17Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel. (Proverbs 11:17, NLT)
The Daily DAVEotional
It’s summer time so of course for thousands of kids, that means summer camp. When my kids were in high school, we were alerted to all kinds of “camps” that we could pay money to send our kids to – soccer camps, baseball camps, basketball camps and even music camps. Some are even hosted by famous athletes and celebrities.
It’s interesting that these experiences are often called “camps” because there’s very little “camping” that happens. I think a better term for these week-long adventures is “clinic”. The purpose of these “clinics” is to hone skills and become better at whatever the craft is.
The truth is that any professional athlete, whether it’s a golfer, basketball player, baseball player or just about any other sport, spends hours upon hours doing drills. A golfer will take thousands of practice swings in order to perfect his or her technique.
A basketball player will dribble a ball up and down the court, switching hands and navigating through cones, just to perfect command of the ball.
Kobe Bryant was noted for his work ethic, shooting hundreds of balls every day in order to perfect his jump shot.
The purpose of training is to create muscle memory and develop habits so that when you’re in a game or in a live situation, you don’t have to think twice about how to act or what to do. Your body automatically taps into the hours of practice and you simply repeat what you’ve done thousands of times.
In this single proverb, we see a biblical example of what the scriptures refer to as “training in righteousness.”
What is training in righteousness?
Training in righteousness is a process by which you train yourself to do the right thing and thus live righteously, even when circumstances are against you.
Just as a golfer doesn’t perfect his swing without hours of practice swings, we don’t live righteously unless we train ourselves to make righteous choices.
According to this proverb, our soul is actually nourished when we act kindly. You might say that when we make a righteous choice, like acting kindly, it feeds our soul. But when we make an unrighteous choice, like acting with cruelty, it starves our soul.
If we make right choices over and over, we train our soul to live righteously. It becomes a habit and our lives will begin to bear fruits of righteousness, which will become evident to others.
However, if we make unrighteous choices over and over, we train our soul to live unrighteously. Living sinful lives will become second nature to us and our lives will bear unrighteous fruit.
So remember this the next time you are conflicted about how to act in a certain situation or how to respond to another person – by responding with kindness, you are feeding your soul and training yourself to live righteously. But by responding unkindly or acting cruelly, you will have the opposite effect – you will actually be training yourself to live unrighteously.
What are some examples in your own life, whether sports, or music or some other discipline, where you have practiced drills in order to increase your skill level and your performance?
Can you think of any situations where a person can experience growth and development without undergoing some kind of training routine?
What are some ideas you have for cultivating your own soul and training yourself to live righteously?
What are some things that might be helpful to eliminate in your life that are actually starving your soul and making it harder to train yourself in righteousness?