Proverbs 23: Lessons on Self-Restraint.

Hi fam! I hope last week went well for you.

As you start out this week, I pray the Lord leads you and guides you in the way that you should go. I pray that you enjoy grace and favour in Jesus’ name. Amen!

I was privileged to write this during a 30-day Bible study challenge I did with the most amazing crew called The Proverbs Challenge. The host had a blog post for each chapter of Proverbs, and I recommend it with for everyone who is interested in building up their capacity for wisdom. You can check it out here: https://blog.tosinsanni.com/

Alright, let’s get talking.

If I could give this chapter of the Bible a title, it would probably read ‘A Practical Guide to Controlling Your Appetites’. The Message translation aptly titles it, ‘Restrain Yourself’ because this chapter is a call to control our appetites – be it for money, possessions, in people-relationships, with our emotions, sex, and food; there is a lesson for all of us here. 

Dictionary.com defines appetite “as a desire for food or drink; and a desire to satisfy any bodily need or craving; a desire or liking for something”. Contrary to popular culture, which is loud on satisfying our cravings and desires, this chapter is the voice of a loving father presenting to us a tested and proven appetite blueprint. She is called WISDOM. Come along and let’s review a few modules.

Module 1: On People-Relationships

The chapter opens with an admonition to consider our manners when invited as guests in other people’s homes. I like to think of this as a call for sensibility and moderation in our people-interactions whether before a king (as seen in verse 1) or before a stingy man (as seen in verse 6).  Like Daniel (in Daniel 1:8), we need to allow the Holy Spirit to animate our desires, and super-impose on our cravings, otherwise pursuing them headlong will tip us overboard, drive us into competition, greed, and ultimately to slavery.

The admonition continues in verse 3 by instructing us to discern motives and missions. We need the Spirit of God to teach us in King James English, how/when to ‘abase’ and ‘abound’; or as the New Living Translation puts it, ‘the secret to living in every situation’. For instance, there is when to take a selfie with someone you admire, and there is when to establish a connection, so you can glean the wisdom they carry. It takes a discerning and understanding heart to capture such moments and to maximize them – as they can be pivotal in the outcome of your life.

Module 2: On Money & Material Possession

Growing up here in Lagos, Nigeria; I’ve seen, firsthand, how the unchecked desire for money has led good people astray. Irrespective of the city you live in, I’m sure you can testify of the same. The drive for wealth has led good folks into making unbelievably bad decisions. But that’s the catch!

Being ‘good’ isn’t enough, we need wisdom. Growing in wisdom is the only assured way to continually making the right decisions – financial decisions included. (see Proverbs 23:19; Proverbs 21:5). ‘Brilliant ideas pay off and bring you prosperity, but making hasty, impatient decisions will only lead to financial loss.

Look at verse 5, ‘Don’t compare yourself to the rich. Surrender your selfish ambition and evaluate them properly. For no sooner do you start counting your wealth than it sprouts wings and flies away like an eagle in the sky— here today, gone tomorrow!Friends, it takes wisdom to live free of comparison, objectively evaluate your excesses and most importantly, surrender your ‘ambition’ to God. If your sole ambition is to amass wealth, I’ve got breaking news for you, it flies away – it is short-lived, transient and pales to the true wealth that comes from allowing Him to direct the course of your life. Your bright future is only assured by immersing yourself in Him. (see Proverbs 23:18 MSG)

Let’s wrap up this module with verse 10 which reminds us to respect the terms of agreements and desist from attempting to take advantage of the ‘defenseless’ because their mighty protector, the Lord of Lords would stand up for their cause. This one is a clear warning! Take heed and be guided! End of story.

Module 3: On Promiscuity, Food & Alcohol

Don’t live in the excesses of drunkenness or gluttony or waste your life away by partying all the time’. (Proverbs 23:20, 29-35).

Stay far away from prostitutes and you’ll stay far away from the pit of destruction. For sleeping with a promiscuous woman is like falling into a trap that you’ll never be able to escape!(Proverbs 23:27)

These verses are instructive, advising us to stay clear of illicit sex, alcohol, and food. Why? Not because God doesn’t want you to ‘enjoy’ your life but rather he wants you whole – body, soul and spirit. Whereas indulging these appetites leave you broke, with poor decisions, in anguish, wounded and bruised souls, and a shadow of your best self.

To love pleasure for pleasure’s sake will introduce you to poverty. Indulging in a life of luxury will never make you wealthy. (Proverbs 21:17)

So, what is the solution? How do I effectively control my appetite?

Step 1: ‘Embrace the truth and hold it close. Don’t let go of wisdom, instruction, and life-giving understanding. (Proverbs 23:23) Posture your heart to glean wisdom from God daily. As you receive it, hold on to it, don’t negotiate it, and let it be the final authority and reference for everything.

Step 2: ‘Don’t allow the actions of evil men to cause you to burn with anger. Instead, burn with unrelenting passion as you worship God in holy awe’. (Proverbs 23:17) Don’t allow popular culture sway you; rather burn – be fiery, relentless and recklessly passionate in your love for God. Let loving Him be your highest ambition.

Let wisdom be your guide!

As always,

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2 Responses

  1. This brings Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that he will reap” to mind. Discipline is the bane of our standing in Christ and representing Him to the world as His Ambassadors. How we present ourselves, characters and attitude in the fruit of Spirit matters a lot in our Christian journey. May our lives bring glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ wherever we find ourselves in Jesus Christ name 🙏 Thank you Amaka for this Insight. God bless 🙏.

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