March 27, 2011 – April 2, 2011
The Character of the Wise
Lessons from the Writing of Solomon
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
Study Help: This Day With God, 73; In Heavenly Places, 162.
“The soil of the heart, like that of a garden, will produce weeds and brambles unless the seeds of precious flowers are planted there and receive care and cultivation.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 202, 203.
1 BUILDING STRENGTH OF SOUL
- What foundation understood by Solomon should we ever bear in mind? I Chronicles 28:9.
Note: “God is represented as weighing all men, their words, their deeds, their motives, that which determines character. … There is not a thought or motive in the heart that God is not acquainted with. He sees all as clearly as if it stood out registered in living characters, and He weighs individual motives and actions.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 438.
- What should we consider in seeking to build upon this basic truth? Proverbs 23:7, first part, 12.
Note: “Many thoughts make up the unwritten history of a single day; and these thoughts have much to do with the formation of character. Our thoughts are to be strictly guarded; for one impure thought makes a deep impression on the soul. An evil thought leaves an evil impress on the mind. If the thoughts are pure and holy, the man is better for having cherished them. By them the spiritual pulse is quickened, and the power for doing good is increased. And as one drop of rain prepares the way for another in moistening the earth, so one good thought prepares the way for another.” Messages to Young People, 144.
2 A GARDEN TO WEED
- What lessons from nature reveal how our spiritual life can flourish? Proverbs 27:18; 16:24.
Note: “The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by repentance. The evil growths that choke the good grain must be uprooted. As soil once overgrown with thorns can be reclaimed only by diligent labor, so the evil tendencies of the heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in the name and strength of Christ.” Education, 111.
“Silence the evil word, put away the unholy thought; for the True Witness weighs every word, sets a value on every action, and declares, ‘I know thy works.’ Then let love, truth, kindness, and forbearance be the precious plants that you shall cultivate in the garden of the heart.” The Signs of the Times, November 14, 1892.
- What must we understand about the human heart? Proverbs 16:2; Jeremiah 17:9; II Corinthians 13:5, 6.
Note: “It is for the eternal interest of everyone to search his own heart and to improve every God-given faculty. …
“Let all remember that there is not a motive in the heart of any man that the Lord does not clearly see. The motives of each one are weighed as carefully as if the destiny of the human agent depended upon this one result. We need a connection with divine power, that we may have an increase of clear light and an understanding of how to reason from cause to effect. We need to have the powers of the understanding cultivated, by our being partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Let each one consider carefully the solemn truth: God in heaven is true, and there is not a design however intricate, not a motive however carefully hidden, that He does not clearly understand. He reads the secret devising of every heart. Men may plan out crooked actions for the future, thinking that God does not understand, but in that great day when the books are opened, and every man is judged by the things written in the books, those actions will appear as they are.” The Upward Look, 53.
3 NURTURING THE GARDEN
- How can we fortify our life in Christ? Proverbs 10:8, 9.
Note: “The very first step in the path of life is to keep the mind stayed on God, to have His fear continually before the eyes. A single departure from moral integrity blunts the conscience, and opens the door to the next temptation. [Proverbs 10:9 quoted.] We are commanded to love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves; but the daily experience of life shows that this law is disregarded. Uprightness in deal and moral integrity will secure the favor of God, and make a man a blessing to himself and to society; but amid the varied temptations that assail one whichever way he may turn, it is impossible to keep a clear conscience and the approval of heaven without divine aid and a principle to love honesty for the sake of the right.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1158.
- What type of attitude pleases God? Proverbs 23:15–17.
Note: “The heart must be renewed by divine grace, or it will be in vain to seek for purity of life. He who attempts to build up a noble, virtuous character independent of the grace of Christ is building his house upon the shifting sand. In the fierce storms of temptation it will surely be overthrown. David’s prayer should be the petition of every soul: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10. And having become partakers of the heavenly gift, we are to go on unto perfection, being ‘kept by the power of God through faith.’ I Peter 1:5.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 460.
- What should be our constant focus? Proverbs 7:1–3.
Note: “Double your diligence to make your calling and election sure. Keep God’s commandments, and live, and His law as the apple of your eye. Tax every moment to the utmost in laboring for your own eternal interest and for the salvation of souls around you.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 353.
4 PARTAKING OF DIVINITY
- With what description does the apostle Peter confirm the relationship we are to have with Christ? 11 Peter 1:4. How does he explain it further? I Peter 1:13–16.
Note: “Let everyone who desires to be a partaker of the divine nature appreciate the fact that he must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. There must be a constant, earnest struggling of the soul against the evil imaginings of the mind. There must be a steadfast resistance of temptation to sin in thought or act. The soul must be kept from every stain, through faith in Him who is able to keep you from falling.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1145.
- Why is our mind—as the governing center (or heart) of our soul—so important? Proverbs 4:23.
Note: “Diligent heart-keeping is essential to a healthy growth in grace. The heart in its natural state is a habitation for unholy thoughts and sinful passions. When brought into subjection to Christ, it must be cleansed by the Spirit from all defilement. This can not be done without the consent of the individual.
“When the soul has been cleansed, it is the duty of the Christian to keep it undefiled. Many seem to think that the religion of Christ does not call for the abandonment of daily sins, the breaking loose from habits which have held the soul in bondage. They renounce some things condemned by the conscience, but they fail to represent Christ in the daily life. They do not bring Christlikeness into the home. They do not show a thoughtful care in their choice of words. Too often, fretful, impatient words are spoken, words which stir the worst passions of the human heart. Such ones need the abiding presence of Christ in the soul. Only in His strength can they keep guard over the words and actions.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1157.
5 LABORING WITH THE MASTER GARDENER
- What comes as we cultivate the beauty of a Christlike character? Proverbs 22:11; 16:7; II Corinthians 3:18; Matthew 5:8.
Note: “The affections should center upon God. Contemplate His greatness, His mercy and excellences. Let His goodness and love and perfection of character captivate your heart.” Sons and Daughters of God, 99.
“We are to make determined efforts to overcome as Christ overcame. From this warfare no one is excused. If for us the gates of the holy city swing ajar, if we behold the King in His beauty, we must now overcome as Christ overcame.” Ibid., 371.
“We have only a little while in which to prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have not a moment to lose. We need to begin at once to gain a preparation to enter the courts above. God will help all who will help themselves. But if you sit down under Satan’s shadow, and let him tempt you to look on the objectionable side, and to weaken the hands of those who are trying to carry forward the work of the Lord, how can you hope to gain the victory over temptation? You can not be a joint heir with Christ unless you have his spirit, and are determined to gain heaven at any cost. Those who regardless of all else, place themselves in God’s hands, to be and do all that he would have them, will see the King in his beauty. They will behold his matchless charms, and, touching their golden harps, they will fill all heaven with rich music and with songs to the Lamb.” The Review and Herald, June 15, 1905.
Review and Thought Questions
1 Why are our moment-by-moment thoughts so important?
2 What should we realize about the tendency of our mind?
3 How only can we maintain a connection with Christ?
4 What is the duty of everyone who professes Christ?
5 How is it possible to see the King in His beauty?
Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.