Lego Lesson

Proverbs 12:15

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Let’s be honest, this is not a hard verse to understand, but extremely hard to follow. If a person thinks that they know it all, and that they have all the right answers, and that their way is better than everyone else’s, then they are pretty much a fool. Plain and simple! But before you get angry at me for saying this, don’t forget that these words are coming from the wisest man who ever walked on the earth.

The Fool

Many times as a teenager, my father would give me advice on how to handle situations that were coming up in my life. And as a very stupid kid, most of the time I did not listen to his wise counsel. Why? Because I thought that I knew how to handle the situation more than he did. I thought my way was right. I was too proud and thought that I knew what was best.

My father had every right to hand me the Bible and ask me to read about myself in Proverbs 12:15. I was a fool for not listening to his advice that he was willing to give to me to help me in tough times.

Oh, how I wish I had listen to my father!

A Lesson from Legos

Back in January of 2012 we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday. We had been asking her what she wanted for her birthday and she kept telling us Legos (a girl after my own heart!). A few months before, Lego came out with a new line of products just for girls called Lego Friends.

Well, her birthday came and we purchased her a part of the Lego Friends collection. We celebrated her birthday and the first thing she wanted to do was to open her new Legos and put them together.

I explained to her that it was very important that we read the instructions and follow each and every step. She promptly told me that she did not need my help and that she knew how to put everything together. I explained it to her again, but I got the same response.

I walked across the room from where she was gathering all of her pieces to put together and I sat there, watching her try to figure out where to start and what to do next. She got her instructions out and began to follow them step by step, until…

I had moved on to other things because she seemed to have everything under control. That was until I heard her scream for help. When I came into the room, she was trying to force a Lego into a section where it just did not want to go. She kept telling me, “This piece fits here, I just know it does”.

As I began to search out the problem, I realized that she had skipped several pages in the instruction manual and had just started to put pieces where she thought they needed to go. After a while, it caught up with her and caused problems.

Why did she have problems? Because she did not follow the instructions (advice or counsel) that were given to her. She thought her way was better!

Some of the best advice that I, or anyone else can give you is this, get advice! Get people in your life that are godly people and seek their counsel. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Don’t be a fool, seek wise counsel!


Play It Smart, Not Safe

Proverbs 12:13

“The wicked is snared by the transgression of [his] lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.”

By What We Say

There is a funny thing about evidence. It points to the truth.

Guilty

Watching some of the detective shows on television can be a trip, because there is always somebody accused of doing something. Sometimes the person being accused is innocent while the accuser is the guilty one. Sometimes the accused really is guilty.

Most of the time each party, guilty and innocent, is revealed by the simplest of things: what they have said.

Whether they are the accused, accuser, or someone on the sidelines of the investigation, the guilty party often gets caught, because they say the one thing that reveals their guilt.

Free

There are a few reasons why the Christian is called to honesty:

  • God is Truth (John 15:26). If we are in God, then God is in us. Lies should be the last thing on our minds.
  • We are commanded to truth (Ephesians 4:25).
  • We are blameless in the truth.

Here is what the last one really means:

If we do what we say, avoid wrong-doing, and speak honestly in all things, there is no evidence against us.

When all of the evidence supports us, we get out of trouble.

(To be fair, however, we also know that we will receive much trouble because of the truth and righteousness of Christ, as told by Jesus in Matthew 24:9)

It is always better to “play it safe” and be honest, but there is also ample evidence throughout the Bible that we are called to the higher standard.

Ultimately, it is repenting of our lying hearts and turning to the truth of who Jesus Christ is that saves us from Ultimate Trouble. That is not just playing it safe. That is smart.

Righteous Judge, give us honest hearts and lips. Lead us in all truth. Help us forgive and love those who are still caught in the lie of sin, especially when we are caught in the middle of their lies. Help us to be honest with ourselves and own up to our own lies.


The Word that Makes a Difference

The following is a brand new post. This proverb was missed the first time through.

Proverbs 12:12

“The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

Which Word?

In the version of Scripture written above (KJV), the Hebrew word מָצוֹד (mä·tsōde’) is translated net. In other versions it is rendered as stronghold, booty, catch, loot, and “what evil men have” (HCSB). So which is the correct word? Simple! The correct word is מָצוֹד; the rest are translations.

Seriously, there are still many in Christendom who would argue over this, but I’m not going to. You see, the idea is the same: the wicked desire what evil men have, along with whatever it takes to get and keep it.

Sometimes it’s just not that easy to put all that into one English word.

The Contrast

There is a stark contrast between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” Can you distinguish it? One wants what another has, while the other wants nothing more than to produce for others.

We see in this proverb the difference between one man who envies the successful criminal, and another man who cares not for what others have; he just wants to be a productive citizen.

The wicked, however resourceful, however brilliant, is selfish. In his heart he longs to be more like his more evil counterparts, his heroes who live in bigger houses, drive nicer cars, and exert more influence and power. He cares nothing about who he has to walk on to get there, even his heroes.

The righteous is content with where he is planted and only wants to do the best with what he has been given. He doesn’t necessarily aspire for a greater station in life, only to be useful, helpful, and an encouragement to future generations. He is known for giving of himself.

The Hard Truth

But do you want to know something really sad? Do you want to hear something horrible? So many of us have allowed ourselves to be the “wicked” man in this proverb and don’t even realize it!

James chapter four deals a lot with the envious nature of man and his tendency to fight and war when he doesn’t get what he wants. We war with each other because we want what the other has. We lust; we envy; we even consider killing.

You cry out in defense of your character, “Oh, but that’s not me!” Really? I’d bet you a dollar to a movie ticket you’ve had thoughts like the “wicked” man in Proverbs 12:12. Ever wished you could be the bad guy in a movie? Ever wished you could have the power that came with being a vampire? Ever wished you could strike fear into a person’s heart like a mob boss can?

See, the hard truth is that none of us are righteous, “no not one.” Our wicked flesh is more desperate and sneaky than we give it credit. But how do we change? As the Apostle Paul once asked (Rom. 7:24), “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Jesus, that’s who…the Word that really makes a difference.

 


Vision or Fantasy?

Proverbs 12:11

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Uh Oh

Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?

Vision vs Fantasies

I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.

But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.

Leaning on Webs

What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.

Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
    what he relies on is a spider’s web.
 He leans on his web, but it gives way;
    he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)

Lean on God.


Kindness to Animals

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Wicked and Cruel

I will never forget a particular video I saw posted on YouTube. The owner of a large python purchased a fluffy, brown rabbit and brought it home. There, in his living room, he let this peaceful, tame rabbit meant to be a pet hop around while his sorry snake got closer and closer.

Snickering with anticipation, the owner of the snake filmed the unwary rabbit as it got accustomed to its new environment. Then, it happened – the python struck, coiled around the rabbit, and began its death squeeze. But what made me sick, as I am sure it did God, was when the snake’s owner got up close to the rabbit and laughed. He laughed because the rabbit cried.

There is a Difference

It is one thing to kill an animal for food, or even in self-defense. It is even understandable to kill animals when their populations get out of hand. But it is something totally different when a human is intentionally cruel to something helpless and trusting.

This proverb says that “a righteous man regardeth (knows, cares about) the life” of his animal. In contrast, the wicked are cruel. But some may wonder, “What does it matter?” It matters to the one who values life.

“His Eye Is On the Sparrow…”

It might surprise people to know that God cares about the lives of animals. When Jonah was upset because God did not destroy Nineveh, God said unto him,

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” – Jonah 4:11

Literally, the last words of God in the story of Jonah concerned the cattle of a pagan city. If God cared about these cattle, does it not stand to reason that He might disapprove of torturing pets? Remember, not a sparrow falls without Him knowing (Matt. 10:29).

This is the thing: let there be no mistake, if a human can find enjoyment in the suffering of helpless animals, then what is to keep him from harming helpless humans? Wickedness breeds wickedness.

A Prayer

Father God, help us to treat all life with respect, for it is You who created life. You made Man in the image of Yourself, but you also made all creation for your pleasure. Help us to be mindful and caring, not wicked and cruel. And thank you, Lord, for if you care about the beasts of the field, then how much more do you care for your children?


No Servant, No Problem

Proverbs 12:9

“[He that is] despised, and hath a servant, [is] better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.”

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food. – NIV

Nobody Has a Servant!

This proverb had me musing for a while. Not many people I know have servants these days, even the well known ones. But digging a bit deeper and flicking across the translations we find a few varieties. The essence remains the same, and ends up sounding a bit like “count your blessings.”

What do You Have?

When Moses first got acquainted with God it’s safe to say old Mo’ was a bit insecure. God reminds him of a few things and then asks Moses what he has in his hand. Moses looks and sees his staff. Nothing special there he thinks, after all it’s just a tool I use everyday. But maybe that’s the point?

We think so much about what we don’t have, about the ways we could be blessed, that we miss the obvious – the ways we have already been blessed.

The Pretender

And then we fall into the trap revealed in the second part of the proverb – we start to pretend. Pretend we are more than we are, we have more than we are, we like what we don’t, we value what we despise, but yet what we actually have is nothing.

Lord, help us to look not to what we don’t have, but instead to the things You have already given us, and in doing so give glory and gratitude to You. 


Commended and Despised

Proverbs 12:8

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.”

First Look

When I first read this verse, I thought “This is not how our world approaches a man of wisdom versus a man with a perverse heart.”

As of 2012 we can see a stark difference in how people see others.

Many people compare the 44th US President, Barack Obama, with the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan. Most Republicans view Reagan as one of the greatest leaders in American history, but most Democrats think he did horribly. Most Democrats view Obama as a great leader, but most Republicans think he has done horribly.

Depending on who you discuss these men with, they are either as seen as wise and adored or wicked and despised.

Second Look

Looking farther back, however, we see two different men generally respected. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is touted by both political parties as one of their own (even though he was the first Republican President), because he led the nation through a horrible civil war that helped free slaves (to an extent, at least). The other President, the 35th, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is also generally seen as a wise leader. He managed to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis and balance the Federal Budget. Both men were assassinated.

Both men had faults – no one denies that. These men also were able to lead well during difficult times through wisdom.

The Church

People generally have good qualities, even the worst of us, but it may be harder for some people to see them.

Sadly, we see this kind of division within the Church, as well.

There are strong leaders who are not known by most people. There are nearly demonic leaders revered by the masses. There are people all throughout the spectrum in between and reversed.

Most of us know names like Billy Graham and John Stott. We also know names like Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist Church” and Jim Bakker of “Praise the Lord” fame. The first set are seen as great, holy men of God. The second set are seen as wicked and … perverse.

There are men and women throughout the Church who fall under these descriptions.

We must show grace to all, because even the best of us are weak at times (Even the Apostle Paul admitted so in Romans 7). Trust is always earned, but we must still show love. (There are other posts for discussing the reasons we fail)

Our wise King, give us wisdom to tell the difference between wise and perverse leaders. Help us grow in wisdom that we may be loved and respected, to Your glory.


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