Category Archives: counsel

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!

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Stop Yelling At Me!

Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”

I’m not listening!

I have been that person.

I know I am right. I know you are wrong. Therefore, I do not want to hear what you have to say.

Something becoming increasingly popular in Western society is the idea that we are basically good and can make our own truth.

When we are each good and can make our own way to heaven (if it even exists), we do not [think] we need to hear any other supposed truth.

Stop yelling at me!

I have been that person.

When I  have felt guilty, I always wonder what others are saying about me. Then, if someone innocently brings up whatever has me feeling guilty, it feels like they are attacking or even yelling at me.

Look at our world today. Whether or not they can admit it, everyone is guilty of sin. If we try to tell them of their guilt and/or the Guiltless One, Jesus of Nazareth, they get defensive. They feel attacked.

Final Destination

Sadly, in their self-righteousness or guilt, they come to hate any correction we can offer.

It really comes down to pride. If this is the way the continue, ultimately they may very well miss out on eternal life. The only other destination is Hell, eternal separation from God.

Ask yourself, do you get defensive when another person points out your faults or sins? Do you feel attacked if you are corrected?

Patient Father, show us Your grace and help us overcome our pride. Let us not be counted with those who spurn Your rebuke. Lead us in all righteousness to humility and truth, that we might heed Your correction and lead others to everlasting Life.


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.


Wholesome Words Needed

Proverbs 15:4

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” – NIV

Healing Words

There are so many people in this world who are sick and suffering. Their suffering is not physical, necessarily, but emotional and spiritual. The world is full of down and discouraged men and women, but a word of comfort spoken with kindness can be like life-giving medicine.

A wholesome tongue, or a tongue that brings healing, is compared to a life-giving tree. Wholesome, nurturing, healthy words are like food for the soul; food that is found on a tree with roots that run deep, all the way down to the Water of life.

The unattractive need to hear that they are beautiful in God’s eyes. The broken hearted need to hear that there is One who understands and can make all things new. The lonely need to hear that they don’t have to be alone, but that there is One who will always walk beside them, even unto the end of the world. These people need healing words.

Perverse Words

What are “perverse” words? The husband who says to his wife, “You looked better when I married you.” The mother who says, “You’ll never amount to anything.” The friend who says, “Get over it! Just move on with your life.”

Perverse words bring no healing, only destruction. They are like a “breach in the spirit,” says Proverbs. In other words, they are like a crack in a dam which leads to total collapse. They are spoken by fools imitating the wise, and they are nothing but worthless.

“Hard words indeed break no bones, but many a heart has been broken by them.” – Matthew Henry

Words of Life

How can we speak words that resemble a tree of life? Be led by the Spirit of God, and let His words speak through us. A tongue that is guided by the Spirit will bring comfort to the hurting and healing to the wounded.

We must be more like Jesus in your actions. We must lead people to Him as we love as He loved. Speak truth, but encourage; discipline, but build up, and then you will see that “tree of life” bear fruit.


Don’t Be Gullible

Proverbs 14:15

“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
Ah, the Stories…

There are so many stories I could tell about the stories I can tell. To paraphrase a saying, “So many stories, so little time.” Therefore, when I read this proverb, I immediately began to think of a couple of good examples.

Example One:

Back in the 1990’s I worked in the sporting goods section of a major retailer. One day a couple asked for my advice about a football. They wanted to know which would be better to buy, the one made of leather, or the one made of “Durahyde,” a synthetic, man-made material.

For some reason I started with this nonsense about how the Dura was going extinct and how only the young duras were used because of their fur-less pelts. The more I talked, the more they seemed to believe me, so a vicious circle of humor-gone-bad and gullibility took over.

“So what do you recommend?” they asked. “Buy the leather,” I suggested. “It might be a little more expensive, but I just can’t approve of the way they kill those young, little duras for their pelts.”

The more I talked the more it became evident that some people will believe anything, no matter how outrageous. In retrospect, I am ashamed that I forgot to tell them I was only kidding.

I was just so stunned that they actually believed me! (Note: the leather ball was the better choice, and that was what they wanted.)

Example Two:

It was a Christmas dinner, and my mother-in-law (we could stop right there, I suppose) was complaining that someone had made meatloaf. “Why did [she] make meatloaf? Since when was meatloaf a traditional Christmas dish?”

“Well,” I said, “meatloaf is a very traditional Christmas dish, as a matter of fact.” “Really?” she asked. “Yes, it goes way back to around the year 1260 in England.” I went on to tell her that long ago there was a good king who prepared a great feast for all the peasants in his kingdom. Each Christmas he would invite all of them to come in and take part in a Christmas meal, the centerpiece being a large animal cooked over a fire.

As the story went, one year things got really bad. There was great poverty throughout the land, and when it came time for the annual Christmas feast, the king had no cattle, dear, or any such animal to offer. Saddened, the people of the local villages rallied together and decided to save the good king from embarrassment. They killed and cooked chicken, rabbit, and pheasant, combined them all together in to a large “loaf,” and offered it as a gift to the king who had been so good to them.

I told my mother-in-law, “That is why meatloaf is probably the MOST traditional of all dishes served at Christmastime.” “Is that so? I never knew that! Wow!” was her reply. “I guess I shouldn’t have gotten so upset,” she said (Then my wife had to spoil everything by telling her I was only joking).

Be Prudent

I believe Solomon was the first to say, “Don’t believe everything you read, hear, or see on television.” He did say that, didn’t he?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to joke around with people, but I hate lying. My stories are meant to eventually be understood as told in fun – like a grandfather who insists he has pulled a quarter from your ear. Nevertheless, it’s better to follow the words of Paul and “prove all things” (1 Th 5:21).

The gullible believe everything without question, and there are those who will take advantage of them. The prudent (wise), therefore, learn to check sources.

Let God be true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).


Playing God

Proverbs 14:12

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”

Marco Polo

Growing up, I played a lot of “Marco Polo” during the summer at my grandparent’s pool. If you are not familiar with the game, let me explain. It is a game that you play in water. One person is “Marco” and everyone else is “Polo”. The person that is “Marco” must keep their eyes closed while they swim around in the pool. They would call out “Marco” and everyone else must answer “Polo” and the one that is “Marco” has to listen to where the voices come from and try to swim and tag the “Polos”. Got it?

Well, one day, my brother and I were out in our neighborhood playing with a group of friends when someone suggested we play “Marco Polo”. I had never played outside of water before and was very interested in how the game would unfold. We decided to play in between my parent’s brick/concrete home and my neighbor’s brick/concrete home. It was a very small area with a downward slope toward my neighbor’s house.

The group of kids that were playing were all older than me, so you can guess who got to be “Marco” first. You guest it…me! Instead of us just keeping our eyes closed, the game rules were that the “Marco” had to wear a paper grocery bag over their heads. I took the bag and placed it over my head and quickly removed it and looked straight at my brother and said, “If I go down the slope and straight to the neighbor’s house, you better yell at me and stop me”.

You might be able to finish the story from here, but I will continue. The game was only a few minutes old when I just knew that I heard a voice straight ahead of me. Instead of trying to be aware of my surroundings, I just took off running toward the voice. I did not even think about the fact that I was running down the slope and straight toward my neighbor’s house.

The voice was right in front of me and then it happened. I ran straight into the neighbor’s house.  I then heard my brother call out, “Jason, watch out for the wall”.

Needless to say, a trip to the doctor’s office and the diagnosis of a concussion kept me from playing anymore “Marco Polo” that day.

Playing God

Why did I tell you the story about me playing “Marco Polo”? Because I just knew that the voice that I was hearing was coming from straight in front of me and that I was heading in the right direction. Was I? No, but I thought I was.

What happened? Remember how I told you that where we were playing was a small area between two homes? Well, what I did not take into consideration was in a small area between two concrete homes, there was going to be an echo. My friends were all calling out “Polo” and the echoes were bouncing off the walls and coming straight at me.

This verse reminds me of the day I got my concussion. I thought that I was heading in the right direction. I thought that I heard voices right in front of me. I thought, and that was the problem. We think that we know better and that our way is the best way and we just know for sure that “the voice is coming from this direction”! What does it come down to? We are playing God, and we think we know what is best for our lives.

Solomon is warning us to make sure that we do not try to do things our way, but depend upon God for everything. He is telling us if we decide to take things into our own hands that death will be the result.

My brother yelled at me after I hit the concrete wall. Solomon is yelling out to us before we experience death and trying to tell us to listen and follow what God wants for us because it is so much better than our plans or ideas for our lives.

Lord, help us to listen to You. Keep our eyes focused on You and may our hearts be soft enough that when You begin to talk and move us that we would hear Your voice and heed Your words.


Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”


Walk Away from Stupid

Proverbs 14:7

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Product Labels

Some proverbs, such as this one, are pretty simple and straightforward. But on the other hand, as some product warning labels make abundantly clear, what should be obvious to most needs to be spelled out to others. Here are some examples:

  • “Don’t drive with shade in place” (warning on inside of cardboard sunscreen).
  • “Not for drying pets” (warning for microwave).
  • “Surface may be hot when turned on” (stove instruction manual).
  • “May cause a fire” (warning on box of matches).

If there were no stupid people in the world, the above warnings would be unnecessary. However, I am sure there have been people amazed when their hands were burned on a stove eye or by a match. I am positive that someone tried to sue a company because the microwave killed her wet cat.

Stupid People

In this proverb God has placed a warning label on stupid people. Yes, I said “stupid” people, for that is what the word translated “foolish” (סִיל kesil) actually implies.[1] The Lord wants us to know that it is not good to just stand and listen to what fools have to say, especially when you realize that what they are saying is void of any knowledge.

So, to put this proverb another way, “When you find yourself in the presence of a stupid idiot, don’t bother listening to what he has to say; walk away.”

Now, it may seem ridiculous to make such a statement, but consider why it is important to not listen to what a fool has to say:

  • A fool does not accept instruction, so arguing with him is pointless.
  • A fool would love to frustrate you and make you angry as you try to argue your point.
  • If you listen to a fool long enough you might begin to believe the stupidity he preaches.

A Prayer

Lord, we need wisdom to be discerning. Help us to recognize those who lack words of knowledge. Help us to know when to contend and when to walk away. Help us to know the difference between a fool and someone who is open to the truth.


[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 493.


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)

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)