An Honest Salesman?

Proverbs 12:5

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.”

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was a pretty successful one, myself. And if there was anything that characterized a salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? When he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say that there were times I did just that, even when the rent was due. Taking advantage of customer was wrong, and even though I might have needed the money, the end didn’t justify the means.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.


Be the Good Wife

Proverbs 12:4

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Two Paths

I was engaged to be married once, before I met my wife.

The Ex

There were a lot of good qualities about my ex-fiancé, such as being intelligent, beautiful, and creative. She also had some qualities that were not so good, and we were not a good match.

During our relationship, we both walked dangerous paths. We drank a lot of alcohol, together and separately, much of the time. We got into smoking many things (all of the legal variety). We began “sleeping together” about half way through our relationship. We became bitter, even mean toward others and eventually ourselves.

That relationship wore me out: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I call much of our relationship “the time I should not have called myself a Christian,” because … well … read Galatians 5:19-21. My ex and I either considered or did almost everything on that list.

My Wife

When I met the woman who became my wife, we did things differently.

The relationship began with a promise of purity and a dedication to God. Even when we are angry with each other (yes, it happens in good relationships, too!) we still find good things to say to each other. (To be honest, our “fights” last mere moments, and our anger subsides in even less time … often instantly)

We lift each other up in prayer, worship God together, and find ourselves sacrificing in some way for the other on a regular basis … only to receive the greater blessing of joy and happiness, as we both enjoy much of the same things, anyway!

This may not be the exact picture of all strong couples, but there will always be similarities.

The Church

Now consider this: Jesus Christ has called the Church His Bride (As evidenced in Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21-22).

How do you treat the Husband?

Do you lift up and bless? Or, do you cause shame and bitterness?

O God, strengthen our relationships with love and grace. Give us the wisdom to know when a relationship is healthy or not. Guide us in all righteousness that we may bless You with our lives.

 

 


Roots of Faith

Proverbs 12:3 

“A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”
Uprooted

Over the last several years there have been a lot of storms come through where I live. Many of those storms produced very strong winds, even tornadoes.

I hate tornadoes.

But when I look at this proverb, there comes to mind mental images of trees uprooted and blown over, smashing houses, cars, etc. And when I think of those trees, I can remember what they looked like lying on the ground. Huge trees with roots that spread out in every direction – except down.

Trees

When we think of trees, we think of strong, healthy plants that grow tall and impressive. They are symbols of stability. They almost always win when challenged by automobiles, woodpeckers, or lovers with initials to carve.

The wicked and the righteous are both trees; both have leaves, and both have roots. But only one has roots that run deeper than the surface. Only one can stand in a storm.

Roots

The roots of a tree primarily do two things: they bring nourishment from the ground and tie it to the ground. Without roots a tree would die. Without deep roots, a tree could could be toppled by a strong wind.

But strong winds aren’t the only danger trees face; drought can kill a tree with shallow roots. Yet, if a tree has deep roots, it can find the water it needs to survive.  Maybe you will remember the following verse…

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psa. 1:3

Established

But we are not trees, are we? We are people. We don’t have roots; we have faith.

The deeper our root system, the less likely we are to fall over when the storms of life come our way, or when there seems to be little rain of hope.

Wickedness will not produce roots that will hold. Wickedness produces roots that grow outward and just below the surface. They bring in everything needed to grow a beautiful, leafy tree, just not one that can hold on in a gale. Nor can they soak up water from the dry soil when the blessings of God seem to be withheld.

On the other hand, righteousness goes deep and anchors the believer to the solid ground. The roots of faith find refreshment from hidden sources of hope.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jer. 17:7-8 NKJV

How are your roots?


Do Me a Favour

Proverbs 12:2

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”

Obtain or Deserve?

‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’ was the title of a 1971 Moody Blues album. The cover shows a young child and a wizened old man, the child apparently in awe of the old man, perhaps receiving instruction. But why should a good person deserve favor? Didn’t the Moody Blues know about grace? In terms of the human relationship with God His favor is not something that is deserved. It is only possible through grace.

Grace Not Works

But if salvation is possible through grace rather than works, why does Solomon state that a good man obtains favor from the Lord? The answer is simple. Because when salvation occurs Jesus Christ moves in and lives inside us. This may sound weird, but when you think about it we cannot become good, or do good works, unless we are equipped. Having Christ in us provides the enabling for us to obtain the favor of the Lord as we move forwards in obedience to His instruction and guided by His knowledge (Proverbs 12:1).

Another Way

As always in life we have a choice. There is another way. A way condemned by the Lord. A broad road that leads to destruction, but which is favored by many because of its apparent pleasures. Take a look around. Are you standing in Broad Street? If you are then perhaps it is time to move on. Time to search for the grace that brings eternal favor, rather than temporary pleasure. You have a choice. You always have a choice.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)


Stupid On Purpose

Proverbs 12:1

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Instruction

We see over and over again in the book of Proverbs how Solomon is giving us instructions on how we should live our lives. He deals with different topics from money to adultery, from the fear of the Lord to temptation, from pride and humility to the wicked that are in the world. Each time he discusses a topic, he gives us instructions on how we need to handle each situation.

Instructions are very important. Instructions will guide us and help us to complete the task that is set before us. The Bible is our instruction manual and will guide us with ever step we take.

BUT…we must be willing to heed the Word of God and the instructions it gives. If we are to be more and more like Christ, then we must follow the instructions that are given to us in God’s Word.

Reproof

Dictionary.com defines the word reproof as, “An expression of censure or rebuke”. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. This is what the Bible is here for – to keep us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).

How we accept instructions from God and receive reproof for the things we have done wrong, says a lot about a person. Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “How we receive reproof and counsel is a test of our relationship to the Lord and our willingness to live by His Word.” (1)

We can see from past “Proverbial Thoughts”, that wise men love reproof – Proverbs 9:8 | Proverbs 9:9. Reproof by God’s Word helps us to stay focused on Him and to accomplish His will for our lives. Reproof helps the godly to mature in Christ.

Don’t Be Stupid

No one wants to be stupid (or at least not be stupid on purpose). But there are many people today that are living a life that is, well,  stupid. Why? Because they are not willing to take instructions or rebuke from God’s Word. The New Living Translation says our verse this way, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

When we are not willing to listen to the wisdom of God and apply it to our own lives, we are actually saying that we know better than God on how we need to run our lives. We are pretty much telling Him to not worry about anything – that we have everything under control – and we don’t need Him! How stupid is that?

We must be willing to let God mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. Without His instructions (God’s Word), there is no way we will ever be able to be more like Him.

God, help us to love your instructions and have a willingness to heed Your words. Help us not to hate it when you rebuke us when we have done wrong against You. Help us to be godly men and women who seek your face and want to be more and more like You. 

Reference:

(1) Dr. Warren Wiersbe – (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary – page 539)


Pay Day’s Coming

Proverbs 11:31

“Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.”

I can always hear the complaint about this verse: “How are the righteous repaid on Earth? The wicked seem to do so much better!”

I think this complaint comes from a lack of biblical understanding.

Troubles or Wealth

One of the things that baffles me is the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”. This is a teaching that God wants us to be happy, healthy, and prosperous, especially financially prosperous.

Here is the thing about this teaching, and something that helps us understand better today’s verse:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Other translations translate tribulation as trouble, trials, and sorrow. One of the things promised to those who follow God, the righteous, is trouble.

If the righteous receive trouble, what do the wicked receive?

Good times

The Bible reveals the understanding that wicked and sinful people prosper.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. – Psalm 73:2-5

However, Jesus, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, explained the truth of matters:

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. – Luke 16:25

Role Reversal

Life may seem unfair in this world. Those who follow God receive all sorts of trouble, while those who deny God or chase other gods have good lives and are prosperous.

As Jesus implied in the verse above, one day we all die. Those who received trials and troubles will be comforted and given good things, but those who denied Him will receive torment and sorrow.

As you can see, today’s verse is true. We often receive in this world what has been promised. We may not understand those promises at times, but they are true.

Gracious Lord, give us understanding and wisdom in this life. Guide our lives that we may be pleasing to You and a witness to others. Give us grace to show others when life seems unfair or unjust, and courage to confront injustice.


The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


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