Without a doubt, my favorite kind of movie to watch and book to read is a spy thriller. The adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding, shallow breathing, bad-guy-behind-every-dark-corner type of story has always appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve always secretly wanted to be a spy. I imagine myself a female James Bond speeding through exotic European streets bullets shooting out the back of my Aston Martin slowing down my chasers as I race to disarm a bomb threatening to end modern civilization.
Maybe it’s because in a spy thriller justice prevails. The bad guy is forced to answer for his transgressions and held accountable. Maybe it’s because the main character faces insurmountable difficulties with a bravery and courage I can only dream of having. I want to be cool-headed in a crisis and make rational decisions that will carry me through whatever situation I find myself in.
Who knows? What I do know is that in real life, I’m often ruled by fear. Plain old ordinary fear. One change in my rigid schedule, and I’m ready to recoil in a corner like a scared puppy. One bill in the mail that I wasn’t expecting, and I’ve mentally declared bankruptcy and have myself living under a bridge begging for food. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that recent world events have me so twisted in knots at times I can barely breathe.
Our verse this week is Psalm 112:5.
“A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion.”
The richness of God’s Word cannot be overstated. So much of it builds on itself. One verse intertwines with another and often takes us down what would appear to be a rabbit hole all the while leading us back to where we started, the root issue. Let me explain.
The first sentence in this verse assumes discretion rules the day and the actions of a person. But discretion assumes righteousness on the part of the person as a motivator. And where does righteousness come from? What makes a man upright and righteous able to live out life on this earth as an example to those around him?
Proverbs 2 tells it beautifully, a long but worthwhile read.
“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and who are devious in their paths; to deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words, who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead; none who go to her return, nor do they regain the paths of life—so you may walk in the way of goodness, and keep to the paths of righteousness. For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the earth, and the unfaithful will be uprooted from it (NKJV).
Much of the time minding our affairs with discretion is often thought of in terms of money, power and possessions, I can’t help but think Psalm 112:5 is an impossibility without the basic discipline of mental discretion. Though we are commanded to be careful what we let into our lives in terms of habits and attitudes, the battle starts in the mind.
More than once in recent weeks, I’ve mentioned my battle with fear and anxiety, and in the midst of it, I’ve become aware of the fact that it is just another scheme of the enemy to distract. Preoccupation with anything not of God finds us barely keeping our heads above water. In the end we can forget concentrating on the motive behind lending our time, talents and treasures to others. There’s no room to practice discretion in our interactions with others when we haven’t practiced it at the first line of defense-our minds. Instead we find ourselves having to go back, take control of our thoughts, cling to God’s promises, throw ourselves on His altar of grace and ask Him to replace lies with truth. When we neglect to judge our thoughts against the truth of God’s Word, we do so to the detriment of serving others whether that’s giving of out of our physical abundance, financial abundance or spiritual abundance. If there’s no discretion in what we’re taking in, there’s precious little righteousness in what we’re handing out.
Righteousness reflects a trust in God that those who don’t know Him haven’t experienced. For the righteous, when that trust is wavering, their decisions are affected. And I’m reminded again of the writer’s words in Proverbs 3:5,6.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct they path” (Proverb 3:5, 6, NKJV).
A righteous man deals with others and his life with discretion, but discretion comes from a mind that is right with God, a mind that has filtered life through the lens of truth. It’s only from this place of truth can we then deal with others graciously, giving of ourselves and our resources without restraint.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13, NKJV).