A Remedy for Worry

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” is not just in reference to money. It’s actually a great key to emotional/ psychological health as well. It seems that the more our society becomes more focused on the individual, the more psychological problems we encounter. If we apply the biblical principle for giving to our emotional/mental resources as well, we find one of the many remedies God has given us for worry, thus building a stable mind and soul.

Here’s how things typically play out – we all have our own problems right? More often than not, our problems are compounded when we spend unhealthy – and unnecessary – amounts of time worrying about them. In fact, we can create more problems through an overactive imagination. We imagine things are happening or are going to happen based on fear and worry – and not on fact. That’s how psychological disorders develop.

Here’s where the scripture, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) comes in. See, when we’re going through issues, it is really nice when someone comes along and encourages us and gives us a good word – isn’t it? But what’s even better is spending time, listening to other people’s problems. Here’s why:

1. Listening to someone else’s worries means you’re not listening to your own. This gives your mind and emotions a break from the strain of worry.

2. When we try to help other people think through things, we tend to be more objective, fact-centered, and aware of God’s promises than when we focus on our own problems. This type of rational thinking is the very thing we need to address our own problems with, but have a hard time doing. So, when we help other people with a rational mind we often gain insight into our own issues and can finally start addressing them with the rational mind that we ought to.

3. In all of this you’ve helped someone else in their troubles. You’ve been a source of comfort to someone and have completed the call to “Bear one another’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2).

This is why it is more blessed to give than to receive even in matters of emotion. When you receive you alone are blessed, but when you give you are a blessing to someone else and that, in turn, blesses you. Therefore, there is a double blessing in giving, hence – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


There is a little girl here at Hope Church that, when talking about adults, says “growing-ups” rather than “grown-ups”. It’s a cute little mistake in words but there really is something to that. What if we were to all see ourselves as “growing-ups” rather than “grown-ups”?

The Apostle Paul had a similar outlook when it came to his own maturity. In Philippians 3, Paul talks about his former position and prestige and self-righteousness. He says that he excelled above his peers in all these things; in other words – he made it! He had achieved what most people could only dream of. But then he goes on to say this:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Now, this sounds like a tall order – and that’s because it is! But Paul didn’t say these things as if he were boasting, listen to what he goes on to say afterwards:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

Paul confesses here that he is not “grown-up” he is “growing-up” into the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He even goes on to say that those who mature will think the same way. Therefore, the true mark of maturity in Christ is not that we are complete, but it is the recognition that we have so much more maturing to do. Conversely, it is immature of us to view ourselves as fully matured. If we view ourselves as being mature it, ironically, causes us to be – and remain – immature. We can only grow when we realize that we need to. So maybe we should follow that little girl and start calling ourselves “growing-ups” as a reminder that we are all still in the process of “growing up” into the image of Christ.

A New Angle

“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” -The Apostle Paul

By the grace of God, the Apostle Paul saw the Gospel spread throughout the majority of the Roman Empire (a pretty sizeable chunck of the world) as a result of his ministry. One of the biggest reasons for this growth – second only to the work of the Holy Spirit – was Paul’s flexible approach toward people. He spoke in Jewish Synagogues and Roman palaces, in Grecian Philosophical arenas and provincial prisons. He spoke to sailors, jailors, prisoners, slaves, politicians, soldiers, and so on. He was successful because he learned the secret of relating to people where they were in life not where he thought they should be. He was flexible and understanding.

Likewise, as our world changes due to globalization, economic turns, political agendas, and so on the Church is going to be faced with new challenges and new types of people. As we are faced with these new challenges we should take Paul’s approach and say, “I will become all things to all men.”

But let’s bring this a little closer to home. You may not be concerned with or even affected by global or even national events. Let’s say you’re more concerned about an unruly teenager or that co-worker or family member that you’ve given up hope on ever seeing some kind of change. But before you write that person off, first check yourself. What has been your approach to this person? Have you been using the same approach for several months or even years? One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This applies to raising kids, mentoring new believers or witnessing to a neighbor, co-worker, or family member. If the approach you’ve been using hasn’t produced any fruit, then it’s time to try a new angle. Take Paul’s approach (which he learned from Jesus by the way) and see how you can become more like the person you’re trying to reach. Step out of your world and into theirs and try to gain their perspective. Then, you just might gain the insight you need to connect with that person and see them come to the Lord, or resolve your conflict, or whatever the case may be.

Again, don’t give up hope on someone because they don’t see things your way. Instead, pray for wisdom and try a new angle.

Advice – A Hard Pill

Let’s face it, advice is, sometimes, a hard pill to swallow. In this devotion we’ll see how learning to listen to advice (even if it’s unwanted or downright bad advice) can ultimately benefit us in the long-run.

First, lets’ take a look at what most often stands in our way of listening to advice. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” According this verse, what most often stands in our way of listening to advice is our own pride. When we boil it down the reason we don’t listen to other people, whoever they may be, is because we think we know better than they do.

Honestly, there may be times when we truly do know more than the person advising us. In this case pride can manifest itself in a different way – we speak condescendingly to the person in order to make it clear that we are the more superior in intellect. If we do this, we may show our intellect to be superior, but we show our character to be lacking. What do we do in those times when people give us advice we already know or even give us bad advice? Listen anyway. If someone tells you something you already know it only confirms that you are in the right and the two of you can be happily in agreement – it’s a great way to build relationships. If someone gives you bad advice, you’ve still learned something – what not to do! By the way, if you want to avoid getting bad advice, ask more than one person about the matter at hand and then compare and contrast all that you’ve heard. Proverbs also teaches us that, “…in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to agree or tell you the same thing, instead this is a way of looking at matter from a variety of angles so that you can come to a well-educated conclusion.

Therefore, listen to all advice given to you; the good, the bad, and the un-solicited. Listening to advice doesn’t mean you have to heed it; it simply means that you have taken into consideration what someone has told you. In so doing you benefit by gaining another perspective, the other person is honored because you respectfully heard them out, your relationship with each other is consequently strengthened, and God is honored by it all.

So how do you respond when someone gives you advice? Do you cringe, roll your eyes, or just tune them out? Or do you listen carefully and weigh what is being told you? The latter is sometimes harder at first, but in time we can learn the joy of hearing someone else’s opinion and learning from it. For a wise person learns on every occasion. So, the next time your parents, boss, in-laws, friends, etc. try to offer you advice, listen to them, learn what you can from what is said, and add it to your bank of wisdom, because those who listen to nothing, eventually go bankrupt.

The Spirit of Truth

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” John 16:13

Truth, it seems, is hard to come by these days. There are hard issues that we need to grapple with. Traditional values are being re-written in our society and it challenges what we as Followers of Christ should value. We are experiencing changes of policy concerning a variety of issues in our government and, consequently, many of us are experiencing these changes in our schools and places of work. How are we, as Christians, supposed to respond to these changes? What should be our course of action?

It may seem like to much to think about, especially with all the other pressures and problems we’re experiencing in life. However, God has not left us alone in these matters. He has given us the Holy Spirit whom will lead us into “all the truth”.

This problem with truth is really not a current issue. Followers of Jesus have dealt with this from day one. And when heresy and cultural and political pressures were weighing on the early Church this is what the Apostle John wrote:
“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in him.”

When deceit was overwhelming the Church at that time, the Apostle John reminded them that they have an anointing – the Spirit of God. The Spirit teaches us and shows us the truth. Truth is simply defined as “the actual state of a matter”. Therefore truth is obvious; rather, truth is in plain sight. The problem is that we often don’t want to see the truth and want to view things our own way. We want to overlook the truth of a matter so that we can do as we please rather than do as we should. So the Spirit comes to “remove the vail” so to speak. He ushers us through the maze of our emotions, fears, desires, etc. into the wide-open field of reality.

The problem is that truth is costly to us. More often than not, walking in truth and standing for the truth is going to have some negative effects on us. There will be people around us who do not want to walk according to truth and will, therefore, bully those who do, in an attempt to silence them.

In conclusion, when you’re faced with hard decisions because of new – and often imposed – policies in government, school, work, etc., and want to know the truth about these things – listen to the Spirit. The Spirit will teach you, but be prepared, because those who seek the truth must also have the courage to walk in it.

Listen To The People

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

This Proverb does not only apply to government. This could very well apply to any leader. You could be a parent, a supervisor, a manager, a pastor, or even a baby-sitter; if you are responsible for anyone, then you are a leader. If you want to know if you’re a good leader just listen to the people you lead. Are they groaning or are they rejoicing?

Depending on that answer you may need to evaluate your leadership. Proverbs 29 is full of great advice to leaders. The following is a summary of the things a leader needs to be based on the advice given in Proverbs 29.
1. Just (v.4) – a leader must seek what is fair for all, and not require more than is necessary from those he/she leads.
2. Upright (v.6) – a leader must have good character and integrity or else he/she will be ensnared by their own crookedness.
3. Compassionate (v.7) – a leader must be concerned for those who are struggling and know how to help them.
4. Wise (v.8) – a leader must know how to handle opposition and the issues and quarrels of those he/she leads.
5. Patient (v.11) – a leader must learn how to control his/her own frustrations and speak and act from consideration rather than impulse.
6. Firm (vs.15-17) – a leader must be quick to administer proper discipline to those who need it, lest his/her followers lose the fear of consequence.
7. Driven (v.18) – a leader must provide good vision and direction for those he/she leads, otherwise people lose their sense of purpose and, therefore, stop cooperating.
8. Humble (v.23) – a leader must see himself/herself as a servant of the people he/she leads. History has proven that people do not tolerate a tyrant.
9. Brave/God-fearing (v.25) – a leader must have the courage to do what is right in spite of what others may say or expect.

These are the characteristics laid out in Proverbs 29 for a good leader. Therefore, each day, use this list to evaluate yourself. There will be times that people groan, not because of your leadership, but because of their own lack of character. However, do not immediately assume they are in the wrong if they are complaining or groaning. A leader must always first evaluate himself/herself, make any necessary changes to attitude or policy, and then see if the problem continues.

Therefore, to all you leaders out there, take time each day to evaluate your leadership. The quickest (but sometimes most difficult) way to do so is – listen to the people.

Love What is Good

“Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” Proverbs 24:1-2

It’s tempting really; we look at how some people do what they want and get away with it, so we start to think – “Why couldn’t I do the same?” Solomon doesn’t go on to warn us of the terrible things that will happen to us if we start to follow the example of the wicked. Instead, he simply says, “for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk of making trouble.” He doesn’t give us a warning, he gives us a calling. It’s as if he saying, “Violence and trouble is all these people are about. Is that really what you want?”

Oftentimes when we start to envy wicked people, it’s because we’re bored and are, perhaps, craving a thrill. We don’t really want trouble, we just want excitement. But that’s exactly why Solomon warns against such desires, because in the end, we’ll just be doing damage in some way.

The calling then, is to love what is good, and to find joy in preserving the good things of life. Perhaps, if we find ourselves getting bored, it’s because we’ve lost sight of those good things. The challenge, then, is to stop and take some time today and list at least 10 good things that are worth preserving in your life. 10 good things that are worth fighting temptation for. Then, thank God for those things and ask Him to help you make them even better.

By rekindling our love for what is good, we will extinguish those temptations to sink into the wrong.

Better Things

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” Proverbs 23:4

“Get rich or die trying” is a common attitude in our culture; so much so that the wrap artist “50 Cent” used the phrase as the title of his debut album. The problem with this mindset is that we’re not the only ones who suffer in the process. Not only does our health and over-all quality of life suffer, but also those around us suffer as well; namely, our families. It is for this reason the Scripture tells us to “have the wisdom to show restraint.” Granted, some people have to work long and hard just to get the bills paid, but there are those who work long and hard unnecessarily, sacrificing the better things in life for a bigger paycheck, a bigger house, a newer car, bigger toys, and so on.

As was stated in the previous devotion, Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. So, in John 10:10 when Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, he didn’t mean that he came to give us more stuff, but he came to give us more life. He came so that we may experience life more fully, and one way to do that is to stop living for possessions and to start living for people.

So take a moment to stop and think about your life. Are you living for possessions or for people? Where are your priorities? If you don’t know, look at your calendar and your checkbook and see what you’re spending your time and money on. Is your family happy? Ask them! Are you happy? Now is the time to exercise wisdom. Perhaps you need to start showing restraint in your financial priorities and be more liberal in your time with people, especially your family.

You’ve only got one life, don’t use it to acquire a bunch of stuff that you can’t take with you in the end. Instead, think about the quality of your life and of those around you and invest yourself in those better things.

A Good Name

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1

Jesus taught us that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions, and this verse from the Proverbs of Solomon reveals one thing that is more important than money and possessions – a good name!

There are many people who have gotten ahead in this life at the expense of their own reputation, aka “good name”. They got the position they wanted in the business, company, organization, even sometimes in the Church, but they lost the respect of those around them because of the sneaky, dishonest, or downright immoral means they used to get that position. This begs the question – they may have gotten the position they wanted, but did they really “get ahead”?

The problem is that this world would have us believe that we cannot be both virtuous and successful. We say things like, “Nice guys finish last,” but the truth is that those who have been promoted by dishonest means may have gained position, prestige, and wealth, but they have lost so much more. The rungs of the ladder they climbed are made out of relationships they have broken and virtue they have cast aside. In the end they’ll have a full bank account, but an empty life.

People often take the dishonest route because they feel there is no other way to get ahead in life. Fortunately, God has provided another way. Jesus teaches that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). Therefore, if we, in our places of work, will determine to be content with our work, uncomplaining towards our bosses and peers, willing to see others promoted, and honest and upright in all our dealings, then God will see to it that we get the promotion we deserve in due time. The new saying should then be, “Nice guys start last but finish first.” For Scripture tells us that a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him from heaven (John 3:27).

In light of this, bear in mind this encouragement from the Apostle Peter: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7).

Looking further in Proverbs 22 at verse 4 we find a promise: “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” So, if you will commit to honoring God with your work ethics and policies, and commit to serving others within your workplace, you will not only find a promotion in your work, but also a full life and a good name.