Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
~Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT
In all my years spent in Proverbs 31, I don't recall ever noticing these verses which precede the poem of The Virtuous Woman. This advice to the king, written by his mother, reveal the heart of Christ long before Christ was born. Her words imitate the words of Jesus, as he stood in the temple and pronounced his call to ministry,
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19NLT)
Discovering these verses has given me a fresh appreciation for this mother whose words were included in the book of Proverbs. She challenges us to take a deeper look at our motives, our actions, at the advice we give to others. How many of us seriously share this mother's concerns? She causes us to ask ourselves, "What type of legacy am I leaving for my children, my grandchildren? Am I making an eternal difference in this world?"
Today is Ash Wednesday. The first of our 40 day journey to Easter. A somber day of reflection amd introspection; self-examination. A time to deeply address the indictment of Isaiah 64:6,
"We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags."
Isn't it true? We often try to work our way into heaven. We serve. We perform religious deeds. We put on a good show for others. Some of us even believe the falacy that "If I am a good person, I will go to heaven." And yet, while we are busy with our juggling routine, we have lost sight of the very heart of Christ. It certainly was not to impress religious leaders. It was not for the sake of making friends in high places. And, all "good" people do not go to heaven. We've missed the meat of his message.
"We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?" (Isaiah 64:5)
By becoming weak, poor, helpless, and silent before our Maker.
By allowing God to crush us into the dust that we are until we truly see our blind spots.
By confessing that we are sinners.
By asking Him to cleanse us from our sin and re-create us into His image.
By proclaiming our need for deliverance.
By truly believing that Jesus died for our sins.
By asking Him to save us.
By accepting His forgiveness.
God longs for us to leave a lasting mark on this world. If our lives have truly been transformed by Christ, our hearts will be broken for the least of the least, with no expectation of earthly reward except that of leading others to their heavenly home. We will find ourselves following the advice of the King's momma; and following the call of our Heavenly Papa.
Pray the words of the Psalmist today as you listen; LISTEN for the Lord to speak to your heart...
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you." (Ps. 139:23-24; Ps. 51:11-12)Journal what you hear.
For more reading on this subject: The Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5