Security Deposit

Proverbs 20:16

16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
16 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners. (NLT)

The straightforward meaning is that you cannot trust everyone. If someone asks for money, you should ask for collateral to ensure you get your money back. It is just like a bank asking for a down payment, or a business asking for a deposit on a service or product.

Getting into an Apartment Home

Apartment buildings have a standard practice of taking a security deposit from incoming tenants. This is to help cover any costs the tenant may incur by leaving early, damaging property, or breaking the law on the premises.

The poorer the credit of a prospective tenant, the higher the security deposit may be.

With great credit, a tenant is able to move in with little to no security deposit as a sign of trust and respect.

Getting into Our Heavenly Home

Thanks to a little act committed by Adam and Eve, we all fall into the same group. Our credit with God is very poor, and we have proven ourselves untrustworthy time and again.. To go home with God requires a security deposit so large that we could never pay it.

Therefore, God paid it for us.

Jesus became a Man. He built up the trust and credit by doing something no one else could: He lived perfectly according to God’s will and laws.

He paid our deposit by sacrificing Himself on a cross and rising from the dead three days later.

Jesus paid it all, for each of us.

All we must do is accept.

Lord, thank You for the cross and paying the cost we could not. Help us to live by Your example for Your glory through the help of the Holy Spirit.


Private Stock

Proverbs 20:15

“There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

The Salesman

I can’t help but grin as I read this verse. I can almost hear the voice of a salesman showing off his wares, but starting with the common, ordinary brands…

“Now, over here you got your gold, which is pretty good, and a lot of people like it, but I don’t think it’s what your looking for. It’s a little heavy, commonly used on teeth, etc. Just follow me to the next isle.

photo (11)Now, what you have here are the finest rubies money can buy. I have seen ’em worn by those Proverbs 31 women; sold a bunch to some watch makers; heck, I even sold a box full to Lady GaGa – she’s gonna glue ’em to herself.

But, you know, I got a feeling you want something a little more special, correct?”

That’s when the salesman would take on a serious tone and retrieve a single, velvet box from out of a locked safe. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, he would open up the box and say,

This is what you really want…it’s far more valuable than the gold or rubies. Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing like it, huh? It’s called…wisdom.

It’s from the Owner’s private stock.”

The Owner

Gold and rubies are wonderful to look at. They’re even more wonderful to have in one’s possession. But if one had enough wealth he could have rooms full of both – all it would take is money.

When it comes to wisdom, however, no amount of money can buy it. You can’t even rent it. It has to be given or shared.

Fortunately, God wants us to walk into His store with nothing in our hands. He wants to give us something far more valuable than gold or rubies. All he wants us to do is ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 ESV

 


Mexican Haggling

Proverbs 20:14

“It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” (KJV).
“The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!” (NLT).

Haggling in Mexico:

In 2005, my mom blessed my wife Liza and me by sending us on a trip to Mexico to celebrate our ten year anniversary. While we were there, we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, reading and resting. There was one thing that Liza wanted to do while we were there: shopping.

I’m not a fan of shopping on the best of days. When Liza and I go to the mall, I will walk around with her for a little while, but inevitably, I will reach my limit and have to go find a food court so I can go sit down with a coffee to hopefully read a good book. But one of the things I wasn’t looking forward to was the obligatory haggling that would ensue on our shopping excursion.

Here’s an example of haggling from an old Monty Python movie…

One time a street vendor approached Liza and tried to sell her some bracelets for $60 each. Now, the bracelets weren’t worth anywhere near that, but my wife didn’t know how to haggle – even though it was welcomed and expected in Mexico. She had paid thirty dollars for a cowboy hat earlier that day (it was hot and she needed it) and we later saw it selling for $10-20 in other shops we entered. I told the vendor that the bracelets were more money than we were willing to pay, and so he offered to sell us three of them for $20 in total. So I bought them for Liza.

The Boasting Buyer:

How does the above story – and the concept of haggling or bartering – apply to today’s Scripture? Solomon is talking about a man who goes to a shop or the market to buy goods and he undervalues them, and says that they are no good, but after purchasing the items for a lower price, he goes away and boasts about his purchase. Does this mean that we shouldn’t haggle or barter for items? Not necessarily.

The issue that Solomon is dealing with here is the dishonest means that some would use to get a good deal. Matthew Henry says, “See how apt men are to be pleased with their gettings and proud of their tricks; whereas a fraud and a lie are what a man ought to be ashamed of, though he have gained ever so much by them.” John Gill also says the Scripture describes a buyer who feels like he has outwitted the seller “and so glories in his frauds and tricks, and rejoices in his boasting, and all such rejoicing is evil.”

So what is the universal principle behind this Bible verse that we can apply to our lives? God wants us to be honest and generous in all of our financial dealings, whether we are buying or selling. No dishonesty. No cheating. No stealing.


Sleeping and Eating

Proverbs 20:13 

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare. (NIV)

A young secretary at a company where I worked in the late 1980s was regularly late for work. She had a great line in excuses, many of which were hard to believe. One of the best was that the electricity meter ran out of credit overnight, meaning that the power was cut to her radio alarm clock causing her to oversleep. I have never lived with an electricity meter that needed to be fed with coins, although people do. If I did I am certain I would make sure that the meter was loaded before I went to bed. For this particular young woman her inability to arrive at work on time eventually resulted in her dismissal. I do not recall how quickly she found alternative employment, but her love of sleep had the potential to bring her to poverty.

Society requires that we work if there is to be food on the table. I don’t know what it is like to be really hungry and unable to provide food for my family. The only time I have gone without food for a long period was when I was in hospital for surgery, and unable to eat. Because I am self-employed I cannot afford to take time off work, and I had to plan my ten-day stay in hospital around my work. I took on extra projects before going into hospital, and then wrote up the reports as I recovered at home from the surgery. It was slow going at first, but even when I was confined to bed I was able to keep my business ticking over and ensure that there was provision for my family.

There is a time and a place for everything, including sleep. We need sleep, but sleep too long and nothing will get done. Solomon was very good at putting things into perspective. He didn’t dictate how many hours sleep we need at night, he simply advised that it was foolish to love sleep. There is another aspect to sleeping late. Surely it is better to rise early and spend time in God’s presence at the start of each day?


God-given Understanding

Proverbs 20:12

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.”

Yesterday, we looked at how if even children are judged by their actions how much more adults are.

It would make sense that this verse follows, then.

Man in our world teach that our eyes and our ears came about by accident over millions of years.

They also teach that many cannot be held responsible for their actions in certain situations (to which there indeed are a few).

However, it was God who gave us our ears and our eyes.

Why is this important?

God has shown us we must follow His example:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

And He has told us how to live:

44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:44-48, NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35, NIV

God has given us eyes and ears to know that what He says and does is good and perfect and what we must do.

He has shown us the way and given us instructions. It is our duty to pay attention and follow Him.

Wise Lord, grant us the wisdom to listen to Your teachings, to see where You are moving, and to live in such a way to please You.

 


Innocent As Children?

Proverbs 20:11

11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

I can remember growing up hearing “Why did you that? You know better!” whenever I would misbehave. It started around the age of four years or so. It was always said in response to something I had previously done or went against common sense, even for a child.

As a culture we seem to have a certain expectation of children, that they are sweet, innocent little angels who become corrupted by age and experience. Even at a young age we expect our children to behave a certain way, and when they do not they need to be corrected and reprimanded.

If our children have the expectation to do what is right, how much more should we expect teens and adults to do what is right?

You know better!

How do we know we have these expectations of people? We all seem to have an innate understanding of what is right and wrong.

It is seen every time we get upset with someone for doing something stupid or that hurts someone else.

It is seen every time someone does something considered morally wrong. All religions and atheists admit to a moral code.

All people fall short at some point, and it always seems as though we can hear someone saying “You know better!”

We have God’s Word to reveal to us how we each have gone astray from what is right. Honestly, it is put in such simple terms that children can understand it.

Yet we fail time and again.

But God helps us and changes us through His Holy Spirit.

Even children know how to do what is right if they are told.

God has shown us. May we, as His children, listen.

Heavenly Father, You are so holy and amazing. May Your Kingdom be lived out through our lives, that the world may glorify You.  Let our actions speak of Your perfect will and grace, that the world may know what is pure and right: You.


Weighty Truth

Proverbs 20:10

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.”
“Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.” (NIV)

Flattering Scales

I know some people who hate being weighed. They cringe at the thought of stepping on scales. So, to  make things a little easier, they find ways to make adjustments.

Believe it or not, some people (and you know who you are) adjust their bathroom scales to show less than their actual weight. In other words, some people, after stepping out of the shower, would prefer that their scales lie.

They like being flattered, not fattened.

Lying Scales

Balance à tabac

Balance à tabac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This proverb has to do with scales, but here they are called “diverse weights, and diverse measures.” They were used back in the old days for determining the value or authenticity of an item.

For example, if someone said he had an ounce of pure gold, a standardized ounce of pure gold, when set on the other side of the scale, should balance out. If something was off then the scales would tip.

Many times dishonest merchants would cheat their customers by using “diverse” weights, or weights that said they weighed a certain amount, but didn’t. God hates lying, even when it involves weights.

Heavy Truth

Sometimes the truth may seem too heavy to bear. It may be disappointing to know how much we actually weigh. Those who have flattering scales in their bathrooms are often brought back to reality when they have to visit a doctor – their scales don’t lie.

What is wrong with a little scale tampering every now and then? The problem is that a lying scale leads people to believe a lie is the truth. With God there is no room for error or falsehood. Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

There is no coming to God by way of a faulty scale.


Mud Puddles

Proverbs 20:9

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Mud Puddles:

boy in mud

Did you ever notice how little kids love to play in the mud? There’s something inside of them like a magnet that draws them towards mud and dirt. If you Google “child in mud” you will instantly come up with hundreds of photos of children playing in the mud. (And of course most of them are boys).

When I was a youth pastor in BC, I used to go to Stillwood Bible Camp every summer to be a counsellor at our church’s kids and youth camps. One of the highlights at the kids camp was the log fighting. We would have two kids of equal size sitting on a log that was elevated over a mud puddle, and both kids were given pool noodles. The object of the game was to knock the other person off of the log into the mud puddle. By the end of the game, everyone was covered in mud – even the counsellors! And then came the fun part – getting cleaned up.

Now, when you’ve got two hundred kids covered in mud from head to toe, it’s probably not a smart thing to send them back to their cabins to get cleaned up. (If you did that, the next big event of the day would be cabin clean up). So we lined the kids up in a field and got out the fire hose to hose them off. And that water was cold!

A Clean Heart:

It’s one thing to remove the dirt from your skin. It’s another thing entirely to remove dirt from your heart – we call that dirt sin – and make your heart clean. Have you ever tried to do it? It’s impossible, isn’t it? There’s no amount of good deeds we can to do reverse the stain of sin. When Solomon asks the question: who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” the assumed answer is, “No one.” That’s the bad news. But I have some good news, too!

In Isaiah 1:18, the prophet says, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” This is the good news! Although in our own ability, we can do nothing to take away our sins, God has already provided a solution for us – through His son Jesus Christ.

When we believe in Jesus, trusting Him to be our Lord and Saviour, God takes all of our sins and places them on Jesus on the Cross, and then freely credits to our account the righteousness of God. As we confess our sins to God, not only does He forgive us, but He also washes us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. What joy! What hope!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 


Citizen’s Advice Bureau

Proverbs 20:8 

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. (NLT)

Regal Decision-Making

Solomon was writing from personal experience here. He knew all about sitting in judgment, and the need to carefully distinguish between the bad and the good. While this is no longer the task of earthly kings, those who lead nations need to be discerning given the importance of their decisions. Leaders need to weigh the evidence carefully, but recent history suggests that some world leaders have been poorly advised, or simply misled. This in turn has affected their decision-making, with consequences that have been devastating for whole nations, not to mention our world.

Daily Judgments

We may not be kings or world leaders, but we are involved in decision-making and judgments daily. This proverb is a reminder that when making important decisions we need to weigh the evidence carefully, and not jump in with our eyes closed. A decision could be minor, such as which route to take to work, but even that should be based on evidence and experience of traffic flows at different times of day, road works, etc. Life also involves many major decisions, such as getting married, finding somewhere to live, starting a family, or changing career. Do we really weigh the evidence carefully before making important decisions? How is our judgment?

Taking Advice

Then there are decisions with eternal implications. Do we believe in God, Jesus, forgiveness of sin, eternal life, etc.? What is the evidence that God even exists? Solomon didn’t need any evidence. He had a relationship with God in which he spoke with God and he heard God’s voice. But even Solomon went on to make some poor decisions later in his life. Weighing the evidence and living our lives in relationship with God does not remove the need to continually make judgment calls. But if we are living in relationship with God then He provides a supply of endless wisdom to help us in our daily decision-making. Furthermore, like any parent, He loves to be asked for advice.


Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.