Category Archives: Wisdom

Standing Firm

Proverbs 12:7

“The wicked are overthrown, and [are] not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.”

The Wicked

The person that coined the phrase, “All good things must come to an end” must have never read Proverbs 12:7. According to this verse, it will be the wicked that come to an end. Or should I say, die and disappear. The ESV says our verse this way, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.”

The Greek word for overthrown is “haphak” which means “to turn around or turn over; to overturn”. This is the same terminology that was used in Genesis 19:21,25,29, when God displayed His judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah.

God overthrew or overturned Sodom and Gomorrah because of the wickedness of the people and He has promised that same ending for the wicked today!

The Godly

There are two things here that I want to point out:

One, the godly have a firm foundation. There is a chorus entitled “Firm Foundation” that goes like this:

Jesus, you’re my firm foundation
I know I can stand secure
Jesus, you’re my firm foundation
I put my hope in your holy word
I put my hope in your holy word

Many of us have heard the great old hymn “How Firm a Foundation”. Two of the verses say these words:

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Jesus is our firm foundation and the godly can take comfort in knowing that even when storms come our way, our foundation is secure! Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Second, the way we live our lives affects not only us but also our family. We saw in Proverbs 12:3 how the righteous man can not be uprooted, but in our verse today we see how the actions of one man can affect his entire family.

I believe that it is important to point out here that this is one reason why Solomon continued to hammer home the idea of “My son, listen and obey my words and commandments”. Solomon knew the promise of the Lord in this verse.

When we live godly and right, we will reap the blessings of God.

Lord, my prayer is that each and every one of us would live a godly life. That we would make You our solid foundation. Help us to heed the words of wisdom from Solomon to listen and obey your commands.

Reference:

1. “Firm Foundation” – words and music by Jamie Harvill & Nancy Gordon

2. “How Firm A Foundation” – words by John Rippon / music by Joseph Funk

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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.


Counselors

Proverbs 11:14

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Poor Counsel

This is a bit of a strange one. The first part is easy to understand: Without good advice there are going to be problems. This applies on an individual level, but also to churches, companies, local and national government. Newspaper and television reporters from around the world have no shortage of subject matter when it comes to the failure of businesses and governments where there is no counsel or poor counsel.

One or Many?

The second part of the Proverb suggests that having many counselors is good. That doesn’t fit with a more modern proverb: ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ I can relate to that. As a young second officer in the Merchant Navy my experience was gained mostly on cargo ships. Then in 1978 I joined a tanker. The only cargo equipment on this vessel was a couple of derricks for handling hoses and the gangway. Our Hong Kong deck crew had gained most of their experience on tankers, as had the other deck officers. Nobody had a clue how to use the cargo gear.

The first time I watched the crew trying to position the gangway between the ship and the jetty they came close to demolishing a shore installation. I did not need to speak Cantonese to ascertain the problem. One man, the bosun, should have been giving instructions. The problem was that every man in the deck crew thought he was the bosun, meaning that opinions and advice were flowing from all quarters. At the next port I took charge, issuing one set of instructions and positioning men and ropes where they needed to be. The crew were stunned at the ease with which we positioned the gangway. In this case only one counselor was needed to ensure safety.

One Counselor

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Sometimes we get swamped with opinions and instructions and supposedly good advice. It also comes from all quarters, especially in church. Every person is a bosun. Or so they think. Jesus knew what would happen when He left Earth to sit at the right hand of the Father. He knew that every person would have an opinion and want to give counsel. He knew that everyone would want to be the bosun. So He took action.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 (NIV)

There may be times when it is right to take earthly counsel, but too often we forget that there is another Counselor. Who are you listening to?


What’s In Your Heart?

Proverbs 11:12

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

Have you watched any TV or movies in the past few decades and seen those stories with neighbors that fight about who has the best lawn, the best toys, or the best Christmas decorations?

Most of the best end (or at least have middles) with these enemies coming together to work together or even in friendship.

War and Peace

The funny thing about all of these stories is that these neighbors (usually men, but sometimes women or both) fail to see just how much in common they have with each other, even to the point of hating something both parties have in common, or go beyond reason in their hatred. It is as if they have declared war, not only against their neighbor, but against common sense and reason.

These neighbors spread rumors, sabotage each others’ endeavors, and openly mock each other without realizing how foolish they look to most other people.

Many times, this attitude ends up carrying over to others, including family and friends.

Compare this to the neighbor everyone loves and wants to be around.

This neighbor often lends a helping hand to others, even those people others might not be inclined to help … including unliked neighbors.

This neighbor rarely, if ever, has anything bad to say about others, oftentimes because of an understanding of how bad hurtful words can feel.

You and I

What about us? Have you considered the words that leave your mouth? Do you think about what you say before you say it?

Do you know what is in your heart?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: – Matthew 15:18-19 KJV

Perhaps the reason neighbors can not get along, people look and sound foolish, and we say things that we are ashamed of later is that we have those things listed above in our hearts.

You and I need to lift each other up as we seek the heart of Jesus Christ. We must help each other in our desire to have Jesus change our hearts to be like His.

You and I, to be able to hold our tongues and no longer have the need to hold our tongues, need the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, dwelling in our hearts.

Heavenly Father, without You we have evil hearts and defiled tongues. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, live in our hearts and change them to be like Your Son’s. Teach us to love our neighbors. Give us Wisdom to not only say what needs to be said but to want to choose You.


Passing Us By

Proverbs 11:9

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”

“Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.” – NLT 1996

Polluted

The word hypocrite has its origin in the Greek word for stage actor. In Greek drama actors apparently used masks to portray different characters. While we understand that a hypocrite is a two-faced person who pretends to be what he is not, the Hebrew word used in Proverbs is ‘chaneph’ which may be translated as polluted, corrupt, profane or godless. Polluted aptly describes the condition of all humanity at birth. Although we cannot change the way we were born, God provided a way through Jesus Christ in which He can change the way that we live, if we let Him. This includes what comes out of our mouths.

Words

It isn’t difficult to see how a hypocrite might destroy his neighbor with his mouth. It all comes back to words. The NLT Life Application Study Bible note for Proverbs 11:9 states: ‘The mouth can be used as a weapon, or a tool, hurting relationships or building them up.’ We need to choose our words carefully. But we also need to remember who lives in us. In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the disciples and instructs them to receive Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit lives in us then how we say anything hurtful to another human being? If the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is present in us, then how we be anything other than relationship builders, who use words wisely to encourage. Are we speaking words of life to those around us? Do our words point others to the One who speaks words of eternal life?

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (NIV)

Reflections for Ragamuffins. Brennan Manning