Tag: Proverbs

God Is Good

Proverbs 28:1-29:27

Reading through Proverbs, at least the second portion, not like reading a novel, story, biography, history. Does not have continuous train of thought (at least at level of specifics), does have numerous repetitions of the same principle. Sometimes worded the same way, sometimes worded differently. Themes:

contentious woman – Prov. 19:13; 21:9; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15

riches – 17 times; poverty – 14 times

truth – 13 times; falsehood – 10 times

children/parenting – 20+ times

wise/wisdom – 116 times; fool – 78 times

Instruction is given in both positive and negative ways – promises and warnings, blessings and cursings similar to Deut. 27 & 28. Given in Deut. as conditional statements based on God’s Law, here as principles based largely on observation and experience. So we have repetition, warnings, promises. Why? Simple answer, God is good to his children. More detailed answer:

Why the repetition?

God knows how people learn, especially those starting out as children. In spiritual matters, we all start that way.

Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”

Repetition, laying a foundation one piece at a time, adding bit by bit, helping make connections effective teaching strategy

Repetition with variation accounts for different

learning styles

knowledge base

personalities

Why the warnings?

deterrent

learning by experience, trial and error, the hard way CAN be effective

can have expensive consequences

doesn’t always teach the right lesson

lesson doesn’t always come soon enough to prevent disaster; we have to survive consequences in order to learn; consequences may be lifelong without being deadly

if warning works, then….

avoid causing displeasure to God and parents

avoid negative fallout from bad choice

cause for praise

directly – Thank you God for keeping me from….

indirectly – when we pass warning along to others – You know what God protected me from?…

Why the promises?

incentive

to do right

reward, not a bribe

God didn’t have to do anything in return for obedience more than already done – obey and live

graciously offers promises of blessing in order to strengthen commitment to obedience

sequence is important – obey me and I will bless you, not, I’ll give you this if you will obey; obedience is required, regardless of reward

to persevere

God is faithful to keep his promises; confidence in that encourages perseverance even when blessing is not immediately obvious

cause for praise

promised blessings are all of grace, not of merit

God didn’t need to do it, our performance doesn’t earn it

blessings granted because of God’s love for his children

What are we missing?

anxiety and fear v.1

afraid of their own shadow; guilty conscience, fear of being found out; also extends to hereafter; side note: no fear until after the Fall (sin)!

confusion v.2

rapid turnover in leadership, changing/conflicting priorities and expectations; frequent change rarely good

hardship v.3

“One of them said, now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God; for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without such tempest and thunder as we use to have with our rain; which after our Powawing for it, breaks down the corn; whereas your corn stands whole and good still; surely, your God is a good God.” Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol 1. p. 54

disgrace v.7

not only to himself but to loved ones, parents; disgrace always spills over to others

torment v.17

burdened/oppressed/tormented by past, tries to run away from it the remainder of life, unsuccessfully btw

poverty v.19, 22

enough poverty to satisfy, plenty of bread/plenty of poverty; not simple hardship, but uncomfortable level, insurmountable without outside help

isolation v.28

good people avoid those who are evil; keep their distance, have as little to do with them as possible

In return for what?

boldness v.1

confident, unafraid, secure in God’s keeping regardless of external threats; ongoing state, not confined to particular set of circumstances, e.g., adrenaline rush

a good inheritance v.10

blessing in this life AND the next: “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” 1 Pet. 1:4

elation v.12

when good triumphs, which it ultimately will (read the last chapter of the Book!) there is great rejoicing or elation; we know we’re on the side of good and right, are elated when God wins

mercy v.13

“God needs not confession for his own information. But he demands it for our good. It brings no claim on his mercy. But it is a meetness for the reception of it. Christ has fully satisfied the claims of justice. But the claims must be acknowledged in the humble acceptance of the benefit. The mercy is ready; but the sinner must sue it out [petition for it].” Bridges

happiness v.15

“Blessed is the one who fears” – a fear of reverence, caution, diligence; in other words, a holy fear that works for our happiness. Keeps us operating within our “design limits”.

safety v.18

kept safe, delivered from, saved from all the bad stuff that befalls the wicked; God protects those who seek to serve him

abundant provision v.19, 25, 27

plenty of bread, abundant prosperity, will not lack; always striving for more never satisfies, trusting God’s provision: always enough

rich blessing v.20

not just blessing, an abundance of blessings both in this world and the next

God is good to us, at all times, in all ways. Our response: thank him for his goodness, tell of his goodness to others, rest in his goodness no matter what comes our way.

Advertisements

True Friendship

Proverbs 27:1-22

“Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online.” (http://www.whatissocialnetworking.com)

Dr. Albert Mehrabian (Psychology Professor Emeritus, UCLA) on face-to-face communication:

7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.

38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).

55% of meaning is in facial expression.

To be without a friend, marks a state of painful desolation. (Psa 88:18.) On the other hand, a true friend is no common acquisition. (Pro 17:17.) There are many pretensions, many professions, of friendship. But the jewel itself is as rare as it is precious. Yet what is life without this cheering, enriching blessing? Charles Bridges

Friend status on Facebook or MySpace does not constitute the true friendship described in Scripture. Can serve as enhancement or facilitator but personal, breathing-the-same-air contact must be at the core. Elements of true friendship described by Solomon require interaction that cannot occur electronically.

A. sincere v.5

in personal verbal communication, sincerity judged by consonance of elements; conflicting cues undermine credibility

“I love the person too much to tell them that” means:

you don’t understand how Christian love is supposed to operate

– or – what you want to say is not edifying (designed to promote development of Christian character)

better to be told our faults than encouraged in our sin

silence can easily be taken for approval – to say nothing about bad behavior can be more harmful than withholding needed medicine

proper rebuke has the state of both soul and body in view, medicine only the body

rebuke a measure of sincerity

do we value the other’s future good more than their present good will

will we risk temporary displeasure/hard feelings for the sake of their soul, in order to do them a genuine kindness

B. trustworthy v.6

true friends are not suspicious of one another – take what the other has to say at face value without speculating about hidden agenda

trust: that motive behind reproofs is to encourage growth in holiness, not personal advantage

that the operating principle is love

means we need to make sure motives are pure

make sure all three elements communicate same message

that the goal is conformity to God’s standard

not our personal preference or opinion

“speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) is not an excuse for “biblical bullying”, pounding into our mold

end result is that individual “will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head”, that the head will have a fit and properly proportioned body

C. refreshing v.9

perfumed oil (ointment) used to keep skin soft when regular bathing is impractical, provide refreshment after a long journey or hard day’s labor

restful to the body and soothing to the senses

renewing and invigorating, strengthening and restoring

anointing another person is a sign of great love and respect

providing hearty/sincere/earnest counsel

requires time, thought, effort, investment in the individual

shows our respect and their value

counsel can frequently relieve great burdens – see Jethro’s to Moses (Ex. 18:17-24)

burdens can be emotional, spiritual, physical, combination of the above

“outside” perspective often a breath of fresh air, source of light in darkness

D. constant v.10

true friendship that is sincere, trustworthy, refreshing doesn’t happen immediately; requires time and effort to develop – is a long-term investment with no option for short-term bailout

trust, especially on deeply personal level is not quickly earned

once earned should not be treated casually, discarded easily

to abandon friendship shows little respect for what the other person has invested

close and deep friendships often extend to next generation

children can benefit from parents’ friendships

great treasure-store of shared history and understanding that should be honored

blood is not always thicker than water

true friend can be more helpful than family during time of hardship

may have better grasp of immediate circumstances, more closely aligned worldview/priorities

will have desire to be of help

to deny opportunity for friend to aid can be very hurtful, cheat them of blessing

E. considerate v.14

body language counts!

need to show discretion in how we speak to or about a friend

speaking “loudly” can be misunderstood – perceived as self-serving – can also cause embarrassment

how and why of speech is as important as the what

timing is essential

a good deed at the wrong time can be burden instead of blessing

need to consider what friend truly needs most at the time

what they need may not be what we want (impulsively) to give

what we want to give may be vastly more helpful, greater blessing at a different time

F. mutually stimulating v.17

Prov. 18:24” A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

true friendship is a two-way street with activity in both directions

can be a friend without having a friend in return

in context of true friendship interaction of ideas stimulates thinking

“A man by himself,” says Muffet, “is no man—he is dull, he is very blunt; but if this fellow come and quicken him by his presence, speech, and example, he is so whetted on by this means that he is much more skilful, comfortable, and better than when he was alone.”

if mutual goal is growth in holiness of the other, through interaction of friendship each is encouraged and stimulated

Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Thank God for the blessing of friendship, Christian brothers and sisters whom God uses to bless us in so many ways, to encourage our spiritual growth, lift our spirits, strengthen our faith.

Fools and Folly – How to Respond

Proverbs 26:1-28

18 references in 28 verses to communication

Presuppositions make a huge difference in conclusions.

layers in ice cores – 1 per season or 1 per storm?

Kornell Nash – layers of dino tracks – 1 per rainy season or 1 per tide? (and how many “tides” per day were there during the flood?)

there is no absolute truth

Madonna – “You know that we are living in a material world / And I am a material girl” – everything is material

science always has the right answers – Geocentric theory of the solar system; The classical elemental theory (that all substance is made of earth, air, fire and water); Ether as a carrier of light waves and radio waves

Fool in these verses: “referring not to mental deficiency, but to a propensity to make wrong choices”; Fool will almost always have different presuppositions from the wise man; starting in a different place, reaching a different conclusion, probably different stops along the way due to faulty reasoning. The believer is called to be light in the world: You are the light of the world; Let your light so shine… (Matt. 5:14,16) To effectively be and do that, we must use great wisdom in how/when we respond to fools.

A. fools, not simpletons v.12

they are unwise, not unintelligent

resistant to truth, morally blinded, not intellectually deficient

the fool may be well-trained, highly intelligent communicator; will almost certainly be tenacious

for the fool to give up territory means one of two things for him: all that is left for options is nothing or God’s truth; man naturally avoids a vacuum, natural man recoils from God’s truth

we need to be as prepared as possible in order to interact

intellectually

know how to think properly – reason logically from the right starting point without errors: red herring, equivocation, straw man, hasty generalization, circular reasoning

know the true facts (as in Biblical informed reality) of the discussion

we have the truth available to us; our job to understand and be able to communicate it to the degree God equips us

spiritually

must remember what the battle truly is: not flesh and bloodEph. 6:12

battle over ideas, not people; must be properly spiritually equipped to keep it straight

battle is ultimately with Satan and his minions; must be properly spiritually defended so as to not be overcome

For our own sanity and the sake of the Gospel, not every foolish statement or everything said by a fool needs a response. If we’re not adequately prepared, we probably shouldn’t respond; if the statement is ridiculous enough, we won’t need to pick it apart – it will fail on its own lack of merit or others will beat us to the task.

NOTE: There are two ways to answer a fool – distinguished by the result identified in the second half of each proverb. It’s not results-oriented instruction but the difference in how a fool is answered will determine different outcomes.

B. the wrong strategy v.4

“lest you be like him” is the key to how not to answer

do not answer beginning with the same assumptions

the non-Christian, non-Biblical view of reality is distorted

he won’t see nor does he want to see the beginning point accurately – see Romans 1:18-20

since he suppresses the truth, there are probably errors in his assumptions; even though he attempts to suppress truth, he will not succeed perfectly which causes frustration

religious people of Athens believed it right to worship idols, yet had temple to Unknown God (Acts 17:23ff)

the accuracy of “given” determines (in part) accuracy of conclusion

if assumption is false and logic is correct, conclusion will be false

to begin with faulty assumption will lead to other errors even if the conclusion is correct, giving the fool opportunity to criticize/discredit the one who would answer him

do not use the same line of reasoning if it is faulty

if assumption is correct but reasoning contains fallacies, that is what needs to be corrected

requires listening carefully to other person, asking leading questions, seeking to identify where he is in error

do not rebut his conclusions, begin at the most foundational error

to simply say you’re right and he’s wrong makes it a matter of opinion

to respond only with “but the Bible says” when the fool also began with the Bible makes it a matter of interpretation

use fool’s line of reasoning to the degree it is valid, continue from there; the goal is to demolish his argument, not cause unnecessary embarrassment

Three things to avoid

falling into the same errors as the fool – we’re not to be like him – Col. 2:8

making it personal, taking it personally – the battle is over ideas/principles that are spiritual –2 Cor. 10:4-5

thinking it’s our job to change the fool’s mind – there is hope for the fool but only if the Holy Spirit changes his way of thinking – 1 Cor. 2:12-14;2 Cor. 4:4

C. the right strategy v.5

“lest he be wise in his own eyes”and the eyes of others; e.g., Clark Pinnock, N.T. Wright, Carl Stevens, Joel Osteen, etc.

“in important matters one needs to respond lest others conclude that the fool is correct.”Constable

especially when it’s people of influence – authority figures, religious and civic leaders, even misguided family members

do show the foolishness of his presuppositions

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.” Stephen Hawking

Gravity defined as the force of attraction between masses. Question: Where does a law exist when there is nothing? Where was gravity before mass? What did gravity use to make the universe?

Nightline Faceoff: Does Satan Exist (03/26/2009) – Video transcript:

Questioner: My question is for Deepak. You stated before that “all belief is a coverup for insecurity.” Right?

Deepak [Chopra]: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative)

Questioner: You believe that?

Deepak: Yes!

Questioner: Thank you.

enough said

do show the logical outcome of his reasoning

Hawking: How is creation by gravity ex nihilo different from creation by God ex nihilo?

Osteen: If this is “Your Best Life Now”, what’s heaven like?

PoMo poster child: You say there is no metanarrative, no “theory that can give a comprehensive account to various historical events, experiences, and social, cultural phenomena based upon the appeal to universal truth or universal values.” Is that true for everyone?

faulty reasoning almost always traps the one using it, forcing them into other errors of reasoning to defend their position

do show the right conclusion to the matter based on biblical presuppositions and reasoning

need to identify the issue being addressed, then show how God’s truth most closely matches reality

2 Cor. 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

It was Jesus himself who said, “You are the light of the world.” Matt. 5:14 That means when we hear obvious error that will mislead others, we should do our best to give an answer. We should stand up for what we believe, for what is right and true; we should stand up for Jesus in a world that needs to know him.

Wisdom and a Healthy Culture

Proverbs 25:1-28

A new section in the book (through the end of Chapter 29) – proverbs of Solomon collected and added to the sacred text by men under the direction of Hezekiah (715-686 BC, 250 years after Solomon)

For a culture/society to be and remain healthy, principles of godly wisdom must be followed. Certainly the unregenerate cannot practice godly wisdom intentionally and would not do so purposefully to please God. However, this is important, the Fall profoundly damaged the image of God in man but it did not obliterate it. It is fractured but still recognizable and operative in albeit a limited way. That means that at least some of the time and to some degree all men follow God’s principles for the state, family and church.

To the degree God’s principles are followed, a society will survive and perhaps even prosper; as they are practiced more faithfully, the culture will be more healthy and resilient to that which would damage it. To the degree God’s principles are abandoned, a society will experience decline and perhaps even death or destruction. Examples both good and bad abound – the USA, Roman Empire, Israel, Easter Island, etc.

God calls us, his people, to understand and follow his principles, to support and encourage the practice of them by others in all spheres of life. That means we must practice and encourage wise acting and thinking in matters relating to –

A. the state v.2-15

wise leaders

seek to understand the mind and purpose of God in his creation v.2

God knows it all, he doesn’t have to figure it out. Leaders, even wise ones, don’t know it all; they should try to figure it out to the extent God has revealed it. NOTE: remember the limits – Deut. 29:29.

trying to govern without knowing the mind of God is like assembling a complex item without instructions – you can get there, maybe, by trial and error, eventually, without breaking anything, too badly

don’t have loose lips v.3

wise leaders don’t give public voice to all they are thinking – not everyone would understand all the reasons for a decision, nor would everyone be pleased by reasoning; can eliminate possibility of negotiation, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, etc.

giving away too much makes the leader vulnerable to persuasion or manipulation, liable to poor future decisions

surround themselves with wise counselors v.5

those who are committed to doing the right things the right way for the right reasons (as much as possible)

and will counsel leadership accordingly

just as dross (impurities) degrades and weakens silver (or any metal) so the wicked in government – inclusions in a weld, will be point at which crack starts or break occurs

act with restraint v.8

in judicial situations or the court of public opinion; it will avoid potential embarrassment and waste of resources, damage to credibility

“think well of it beforehand; consider the nature of the cause, whether right or wrong; or whether it is a matter of such moment as to go to law about; whether it will not be deemed a frivolous and vexatious suit; whether able to bear the expenses of it, and what may probably be the success of it.”Gill

say the right thing in the right way at the right time v.11

context and manner are just as important as content for effective communication

context and manner are more important than mere content for persuasive communication

it’s not just what is said; it is when and how (which can sometimes be more important than what) that make it persuasive

listens to the voice of reason v.15

gentle persuasion based on sound principles from the right people – see v.5!

wise leader knows who to listen to and does so

B. the family v.16-24

qualities that should be developed personally and passed along to next generation(s)

grandmother and grandsons in morning worship, during the week, granddaughter also

require thought and attention – it takes work and planning to be each one of these qualities

be temperate v.16

we should neither indulge our desires for material or temporal things to excess

nor should we indulge our pride by asceticism – refraining from worldly pleasures

God has richly provided us with all things for our enjoyment – (1Tim. 6:17) – applies to far more than food

we must not overindulge or abstain (for the wrong reasons) and lose the enjoyment God has designed for us

be considerate v.17

“This maxim was however never intended to give a chill to the flow of neighborly love, or to restrain its practical exercise. It only suggests, that kindly intercourse cannot be maintained without a considerate feeling.”Charles Bridges

interaction with neighbors should be purposeful – Rom. 15:2 – “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up.”

means we must be considerate of the demands on his time and energy – work, family, rest, etc.

be sensitive v.20

Eccl. 3:4 “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

must be sensitive to the needs and perspective of the other person; what is inconsequential to us may be mountainous or “the end of the world” to someone else; e.g., a small child, someone already under the weight of difficulty, one experiencing genuine sorrow

heard at the burial of an infant: father to son, “That’s OK, you and your wife can make another baby.”

true Christian love means rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15) just as Job’s friends did – see Job. 2:11-13

be generous v.21-22

love your enemy – here’s what it means in action, recognizing his need and acting to meet it

basic physical needs is usually not at the root of animosity

treating him with compassion may stoke the fires of conscience

may be the means God uses to convert them, make them friends

C. the church v.25-28

rejoicing at the progress of the Gospel in a far country

if it’s a true Gospel and it is progressing, we should rejoice and not be resentful because we weren’t part of it

wisdom asks how to spur on greater Gospel progress and provide greater rejoicing

“country” heard from can be distant geographically or morally

“Every intelligent child, who is paying attention, knows that the far country into which that prodigal son went, was not far away from his home, as China and India, Africa and America are far away from Edinburgh. He did not travel to that far country by any caravan of camels, or by any ship with sails. That far country was far from his father’s house not in miles, but in bad habits. The far country was not so many hundreds of thousands of miles away. Its great distance consisted in so many bad secrets that he never could tell at home; till they had to be told, and paid for by his father, if his son was not to be taken to prison.” Alexander Whyte

To faithfully practice and promote godly wisdom in these areas requires God’s direction in good times as well as hard. We need a skilled all-knowing pilot at the wheel to steer us away from danger and keep us in the right way.

Love Your Neighbor

Proverbs 24:1-34

WSC #1, chief end to glorify God. Jesus said “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8 He also said, “”If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15 and “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:14

Love neighbor found first in Lev. 19:18, quoted 8 times in the New Testament, 3 times by Jesus himself. Paul makes this summary statement in Romans 13:9:

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Loving neighbor achieves two things: it glorifies God (obedience to his commands) and serves God (service to others, part of the means God uses to meet their needs). A fellow trying to look good in his own eyes asked Jesus, “So, who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the story (Luke 10:29-37) of the man who fell into the hand of robbers, was seen but avoided by a priest and Levite, then helped by the Samaritan. Jesus answered indirectly, teaching the man that the person in his path whom he recognizes as having a need is the neighbor. But Jesus didn’t leave it there; you see, neighbors come in pairs and being a good neighbor was in Jesus’ view as important as recognizing a neighbor.

Solomon in our text gives indications why it is important to be a good neighbor, what our neighbor needs from us who are guided by godly wisdom.

A. He’s watching

Set a godly example v.10

How do you handle the tough stuff? weather the storms of life?

adversity is direct consequence of the Fall – “because you have …eaten of the tree, cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you shall eat” Gen. 3:17

adversity used by God to teach us to depend, strengthen our faith, give him the glory

it’s ok to be “shaken, but not moved”, human (not robots, stiff upper lip) yet victorious

when it is obvious to onlookers that we depend on God, our confidence is in him, we give him the glory

saints will be encouraged

if you can manage the adversity with God’s help, so can they when it comes their way

sinners will be pointed to God and will of necessity glorify him (Matt. 5:16), recognize that the true source of strength lies outside of them (contra Yoda)

B. He needs your protection

Warn of danger v.11

two pair of eyes are better than one for discerning danger

not everyone is perceptive in all areas – different experience, training, equipping by God

God has given us to one another to look out for each other – e.g., one to work, one to watch

renewed mind following way of wisdom is more discerning than natural mind

we will see dangers our lost neighbors will not

the greatest danger they face is eternity alienated from God

must use every opportunity to direct conversation toward things of God, their need for him

can’t be so focused on greatest danger we miss occasion to warn of lesser dangers

C. He needs your help

Don’t try to get ahead at your neighbor’s expense v.15

Christian is to put brothers & sisters (neighbors) first – “giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10)

our purpose is to serve God by serving others, acting as his means to meet their needs

this life is as good as it gets for the unsaved

any blessings he receives at all come before death

he needs our help to find God; he can’t find God on his own, he’s blind and stumbling around in the dark

Don’t gloat over his misfortune v.17

it’s only because of God’s grace that we escape misfortune

on a human level, we can’t expect him to be interested in God if God’s people kick him when he’s down

D. He needs your honesty

Speak the truth even if it costs v.26, 28

kiss – sign of affection and respect

must love and respect our neighbor enough to tell the truth

must be winsome without sugarcoating

when it’s a really tough situation, people generally (if grudgingly) respect honesty

if truth genuinely is to neighbor’s hurt, be certain it is the truth and spoken for biblical reasons

E. He needs your encouragement

No paybacks v.29

paybacks are God’s business, not ours

he knows all the facts, will be certain justice is truly served

works through civil authority in this life, handles the rest

at Calvary for the Christian

or in eternity for the lost

living in a fallen world is hard enough without us adding to the difficulty

harsh treatment never encourages better performance or attitude

God has not given us what we deserve; that’s enough reason for us to show mercy to others

F. He can teach you

Learn from his mistakes v.30-32, then ff

shouldn’t be too proud to be teachable, willing to learn from whoever God puts in our path

can learn positive principles from negative examples

neighbor trusted his own wisdom, failed to be diligent, squandered God-given resource

didn’t set out to be poverty-stricken

overtook him one step at a time

wise man learns to trust God, work diligently, maximize God-given resources

goal is not riches but pleasing God

staying God-focused rather than self-focused leads to blessing

If loving our neighbor is inseparable from being a good neighbor, remember the Good Samaritan story, then it is important we be a good neighbor by meeting our neighbor’s needs to the degree God enables us. Our prayer must be that the Lord would use us to influence and encourage our neighbors – influence the lost to turn to Christ in faith, encourage the saved to persevere on the journey home. May the Lord make us a blessing to all we encounter.

Zealous for the Fear of the Lord

Proverbs 23:1-35

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, lines 75-80, Polonius (Lord Chamberlain to the King of Denmark, Claudius, who had murdered his brother, Hamlet’s father) instructs his son Laertes just before he leaves for the “big city” of Paris:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; (Prov. 22:7)
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all –
to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Is that possible? What about Jeremiah 17:9“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”Being zealous for the fear of the Lord is the only effective antidote to self-indulgence. That means we must choose to not pursue some things and to pursue others while being true to God, not self. This principle was given Gospel clothing when Jesus said,“If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)

A. don’t pursue the transient (lasting a very short time)

food v.1-3

given for enjoyment and use

necessary for life

accompanying pleasure is blessing from God – food could provide no pleasure and still nourish

not given to excessive indulgence

either in quantity or quality

once the meal is a memory – how much eternal value to the experience?

must be kept within proper bounds given resources/opportunities God has entrusted to us

riches v.4-5

it’s the difference between riches as a god and a servant

does life revolve around acquisition of riches?

Do not wear yourself out to become rich; be wise enough to restrain yourself.” NET

or around wise investment of wealth in things/people with eye to spiritual/eternal return

trusting in God and not in riches

riches cannot be trusted with respect to the future – see NYSE performance charts, real estate stats, etc.

trust must be in what is dependable – God who is eternal, self-existent, immutable, benevolent

persuading the stubbornly impenitent v.6-9

it’s a heart issue v.7

only God can change it

until God does, it’s a waste of time and of God’s treasure (wisdom)

Bigger principle: we are to invest ALL of resources wisely to have maximum impact in God’s work. Side note: we may not observe or be aware of extent of impact; our responsibility is to act wisely, not base actions on perceived results.

pleasure v.29-35

comes up short on two counts:

fails to satisfy because it is transient, empty (lacks the positive)

has negative side “benefits” v.29, 33-35

does not mean pleasure is wrong/sinful

it is a blessing given by God for which to be thankful

it is not an end in itself or something to be pursued as a goal

Zeal (great emotional warmth and intensity) for the fear of God requires right attitude (wisdom) toward things that are a normal part of life. Everyone has to deal with issues of food, wealth, impenitent friends/family, and pleasure. One with godly wisdom seeks to maintain biblical perspective in all areas.

B. don’t contribute to injustice

be good to neighbors v.10a

second command – love neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39)

also consistent with 8th & 10th commands – stealing, coveting

positive side of injunction – protect neighbor and his interests

to orphans (helpless) v.10b

a mark of pure religion – visit orphans and widows (James 1:27)

injustice against orphans specifically forbidden (Deut. 27:19)

character of God to be Father to orphans, defender of widows (Psa. 68:5)

C. do pursue

instruction & knowledge

for yourself v.12, 23

4148-instruction 1847-knowledge 571-truth 2451-wisdom 998-understanding

pursue, buy, acquire these things – in other words, develop a thoroughly biblical worldview

requires knowledge of God, his word, his ways, and wisdom to properly apply knowledge

for your children v.13-16, 24

we’re not simply coaches, keeping kids between the ditches as they pursue what they want

we are their trainers; proper correction and instruction is essential

perhaps in regard to verse 13: remembering family history

Adonijah – After the death of his three brothers, Amnon, Chileab and Absalom, he became the eldest son; “his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” (1 Kings 1:6); ordered killed by Solomon (1 Kings 2:25) because of request to marry Abishag.

the right road v.19

“keep your mind on the right course” HCSB

“way of life” is direct result of “way of thinking” – belief governs behavior

think this way: Phil. 2:5 – let this mind be in you

requires effort, zeal, to think the right (read biblical) way in a fallen world

not every road leads to favor with God – must be careful to follow path of his direction

the right people v.20-22

choice of those with whom develop close relationships – ones who will encourage us in right thinking and living

not to live as hermits (convent/monastery); cannot be salt and light that way

must be sure the influence balance is tipped the right way

choice of those to whom we turn for guidance – should be those who possess biblical understanding and will counsel accordingly

Verse 17-18: zealous for the fear of the Lord BECAUSE there is a future; what we do in this life has impact on the next life, not by necessity but by God’s design. Yes, we live in the present, confined by God’s design to earthly existence. BUT, we cannot confine our thoughts and actions to the present, temporal living; must think and live with the Kingdom in view. We pray for God’s kingdom to come, Jesus told us to seek the Kingdom of God above all else; God’s kingdom will be realized in its fullness but we must be doing our part as we follow Christ and choose those pursuits that please him.

See Valley of Vision, Faith and the World, p.196

The Value of a Good Name

Proverbs 22:1-16

A good name is a choice, not an automatic bequest. The result of things other than paternity. In Western culture, much different ideas about names and their usage than the ancient Middle East. Name recognition, aka “branding”, a big deal in business and political world. Name-dropping (the practice of casually mentioning important people in order to impress your listener, WordNet) also a favorite pastime, especially among those who strive to climb the social or economic ladder. But what underlying principles go with these practices? Popularity, market share, appearance, perceptions…

“…branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem. …Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.”Laura Lake, About.com Guide

Brands have become synonymous with product or service and replaced some names: Xerox (photocopy), Google (search), PhotoShop (modify an image), Polaroid (instant picture). But what about the connection between the name/brand and the actual thing to which it refers? Often it’s only a functional connection with little or no relationship to quality or performance or character actually inherent in the item.

A. What it is

English definition: “a language unit by which a person or thing is known”

Jewish usage:

significance as minimal as order of birth, hair color, number of siblings (e.g., twin); as great as the entire self-disclosure of God (Ex. 34:5-8) nearly equivalent to actual appearance/presence of individual

power/right to name indicated authority over what was being named: Adam and animals; God and numerous individuals – Abraham and Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter

usually indicative of character, either possessed by the individual or desired by the one naming; see Nabal, 1 Sam. 25:25

“My lord should not pay attention to this wicked man Nabal. He simply lives up to his name! His name means ‘fool,’ and he is indeed foolish.”NET

a good name more than a good label or “language unit”

…it is evidently a good reputation that is gained by uprightness and unselfishness—that loving esteem of others which is the fruit of being “concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.” (Phil. 2:4 NET)Harris

True value must be seen, however, not in what one has but in what he or she truly is.Constable

B. How to get it v.1-4

pick the right thing v.1a

careful, well thought-out choice; purposeful; perhaps with even ultimate or eternal significance

unlike Robert Frost’s: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by”, basing choice on the obvious

choice of wisdom considers the big picture, recognizes that the destination is as important as the route traveled

wisdom understands great wealth has value only as a means, not as an end; something Midas learned to his dismay when everything he touched turned to gold

in this case, silver and gold will not even serve as means to end of good name and loving favor

wisdom makes a considered purposeful choice in selecting good name as the end for which to strive

prioritize desires v.1b

desires are a function of nature; creatures desire the things they do because of what they are

seen in life of Nebuchadnezzar and time out to pasture: Dan. 4:34 his reason returned; Dan. 5:21 heart was made like that of a beast

limits to what we CAN desire and what we can NOT desire – determined by nature, regenerate or not, and ministry of Holy Spirit

within those limits we CAN modify desires

Phil. 1:23-24 Paul’s desire to depart and be with Christ, to continue teaching/encouraging them in their faith

1 Pet. 2:2 Peter instructed his readers to desire pure spiritual food

1 Cor. 10:6 Paul told his readers that we should not give in to evil desires

wisdom seeks to satisfy the desire that is most important from God’s view

pursue holy conduct and godliness v.4

2 Pet. 3:11 since this is where it’s all going, how should you conduct yourselves “in lives of holiness and godliness” while you are waiting

Solomon defines as: “humility and fear of the Lord”

Peter defines as:

2 Pet. 1:5-8 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,to knowledge self – control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

C. How to keep it v.5-16

live circumspectly v.5, 13

not taking unnecessary risks (verse 5) but not living paralyzed by fear (verse 13)

“So I saw in my dream, that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now, before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off of the Porter’s lodge ; and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them, for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none : keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions ; but taking good heed to the directions of the Porter, he heard them roar, but they did him no harm.” Pilgrim’s Progress

pass it on v.6, 15

children will not automatically inherit good name if their character won’t bear it

molding character, not simply modifying behavior, results in lifelong habits

when it’s the traits of godly character being molded and instilled, then followed, a good name at least before men will result

must start at a young age – badly mannered children and foolish choices can ruin not only their own name but also that of their parents

manage resources v.7, 9, 16

avoid unnecessary debt, be relieved of debt as soon as possible

side benefit: freedom to contribute time and treasure to kingdom work

be generous but not wasteful with what is entrusted to you

good stewardship

have right attitude toward both rich and poor

see verse 2: God made both rich and poor, also made rich rich and poor poor

what we have, large or small, is because of God’s providential and benevolent care

pursue purity v.8, 11

consistently gracious speech is the outward evidence of an inwardly pure heart

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

all men can and should pursue pure motives, the Christian should seek to achieve them across the board

a heart devoted to Christ and his service, desiring to see Christ magnified, doing all things for the glory of God

in other words, Living for Jesus