Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: A Storm Is Coming
Preacher: Mark Johnson
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 1:20-33 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings” (Proverbs 1:23).
Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong. Nobody. It supposedly started in another place at another time with a beautiful covering angel not liking rebuke and reproof. It was somehow passed down to a man and a woman standing at a forbidden tree, and then to a brother with the blood of Abel on his hands. In each case, nobody liked to hear rebuke.
One of the smartest people I’ve ever known was the first pastor I interned under. He didn’t have a particularly high IQ (to my knowledge), but his wisdom was well received by me as I learned the ropes of ministry from him.
One day I was complaining to him about a church member who had said some pretty direct and damaging things about me, at first behind my back and then later to my face. I was hurt. And mad. And ready to quit ministry and go sell used cars.
The seasoned pastor sat me down and asked me a question. “Is what he said about you true?”
I actually hadn’t thought about that. I was just mad that he said it.
“Mark,” my mentor said, “When someone criticizes you, even if it’s an enemy, they are giving you an opportunity to look at yourself from a different point of view. Take advantage of that. Go to people you trust and ask them if the critique applies to you. If it does, repent and do some changing. If it doesn’t, let it slide off your back like water off a duck’s butt. Live your life like this and you will constantly grow into a better version of who God wants you to be.”
This was some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
As it turns out, the critique I had received was correct. I was what my enemy said I was. It gave me a chance to reflect, repent, and become a better person. I have this criticism from an enemy to thank for my personal growth.
Recalibrate: How do you react to criticism? Do you receive it or reject it? Does it matter who the criticism comes from?
Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, increase in me the ability to reflect on all that people say about me. Help me to be a better person because of it.”
Research: Read Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ by Nicole Lindsay.
Remember: “Whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:33, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
With your little one, talk about what your day is going to be like. Break your day into the things that need to happen for you. You may have a pantry to fill, work to be done, a doctor’s appointment, a daycare drop off and pick up. (And I hope you get into bed in time for a restful night’s sleep too.) Know that whatever comes up in your day, planned or unplanned, Jesus wants to be part of it with you. Hold His hand like your child holds yours. Lead your little one in the way of love holding their hand in one of yours and Jesus’ hand in the other.
Have you ever made fun of someone for doing the right thing? Maybe you made fun of someone in your class because they wanted to do their homework during recess to get it out of the way so they didn’t have to do it later at home. Have you ever been made fun of for doing the right thing? Ugh. It doesn’t make anyone feel good to be made fun of, but it especially hurts when you are trying your very best! Proverbs 1:22 asks, “How long will you make fun of wisdom?” Do you think wisdom is something you should make fun of? Definitely not. Wisdom is there to help you make decisions that keep you and others happy and safe. What are three wise decisions you can make today? Would you still make them even if you knew someone might make fun of you?
I was once asked (on a dare) to do something pretty dumb for a reward while at lunch in middle school. For fear of having one of you try it on your own, I won’t go into the details of what I did. Let’s say it involved eating something that wasn’t food for a sum of money. The deal seemed pretty good at the time, so it didn’t take me long to say yes. The problem was that I paid too much attention to the challenge in the wrong order. I’m sure you know the equation I’m thinking of when I say this, but here’s how it sounded to me:
“Hey J! I will give you _________ if you ___________.”
In my mind, the most important part of the challenge was the first blank space that outlined what I would get. But really, the thing I should have listened to was what came in the second blank. Because that second blank was the thing that made me sick to my stomach. And the amount of money in the first blank didn’t make that pain go away any faster.
Sometimes a deal can be too good to be true. The way to figure out whether a deal is good is to focus on the equation on either side of the word “if.” If the left side of the equation is greater than the right side of the equation, it’s a good deal. But you have to be honest when you do the math!
Take a look at this equation in Proverbs 1:23, when Wisdom says,“Look, if you change your foolish ways, I will tell you everything I know and make you wise beyond all imagination!”
What makes this a good deal? Does anything make it a bad deal? If you were given this challenge, would you do it? Why or why not?
Asking for forgiveness and repenting are some of the hardest things we have to do. It is never fun or pleasing to admit you are wrong and to fully take ownership of a mistake. During my senior year of high school, I did not click with my Bible teacher. In fact, there were quite a number of students who would trash talk him behind his back. Our Bible teacher was a good man, and he had such a heart for the students, but for some reason we didn’t receive him well. I never tried to stop the rumors or gossip, and I also did a fairly good job of contributing to the gossip. At the end of the school year, I realized that what I had been doing was wrong and I needed to own up to my mistakes. So I went to my Bible teacher and apologized to him. It was one of the hardest things I had to do because repenting and owning up to wrongdoings is not easy, but we have better relationships because of it. The call in Proverbs 1:23 is a call to “repent.” Are there people in your life that you need to repent before? Are there situations you need to own up to? This week I pray that you will have the courage to repent!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.