Avoid the Nots

“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,..
he taught me and said,
‘Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
She… will bestow on you a beautiful crown.’

“Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
    guard her, for she is your life.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
    and do not walk in the way of the evil.
Avoid it; do not go on it;
    turn away from it and pass on…
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
    which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness…

“My son, be attentive to my words;
    incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
    keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them…
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
    for from it flow the springs of life…
 Let your eyes look directly forward…
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
    turn your foot away from evil.” Proverbs 4:1-9,13-15,18-23,25,27

Many think of religions as structured Don’ts that restrict free expression of our deceived hearts. But life with Christ is both freeing and joyful when we keep things in proper order. He instructs and enables us with many a loving do not and do, to be applied in His strength and grace unto a fruitful life. (Jeremiah 17:9; Galatians 5:1,5)

Do not forsake, do not forget, do not turn away, because these words, when held fast, and kept, and loved, will keep and guard you. Get wisdom. Prize her, embrace her, and she will exalt and honor you. Get insight. It takes effort and determination to discern and follow this way the Lord reveals. The path of righteousness is a path of better choices matched with courage, and every not is attached to a keep, attentiveness, gaze, or inclination. God cares that we know and understand and take His good way, so He provides every instruction and ounce of will we need to do so. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

What are we doing to hide His word in our hearts to clarify right choices and guard us from falling? When confronted with decisions, do we pause for His insight, or drive ahead by our own? When He does show us His path, are we prone to rebellion, procrastination, or self-willed detours? For every ‘not’ we might resist or eschew, would we turn and embrace the positive counter-attitude and action instead? It is there we find the shining way and free-flowing springs of life. Why would we not want that? (Psalm 119:11; Proverbs 3:5-6)

Father, help me to adhere to Your nots and dos, knowing they are designed in love to make me wise, and that by walking wisely I glorify You.

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