Proverbs 12-15 presents a mirror to the soul. It is a running list of contrast between the upright and the wicked, the wise and the foolish, and the diligent and the lazy. Three words are constant throughout these passages: Desire, Diligence and Discipline.
Upright desires are described as a “tree of life” and realizing them is “sweet to the soul”. But other desires are mentioned. The desire of the treacherous is violence. The wicked man desires the wealth of another man.
Let’s stop and examine our desires. Are we pursuing desires that are life giving and sweet to the soul, or are we fixated on desires that seek our own benefit, even at the expense of the wellbeing of others?
It’s important to remember how God examines the heart. Though we may not wish to physically hurt somebody or steal a person’s treasure, our attitude, behaviors and thoughts can be just as harmful to us, keeping us from God’s best desires for us to enjoy.
Diligence is described in these passages as a precious possession. Those who exhibit diligence are said to rule and to gain a robust soul. Laziness, however, is described as a hedge of thorns, and a constant craving. Those who choose laziness above diligence are said to lack sense and riches.
Are we diligent about pursuing our God-given desires? If our souls are stuck in a rut, what would practicing diligence toward pursuing God do to shape our lives on a daily basis? Would we see beyond that which holds us down, keeps us from loving people and even ourselves?
If God-given desires are sweet to the soul, then diligence to pursue those desires serves as the protection to keep them from going sour.
Right out of the gate, Proverbs 12 states, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Wise sons are said to accept their father’s discipline. If you neglect it, poverty, shame and despising oneself is said to follow.
Regarding the pursuit of Godly desires with diligence, discipline must enter into the equation. When our Godly desires begin to wane and when diligence to pursue them begins to weaken in favor of a shortcut, discipline can lift our attitudes, behaviors and actions back up to the path where obtaining godliness in our character is the primary goal. Discipline isn’t concerned about our feelings, our complaints or our tendency to stray from God’s holiness. It is there to do a job when we need it most.
It is the rod that brings us back to our senses. Without discipline, pursuing Godly desires with diligence is less likely.
There are many more contrasts found in Proverbs 12-15, all of which deserve study.
Desire, diligence and discipline stood out to me.
When you hold up these passages as a mirror, I hope you see where you are practicing each of these by seeking God in prayer, entrenching yourself in His word, and demonstrating His love to others.
I know that will bring sweetness to your soul.
21 Days of Proverbs