Category Archives: counsel

Got Fleas?

Proverbs 13:20

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Just about everyone has heard the old English proverb, “He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” If not, let me explain. This proverb involves two things: a person and a dog. What is the action that is involved? They are very close to each other. So close, in fact (“lies down with”), that the fleas that are on the dog would move to the person.

So what does Proverbs 13:20 have to do with fleas? Answer: Association.

If the person was not associated with the dog, then there would be no possible way for that person to get fleas from the dog.

Solomon is explaining to us that we must be careful with whom we associate. He is telling us that we need to be very careful who we have as our friends and those we depend on.

This verse is simply saying that we need to make sure that we associate with wise men and not with foolish companions.

As I was preparing for this post, I came across this saying,

“Your friends are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or they will take you down” – Author Unknown

I am asking you today, based on Proverbs 13:20, are the people that you associate with bringing you closer to God or taking you further away from Him?

I love the way the New Living Translation says this verse, “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”

Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

So, do you have fleas? Are you associating with people that are getting you into trouble? If so, it’s time to “de-bug or de-fool” your life and seek out people of wisdom. Just as the verse says, “walk with the wise and become wise”!

Lord, help us to be careful who we associate with in our lives. We know that we are to be salt and light in this world, but help us to make sure we seek the counsel of wise men and women and not those who will lead us into trouble. Give us wisdom each day to seek out those who give wisdom based on your Word.

Folk Wisdom:

  • “Tell me your companions, and I will tell you what you are.”
  • “He that lives with cripples learns to limp” (Dutch Proverb)
  • “He that goes with wolves learns to howl” (Spanish Proverb)
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My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


Get a Job! Or 3 or 4!

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“I’m Gonna…”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I’m gonna (do this or that).” I have heard grand schemes, everything from opening a new business, to joining the military, to inventing a never-before-heard-of product that will revolutionize the world. Yet, nothing ever gets done.

The “sluggard” is a man or woman that is flat-out lazy. The word comes from the idea of calling a person a slug, or a snail. But at least a snail is usually on his way somewhere, albeit slowly. The sluggard does nothing but talk of plans in the works, but work is never seen.

Get a Job!

Just today I was talking with a mother of a grown man out of work. He constantly takes from her, then runs off until the money is gone. He abuses her property, never gives her respect, and tries to play “daddy” with a girl who is not his wife. And when it comes to work, he complains that he can’t find a job. Baloney…Hogwash…Cow feces!

I thank God for allowing my wife and I to hit rock bottom years ago. I went from making a large income to making nothing. Just to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family’s heads, I (and my wife) did everything from deliver news papers, to clean toilets in factories. I delivered pizza, worked on a dangerous assembly line, and even sold insurance. At one point I was working 3-4 jobs at one time!

You see, the lazy sluggard has big desires, but won’t take responsibility and work for it. The diligent will do whatever it takes.

Little Patience

Today’s proverb reminds me of how little patience I have for “sluggards.” In my opinion there is no excuse for someone to sit on his duff and whine about what he doesn’t have. A real man will work, even if it is not the type of work he prefers. It is his responsibility, especially if he has a family.

Some want to use the “system” as an excuse for laziness. Others want to blame the government or the “bourgeoisie.” But in reality, the only one to blame is the one who desires something, but does nothing honest to obtain it. Honest, hard work is the answer to a great deal of society’s woes.

“But, there are no good jobs!” you may say. Sorry, washing dishes is a job. Cleaning floors is a job. And, if you do both at the same time, along with getting tips from waiting tables, you can live without mooching off your mother.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” – Ecclesiastes 5:12

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” – Ephesians 4:28

Thus sayeth the Lord: “Get a job.”


Listen Like a Wise Son

Proverbs 13:1

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”

The Hot Pot and Life

When I was a child, my parents warned me not to touch a pot sitting on the stove. “It is hot, and it will burn you,” they told me. (To test this, I waited until a few minutes after they shut off the burner under the pot, then I touched it. It was very, very warm!)

When my sister was told this same bit of information, she still reached for that hot pot. She was burned, because she did not listen.

As we grew older, our parents continued to give us advice and warnings about things. Sometimes it meant they had to punish us for not listening to them (such as taking a cookie after being told to wait until after dinner).

Many times, I avoided some things that would have caused pain or grief, because my parents warned me of the dangers, such as doing drugs, avoiding certain “goods” or services, and hanging out with certain crowds. (It does not mean I always listened, and it led to grief. Remember my examples with a young woman.)

A Loving Father

God is our Heavenly Father who has sent us warnings and guidance (Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus’ Disciples, the Bible) about who we are by nature and the consequences of following our nature (sin) over Him.

If we are wise, we will listen to the Father’s instructions and live well.

If we scorn His teachings, we must deal His rebuke. Often times, His rebukes come about as the natural consequences of our sinful choices. Sometimes He denies us things we want, such as jobs, promotions, transportation, time with loved ones, and on and on.

Too many times we default to “God is punishing me! He must hate me!” The truth is that He is allowing us to live with our choices, because He loves us enough to give us what we want: Not Him.

Because that is what we are really choosing when we rebel.

Choose wisdom. Choose God.

Merciful God, thank You for Your Word and guidance. Give us the wisdom to choose You, and help us hear Your rebuke when we fail. Help us to live wisely with each other.


You Think You’re Better than Me?

Proverbs 12:26

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

I’m No Better

How many times have you been told that you should never think of yourself as better than anyone else? I have to remind myself of that every time I get behind the wheel of a car. You may have to be reminded every time you go through the checkout isle at the grocery store.

So, if we are to believe that we are all human and no better than our neighbor, why does today’s proverb say that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbor?” Maybe it would help to look at some other ways this could be translated.

Three Versions

The English Standard Version reads, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Now, let’s read what the Holman Christian Standard says: “A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray.”

Finally, the Revised Standard Version says, “A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Even though the last part of the verse remains consistent, the first part does not. What’s the deal?

Translating

I am no Hebrew scholar by any definition of the term. However, if you were to look at the Hebrew text for this proverb you would find that there are only 6 words. What is interesting is that it takes anywhere from 15 to 19 words to say the equivalent in English.  The key is “equivalent.”

Interpreters of Scripture sometimes have to translate meaning, not just word for word definitions. And when this happens, the idea of what the original is saying may take more than just a few words to express. That is possibly why there are so many different versions of this one verse.

What’s the Idea?

Well, the idea of this verse is not that we as believers should think of ourselves as better than anyone else, but that the righteous should care about where the unrighteous are heading.

The contrast between the two parallel parts of verse 26 is meant to highlight who cares more for his friends – the righteous man. To put the KJV in a way that compares more with the other versions, it is saying that the heart of the righteous and the way he cares for his friends is much different than the wicked man who only wants to deceive and lead astray.

The righteous man is not “better” than his neighbor; he only cares about where his neighbor is going.

A Prayer: Lord, help us to be good neighbors. Help us to care about others and guide them to You. Don’t let us lead others astray.


Unstooping the Back

Proverbs 12:25

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.”

Pain & Sadness

When I was engaged to be married to a woman who was not quite right for me, it dragged us both down. When I knew God did not want me with that woman, I knew I had to end the relationship.

The bad news is that I did not want to. This led to a deep depression. My heart was so heavy that it held me in place, emotionally and physically. I was practically useless for a couple of weeks and literally useless for a few days, those last days of which I sat slouched on a couch not moving except to go to the bathroom.

My heavy heart literally made me stoop and slouch.

I was in mourning for a relationship that had yet to end.

Good Words

It seemed that nothing anyone said could help.

The thing that did it was a dear brother in the Lord saying “God loves you. Show Him you love Him, too.”

It made me realize how to live out Jesus’ words: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

I needed to show God that I loved Him more than anything or anyone else. It took a friend’s words to lift me up and make me move.

Kindness & Love

It is a great kindness to share a good word with someone with a heavy heart full of pain and/or sadness. It should be done with love, and that love should be the love of God.

Someone can offer a kind word, even a good word, to someone, but if it is done at the wrong time or in the wrong way it can have the opposite effect.

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. It is just to sit there, to be there.

God of mercy and kindness, thank You for leading us to and through those times of pain and sadness. Thank You that You also provide us with those people and words that can lift us up to gladness, again. Give us a heart to share that love and kindness to others, and give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to simply be there.


Zee Doctor Vill See You

Proverbs 12:20

“Deceit [is] in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace [is] joy.”

The Evil Psychiatrist

Try to imaging an evil psychiatrist. Can you? Picture in your mind a tall, slick-haired, skinny man in a long, white lab coat. In one eye is a spectacle, the other a creepy glare.

Now, just imagine this guy asking you to come into his office. He offers you a quasi-comfortable couch on which to recline, then pulls out a yellow pad and pencil to take notes – notes of your deepest, darkest secrets.

When your hour is up, you have talked about your parents, your dead dog, a lost love interest, and your lack of self worth. What do you get in return? The Doctor says,

“I zink vee hav made much progress, but vee hav much fartha to go, yes? You take dis book I vrote, ‘It’s Not My Fault,’ and pay de receptionist on the vay out, yes? Today vill be $120 – the book vill be $30.”

The Caring Counselor

Now, think of someone who wants nothing in return for simple, good advice. This person is caring, can see the end of the road you’re traveling, and wants what is best for you.

You go to this person, pour out your soul, problems and all, and in return you get both sympathy and solid guidance. You are not made to feel like an idiot, but your own words are used to point towards better choices to be made. Hopefully, you can see the difference between the two, yes? No? Vhat iz vrong vid you?

“Imagine Evil” vs “Joy”

One point of today’s proverb is that there are some who would offer counsel for their own selfish desires, while there are others who do it for the joy of bringing about peace. The operative word in the verse is “counselors.”

As a pastor, I have to counsel people all the time. Unlike a psychiatrist, however, I don’t get paid lots of money for my advice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the advice of both, but if the intent of either is selfish, then the advice is evil – free or not.

What Goes Around…

But there is even more to this verse. The idea is that the reason for the advice one gives will ultimately come back upon him. The great Matthew Henry wrote:

Those that devise mischief contrive, for the accomplishing of it, how to impose upon others; but it will prove, in the end, that they deceive themselves.*

If you want to experience joy, then give “peaceful” counsel. If you want to be fooled, then seek to fool others.

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 12:20.