Category Archives: Warnings

The Only Way to Pass a Polygraph

Proverbs 19:5 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” (NIV)

There are people in prison today who are there because someone has falsely testified against them. Sometimes we read in the press about terrible miscarriages of justice that have taken place because one person gave false witness against another. While giving false witness is a terrible thing, even the smallest of lies usually has consequences. The trouble with lies is that they entrap us. When we are untruthful it is often the case that one lie leads to another. Although we are always hopeful of improving a situation through lying, lies are eventually discovered and those who lie or bear false witness have to face up to the consequences of lying.

I learned the lesson early in life. I had been forbidden to walk home from school, but one day I did. When I arrived home my mother asked if I had traveled home on the school bus. I told her that I had. Then she asked who I had sat next to on the bus. That stumped me momentarily, until I managed to pluck a name out of the air. Then my mother asked me if I had disobeyed her and walked home. I insisted that I had been on the bus. Unfortunately for me my mother had watched the bus stop outside our house ten minutes earlier and she knew I hadn’t been on the bus. I went to bed early that night. It gave me plenty of time to think about what I had done.

God is very clear regarding what He thinks about lies and false witness. The trouble with false witness is that it is bad witness. God calls His people to demonstrate His eternal investment in them through the way that they live their lives. Lying is not an acceptable component of a life surrendered to God. Jesus warned a group of Pharisees about the fruit of the mouth, and His teaching applies equally to us.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NIV)


Prudent People Get It

Proverbs 18:15

“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”

What’s Good for You

I’ve heard this preface to warnings all my life: “If you know what’s good for you, you will…” For example,

If you know what’s good for you, you will…

  • pay attention
  • look before you cross the street
  • blow on that before you take a sip
  • learn to say no
  • think twice before you say, “I do”
  • put that back and buy a cheaper one
  • stay in school

Solomon was simply saying, “If you know what’s good for you, you will seek and get knowledge.

Never Stop Learning

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Photo Credit: Katie Baker

The older I get, and the more I study, the more I realize that there is so much I don’t know. I have more knowledge than I used to, but I am always learning.

The prudent man and the wise man know that it never hurts to “learn all you can and can what you get.” The knowledge you acquire may not seem useful today, but only God knows the future.

 

 


Acquit or Convict?

Proverbs 18:5

“It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.”
“It is not right to acquit the guilty or deny justice to the innocent.” – NLT

Legal Precedent

My youngest - an aspiring lawyer - at a mock trial competition.

My youngest – an aspiring lawyer – at a mock trial competition.

It is too hard for me to go back and review the legal history of all mankind, but I would venture to say that poor legal decisions have been made even before the first judge received his mail-order diploma.

Every time we turn on the television or read the newspaper we discover another criminal who has been released, or another innocent victim who has been punished. It’s almost too depressing to watch. Who can forget O. J. Simpson?

Not long ago I read of a man who was sent to prison for 20 years all because he fired a weapon to protect his family. Every day I hear of the elderly losing their homes to pay taxes; of the criminals getting rewarded with large settlements; and of the innumerable politicians who lie and steal with impunity while the taxpayer suffers without recourse. When will it all end?

The Righteous Judge

It is wrong to acquit the guilty. It is even more wrong to punish the innocent. But even though the fools of this world continue to do such things, even bragging about their actions, God’s mercy will not endure forever. He is still the Righteous Judge who will hold all accountable.

“Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:7-9).

Proverbs 17:15 says, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.”

There WILL come a day when the scales of justice are balanced.


Still Waters Run Deep

Proverbs 18:4 

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”

The deepest waters in our world are found in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is reported to be 6.831 miles below sea level. The trench has been explored during several scientific expeditions, but for most of us it is just a name on a map or chart, or an entry in Wikipedia. Despite the efforts of scientists the deepest parts of the ocean generally remain a mystery because of their inaccessibility.

rockpool 4But even a rock pool is a different world. Life is different in the water. There are strange creatures and unusual colors. To reach the best and deepest pools it is necessary to scramble out across the rocks at low tide. This is something I did regularly as a child. Although my friends and I returned often to our favorite rock pools, they were never the same. Each new tide brought changes, trapping different creatures.

And so it is necessary to explore and go deep when searching for words to use in our daily encounters with other human beings, and also with God. We have to be careful with words. We have to be wise users of language. We need to develop a wellspring of wisdom as a resource on which we can draw every time we speak.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)

Hiding in Hatred

Proverbs 18:3

When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.”
When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.”

Sinning in plain sight

You probably know or know of someone who does whatever he or she wants. There is no apparent care about what others think, because they keep doing things that annoy/disturb/gross out/offend most everyone around.

You probably find yourself thinking unholy thoughts, such as “God, just smite him already!” or “I should just smack her!”

This is how contempt comes.

The good Christian wants to point out how this person is sinning. It is good to bring people to an awareness of sin in the hope that they repent.

However, if done with contempt, we should expect a backlash, for we are acting no better and not showing true love to our neighbor.

For shame!

Of course, when sin is exposed and guilt is felt, we may still see a backlash even if we confront sin in love.

When a person feels shame, the first reaction from our sinful nature is to justify, excuse, and defend. Often times this happens through attacks on the one who exposed the sin, such as the good Christian friend.

As Adam and Eve hid in the bushes, a sinner caught in sin hides in hatred and contempt.

If the sinner is called out in a moment of contempt, there comes a good, old-fashioned fight!

The Christian

When the Holy Spirit convicts us, how do we respond?

Do we respond out of shame, trying to justify, excuse, and defend our sin?

Do we respond instead out of reverence and thankfulness, repenting and praising God for His grace and love?

Gracious God, thank You for grace and forgiveness. Thank You for going to the cross in spite of our wickedness and contempt. Help us to love all, especially those who show contempt for Your Son and righteousness.


Grieving Parents

Proverbs 17:25 

A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth. (NLT)

This is an easy one for me to write given the many times I brought grief to my parents. However, I could blame them. I could say that it was their fault for moving to England when I was eleven years old. Perhaps if we had remained in Guernsey I would have been a better student, and a more respectful son. The friends I left behind in the island all stayed on at school until they were eighteen, and then went to university. I don’t recall that any of them got into much trouble.

Surroundings and friends definitely played a part, but at the end of the day it was me who made the decisions. I chose to mix with the bad kids and mess around at school. I chose to start drinking alcohol at fifteen, and I chose to start smoking. I chose to bring grief to my parents. They must have been secretly relieved when I joined the Merchant Navy at sixteen. At least they could no longer see what I was getting up to. But that didn’t stop me from being a foolish son. What stopped me was the need to be responsible in a working environment that was dangerous at times.

Fast forward many years and I have four sons, one daughter, and one grandson. There may have been occasions when one or more them (but not the grandson) have caused grief, but fortunately not so many. That is something for which I am very grateful to my heavenly Father. We sometimes forget that we cause Him grief too when we act foolishly as sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. It is a huge relief to know that He made a way for fools to be forgiven, and foolish behavior forgotten.


BOGO

Proverbs 17:20

“He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.”

Not A Good Deal

BOGODo you know what BOGO means? It stands for “Buy One Get One” free. My wife and I have argued for years what is the better way of going; buying one at regular price and getting a second for free or just buying one and only paying half price. I am sure that every one will agree with me that “two for the price of one” is a much better deal!

But not in the case of Proverbs 17:20!

Our verse not only talks about a “froward heart” but it also mentions a “perverse tongue”. It goes on to state that these will lead to no good and mischief.

Definitions

Let’s define two words: “froward” and “perverse” (Definitions are from Merriam-Webster)

  • FROWARD: habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
  • PERVERSE: turned away from what is right or good | obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted

Do these definitions sound like someone you know? Do these definitions sound like you?

So Where’s The BOGO?

We may not be actually buying a physical product at the store, but by the way we live our lives we may not only have a “froward heart” (BUY ONE) but our heart will lead us to having a “perverse tongue” (GET ONE). Matthew 12:34 says, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (ESV)

Solomon is telling us that neither of these are good character traits to have and neither of them will end well. This is one more reason why we need to make Proverbs 4:23 a priority in our lives.

Lord, I pray that You would help us to guard our hearts will all diligence and keep our eyes focused on you. Help us to guard our hearts and to keep our tongues as we should. Keep us striving to be more and more like You!


Gates of Destruction

Proverbs 17:19

“He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.” 
“Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.” – NIV

Always Arguing

I know people who will argue over anything – and I mean anything. If you say the sky is a pretty shade of blue, they will argue that it isn’t really blue. If you say you like a particular movie, book, or food, they will give you every reason your choices are flawed.

People like that are tiring and have few friends, and they bring it on themselves. They complain that no one likes them, that everyone hates them, and that no one wants to listen to their opinions, but they are the ones responsible for driving everyone away.

This is the type of person being spoken of in this verse. It is the type of person who loves to argue. It is also the person who loves sin.

Loving Sin

It may come as a shock to some, but many who claim to be righteous are really lovers of sin. I know a particular person who willfully admits his failures and flaws, but continues to do the very things that are wrong. He says, “I know I have a problem with (blank), but I know I’ll never change, so I’ll just have to keep asking for forgiveness.

The real problem is that he loves the sin, and therefore refuses to truly repent and “turn from his wicked ways.” His particular sin is his claim to fame, therefore he gets all the more attention. Without it, he wouldn’t be noticed as much.

Inviting Destruction

The second part of this proverb reminds me of what happens to people who choose to park their exotic luxury cars in more than one parking place. They say they do it to keep people from dinging their doors. In reality, they are doing nothing more than inviting a sledge hammer to the fender. I have seen plenty of nice cars that have been “keyed” by irritated “poor” people.

The prideful man is depicted in this verse as building a tall, elaborate gate to protect his belongings. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that his audaciousness is only an invitation to robbers.

The same can be said about Christians who go around bragging about their own spirituality. What fools! Don’t they know that it won’t be long before humility  comes crashing through the gate?

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

 


Flood of Trouble

Proverbs 17:14

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” – NIV

Flood Gates

Not far from where I used to live is the Tennessee River. When it rains for days on end, as it did not long ago, the river level rises, which causes the dams across the river to have to open their gates. I have seen the water come through those gates with ferocious power.

Sometimes dams fail. When that happens, depending on the size of the dam, lots of property is damaged and people are killed. When the Kaloko Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania burst in 1889, a whole town was washed away, along with 2,200 lives.

In some cases, human error was the cause of dams bursting. And according to Solomon, it’s not always water that destroys.

Dam Meddler

People who start arguments for no reason, or keep one going when it could have faded away, are like those who meddle with a weak dam. If nothing else, they are as those who would open a floodgate, but not know how to shut it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Just back away and count to ten?” I wonder how many lives could have been saved had they heeded Solomon’s warning?

You never know what hell is waiting to be unleashed when a quarrel is started. It is far, far better to simply walk away than to chip away at a crack in the dam. Drowning in the waters of strife is for fools.

The above video was taken at the Chickamauga Dam, Chattanooga. It was finished in 1939 and President Roosevelt was there for the dedication. But even though this video is impressive, I’ve seen it when all the gates were all the way open. On a normal day, the water’s not too rough below the dam. But on days like this, the power can shake your bones.

What a sobering reminder of how dangerous meddling can be. 


Do I Hear Nathan?

Proverbs 17:13

“Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.”

Did Solomon Remember?

I can’t help but wonder if Solomon was thinking of his own house when he wrote this. How well did he know the words that Nathan spoke unto his father, King David?

Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” – 2 Samuel 12:9-10 ESV

Uriah had been nothing but a loyal, devoted soldier. Even when David tried to get him to go home to be with his wife, Uriah couldn’t bear the thought of being comfortable while his fellow soldiers were sleeping on the battlefield (2 Samuel 11:11). And what did Uriah receive in return for his loyalty? A death sentence.

Was Solomon thinking of his brother, Absalom, the one who tried to kill his father? Did he think of his sister, Tamar, who was raped by her brother, Amnon (2 Samuel 13:10-20)? I wonder what he thought when he looked around at his family. Did he ever think to himself, “Why, dad? Why?”

Do I Hear Nathan?

It is one thing to reward evil with evil. Most people understand the concept of “an eye for an eye.” However, it is a vile, ruthless, selfish man who accepts good from another, only to give evil in return. He deserves whatever bad may come.

That should make all of us think. Has God been good to us? What have we given Him in return?

The prophet Nathan told David, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). What would he tell us?

By the Way

On a different note, some say the Bible cannot be the Word of God because it defames the character of the prophets. They (Muslims) say stories like the one told in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 are proof the Bible is a fabrication. The Koran, they say, would never, never allow the moral character of a prophet to be questioned, but would hold such role models in high esteem, blotting out any record of sin.

Fortunately for us, the Bible IS true. It doesn’t candy-coat the bad but shows how God can work through flawed, fallen men. The Bible, because it is true, highlights the goodness and grace of God, not the righteousness of man.

David was “the man,” but David was human. Unlike the “perfect prophets” in other religions, David prayed, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin [emphasis added]” (Psalm 51:2).

Don’t let evil move into your house.