Category Archives: Truth

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.”‘

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Inheriting the Wind

Proverbs 11:29

“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”

The Monkey Trial

Just a few miles north of me is the town of Dayton, Tennessee. You may not be familiar with that little town, but in 1925 everyone knew about it. Dayton was the town where the Scopes “Monkey” Trial took place.

Rhea County Courthouse, Dayton, Tennessee.

In 1960 a movie came out of Hollywood called “Inherit the Wind.” It stared people like Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan, and Spencer Tracy. The movie was an adaption of a play, neither of which were meant to be historically accurate.

But this proverb is not so much about what happened at the “monkey trial” in Dayton, TN., than it is about what happens when one sacrifices peace at home for the hope of gain.

It Could Be Argued

Some have said that the only reason Dayton (Rhea County) wanted the trial in the first place was to bring in money from tourism and national attention. City officials, including the school superintendent, are rumored to have found John Scopes, a math teacher, and convinced him to allow himself to be tried for something he never even did (teach evolution). It is said they considered that the publicity gained from such a trial would be beneficial.

William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, opposed the theory of evolution. Bryan was convinced that Darwinism was responsible for the elitism that lead to World War I and the death of millions. He wanted to protect America from a belief system that devalued humanity. Therefore, when he was brought in to be the prosecuting attorney to argue against Clarence Darrow, publicity was guaranteed.

Essentially, the creationists were baited into a trial, and it could be argued that they lost. However, the instigators will have to answer to God for their desire to “trouble their house.” If anyone “inherited the wind,” it wasn’t the ones who stood on principle, but the ones who allowed a lie to be propagated in hopes of monetary gain.

No Argument

But there is no argument with the wisdom of Proverbs 11:29. If a man brings trouble into his own house while in the pursuit of personal fortune and fame, the result is emptiness. The result is nothing more than wind.

Some pursue great causes, but neglect their families. They rationalize that the greater good is worth the sacrifice. But what they don’t understand is that in the end they will have nothing but emptiness to show for all the trouble.

Others, because of their love for the needle and the bottle, or for the thrill of what doesn’t belong to them, will trouble their own homes in the pursuit of fulfillment. But in the end, their souls will crack and dry as they weather under a wind that never stops.

 


Don’t Be Pig Jewelry

Proverbs 11:22

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

Proverb or Nonverb?

If you want to run a great quiz round, make up a load of proverbs, mix them in with little beauties like this, and then ask which is the genuine article. I guarantee you will catch some people out. But just because a Proverb sounds made up doesn’t mean it lacks wisdom, or indeed a lesson for us to learn.

Pig Jewelry

As we look into this idea of pig adornment, we discover a theme repeated throughout the Bible: the contrast between the image we present and the person we are. Despite this, we spend an inordinate amount of time working on the outside rather than the inside, and yet the outside makes up for so little of who we are and is often easy to see past.

Consider how small the gold ring is compared to the pig. It may catch our eye, initially (after all it is gold), but let’s be honest, no amount of gold is going to hide the fact it is stuck on a pig.

The Eye of the Beholder

Similarly beautiful women may turn a man’s head, but my experience is that if there is no substance beneath the beauty, no discretion, then the attraction is waning. I may tolerate them, but it is clear they are a pig – so to speak.

But what happens when I turn this mirror to my own life? Do I see a gold ring, or a pig? Is my “beauty” being wasted on a muddy snout?

Beauty for Ashes

In truth, it matters little what I see, but how God sees me. Can I believe that Jesus loves me despite myself? It may be hard to believe, but he does! That’s the truth on which I will stand.

Isaiah 61:3 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”


Worthless Toys

Proverbs 11:7-8

“When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.”

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

Have you ever heard that phrase? That is exactly what this verse is speaking about.

There are many people who truly believe (or at least really wish) that with more money, influence, and stuff they might be able to prolong life or even cheat death.

Quite frankly, that will never happen. In this world, people die, and there is no escape by our meager means.

It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.

There are many religions in the world that promise peace, life, or freedom.

In our Western culture, one of the current themes is that sincerity in the belief is what really sets you free.

Quite frankly, that is hogwash. You can sincerely believe your hand is indestructible, but that angry dog you just tried to pet does not care.

God is dead.

This is been a common theme since Time Magazine did an article in 1966, but starting earlier. In fact, one reason many atheists enjoy the theory of evolution is that ultimately God is not necessary if there is enough time and random circumstances.

Quite frankly, this is dangerously wrong. Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics and the fact that our Universe does indeed have a beginning prove at the very least that something outside of our Universe caused everything to be.

The Truth

There is a God. This God created everything, including humans. Humans messed up … royally. Therefore, God came to Earth as a man, Jesus of Nazareth. In His righteousness, He took the penalty humans deserved. Now, those who believe in this truth are delivered out of eternal trouble into eternal peace and life with God.

Those who refuse to believe or think they know better are still under the penalty.

Lord Jesus, thank You for taking our penalty. Thank You for life. Use our lives to save as many more of those who are perishing as possible. Teach us to love them as You love us all.


Watching the Scales

Proverbs 11:1

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”

True Weight

In the attempt to stay a lean, mean, fighting machine (oh, get real), I have found myself watching the numbers when I weigh myself. As a matter of fact, there is a small calendar in our bathroom where I have recorded the numbers over about three months.

One day I was so excited that I had seemingly lost several pounds. I told my wife, “See, I am losing weight!” Then, later that day, I went to the doctor’s office for a regular checkup. It was there that my inflated ego became a lead balloon, for the official scales told a different story.

What I had thought was my weight when I stood on the cheap scales at home did not square with the expensive, worthless-to-argue-with scales at the doctor’s office. Instead of losing weight, I had gained weight. The scales at home lied!

Balances and Ducks

In order to really understand this proverb, we must understand what is meant by a “false balance.” As you can see by the illustration, things used to be weighed by placing one object on one side of a balance, and then a standard weight on the other.

A humorous example of false weights and false scales can be found in a scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that scene a woman is accused of being a witch, so “logically” they decide that since wood burns the same as witches, and wood also floats, then something besides wood must be put in a scale to determine if the woman was actually a witch. They choose a duck, because ducks float in water like wood. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Once they take the accused witch to the scales, they place a duck on the opposite side. When they remove the blocks underneath, guess what? The scales did not move. Hmmm.

False Balances

But what God hates is a false balance. In other words, God hates scales that have been tampered with in order for a merchant (or a witch burner) to make a profit. God hates scales that do not tell the truth, but lead others to believe they do. God loves the truth, even if the scales tell us something we don’t want to admit.

In the book of Daniel we read of Belshazzar of Babylon seeing a message written by God on a wall. Among other things it said, “TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.“(Daniel 5:27). In Belshazzar’s mind his bathroom scale was just fine. But according to God’s scale, he was way, way off.

This proverb is primarily pointed at those who lie to make a profit. It is about those who tamper with what is a “true” weight to perpetuate a falsehood. In other words, hypocrisy.

But from a different perspective, we should remember that how we think of ourselves needs to measure up with God’s standard. The world’s scales are always a little unbalanced.


Lying Lips

Proverbs 10:18

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”

In this proverb of Solomon (10:1), he joins together two actions related to the tongue which at first blush appear to be opposites, and yet paradoxically, the two actions produce the same outcome!  Let’s look more closely.

A PARADOX

In the first instance, he draws to our attention the one who “hideth hatred with lying lips.”  In other words, his lips are moving, but the words pouring forth from his mouth conceal the hatred and loathing in the heart.

Perhaps you’ve caught yourself exchanging Monday-morning pleasantries with a co-worker, chatting harmlessly about the activities of the recent weekend… on the outside you present the image of the nicest guy in the office, but on the inside, you hate the co-worker’s guts!  You are speaking, but your speech is not consistent with your heart.

In the second instance, he speaks of a different sort of person entirely – one whose mouth spews venomous slander.  To return to the example of Monday morning in the office, this is the co-worker who verbally “runs down” everyone and everything, especially attacking the actions and motivations of others, casting others into a negative light.

The polite person with the hateful heart, and the hateful person gushing poisonous slander – they’re entirely different, right?  No, says Solomon, they are surprisingly similar.  Both are morally deficient – fools, in fact.

THE POINT OF THE PROVERB

Listen up, because this is key.  The “jab” of this proverb lies in the first half.  It speaks to those of us who have been trained to “be polite,” when our outer friendliness is a mask of hypocrisy.  Jesus reserves his harshest condemnation for people who pretend to be something on the outside, but have murder within (and yes, according to Jesus, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder – Matthew 5:21-22).  It is so easy to identify – and condemn – the slanderer.

As a pastor, I can say without question that slander is one of the most destructive sins that can strike a congregation.  But at least with the slanderer, you know what you’ve got. How much more deceptive, subtle, and evil is the Pharisaic hypocrisy of hiding hatred with lying lips.

SIMPLICITY OF SPEECH

The proverb calls us to simplicity of speech.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  As the Master said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 6:37).  And no, that’s not a free pass to tell people off!  As Jesus-Followers, we “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15).

Father God, grant us simplicity of speech coming from hearts full of the love of Christ.  Forgive us our sins of the tongue, we ask, for the sake of Thy dear Son, Christ our Lord, in whose Name we pray:  Amen. 


The Interpreter

Proverbs 8:12

“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”

Hand-in-Hand

We cannot escape that wisdom is always paired with something else, whether it be called understanding, knowledge, discretion, or prudence.

Wisdom does not work unless it is put into practice. What does wisdom look like in practice?

It is not getting ahead of yourself, rather knowing your limitations.

It is not leaping before you look, rather knowing the right path … unless God has called you to step forward in faith.

It is not saying whatever is on your mind, rather knowing the time and place and how to speak your mind.

Witty Inventions/Discretion

Other translations also say “I possess knowledge and discretion.” Like James said, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2) I still work on knowing when to share what I have learned, but the real task has been learning when it is okay to offend and when it is just offensive to speak. Clearly, I am not yet perfect!

I personally like the phrase “find out knowledge of witty inventions.” I like to turn a phrase and reveal hidden meanings.

For example, the Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of my favorites, because it shares the gospel and has a great tune.

However, two years ago I learned the original meanings of most of the words expressed in the title and first line of the song. The title in modern English would actually be “God Keep You Strong, Great Men”.

Another example are political elections. Politicians on every side attempt to convince you to vote for them, and they most often use facts and data in ways outside of their original context. It takes discernment to find the truth in their inventive interpretations. It also takes discernment to be that politician and properly use facts and data.

Wisdom helps us discover truth and understanding in places we might not otherwise.

Wisdom can show us how interpret what is being said and done, and wisdom can show us how to present ourselves in word and deed.

Finding True Wisdom

Prudence and knowledge should lead us to realize that, as we are, we are unable to control ourselves, in word, deed or thought.

Wisdom should then lead us to realize that God, as revealed through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit, is the only way to find control and freedom.

Our Wisdom and Truth, reveal Yourself to us ever more. Help us to see past the lower and false wisdom of this world and see Your truth. Teach us understanding, discretion, and prudence. Make us more like You!