Category Archives: Paths of Life

The Thinker

Proverbs 14:16

“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.”

Warnings

As has been said many times on Proverbial Thought, the book of Proverbs is a book of warnings. Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, has penned warning after warning to help guide and direct us in the our lives.

The ThinkerThe Thinker

One of Auguste Rodin’s most famous sculptures is The Thinker, a piece originally conceived to be part of another work. The Thinker was part of a commission by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to sculpt a monumental door based on The Divine Comedy of Dante. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem.

Wikipedia describes the statue of The Thinker as the following:

“It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle.”

Today’s verse reminds me of this statue. Here is why, and please stay with me. The name God is never mentioned in this verse. I thought of this statue because I believe that this verse is saying that a wise man is one who thinks before he encounters evil and is afraid of the consequences of his actions and therefore departs, or gets away from evil.

On the other hand, a person who does not think at all of the consequences just plows ahead no matter what it may cost him. He exemplifies the old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The ESV says our verse this way, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.”

Count the Cost

When faced with evil, do you jump in with both feet before even thinking about what it may cost you? Or are you like the wise man, and ponder what would happen if you gave into the evil.

Solomon is telling us that we would be very wise to “think before we act”!

Next time you are faced with evil, stop and think about that it may cost you! Sin breaks our fellowship with God and when we really stop and think about what the results from that would cost us, I think you would agree with me that we would gladly depart from evil.

Lord, I pray that we would stop and think! In times of temptation and trials, help us to be cautious and turn from evil and back to you. I thank you for your grace and forgiveness for those times when I don’t think and plunder recklessly into evil. Thank you for your loving mercy toward me!

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Seeing Your Map

Proverbs 14:8

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”

Asking Directions

One of the most common jokes in the Western Culture (primarily North America and Europe) is that men are not good at asking directions. There is much truth in this.

Men feel sufficient in their ability to find their way around if they have a map … and many time they may even forgo the map! Sometimes, it is because of their pride that they can not admit to not understanding the map.

In other words, they often end up even more lost as they lie about what they do not actually know.

And men are not alone. I have known several women just as guilty of this as many men.

Only after properly consulting the map or asking for directions can someone who is lost find their destination.

Your map

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way …

A wise person would heed the call of the gospel message: we are all guilty of sin; we all think we are on our way to happiness (or at least that it can not get much worse than this life), but we are on our way to eternal sorrow and destruction; and God stepped down in the Person Jesus of Nazareth to save us from our sin by dying on the cross and raising back to life three days later.

A wise person would realize he or she is lost and accept the offer of directions. The map of our lives is entirely in God’s hands, but we choose our path.

The foolish person will never admit to being lost and will settle on the lie that, if there is a map, we are in complete control of our own destiny and make our own map. This person settles on the lie that we can be our own gods, or that there is no God, or that god is whatever we make of it.

We can either understand our way or live in the lie, deceiving ourselves to our doom.

Are you wise or foolish?

Heavenly Father, break through our lies and deceit. Help us to see the truth of who You are and who we are. Help us overcome our folly and our sin and understand our need for You, that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


The Hard Way

Proverbs 13:15

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV
“A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person is headed for destruction.” NLT

 A Hard Life

Every now and then you may encounter people with a look that older than than their age. You may meet a man who is only in his thirties, but looks like he over sixty. A young woman may cross your path that is wrinkled, bent over, and haggard, only to find out that she is 28 years way too old.

What makes people look like they are much older than their chronological age? Hard lives. Lifestyles bent on destruction.

To be fair, there are others that you may see who have been through a lot of pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. These, too, may look older than they actually are. Life has been hard on them. But for many, what they have endured has been the result of a transgressor’s path, and that’s a hard road.

Good Sense

A person that exhibits good sense (“understanding”) is typically a person who takes better care of himself. Good sense says, “Hey, maybe staying up late every night partying until the sun comes up is a bad idea.” Good sense says, “You know, taking that drug might be harmful, not to mention addictive.

Someone with understanding and good sense is also somebody others respect and trust. For example, this type of man or woman is the one who gets the job or promotion. He or she is the one who gets awards and bonuses. They are also the ones who have lower life insurance premiums and rarely have to pay large down payments to purchase anything on credit.

However, the transgressor is the one who nobody really trusts closing the store at night. He’s the one who always calls in sick on Monday morning. Life insurance companies consider him a “high risk” and deny him coverage. And when it comes to buying a house or new car, all he can do is rent.

Advice for the Road

Let me give you some advice. If you are planning on traveling down the “hard road” of life, plan on things never going your way. But don’t think you can blame all of your woes on those with more than you, because they have “understanding;” they can see through your schemes.

Don’t blame the government. Don’t blame the church people. Don’t blame your boss (if you can keep one). Don’t blame anyone for the path that you have chosen.

Also, if you are planning to live a life that transgresses God’s word (His law), don’t blame Him when things don’t go the way you plan. He warned you.

So, when you find yourself living in a run-down motel, remember, Wisdom has been crying out, “You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 NLT).

When you won’t listen to Wisdom, your way will be hard.


Alluring Snares

Proverbs 13:14

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Snares

Let’s talk about “snares” for a moment. What is a snare? A snare is a trap meant to catch and hold prey. A snare is something set by a hunter. The following description is posted on the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s animal advocacy page. (Link)

Killing animals with snares and traps is an appallingly cruel way of slaughter. The caught animals do not die instantly… it often takes days for the victims to slowly die of dehydration, starvation or strangulation. Although some animals manage to free themselves of these death traps, they are then crippled and unable to fend for themselves, again left to die slowly.

Any animal can get caught in these snares, including the young, the healthy and the pregnant — snares kill indiscriminately!

A snare is something that is set for a purpose; it is intentional. Snares of old were usually things like nooses made of rope, or pits dug and covered over to look like solid ground. Snares don’t happen on their own, but are set in order to catch a specific animal.

Lures

Snares are not very effective, however, when there are no lures attached. In order for a snare to catch something, that “something” must see a reason to justify stepping into the trap. Therefore, a snare is usually baited with something the prey would really like to have, like food.

But not all snares are baited with food. Some snares are baited with other desirous items like money, fame, sex, and shiny gadgets.

On the other hand, the most dangerous snares are those which are placed in an already determined path. They need no bait. All they need is a traveler not paying attention.

Laws and Teaching

Today’s proverbs says that the teaching of the wise is a regular source of life, helping us avoid inevitable traps meant to take our lives. What are some examples?

The Teaching: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” – Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The Lure: “Life is short. Have an affair.” – Ashley Madison (.com)

The Snare: Betrayal. Broken marriage and home. Guilt and regret.

The Teaching: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” – James 3:5 NIV

 The Lure: Debates on Facebook; Twitter Rants.

The Snare: Rash words you can never take back. Hurt feelings. Ruined friendships.

 The Teaching: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…[but]store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

The Lure: Early retirement; Investment schemes; Real estate; Travel; etc.

The Snare: A life wasted on material gain. Unfunded ministries. No treasure in heaven.

The Teaching:  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7 KJV

The Lure: “Stealth mode” on your computer.

The Snare: Shame. Addiction. Warped sense of love. Lying. Wanting more.

The Hunter

Make no mistake about it, there is a hunter on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He is all about setting traps. The lures he uses are getting more sophisticated every day.

And this hunter doesn’t care who he kills, or how much they suffer. For that matter, the more they suffer, the better.

But the “law of the wise” will keep you from falling into those traps. The “snares of death” are easily spotted and avoided when we obey the teaching of God’s Word.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13 KJV


Navigate Wisely

Proverbs 13:6

“Righteousness keepeth [him that is] upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”

Choices

On the night of 13 January 2012 the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia chose to deviate from the agreed course for his ship to bring the ship close to the island of Isola del Giglio. He should have known better. The ship hit a reef. The hull was breached and the ship began to take on water, eventually listing to starboard and running completely aground. If the captain had chosen instead to remain on the right course the ship would have remained upright and lives would not have been lost.

Life presents us with many choices. From an early age we learn that some choices are better than others. Some choices make life easier, some make life more difficult. Some choices bring us praise, while other choices bring us trouble. The captain of the Costa Concordia may have thought that giving his passengers a treat by sailing close to shore would bring him praise. Instead it brought him trouble, and continues to do so.

Righteousness or Wickedness?

Righteousness is a word that is commonly associated with religion. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.’ Deliberately seeking to be righteous in the way that we think, speak and live out our lives provides a level of protection against bad choices, defined in Proverbs 13:6 as ‘wickedness.’ The attraction of sin is sometimes overpowering and we need to be able to defend ourselves against the bad choices that mislead us and misdirect us. Make the wrong choice and it will eventually, if not immediately, cause us harm.

Which Way?

The Hebrew word for way used in this verse may be translated as a road, or a course as in the case of a ship. We are all on a journey. We are free to choose which road or course we follow, but to maintain the right course requires effort and commitment. For a ship’s officer it is necessary to make regular course adjustments to counter the effects of currents and wind. Course alterations may be required to avoid dangerous reefs and shallow water. It is essential to make frequent checks on the ship’s position to ensure that it is still on course.

A good navigator is always alert to dangers and will not sail too close to them. A good navigator aims to bring the ship safely home to harbor, not end up aground on some foreign reef.

Photo/news story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/15/costa-concordia-disaster-transport-titanic

 


Generally Speaking

Proverbs 12:28 

“In the way of righteousness [is] life; and [in] the pathway [thereof there is] no death.”

Generalities

As a genre, many of the Proverbs are spoken in general terms, such as with Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The principle is trustworthy, obviously, but we all know that there are going to be children who go astray and never come back.

Similarly, when we read this verse we see the statement that “the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Well, what does this mean? Is the writer trying to say that if one lives a righteous life he will never die? What about Christian martyrs? Did they not die?

Specifics

The general idea is that the way of righteousness, and the ones who travel down its path, will fare better. It is much like a verse I commented on a while back, “The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness” (Proverbs 11:5 HCSB).

But there is a truth that is very specific to the follower of Christ. It can be found in another verse.

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” – 2Timothy 1:10

Generally speaking, it is more likely that you will experience life, not death, when you travel a righteous path. But when it comes to the end of life, which will eventually come, eternity awaits.

Specifically speaking, the person who puts his faith in Jesus Christ and believes His gospel will have immortality.

That’s the path I want to be on. What about you?


Don’t Waste the Hunt

Proverbs 12:27 

“The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

Hunting

I am not a hunter. I am a gatherer.

Unlike some of my more outdoorsy friends and relatives, I am not much for going out and killing things, even for food. Don’t get me wrong, though, I have gone hunting in my younger years; it’s just not something I enjoy. I’d rather go to a restaurant and hunt down a steak.

The biggest gripe that I have with hunting, however, is having to dress the animals you kill in the field. If you don’t know what am talking about, that means gutting the animal that was just an hour before frolicking in the wilderness.

I do not enjoy the smell of blood in the morning, especially mixed with sweaty camouflage.

Wasted Kill

This proverb makes mention of a hunter, but the hunter is a lazy man, one so lazy that instead of preparing the slain animal for food, he just lets it spoil. What could have been food for his family and himself is allowed to rot and go to waste. That’s just wrong.

Some people kill just for sport, which I believe is unethical.

However, there are others who never kill anything, but they waste life, nevertheless. How sad is that?

Life is Precious

I believe that all life is precious, even the life of the animals used for food. It’s not that God gives deer and squirrel souls, but He is responsible for the life within them. After all, He was their Creator.

An ethical hunter knows this, and that is why the above proverb says, “but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” A lot goes into the hunt for game, including time, money, and skill. A wise man doesn’t waste what opportunity he has been given; he puts it to use.

The “Game” of Life

What is it that you have been working for all your life? What have you gone to school for, or practiced for? Was all of that for nothing? Did you hunt down time, only to let it lie there and rot in the forests of life?

Don’t waste the opportunities or talents God has given you. But more than that, don’t let go to waste the things for which you have hunted and caught. What a waste of life if you do.