Scripture

Proverbs 4

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
    pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

Reflection

This week we have been looking at how to move past a “good enough” life towards a “greater” life. We have considered how to have a Jesus-like influence on those around us. We made a list of a handful of people close to us, who we most want to influence for good. And we’ve come to understand that we are having an influence regardless of if we are intentional about it or not. The question is: Is our influence for good or for bad, for God or for evil, for life or for death?

One of the ways we can be more intentional in our influence is by putting “guardrails” or boundaries in place to prevent risking our influence for Christ. Here are some questions to get you thinking about boundaries you may need to put in place:

Pay attention to what you put in your heart. What are you watching, listening to, reading? Who are you hanging out with? Do these things and people bring life to you? “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” What sorts of things do you NOT need to do in public because it might risk your influence? What do you post on social media? What actions or words do you use that might risk your intention to win people for Christ? How do you treat people when you think others aren’t looking? (Hint: People are always watching).

Think through the answers to these questions, and consider putting a few boundaries in place that might prevent you from risking your influence. Become intentional about what you consume with your eyes, ears and heart. Be purposeful in things you refuse to say or do, places you refuse to go, all for the sake of maintaining the ability to influence those around you for Christ.

Christ calls us to be the best version of ourselves, to remain in the Spirit and the Spirit in us. When we grow in our love of Christ, live intentionally, put some guardrails in place, show up and speak life to others, we can draw others to the same Jesus we love so much. Remember this is not about being perfect, authenticity is crucial and none of us are perfect. It is about seeking a greater life for ourselves and those around us. It is about loving others well, admitting wrongs and seeking forgiveness, being a force of life and love in the world rather than death and hate. Be intentional about your influence, and find the joy that comes from drawing others toward Christ.

Prayer

Dear Lord, you came as a humble servant, and you call us to follow your life and example. Show me how to listen to your voice, not the voice of culture. Guide me past settling for “good enough,” and into the greater life you call me to. Give me humility, courage and grace in this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.