Category Archives: advice

From Riches to Rags

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich. (NLT)

There was once a vertically challenged tax collector who climbed into a tree to see over the heads of the crowd when a famous itinerant Teacher came to town. The gentleman in question was reasonably wealthy, but should not have been. Why not? Because he was a civil servant. He gained his wealth not through fair wages but by cheating the taxpayers of the town. Did he feel any discomfort or remorse about the way in which he accumulated his riches? Possibly not, but something drew him to a Teacher with no visible wealth, just a wealth of wisdom in His words.

The tax collector was called Zacchaeus. When the Teacher came to the tree he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree, and immediately invited Himself to dinner. The dinner party that followed was a life-changing event for Zacchaeus and resulted in him donating half of his wealth to the poor. The reminder probably went in the compensation he promised to anyone he had ever cheated. Scripture does not say that Zacchaeus was reduced to a life of poverty because of his encounter with the Teacher, but it seems likely. Not everyone who met Jesus was changed in this way, but everyone has a choice. Listen to the words of eternal life, or walk away (as one rich young man did).

This proverb is very similar to Proverbs 19:1, which also teaches that it is better to be poor and honest, than dishonest and a fool. The fact of the matter is that God does not measure wealth in worldly terms, but examines each human heart to discern whether wisdom is present and in what quantity. Zacchaeus appears to have been blinded by the shiny things of the world, but had sufficient wisdom to recognize the need for change in his life. His encounter with Jesus didn’t just change his life, but totally transformed it. I can’t imagine that anyone in the crowd saw that one coming.

Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! (Psalm 53:1 NLT)

Justice Understood

Proverbs 28:5

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.”
“Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the LORD understand completely.” – NLT
Media Courtrooms

One of the greatest hindrances to the legal system is the media. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the public can find out what goes on our courtrooms. However, when the public relies solely on the media (especially social media) to keep them abreast of all the details of a trial, nothing but confusion, misinformation, and bad judgment can come from it.Conscience and law

Depending on who is reporting the news, one arrested for a crime might either be portrayed as a monster, or the second coming of Ghandi. Then, when one adds the prejudices of certain segments of society, it wouldn’t matter who did what, just as long as justice is seen to favor the group prejudiced against. In the meantime, as Rome burns, the media fuels the fire for the sake of ratings.

Perspectives

No matter the case, this proverb tells us that from an evil person’s perspective, compared to one who “follows the Lord,” he cannot, under any circumstance, be made to understand justice. No matter the reason for the verdict, if one is convicted for a crime, the evil will always cry, “Foul!

On the other hand, even good people can unwittingly align themselves with evil men. Without knowing all the details, only being fed what the media wants to dish out, they can resort to aberrant behavior. I have seen this happen many times, and have even been on the receiving end of unwarranted righteous indignation. Whatever happened to hearing both sides? Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Whatever happened to mercy?

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – Micah 6:8 KJV

Whom Do We Seek?

When we seek our own, selfish desires – the ones that cause us to have the verdicts turn our way – our understanding can be darkened. It is only when we seek the Lord and let Him handle the situation that our eyes and hearts are open to better recognize true justice.

However, crazy as it may sound, for the believer and follower of God, the most outrageous verdicts handed down by the most insane judges are only lower court rulings yet to be tried by the Judge of the Ages. His judgment will be true, righteous, and clear enough for the vilest to understand.

In the meantime, the wise man will never forget these words: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’


Time to Think (or I’ll be in trouble)

Proverbs 27:15-16  

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.”
Changing Schedule

On a practical note, Proverbs 27:15 and 16 were originally scheduled for two separate posts. But on further reflection, they seemed to be better suited to be covered in one post. At first I did not think this was a wise idea, having always read verse 15 by itself. However, when I began reading these two verses together, it seemed obvious they were meant to be that way.

Therefore, instead of having a day with nothing said, you are receiving a bonus! Tomorrow we will look at these verses in more detail.

In the meantime…

Choosing Words

One of the greatest lessons a wise man can learn is when to speak…and when NOT to speak. This is especially true for men who are married (to women, that is). There is always a price to pay when we fail to choose our words carefully.

When I shared with my wife what I was going to be addressing for today’s “thought,” she made her thoughts very clear: “I hope you let everyone know that your wife is NOT like that.”

So, if I am supposed to write about Proverbs 27:15-16, how am I supposed to do it as one with any experience? If I say, “I know what Solomon’s talking about,” then I am certain to suffer. If I confess that I have never experienced the continual dropping of a very, very, almost endless rainy day, then my wisdom might be called into question. What should I do?

Suggestions

Dear friends, what are YOUR thoughts? How do YOU think I should handle this?

But before you make any suggestions, read the selected passage in the New Living Translation. I would hate for you to underestimate the gravity of the task ahead of me.

“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.” – NLT

If I get this wrong, my lovely, pleasant, peaceful, easy-going, wife could choose to make my days very rainy, indeed.


Wake Up, Sleepy Head!

Proverbs 27:14

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”
“A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!” – NLT
Wake Up!

Have you ever been fast asleep, dreaming of wonderful, happy times, then harshly brought back to consciousness by the loud, obnoxious, startling voice of an overly-cheerful, early-rising friend? Did you want to throw a heavy boot at his head?

There is nothing too spiritual about this proverb, in my opinion. It is not much more  than a warning to the early risers in the world. Those who scare people with a loud, “Good morning!” or “Wake up! It’s a beautiful day!” run the risk of serious injury, or at least being cursed.

Friendly Intentions

The point that Solomon is trying to make in this proverb is that even though one may have his friend’s best interests at heart, doing a good deed in the wrong manner may harm a relationship, not bless it.

In reality, a true friend should know another well enough to understand what will and will not offend. A real friend would know better than to storm into a deep sleeper’s room and scream out, “Time to wake up!” Even a happy, early riser should know better than to expect much movement from a friend who must have a cup of coffee before opening his eyes.

So, before you go out and try to do something “nice” for someone else, make sure you are not overstepping any boundaries. If you don’t use wisdom, what you intend for good might become a wake up call for you.


Protecting Assets

Proverbs 27:13

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

The verse today relates to the previous.

There are many dangers which we must be constantly watching out for.

Whether in business (such as banks) or personal life, we have to make sure we are not being taken advantage of in some of our dealings.

For example, suppose you have a friend who is always helping others financially, and he always asks you for help with a promise to repay. Over time you learn that he never makes good on that promise.

To help in such matters, you can ask him for something valuable as a way of urging him to repay.

This item serves as a reminder of a debt that is owed.

Reminder of the Debt

This passage has little to do with spiritual matters, but there is another debt in our lives that a constant reminder.

In Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we find a list of things called the 10 Commandments. In Romans (specifically chapter 5), Paul tells us that the Law, the 10 Commandments, was given as a reminder of our sin. It shows us how we fail to live up to loving God.

The Law shows us our debt.

Fortunately, our God has shown us grace and forgiveness. He paid our debt by sending His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to live a perfect, sinless life and die on a cross to pay the debt we could not pay.

To receive the full grace and forgiveness He has offered us, we need only believe that Jesus is God made flesh, paid for our sins on the cross, and rose again to life and now lives with the Father awaiting the time to return and redeem His faithful.

Heavenly Father, help us to be good stewards of what You have given us. We admit we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Thank You for offering that grace and forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us the faith we need to live in the light of that truth every day!


Eyes Wide Open

Proverbs 27:12

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (NLT)

Recognizing Danger

Young people have an often-deserved reputation for failing to recognize danger, and on occasions choosing to ignore it. When I was a cadet in the Merchant Navy many an old sea dog dished out advice on numerous aspects of life, not least of all issues of safety associated with what was considered to be a dangerous job. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Even when going ashore I wasn’t always blessed with wisdom about places to go and places to avoid.

One piece of advice given to those on their first trip to sea involves sitting on the rails of a ship. For some reason only first trippers and seagulls have an attraction to rails. The difference is that seagulls perch and have wings to rescue themselves if required. First trippers are more likely to do a couple of somersaults before hitting the water and being left behind as the ship disappears into the sunset.

Spiritual Risk

Given that life is full of danger it is difficult to understand why so many of us walk straight into it. While we are unable to see what is around every corner this does not excuse us from approaching each corner with caution.

In spiritual terms Solomon is warning about the dangers of not recognizing evil. The problem with evil is that it has many disguises. Even in church, perhaps especially in church, there is vulnerability and the potential for problems of various magnitudes. God does not want or expect us to live our lives with our eyes shut. Nor does He expect us to live with our minds closed to Him. If we are tuned into God, if we are constantly hungry for more of Him, then He will provide us with early warnings of danger as our sensitivity to His will increases. We may still walk into walls, but God will be there right by us.