This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked. ~ Proverbs 11:11
Complaining is easy and seems to be people’s default. On Google and Yelp, you can leave reviews of all sorts of things and many people use them to lodge complaints. We complain on social media about happenings in our communities, issues with neighbors, or politics. We complain to others about others in conversations.
Proverbs 11:11 is a reminder from Solomon that even though not everything in the world is perfect and there are indeed legitimate problems, it is your choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution
Blessings are words and works that seek to bring positive results to other people. To be blessed is to have a life that, in general, is a happy experience.
God’s people are to be the upright. Through our faith in Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God takes a stubborn and rebellious heart and makes it good and righteous. All the goodness of Jesus is freely given to us and we, in turn, are to seek to show goodness toward others. Living in and acting out God’s goodness, we are to be positive influences on others.
Jeremiah 29 gives a hint at what this might look like in our cities or towns. The people of Judah were about to go into exile in Babylon for 70 years. It was an unfavorable situation and one that could be a source of complaining. In fact, false prophets were saying, “Oh, it won’t be that bad, it’ll only last a short while,” to try to make people feel better.
But God sent Jeremiah to remind the people that they would be in this exile for the long haul. So what should they do?
Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive. ~ Jeremiah 29:4-7
Though exiles in a foreign land, God told his people that as the city thrived they would thrive, so seek to help the city thrive.
There are countless options: Run for city council, work at a thrift store or food pantry, get involved with the schools, encourage the teachers, help coach your son’s or daughter’s little league teams, volunteer to pick up trash or beautify a park, invite people to church… Be a blessing to your community.
Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.