Put Your Hand on Your Mouth

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:32–33 (ESV)
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We need to be wise in our actions and consider their consequences. It is foolish to exalt ourselves rather than act in humility towards others. It is also wrong for us to “devise evil” or scheme evil plans in our actions. We often do these without even thinking about them as we say and do things that we know will hurt others or get back at them for hurting us. We often justify our actions by assuring ourselves that we know better than others and that the outcome we are seeking is the correct one. Therefore, any means to obtain it is good.

The second line warns us that actions have consequences. We are given three examples of this truth each using the word “pressing.” The first speaks of pressing milk, which is a picture of churning. The second speaks of pressing the nose,which produces blood. This pictures a fight in which someone strikes another person on the nose and gives them a bloody nose. And the last speaks of pressing anger and producing strife. This last picture is of one who stirs up the anger of another until there is a response of conflict.

Learning to walk wisely involves learning to “put your hand on your mouth.” We need to learn when to keep quiet. To scheme evil through our words and actions, or use them to stir up conflict, is the way of the fool. Of course, the fool does not mind the conflict and may even enjoy it, but the wise understands that such is not to be desired. Even the New Testament warns the church against those who like to stir up division, calling such people “warped and sinful” (cf. Titus 3:10). Let’s learn to walk in wisdom and humility, not looking for conflict and strife.


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Haste Brings Shame

Reading the Word

Proverbs 25:7–10 (ESV)
7 What your eyes have seen
8 do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret,
10 lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever heard someone explain their side of a story and they had a strong opinion of their rightness and someone else’s wrongness? However, when you heard the other side of the story and got all of the details you realized the first person was actually in the wrong? Have you ever assumed you knew all of the details about an event and then learned more information and had to change your opinions? That is what this proverb warns us of.

We must not be quick to take someone to court thinking we have a clear case that will go in our favor. If we do, we may find ourselves embarrassed when all of the details come out and we are not correct in our original assumptions. It is much better to go directly to the other person and try to work things out rather than drag things out into the public and risk embarrassment and loss of reputation.


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Beware of Pride

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.(Proverbs 16:18, ESV)

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.(Proverbs 29:23, ESV)

It Is Better To Be Humble

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

Proverbs 12:9 (ESV)
9 Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great m
an and lack bread.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This proverb is all about humilty. So many like to boast and have others think about how great they are. However, it is much better to be humble, even if you have something to boast about, than to pretend you are something you are not. One may be wealthy and powerful and have servants while no one even knows it. Another may boast of his greatness while not even having food to eat. Humility is better than boasting.

Why is it that we feel the need to have others think we are “something”? It is always best to be humble, just as our Savior, who was God incarnate, but came to the world as a servant of mankind.

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Christ Came to Serve

Philippians 28 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 2:5–8 (ESV)

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was God in the flesh, but he came to serve. Jesus was the promised Messiah, the King of kings, but he came in humility and gave his life for his people. He did this in order that we could have life. He went to the cross for us.

Jesus calls us to follow his example. Our lives should not be spent looking out for ourselves, but serving others in humility. We should look for the welfare of others and give of ourselves to that end. This is how Christ showed love to us and this is how we show the love of Jesus to the world.

Christmas is a time of year when people are much more giving. As Christians, we should be known for our giving spirit not only at Christmas, but every day. Let us go forth in humility as we follow the example of our Savior and give our lives for others.

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How to Spot a Jesus Follower

John 1335 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:31–35 (ESV)

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Judas had gone out from the group, Jesus spoke of his coming glorification. He was looking ahead to the cross and also the resurrection and ascension, which would confirm that Jesus was who he claimed to be and that his words were true.

As Jesus prepared to depart from this world, he left his disciples with the command to love one another. They were to love one another as Jesus had loved them, which was marked by humility and sacrifice. Through this display of love, the world would know that the disciples belonged to Jesus.

Those who belong to Jesus are called to be like him. Others should not only hear us say that we are Christians, but they should be able to observe our actions and know that we are different than the world. Jesus is no longer on earth, but his followers are many and serve as his representatives. We do this by proclaiming his word and by living as he lived. We are to love others just as he has loved us.

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The Desire to Be Great

man wearing blue suit jacket beside woman with gray suit jacket

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

Luke 22:24–30 (ESV)

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. He was the promised one from the line of David who would reign over Israel and restore it to its place of prominence as it enjoyed during David’s life. To his disciples, this meant that they were going to receive great benefits from their close relationship with Jesus. So, naturally, the disciples argued over who was going to get the most. Who was going to be the greatest?

Jesus told the disciples that things would be different in his kingdom, in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. The world desires power and authority, but the kingdom of Christ cherishes humility and servanthood. Just as Jesus would serve his people by going to the cross and offering his life for others, Jesus’ followers should follow his example and be willing to make sacrifices in service to others. Our goal is not to be greater than others, but to point them to our great Savior.

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Washing the Feet of Others

Baby Child Feet

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish additional material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page or one of our social media accounts so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 13:12–20 (ESV)

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

The Self-Righteous

Luke 1813–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 18:9–14 (ESV)

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This parable addresses the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. Jesus tells of two men who went to the temple to pray. The first, a Pharisee, thanked God that he was not like the sinners of the world. He even commented on his own righteousness by mentioning that he fasted twice per week and tithed on his earnings. The second, a tax collector, could hardly bring himself to the temple to pray. He stood far away and kept his eyes to the ground in shame and humility. He called out to God for mercy for his sins. Jesus ended the parable by saying that it was the tax collector who went home justified, not the Pharisee.

The reason for this parable is given in the opening verse. It was to address those who were self-righteous and looked down on others. Those who are in a right relationship with God have acknowledged their own sin and repented of it. We have asked God to forgive us based not on what we have done, but solely on what Jesus has done for us. He went to the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. If we believe we are righteous by our own doing and somehow deserve God’s blessing, we deceive ourselves and do not belong to God at all. Salvation comes only by grace to sinners who are undeserving.

When we acknowledge our own sin, it should make us humble. We should not look down on others. Instead, we should point fellow sinners to Jesus Christ and tell of the forgiveness and grace that are available to all who will believe.

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A Life of Humility

Luke 1410 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 14:7–11 (ESV)

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Notice that Jesus spoke this parable to those who were choosing the places of honor at the home of the Pharisee (cf. Luke 14:1). Jesus was not just giving theoretical advice with his teaching. He was addressing a real mindset as it was happening! Through this parable, Jesus warned against pride and arrogance. Such a mindset will ultimately lead to shame and embarrassment when the place of honor is taken away and given to someone else. It is the humble person who finds true honor when the master invites him to take the place of honor.

Jesus’ teaching concerned the place of honor at a meal, but it also spoke of the religious leaders’ mindset about their relationship with God. They were proud and arrogant about their righteousness. They believed they were superior to others and had earned their right to be a part of the kingdom of God. To their surprise, Jesus told them that it is the humble person who puts others first who will finally be honored by the Father. The pride and arrogant will be humbled.

The Christian life is one of recognizing the worth in others while also recognizing our own shortcomings. We do not think of ourselves as better than others because we are not. All that we have is simply by the grace of God and the sacrificial death of our Savior. Instead of elevating ourselves above others, we are called to put them first and serve them. We do this by showing others love and through the proclamation of Christ’s love for sinners. When we do that, we follow in the footsteps of our Savior (cf. Philippians 2:1-11).

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