Can Golf Nourish Your Soul?

Proverbs 11

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.

Reflection

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?

 

Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Biblical Advice: Don’t Feed the Trolls!

Proverbs 26

4When arguing with fools, don’t answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are.

5When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

(Proverbs 26:4-5, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Not long ago, as I was reading through Proverbs, I encountered these two verses, right next to each other, which seemingly contradict each other.

Verse 4 states that we SHOULDN’T respond to a fool’s arguments while the very next verse says that we SHOULD respond. Which is it? Should we respond or shouldn’t we? How are we to reconcile these two statements?

When evaluating these two statements, you’ll notice that the first half of each statement is essentially the same, “when arguing with fools….”

The difference is in the back half of each statement, with each verse giving a different intended outcome. So, when arguing with fools, there are two desired outcomes. First, we don’t want to become as foolish as they are. Secondly, we want to ensure that the fool doesn’t become wise in their own estimation.

So while these two verses seem contradictory at first glance, you can see that the two intended outcomes are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, as long as you are satisfying the two different intended outcomes, the two statements are not contradictory.

Exactly how can we approach our engagements with others so that these two outcomes are achieved?

First of all, we should realize that it’s not necessary to respond to every foolish argument. In internet circles (forums, threads, tweets, posts, etc.) it is very common to encounter people who are engaged in what’s known as “trolling”.

An internet troll is someone who purposefully makes inflammatory or rude comments in order to evoke an emotional response or in order to hijack a conversation. Most people who engage in this type of behavior do so for their own personal amusement.

When we encounter this kind of foolish behavior, it’s tempting to respond in kind. But that would violate the outcome of verse 4. We don’t want to engage with a person in such a way that we “become as foolish as they are.”

Furthermore, when we engage people like this, we’re simply feeding their own amusement. Though it might feel good initially to respond with a zinger or some kind of disparaging remark, it actually serves as fuel and encouragement for the other person to continue their foolish behavior. Hence the phrase “don’t feed the trolls.”

So if you’re too emotionally involved in the conversation, or you’ve been triggered by something that the person said or the way in which they said it, then the advice of Proverbs is to NOT engage with the fool. In this case, it’s better to simply not respond.

However, if you’re able to respond in a respectful way and not act as foolishly as the other person, it may be prudent to expose the person’s immature behavior or the foolishness of their argument so that they don’t walk away thinking how wise they are.

Recently, I’ve encountered some examples of these principles in action as I manage an online forum where just about anyone can post.

In a recent thread, people were posting on the topic of evil. An article had been posted on the subject of why do bad things happen and many folks were posting their comments on the content of the article.

Whenever you are talking about a theological topic like the existence of God or the problem of evil, it is not uncommon for people who consider themselves atheists to engage in the discussion. While some are interested in genuine dialog, a number of people like to engage in trolling kinds of behavior with posts that are agitating, mocking and generally rude to people of faith.

One person posted on the thread a lot of inflammatory remarks aimed at God along with some incendiary language mocking Christians and people of faith.

After some deliberation I decided to respond to this person who, quite frankly, was coming off as arrogant and condescending. I shared how ironic it was that we were discussing the existence of evil and he was the only one, through his disrespectful language and mocking tone, who was engaged in behavior that most people would consider to be evil. I pointed out that while he was ridiculing those who believed in God and rolling his eyes at the biblical understanding of evil, he had not made an alternate case for why evil exists or how to deal with it.

I invited him to continue to engage but in a civil, adult way and I gave him some specific questions to answer if he wanted to show the superiority of his position.

To his credit, he did respond with a much less combative tone, though he never did answer the questions that were posed.

I think this was an example of responding to a fool so they don’t “become wise in their own estimation.”

So the bottom line is that these two verses are not contradictory but represent two different approaches to dealing with someone’s foolish arguments and behavior.

Our approach will be dictated by the outcome we are trying to achieve. If we’re trying to avoid the trap of engaging in the same kind of foolish tactics the other person is engaging in, then our approach will be to NOT engage. However, if our goal is for the other person’s foolishness to be exposed so they don’t become so full of themselves, then our strategy will be to respond.

Knowing the difference of when to pursue which outcome requires wisdom, which is why we need the Lord’s perspective, even in our personal and online interactions!

Reflection

When have you been tempted or even succumbed to foolish behavior in your in-person or online interactions? What do you think is the reason so many people engage in these uncivil and unproductive arguments?

What are some ways you can respectfully engage with people are who are fools to point out the folly of their position or tactics?

How would you rate your current in-person and online interactions? How well are you applying and abiding by these two proverbs?

Of the two approaches, which one would you say you need to grow in or develop more – do you need to practice NOT engaging because you’re too triggered or emotionally involved? Or do you need to develop in the art of engaging the fool to expose their tactics and behavior?

 

Original Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash
Edited photo by Dave Lowe

Keep Your Mouth Shut!

If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23, NLT)

Think about all the ways our words can get us into trouble. We can consciously or unconsciously lie about something, or stretch the truth. We can offend people, purposefully, or inadvertently. We can say truthful things but with the wrong tone. We can joke or make fun of people. We can criticize, judge, or mock others.

However, if we keep our mouths shut, there is hardly any way a person can bring a charge against us. Keeping our mouths shut can keep us out of trouble.

What are some ways your mouth can get you into trouble?

What are some things that would help you to implement this advice?

A Wise Person Thinks About Death?

A good reputation is more valuable than the most expensive perfume. In the same way, the day you die is better than the day you are born. It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.  – Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 (NLT)

At first glance, this passage seems kind of morbid. How in the world is it better to spend time at funerals than festivals? Who in their right mind likes going to funerals? With all that’s going on in the world, why would I want to intentionally think about death?

At closer inspection, this passage has profound wisdom that is especially appropriate as we begin a new year.

The author might have communicated his point in a different way, by inviting you to ask yourself this question: when you get to the end of your life, what do you want to be true of you? Or to put it another way, how do you want to be eulogized by others?

The fool only thinks about the here and now (verse 4) and what kind of fun they can have (festivals). But the wise person thinks about what kind of person they want to become (their reputation) and what will be said about them by others when they die.

As we embark on another year, it’s only natural to think about the things you want to accomplish in the coming year. Perhaps you want to lose weight and get healthy. Or maybe you want to advance in your profession or develop yourself educationally.

It’s ok to set material and professional goals but don’t neglect your character and your reputation. The wise person realizes that this is the most important area to think about and reflect on.

What steps can you take this year to move toward becoming the kind of person you want to ultimately be known as? What resources do you need to help you get there?

If you’re a Young Adult, contact us about coaching and other resources that can help you grow and develop in all areas of your life.

Here’s to a Happy and blessed New Year!