Category Archives: advice

Responsibility of Leadership

Proverbs 16:10

“A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.”

Oracle of God

If there was ever a puzzling verse of scripture, this could be it. At first glance it seems to suggest that a king is not only infallible in judgment, but the very words from his lips are divine. Is this teaching the “divine right of kings”?

Let’s look at the way two other translations treat this verse.

“An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment.” – Proverbs 16:10 ESV

“God’s verdict is on the lips of a king; his mouth should not give an unfair judgment. ” – Proverbs 16:10 CSB

I think we can derive two things from the comparative reading: 1) the king is not a god, but speaks as a mouthpiece for God; 2) if the words are from God, then they are true and fair.

But that still poses a problem, doesn’t it? Are all kings the mouthpieces of God? Are all kings incapable of speaking lies, untruths, or making poor judgments?

Of course not! As the late Matthew Henry said in his commentary on this verse:

We wish this were always true as a proposition, and we ought to make it our prayer for kings, and all in authority, that a divine sentence may be in their lips, both in giving orders, that they may do that in wisdom, and in giving sentence, that they may do that in equity, both which are included in judgment, and that in neither their mouth may transgress, 1 Tim. 2:1. But it is often otherwise; and therefore, 1. it may be read as a precept to the kings and judges of the earth to be wise and instructed.*

Accountable to God

In Romans 13:1-5 we read rulers are “ministers” of God put in place to “execute wrath on him that doeth evil” (verse 4). God has even used unbelievers, even ungodly kings and authorities, to bring about the punishment of evildoers and protect His people. That means that the king does not act as the ultimate authority, but as a servant to the true King.

There are those who may have considered the words of a king to be the final authority, as final as the words of God. However, the only words that are final and unchangeable are the words from God, and the king, at best, is only a mouthpiece, an oracle, charged with speaking wisdom from above.

Leadership at all levels, from kings to presidents, from policemen to senators, should keep in mind that they will one day stand before the throne of the King of Kings and give an account.

As a pastor, one charged with faithfully expounding the Word of God, that terrifies me even more. 

 

 

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 990.


Holy Recalculating

Proverbs 16:9 

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Planning Trips

Years ago, before Google and smart phones, I loved planning long trips. I would get a big, impossible-to-fold-back-into-its-original-shape map and plot my course, making sure I did not miss any landmark with free admission.

Not long ago there was a tour bus driving through a large city at night. Thinking he was on the right path, the driver took what he thought was a ramp connecting one highway to another. Unfortunately, there was nothing at the end of the ramp. The roads on the map were wrong, and the bus took a dive off a bridge, killing several, including the driver.

Maps were pretty reliable, and they still are, but what was impossible to know was the road conditions since the map was published. Even though a map may show a logical route from point A to point B, pieces of paper have a hard time remaining up-to-date. A well-planned route on paper could wind up being a detour nightmare.

Devising Ways

Courtesy of ShutterElf

Photo by Shutter Elf

Life is trip (in more ways than one), and we all make plans. We make plans for this and that, make reservations, and even daydream about what tomorrow’s activities will include. In our hearts we “devise our ways.”

However, I am thankful for a God who knows the road that lies ahead. He is not only up-to-date on all the current construction and detours, but He even knows what accidents are going to happen. Not even Google knows that.

We make long range plans, but God guides each step we take. He not only looks out for us down the road, but He makes sure each and every step is profitable. Sure, we can stray, but since He has promised to complete what He has begun (Romans 4:21), the Holy Spirit is always there to “recalculate.”


Common Sense

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Common Sense

Some things make perfect sense. Some things are so sensible that everyone agrees, hence the term “common sense.” However, there are some things that people find hard to understand, even though anyone with common sense would think it makes perfect sense.

Today’s proverb should be a no-brainer.

Pleasing Ways

Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments? I’m not talking about the movie with Charleton Heston, just the Commandments themselves.

If you haven’t read them in a while, why don’t we refresh ourselves with a few of them?

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t murder
  • Don’t commit adultery
  • Don’t lie about your neighbor
  • Honor your father and mother
  • Don’t sit around desiring what’s not yours

If you want to live in such a way (ethically speaking) that will please the Lord, the above list is a good place to start, wouldn’t you think? What is more pleasing than not stealing, not murdering, not lying, not envying, etc.?

Peaceful Enemies

Believe it or not, doing what pleases the Lord (like not committing murder, not stealing from your employer, or not sleeping with your boss’s wife) is actually a good way to get ahead in the world. Common sense, wouldn’t you think?

I have worked with many atheists and agnostics, some of which hated what I believed, but none of them ever fired me for being a bad employee. Most gave high recommendations to my next employer. In one sense they were my “enemies,” but all in all they were peaceful. Why? Because my ways pleased the Lord.

Nonsense

What I found totally nonsensical was a story relating to the Ten Commandments being posted in a public school. I can’t remember where this exactly took place, but I do remember the reason the lawyers gave for removing the list from view…

“If the Ten Commandments are allowed to remain, then children will be tempted to do what they say.”

So my question is this: which is more pleasing, NOT committing murder, or gunning down kindergartners and teachers? Seems pretty simple, but I guess there is a shortage of common sense these days.

 


Hating Yourself

Proverbs 15:32

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.”

Abused

People who have a history of abuse tend to have something else in common: they hate themselves thinking they caused the abuse they received.

It indeed is a sad way to go through life, but it is the reality many people face every day.

What is interesting and also sad is that there are people who have little to no reason to hate their lives, yet they abuse themselves. They abuse themselves with drugs, alcohol, food, lack of food, pain, and any number of other things.

The saddest of all are those who abuse themselves intellectually and spiritually, often intentionally.

Not Listening

There are some who refuse to give in to intellectual honesty. This is most often found in the realm of politics, but it can be seen everywhere. These are the people who are approached with facts, but they believe something else so strongly that they refuse to believe the evidence in front of them.

The others see the evidence of the spiritual and refuse to acknowledge it or to see its importance. It is often combined with intellectual dishonesty, but in any event it is the most dangerous.

Whether they follow a religion or are irreligious in any fashion (including within a faith-system … including Christianity and all of its facets), people will refuse to listen to the One True God.

Rebuked and Loving It

Those who listen to the God of the Universe come to understand that there is only One God (Deuteronomy 6:4), we are all messed up and in need of His saving us (Romans 3), and that Jesus is the only Way to salvation (John 14:6).

We realize that God has rebuked our sin and atoned for it through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only because of His great love for us that He does rebuke our sin, that He came to personally pay the price to restore the relationship.

Do not hate your soul. Hear God speaking to you, and follow Him!

Gracious God, thank You for loving us enough to call out our sin and then saving us from our sin! Help us to see Your love for us, and help us to love You more for it.


The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


Wise Love Scorned

Proverbs 15:12

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”

Needing Correction

There is something that needs to be understood about a scorner. A scorner is one who scorns things, meaning they do not like someone or something or find something unnecessary, perhaps even evil in their sight.

It is fair to say that God scorns evil. However, God does not qualify as a scorner.

You see, a scorner is one who is rarely happy. They usually complain. It might be fair to say that a scorner usually is only happy when they are complaining about something.

Scorners also tend to be those people who demand their own way. (Perhaps you remember my discussing working in customer service on Proverbs 8:20-21, 10:17, and 14:17?)

This, then, means that scorners often need to have an attitude adjustment. In other words, they need correction on their behavior. But how does a scorner respond?

I’m with stupid

The scorner looks at a person who offers a more proper way to interact with others and thinks how stupid that person is. Think about it: when a scorner throws a big enough fit, they tend to get what they want. They have learned the ways of this world, so how dare anyone tell them how to live!

The scorner even learns, eventually, that anyone who “knows better” is simply out to ruin their life. (See? Complaining.) If this is the case, they would never seek out a person who tries to show them the right way to live.

It should mean that they avoid Christians.

Wise Christian

If you call yourself a Christian yet often find yourself agreeing with those who complain the most, are you truly living correctly yourself?

The wise person knows that complaining and scorning others is not God’s will.

If we are quick to dismiss someone else’s correction, it means we think we are smarter than them.

If we are quick to demand our own way, it means we think we are better than others.

If we only ever seek to be friends with those who complain or dismiss others, it means we are not with the wise.

Pride causes us to dismiss other people and their advice. Pride tells us to surround ourselves with like-minded people who will always agree with us.

Pride leads us to scorn others.

Pride leads us to scorn God.

The wise Christian will heed the advice of others. The wise Christian will seek out wise counsel.

The wise Christian will know this is the will of God.

Heavenly Father, guide us in all wisdom, and help us to accept Your correction however and through whomever it comes. Do not let us live in our own pride; instead may we seek You!