Saturday In The Proverbs—This Is What Virtue Looks Like (Proverbs 31)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Do not give your strength to women … Who can find a virtuous wife…? (Proverbs 31:3, 10).

This proverb shows virtue on display in both a man and a woman. A man or woman of virtue…

… is a loyal spouse (vv. 3, 10, 12, 23, 28, 30)

… uses their strength appropriately (vv. 3, 17)

… avoids controlling substances (v. 4)

… upholds justice (vv. 5, 26)

… takes care of others (vv. 8, 9, 15, 20-21)

… is trustworthy (v. 11)

… has a good work ethic (vv. 13-15, 18-19, 24, 27, 31)

… exercises good stewardship (vv. 16, 18, 25)

… renews themselves (v. 22)

… handles praise well (vv. 28-30)

How beautiful is a man or woman living out God’s virtue! 

4 Essential Qualities To Be An Effective Leader

November 5, 1920

General John S. Mallory
15 University Place
Lexington, Virginia

My Dear General Mallory,

Last summer during one of our delightful rides I commented on the advice I would give a young officer going to war, based on my observation of what had constituted the success of the outstanding figures in the American Expeditionary Forces, and you asked me to write out what I had said. A discussion with Fox Conner this morning reminded me of my promise to do this, so here it is.

To be a highly successful leader in war four things are essential, assuming that you possess good common sense, have studied your profession and are physically strong.

When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.

When evening comes and all are exhausted, hungry and possibly dispirited, particularly in unfavorable weather at the end of a march or in battle, you must put aside any thought of personal fatigue and display marked energy in looking after the comfort of your organization, inspecting your lines and preparing for tomorrow.

Make a point of extreme loyalty, in thought and deed, to your chiefs personally; and in your efforts to carry out their plans or policies, the less you approve the more energy you must direct to their accomplishment.

The more alarming and disquieting the reports received or the conditions viewed in battle, the more determined must be your attitude. Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack.

I’m certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success. Few seemed equal to it in this war, but I believe this was due to their failure to realize the importance of so governing their course.

Faithfully yours,

George C. Marshall
Major, General Staff
Aide-de-Camp [emphasis mine]

10 Quotes From “Our Portrait In Genesis”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers has given us another valuable resource in Our Portrait In Genesis, as he walks through the first book of the Bible with us. You can read my full book review here. As usual, there are just way too many good quotes to share all at once, so here is the first batch of quotes from this book.

“It is not my faith laying hold of the Word, but the life in the Word laying hold on me.”

“We transgress a law of God and expect an experience akin to death, but exactly the opposite happens, we feel enlarged, more broad-minded, more tolerant of evil, but we are more powerless; knowledge which comes from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of instigating to action, paralyzes.”

“No man can murder his brother who has not first murdered God in himself.” 

“It is ingrained in our thinking that competition and rivalry are essential to the carrying on of civilized life; that is why Jesus Christ’s statements seem wild and ridiculous. They are the statements either of a man or of God Incarnate. To carry out the Sermon on the Mount is frankly impossible to anyone but a fool, and who is the fool? The man who has been born again and who dares to carry out in his individual life the teaching of Jesus. And what will happen? The inevitable result, not the success he would otherwise have. A hard saying, but true.”

“Grace is the overflowing immeasurable favor of God; God cannot withhold, the only thing that keeps back His grace and favor is our sin and perversity.” 

“Faith un-tried has no character value for the individual. … Spiritual character is only made by standing loyal to God’s character no matter what distress the trial of faith brings.”

“We must be careful never to compromise over any promise of God when by reason of human limitation there has been only a partial fulfillment. Such a compromise is easily detected whenever you feel, ‘Oh well, I suppose that is all God meant.’ Every word God has spoken will be absolutely fulfilled; to climb down from that confidence is to be disloyal to God.”

“There is always the danger of becoming a fanatical adherent to what God has said instead of adhering to God who said it.”

“The only way to wait for the Second Coming is to watch that you do what you should do so that when He comes is a matter of indifference.” 

“It is a question of faith in God, the rarest thing, we have faith only in our feelings. I don’t believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say, ‘Now I believe.’ There is no faith there.”

Loyalty

How would you define loyalty? All of the dictionary definitions have to do with faithfulness. It’s almost implied that there is a blindness (at worst), or a dogged persistence (at best), to remain loyal to a person or to an idea. The thinking goes, “If I’m loyal to someone, like it or not, I become their Yes-man.”

But I think…

Loyalty is not telling people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

For an example, take the prophet Nathan in the Bible. We don’t know how old he is when he steps on the scene, or even where he came from. There isn’t a clue as to his tribal ancestry, or even his father’s name.

King David wanted to build a temple for the ark of the covenant, and he asked Nathan about this. Nathan immediately said, “Yes!” (Kinda reinforces that idea of loyalty = Yes-man, doesn’t it?) But wait! That night, God speaks to Nathan and says, “Tell David he’s not the one to build the temple for Me.” So Nathan returns to David and loyally tells him no.

Later on, David steals another man’s wife, and contrives a plan to have that man murdered on the battlefield. David thinks he’s gotten away with it until Nathan, the loyal friend, shows up to confront David with his sin. Nathan didn’t want to see David fail, but he wanted to give him a chance to confess and repent.

Near the end of David’s life, one of David’s sons, Adonijah, wanted to take the throne for himself. Many of the officials in David’s palace jumped on the bandwagon, but loyal Nathan did not. In fact, Nathan even got word to the King about Adonijah’s plans. As a result, David asked Nathan to anoint Solomon as king.

During David’s life, Nathan wrote David’s biography. If Nathan was just a mindless Yes-man, he could have easily left out the messy parts of David’s life. But the loyal friend wanted to show future readers that we all mess up, but God forgives and restores us when we repent.

Nathan’s name means the gift God gave or a giver. Both meanings fit this loyal man.

David was so blessed by Nathan’s loyalty that he named one of his sons after the prophet.

Loyal friends give their friends the gift of life. They don’t let friends go down a destructive path. They don’t join with others when they attack. They remain constant, always-there, friends.

What a blessing to be called a loyal friend! And what an even greater blessing to have “Nathans” in our own lives!

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