Category Archives: Giving Honor

Greasing the Skids

Proverbs 18:16

“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

Wise Investing

You have seen it done in the movies, and maybe in real life. A man walks in to a nice restaurant and finds that no tables are available, but when he pulls out a $50 bill all of a sudden a place is found. That is more like bribery, not what Solomon is talking about here.

What Solomon is telling us in this verse is that gifts can be a wise investment – investments that can offer great returns in the form of privilege and audience. And it’s not about bribery but common decency, respect, manners, and wisdom.

Playing Smart

There is nothing wrong or un-biblical about playing smart. In many ways life is a game, and the ones who play by the rules are more likely to come out ahead in the end. It doesn’t always work out, but acting with intentional respect can have a road-paving effect on one’s life and career.

Essentially, if you want to be included in certain circles or have audiences before “great men,” being selfish, stingy, and arrogant is not a good first step in the right direction. One can “grease the skids” with a little gift and a nice card. Even a kind deed done on one’s behalf is a gift that may prove beneficial in the future. Consider the following story…

Mordecai’s Good Deed

“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.” – Esther 2:21-22 NIV

Later…

“That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.” – Esther 6:1-3 NIV

Mordecai’s gift of honesty and bravery was rewarded when the time was right. Room was made for him as he was brought before great men.

Key to Giving

But there is one very important thing to remember: when you do give gifts, don’t expect anything in return. A bribe is not a gift. A true gift is not a bribe.


Keep Your Fingers to Yourself

Proverbs 16:14

“The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.”

When I first read this verse I pictured an angry king who sent out soldiers to execute judgment on his enemies. Then, just a few days later, I learned of a more modern example of an angry king – Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat. His kingdom? The Miami-Dade courtroom in Florida.

February 4, 2013

It was all caught on camera. The cheerful, giddy, 18-year old Penelope Soto stood facing a camera, while Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat sat in the courtroom hearing her case. Soto was being sentenced for illegal possession of Xanax.

The judge seemed nice enough, trying to be patient Soto, who evidently didn’t take the whole thing too seriously. Then, when the judge set the girl’s bail at $5,000, she turned around and said in a casual, disrespectful way, “Adios!

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat said, “Come back…come back.” This time, irked at her flippant demeanor, he raised Soto’s bail to $10,000. That got her attention, too, and so this time when she walked away she held up her middle finger to the camera for the judge to see.

Come back! Come back!” said the judge. This time, after few words, he sentenced the once-perky illicit drug user to 30 days in jail. She quit laughing.

Don’t be a Fool

It’s really not that complicated. When one stands before one who has the ability to exercise judgment, it’s not very wise to air out one’s middle finger.

Penelope Soto could have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist. She seemed sweet enough, and the judge seemed patient, to a degree. But it was when she disrespected his authority that she crossed a serious line. That is when she experienced the “wrath of the king.”

Why is it that some people do that? Everything could be going just fine, then they choose to disrespect authority. Don’t they realize the foolishness of their actions? Why don’t they show a little wisdom and keep the “king” in a good mood?

They Don’t Respect God

The real reason most people have a problem with authority and end up ticking off kings is that they have no respect for God. If they did respect Him, they would respect His “minister.”

In Romans thirteen we read that we should “be subject to higher powers” (13:1). Anyone who resists, or rebels against authority is in danger of rebelling against God, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Paul also said that if one does good, he should have no reason to fear authority. However, when we rebel, or show our middle fingers, we must remember if we do wrong, “be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (13:4 NIV).

 


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.


Giving is Honoring

Proverbs 14:31

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.”
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” – ESV

Do You Hate God?

It’s as simple as this: if you take advantage of or mistreat the poor, you hate God. End of story. On the other hand, if you love God, then you will have mercy on the poor.

Do you remember old Scrooge? Remember how he despised the idea of giving money to help the poor and needy. At one point he said, “Are there no prisons? [The workhouses], are they still in operation?” Yet, when he got the “Christmas spirit” he had a change of heart and gave more than anyone else?

Beware the Blowhard

Don’t let any pompous blowhard convince you he loves his Maker if he never drops a dime in a Salvation Army kettle. Never trust a religious deacon who raises the rent on his commercial property in order to keep the single moms away. The lottery promoter who makes huge profits on the backs of those who can barely afford to put food on the table…well, he might as well spit in the face of Christ.

His Hands and Feet

We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world. We are to help those who need help as if the Lord was here in the flesh doing it Himself. That is what it means to be Christ-like. Of course, there are needs which will never be met, no matter how hard we try. But showing mercy is a sure sign we are honoring the one who showed greater mercy, giving us everything in the gift of His Son.


Worthy to Receive Honor

Proverbs 14:28 

In the multitude of people is the king’s honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
A growing population is a king’s glory; a prince without subjects has nothing. NLT

Which King?

When I read this verse I wondered if the reference was to earthly kings or to our Heavenly King? Here in the UK we still have a royal family so it is easy for me to consider what constitutes a king’s (or in our case queen’s) honor or glory. Queen Elizabeth II has been a worthy monarch. Although her powers are restricted to constitutional and representational matters, she is generally loved and admired by a multitude of people.

This proverb links population to honor and glory. The UK population has certainly grown during the Queen’s sixty-year reign, mainly due to immigration, much of which has taken place in the last few years. But does the growing population bring the Queen honor and glory? No. The fact that the Queen is so highly regarded in the UK and around the world is because of the way that she has fulfilled her duties, and continues to do so despite being eighty-six years old. Will Prince Charles be similarly loved and respected when/if he is crowned as King? That seems unlikely. While Prince Charles is first in line to the throne, he is not as well received by his ‘subjects’ as his mother. Queen Elizabeth will be a hard act to follow.

Another King

One of the UK’s most rousing and patriotic songs is ‘I Vow to Thee My Country.’ The words begin with loyalty to the nation, but end with a poetic description of heaven, and a King above all other kings, a King who seeks a growing population, a multitude of people who choose to bow before Him. A King who stands at the door of every human heart and knocks, waiting quietly for an answer.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
 
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Listen: Katherine Jenkins sings ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


Commended and Despised

Proverbs 12:8

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.”

First Look

When I first read this verse, I thought “This is not how our world approaches a man of wisdom versus a man with a perverse heart.”

As of 2012 we can see a stark difference in how people see others.

Many people compare the 44th US President, Barack Obama, with the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan. Most Republicans view Reagan as one of the greatest leaders in American history, but most Democrats think he did horribly. Most Democrats view Obama as a great leader, but most Republicans think he has done horribly.

Depending on who you discuss these men with, they are either as seen as wise and adored or wicked and despised.

Second Look

Looking farther back, however, we see two different men generally respected. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is touted by both political parties as one of their own (even though he was the first Republican President), because he led the nation through a horrible civil war that helped free slaves (to an extent, at least). The other President, the 35th, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is also generally seen as a wise leader. He managed to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis and balance the Federal Budget. Both men were assassinated.

Both men had faults – no one denies that. These men also were able to lead well during difficult times through wisdom.

The Church

People generally have good qualities, even the worst of us, but it may be harder for some people to see them.

Sadly, we see this kind of division within the Church, as well.

There are strong leaders who are not known by most people. There are nearly demonic leaders revered by the masses. There are people all throughout the spectrum in between and reversed.

Most of us know names like Billy Graham and John Stott. We also know names like Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist Church” and Jim Bakker of “Praise the Lord” fame. The first set are seen as great, holy men of God. The second set are seen as wicked and … perverse.

There are men and women throughout the Church who fall under these descriptions.

We must show grace to all, because even the best of us are weak at times (Even the Apostle Paul admitted so in Romans 7). Trust is always earned, but we must still show love. (There are other posts for discussing the reasons we fail)

Our wise King, give us wisdom to tell the difference between wise and perverse leaders. Help us grow in wisdom that we may be loved and respected, to Your glory.


Holy Fear

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

This has been said many times over and over on Proverbial Thought, but if we don’t fear the Lord we will never truly understand or gain true wisdom…Period – end of story!

We can search and study all we want but Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10 simply say that the “FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 are the bookends for Proverbs 1-9. They proclaim the theme that Solomon is working so desperately to get across to everyone – obtain wisdom and understanding.

FEAR

Simply put – to fear the Lord means to respect Him (God) so much that we obey His will and seek to honor His name. The word “fear” in the phrase “fear of the Lord” comes from the Hebrew word YIRAH, and it means “to be in awe of” (1 Kings 3:28), and “to have respect for” (Lev. 19:3).

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord

Not only should we fear the Lord in order to obey Him and honor His name, but when we do fear the Lord, the Bible tells us that there are extra benefits when we do:

  • Deuteronomy 6:2 – enjoy long life
  • Psalm 25:14 – The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
  • Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the LORD encamps around them & delivers them.
  • Psalm 103:13 – the LORD has compassion on those who fear him
  • Psalm 115:11 – the LORD— he is their help and shield
  • Psalm 128:1 – Blessed are all who fear the LORD
  • Psalm 147:11 – the LORD delights in those who fear him
  • Proverbs 10:27 – adds length to life
  • Proverbs 14:26 – He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
  • Proverbs 16:6 – through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil
  • Proverbs 28:14 – Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD

Oswald Chambers once said,

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Solomon is again reiterating to us that we must obtain wisdom and knowledge in our lives and the first thing we must do it fear the Lord.

God dwells in light and holiness,
In splendor and in might;
And godly fear of His great power
Can help us do what’s right. —D. De Haan

Fear God, and you’ll have nothing else to fear.

Lord, help us to fear you enough in our lives that we do not want to do anything that displeases you. Help us to live our lives in such a way that we will stand in awe and honor your name each and every day. Lord, may our fear for you drive us to love you more and devote our whole heart and lives to You!


Sowing Discord

Proverbs 6:19b

“[These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:] … A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Aimed at the Church?

If there were only one of the seven things that God hates that could be directed at the church it would have to be the last in the list:

He that soweth discord among brethren.

I have lost count of the times I have heard Christian brothers and sisters moaning and complaining, criticizing and gossiping. Such displays of discord, disharmony and disunity usually take place inside the church building, often immediately after a service. How does that work? We enter a building we call God’s sanctuary, we go through the motions of worshipping God, and we listen as the pastor brings God’s word. Then when the service is over we may find ourselves talking to others about how the worship wasn’t very good, or how the pastor spoke for too long. Or perhaps we gossip about others in the church. If you are reading this blog and you have never indulged in such behavior then you probably are not a resident of planet Earth.

Hands Up!

It is time, brothers and sisters, to put our hands up and acknowledge that we have used harmful words, that we have sown discord in our church fellowships, and we have offended God by doing so.

Here’s the challenge. Instead of criticizing your pastor this Sunday, how about thanking him for his sermon, and for all the other stuff he does, most of which you will never see or know about.

Instead of moaning about the musicians, how about encouraging them, even if they played too slow, too fast, too quietly or too loud (in your opinion).

Instead of gossiping about others, how about getting closer to them and looking at them through God’s eyes?

Instead of complaining about everything you think is wrong with your church why don’t you stop for a moment and ask God where he would like you to serve more, better or differently within your fellowship.

Koinonia

Fellowship has to be the key. Fellowship is diametrically opposed to discord. Could your church be described as a fellowship? If not, why not?

Further Reading

The Importance of Fellowship in a New Testament Church


A Win-Win

Proverbs 3:16

“Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.”

Continuing in the description of the value of wisdom, we now come to a verse that paints a picture of a win-win situation. Do you know what that is?

A Win-Win

The best example of a win-win in my life, aside from when my wife decided she wanted to marry me, comes from my years in sales. I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” And that is absolutely true!

Without going into a lot of detail, I used to sell a particular big-ticket item. The potential to make a lot of money was always present, but so was the potential to take advantage of the client. I saw more than a few sales professionals convince a client to spend more than necessary, only to have the sale reversed a day later.

My philosophy was pretty simple – exceed the custormer’s expectations. How did I do that? By being an honest listener who never considered profit until after the client’s needs were met. Did I alway make money? No. But I made more than those who foolishly took advantage of others.

Even when I didn’t make an immediate paycheck, I could still sleep at night. That was truly a win-win.

Wisdom is a Win-Win

Solomon is saying that with wisdom comes both long life and honor. Many are the fools that seek riches, but die young. Many are the fools that seek long life, but die in shame.

Seek wisdom, and you will have not only what you need, but you may live long enough to enjoy it.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:31-33 NLT