ESV
A worldly leaders lead by power, influence and a balance of debt. He will seek to make you indebted in some way to increase his influence.
Spiritual leaders present the removal of debt. After all Christ erased all debt.
"Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. 'Eat and drink!' he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words." Prov 23:6-8 ESV
I like the word 'stingy' here. It is literally 'evil eye' but stingy works very well. The freedom presented here is one devoid of grace and mercy. It is apart from holiness. It is bait with a hook hidden in the midst of it. There is a strange inner calculation going on with an appearance of freedom. It is a freedom that robs you. It is the embrace that you find later was really for the purpose of stealing your now missing wallet. Our freedom is not the freedom of a 'stingy' person. Our fellowship is not 'networking.' Our love has no calculation.
"Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words." Prov 23:9 ESV
There are times when you have one thing to say to someone. If you say more, no matter how well meaning, it will just dilute what has been said and open up a pathway to mockery. We can be confident in love and it's power. It doesn't need our help.
"Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge." Prov 23:10-12 ESV
Here we see a restraint that is apart from law. The inner man that is instructed in grace becomes established and boundaries of honor are formed. Knowledge of God's presence creates invisible boundaries that don't need fences to be imposed to define their limits.
"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." Prov 23-13-14 ESV
Spiritual attachments are not sentimental. Reality is comprised of higher realms of the unseen and as friends we must wound each other at times. Those wounds are far better than deceptive kisses (see Prov 27:6).
"My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. 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. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way." Prov 23:15-19 ESV
The 'stingy' man trusts primarily in leverage of some kind. But there is a upper highway of wisdom and worship that his feet will never see. It is a clean place that only the redeemed can walk. The new life has hope. It is possible to envy empty laughter... to miss the fact that the happy scene you see is really a set for of props on a stage that lacks substance.
Christ is the true path. To travel by His direction is a life of substance.
"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags." Prov 23:20-21 ESV
Feeding our appetites only steals our time. Time that could be spent being about our Father's business.
"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." Prov 23:22-26 ESV
Wow. So much is in all of these verses. I like that the emphasis is not of doing or ever duplicating in some way. We need only behold grace to be changed by it.
"For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 'They struck me,' you will say, 'but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.' " Prov 23:27-35 ESV
Instant gratification is a snare.
God gives liberty in Christ. The upper highway is a protected road but out in the wilderness there are all kinds of dangers. We need a light to illuminate our pathways. God has given us light. The Bible is that lamp. Christ is our compass. He will navigate our way today. There will be voices calling to direct us to a broader way. Let's not be fooled by their sound.