Category Archives: Paths of Life

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.

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Choose Your Guarantee

Proverbs 12:21

“There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.”

Good and Bad Life

There are certain things that no one can get away from in this life. There are good things and bad things that will have an effect on every person. Jesus told us so, when speaking about God: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

In terms of today’s passage, this deals more with how we conduct our lives.

When we do good things in the pursuit of God, we may very well see good things in our lives. Wise choices generally make life easier and better.

Simply pursuing what we want or what makes us feel good or willfully causing pain or grief to others will eventually lead to bad things in life. We can not spend beyond our means for too long before we have to deal with the consequences of over-spending. We can not push the world away and expect the world to continue to help and give anything good.

It especially applies with our relationship to God

When we are following our Lord, when we believe in the truth of who Jesus Christ is and live out our faith, we have a guarantee, a strong hope, that we will one day be with Him forever.

The wicked have no such guarantee. Choosing your own path and not believing in Jesus Christ, choosing to promote your own well-being and happiness without considering others, disregarding the teachings of the Bible, all of these all but guarantee suffering when this life is over.

Which path do you choose this moment?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for giving us a way out of our mischief and troubles. Strengthen us to choose You every moment of every day that we may show love and grace to others when they choose the path of wickedness.


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.

 


Do Me a Favour

Proverbs 12:2

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”

Obtain or Deserve?

‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’ was the title of a 1971 Moody Blues album. The cover shows a young child and a wizened old man, the child apparently in awe of the old man, perhaps receiving instruction. But why should a good person deserve favor? Didn’t the Moody Blues know about grace? In terms of the human relationship with God His favor is not something that is deserved. It is only possible through grace.

Grace Not Works

But if salvation is possible through grace rather than works, why does Solomon state that a good man obtains favor from the Lord? The answer is simple. Because when salvation occurs Jesus Christ moves in and lives inside us. This may sound weird, but when you think about it we cannot become good, or do good works, unless we are equipped. Having Christ in us provides the enabling for us to obtain the favor of the Lord as we move forwards in obedience to His instruction and guided by His knowledge (Proverbs 12:1).

Another Way

As always in life we have a choice. There is another way. A way condemned by the Lord. A broad road that leads to destruction, but which is favored by many because of its apparent pleasures. Take a look around. Are you standing in Broad Street? If you are then perhaps it is time to move on. Time to search for the grace that brings eternal favor, rather than temporary pleasure. You have a choice. You always have a choice.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)


Stupid On Purpose

Proverbs 12:1

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”

Instruction

We see over and over again in the book of Proverbs how Solomon is giving us instructions on how we should live our lives. He deals with different topics from money to adultery, from the fear of the Lord to temptation, from pride and humility to the wicked that are in the world. Each time he discusses a topic, he gives us instructions on how we need to handle each situation.

Instructions are very important. Instructions will guide us and help us to complete the task that is set before us. The Bible is our instruction manual and will guide us with ever step we take.

BUT…we must be willing to heed the Word of God and the instructions it gives. If we are to be more and more like Christ, then we must follow the instructions that are given to us in God’s Word.

Reproof

Dictionary.com defines the word reproof as, “An expression of censure or rebuke”. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”. This is what the Bible is here for – to keep us on the right path (Psalm 119:105).

How we accept instructions from God and receive reproof for the things we have done wrong, says a lot about a person. Dr. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “How we receive reproof and counsel is a test of our relationship to the Lord and our willingness to live by His Word.” (1)

We can see from past “Proverbial Thoughts”, that wise men love reproof – Proverbs 9:8 | Proverbs 9:9. Reproof by God’s Word helps us to stay focused on Him and to accomplish His will for our lives. Reproof helps the godly to mature in Christ.

Don’t Be Stupid

No one wants to be stupid (or at least not be stupid on purpose). But there are many people today that are living a life that is, well,  stupid. Why? Because they are not willing to take instructions or rebuke from God’s Word. The New Living Translation says our verse this way, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”

When we are not willing to listen to the wisdom of God and apply it to our own lives, we are actually saying that we know better than God on how we need to run our lives. We are pretty much telling Him to not worry about anything – that we have everything under control – and we don’t need Him! How stupid is that?

We must be willing to let God mold us and make us into what He wants us to be. Without His instructions (God’s Word), there is no way we will ever be able to be more like Him.

God, help us to love your instructions and have a willingness to heed Your words. Help us not to hate it when you rebuke us when we have done wrong against You. Help us to be godly men and women who seek your face and want to be more and more like You. 

Reference:

(1) Dr. Warren Wiersbe – (The Wiersbe Bible Commentary – page 539)


The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


Reaping What You Sow

Proverbs 11:27

“He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.”

Definitions

Before we do anything else, let’s define the words “procureth” and “mischief”. These are not words that most people use in their everyday language. Procureth simply means “to seek”, while the word mischief means “evil”. The ESV says it this way, “Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it”.

A Simple Concept

Both of my grandfathers were farmers. They worked very long and hard hours in their gardens, working the soil and bringing in the crop. One of the concepts they learned from a very young age was that if they wanted a garden full of corn, as strange as this may sound, they would plant corn! When the harvest would come and the ears was ready to be shucked, then they would harvest CORN!

I know this may be a hard concept for some people to understand, but it is very true – if you plant corn, then you will reap corn. If you plant tomatoes, you will get tomatoes. If you plant squash – you guested it – you get squash.

This concept is not a new concept. The Bible talked about it in Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

This is not only true with planting physical seeds but also with anything we do in life! The verse we are looking at today says that if we purposefully seek to do good (planting), then we will seek favor (reaping). But we must be aware of one thing – it goes both ways. The last part of the verse says that evil (reaping) comes to him who searches for it (planting).

The Choice

According to this verse, we have a choice – we can either choose to live our lives by intentionally doing good or purposefully doing evil. It is up to you, but don’t forget – YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW!

Lord, help us to intentionally live our lives seeking to do good. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you each and every day.