Category Archives: Mercy

Reconciling with the World

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. -Proverbs 17:9 KJV

Read the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians).

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation. We are to help reconcile our fallen world to a holy God.

How do we do this?

It is not by constantly telling people what they are doing is wrong. We should, ought to point out their sinfulness and need for a savior, but repeating it over and over and putting forth a air of judgmentalism, driving people away.

Instead, we acknowledge the sin, yes, but we make it clear that we still want to be with them and see them.

That we still love them, because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

We must cover their sins with the love of God, as He did for us with the blood of Christ. Then they will be able to see God’s grace that much more clearly.

Even with your brother or sister, your crazy mom or deadbeat dad, the customer who complains about everything or the cashier who messes up your order, and the driver who cut you off in traffic.

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The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.


Puppaccinos and Mercy

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. -Proverbs 12:10, KJV

Mickey loves his Puppaccino, even when he gets stuck.

I love my dogs. We even sometimes call them our “fur babies.” Sometimes I spoil them with a trip to the coffee shop that has Puppaccinos for dogs (whipped cream with dog biscuits on top). I feel bad when they do not get their regularly timed walks or step on a sharp rock or hot asphalt during those walks.

Even though I love these guys, if my wife or another human were in trouble, I would choose the human over them.

Have Mercy

Some people, however, only view animals as property, at best. Their idea of mercy on their dogs is not kicking them very hard or remembering to feed them today.

Oftentimes, these are people who tend to treat many humans similarly. Whether it is being verbally abusive, deceptive, or simply not caring, this type of person would rather record you having a problem than help you.

This thinking infects most of us in some way, ever since the beginning when Cain asked God about Abel, “Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, “How is this my problem? What has it to do with me?”

Jesus turned this thinking on its head, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). To be fondly and righteous means to make others’ problems our own. It means not thinking too highly of oneself, but as a servant to others. It means having compassion and showing mercy on others.

It might even mean caring about what happens to animals. (But always in regards to human life.)


Contrasting the Parallelisms

A New Section

You may notice that starting here in chapter 10, the verses read a little differently. The reason is that here we see the beginning of the second part of this book (Prov. 10:1-22:16) which contains what are called “parallelisms.”

Parallelisms are grammatical and poetical devices which both help make a point and make the point easier to process while including an easier-to-remember element.

Sometimes parallelisms are antithetic (Prov. 10:1-15:33), while others are synthetic (Prov. 16:1-22:16). The first use two lines of prose to make a contrast; the second uses two lines to point out similarities.

A good extra-biblical example of antithetic parallelism can be seen in the words of Sir Winston Churchill (House of Commons, 22 October 1945):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A good example of antithetic parallelism from chapter 10 might be the following verse:

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. – Proverbs 10:12

Churchill made a positive point about capitalism, but he did it by contrasting the “vice” of capitalism with the “virtue” of socialism. Solomon highlighted the caring and peaceful value of love by contrasting it with strife: false love can be exposed by the debris it stirs up.

However, neither kinds of parallelisms are meant to be understood as all-encompassing. Some are best understood as being more “rule-of-thumb” than absolute (i.e., Prov. 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” yet some children leave and never return).

Unpacking It All

Because there is no real way to connect all of these parallelisms into one coherent message, unlike the previous chapters which addressed particular themes, we could take a long time unpacking each one. Therefore, I would encourage you to go back and check out our past commentary on Proverbial Thought which dealt with each individual verse. You can do that by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page (chapters 9-12 will be uploaded soon).

But for now, since this time we are going through Proverbs in a more condensed fashion, we will only be addressing the verses which most stand out to the particular writer.

I’m looking forward to reading what the Holy Spirit shows the other writers. It should be interesting.

That being said…

Thinking of Proverbs 10:12 (as seen above), isn’t it wonderful when we choose not to bring up past wrongs, but rather let things lie, even cover them with a blanket of grace?

Solomon isn’t talking about sweeping guilt under a rug or denying wrongdoing or sin (such as abuse); he’s talking about forgiveness.

Sometimes the better part of forgiveness is to keep some things packed away and forgotten. Real love seeks healing; false love (hatred, selfishness, pride) demands a never-ending string of “I’m sorry’s” and never lets the dust settle on the past.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 CSB


Rough Justice

Proverbs 29:15 

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (NLT)

I have memories of being disciplined as a child at home and at school. There were times when I thought that the punishments were unfair, but there were times when I knew I deserved what I got. Some punishments are no longer legal in the UK, such as the use of corporal punishment in school. In my junior school if the headmaster caught a pupil standing outside a classroom having been sent out for some misdemeanor then his overly large hand usually made contact several times with the backside of the offending pupil. It didn’t matter that the pupil had already been punished by being sent out from the class. At secondary school punishment was more brutal with the use of the cane, again against the backside of an offender. The cane inflicted significant damage breaking the skin. A caning was known as the ‘cuts’ for good reason. One caning was sufficient for me to make sure I never received another.

Detentions were another form of punishment. The ultimate sanction and one level below a caning was the ‘headmaster’s detention.’ When a teacher gave a headmaster’s detention details of the offence were recorded on a special form that had to be taken home and signed by a parent, then returned to the school where a lengthy after school detention took place under the supervision of the headmaster. The signing of the form meant that parents were fully aware of the sins of their offspring, often resulting in further punishment at home because of the shame/disgrace brought upon the family.

The punishments I hated the most were the punishments when I was blamed for something someone else had done. Adults also face miscarriages of justice, and there are men and women who have served years in prison for crimes they did not commit. A television program in the UK called ‘Rough Justice’ has resulted in a number of people being freed from jail, often many years after they were convicted despite being innocent.

It is easy to forget that rough justice is what Jesus faced after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on trumped up charges. Those responsible for the events leading up to his execution, and especially the man who signed the execution order, were all fully aware of His innocence. Jesus may have died a shameful death, but He didn’t bring shame to His Father at any point during His life or death. In dying a shameful death Jesus brought glory to God and made a way for our shame and disgrace to be removed from God’s memory. Because Jesus accepted rough justice we do not have to face justice at all. And the name for that is grace.


Beyond Criticism

Proverbs 29:1 

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (NLT)

Following the Rules

Few of us enjoy being criticized, told off, corrected or reproved. What is important, however, is the manner in which we react when faced with criticism or reproof. Take the Pharisees, for instance. These were a group of people who wrote the book on criticism. They had so many rules, you would have thought that they would have walked around heads hung in shame, given the impossibility of compliance.  But they didn’t. They walked around heads held high, proud in the fact that they were rule keepers, not rule breakers. And in their pride they criticized everyone who did not reach their high standards of perfection.

Valid Criticism

What the Pharisees considered perfection was a falsehood, a lie. Jesus was an exposer of lies. When He came to the attention of the Pharisees they invested heavily in using their laws and rules to bring Him down. But they failed miserably because their criticism had no validity. And while the Pharisees were experts at dishing out criticism, they were unable to accept being under the spotlight and told that they were wrong.

Freedom

You could argue that it is simpler to live without rules. That is what infuriated the Pharisees about Jesus. He didn’t just break the rules, He lived as if there were no rules. The problem was that they had become blind to reality through their obsession with a legalistic approach for the one thing that could have brought them freedom, and life. God didn’t send Jesus to earth to write a new book of rules, but to show God’s true character to humanity. Jesus came because humanity had it wrong and has still got it wrong. God does not sit up in heaven criticizing us, but loving us. And if we can truly surrender to that Love then we will find freedom from criticism, and freedom from criticizing.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:10-13 NLT)


Worms Need a Savior, Too

Proverbs 28:24

“Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.”

We All Do It

There are many people in the world that call right “wrong,” and wrong “right.” As a matter of fact, we all probably do it, and a lot more than we think.

When is the last time you broke the law and sped down the highway? Did you justify your actions with something like, “They should have never made the speed limit that low.” When is the last time you watched a rated-R movie and condoned the sex or violence as “art” or “entertainment”? Does Philippians 4:8 (whatsoever things are pure…think on these things) ever cross your mind?

So, before we read the above proverb with too much indignation, let us first examine our own actions.

Friends of Murderers 

But before we get all depressed and feel like we have no moral high ground, let’s get back to the message of the proverb at hand. Simply put, the one who steals from his own mother and father lives in the gutter of humanity.

I personally like the way the New Living Translation deals with this proverb: “Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.” That’s right, the one who steals from his parents is no better than a murderer. Pretty harsh, isn’t it?

Oh, but wait! What does the Bible say in 1 John 3:15? It says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” A murderer! Seriously, I can’t stand the scum who would rob his parents and say, “No big deal.” That kind of person needs to be dealt with in the harshest manner. But then again, what he really needs is a Savior.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I? 
 – Isaac Watts