Getting Spanked

Proverbs 20:30

The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being. (NIV)

Earning a Spanking

Growing up, I was not always the most well-behaved child.

My parents would tell me to do something or not to do something, and I every so often I would ignore their commands.

What was the result?

Most times, I would be laid over a knee and spanked two or three times.

I eventually learned that there are consequences to my actions, and sometimes those consequences hurt.

Western culture may frown on such things today, but the Bible tells us of the benefits of a good spanking (or other such discipline).

Spiritual Spanking

As a whole, we tend to ignore God on a relatively consistent basis.

This could be by not doing something we know we should, doing something we know we should not, or doing or not doing something that we understand from common sense needs to be done or not.

And God reprimands us.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
Hebrews 12:4-8, NIV

Do not look at hardship, beatings, and pain as necessarily bad. They could be God’s spankings that are the means of growth and understanding.

Heavenly Father, purge us of all evil and give us the wisdom to understand that it is happening. Help us grow in Your righteousness.


Leadership Advice

Proverbs 20:28.

“Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” (KJV).
“Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.” (NLT).

 

Advice for Leaders:

In this Proverb, Solomon teaches us two things. First, he commends to us two virtues of a good king: mercy and truth. Secondly, he shows how the ruler who walks in mercy will ensure he is successful in his rule. And although this proverb specifically deals with a king, I believe that the universal principle behind it can be applied to anyone in a leadership position – be they a government leader, teacher, parent, employer, or pastor.

Two Leadership Virtues:

In the world today, we are experiencing a crisis of leadership. There are so many leaders that don’t lead well. How many leaders – both prominent political leaders and religious leaders – have lost their position and influence because of a lack of integrity? Too many to count. If a leader wants to lead long, finish well, and have a lasting influence, he must be a person with a virtuous character. And two of the most important virtues, Solomon tells us, are mercy and truth. In fact, in another Proverb, Solomon tells all people, not just leaders, to aspire to be people of mercy and truth: “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (3:3).

What does it mean for a leader to be merciful? It means that you don’t rule with harshness, cruelty or legalism. It means you are tender and gracious, and willing to forgive the mistakes of those you lead. It means you choose to lead with love, acceptance and forgiveness. And what does it mean to be truthful? It means you are faithful to your word, you keep your promises, and do what’s right. When you make mistakes (and you will make mistakes, and that’s okay), you are quick to admit it and ask for forgiveness where necessary.

Successful Leadership:

When a leader walks in truth and especially mercy (which is mentioned twice in our text), it is said that his throne will be upholden, or made secure, by mercy. In other words, his leadership will last. His character and integrity will be preserved, and his influence will outlive his life.

I know of a leader in a church once who got hurt and offended, and rather than being merciful and choosing to forgive the other leader who had hurt him, he got bitter and started lying and gossiping about that other leader. As a consequence, many people were hurt and affected by his actions. It was such a sad and terrible situation that resulted in many people walking away from the church as a result of it. It totally broke my heart. This story serves as a warning to all who would neglect the proverbial admonition to walk in mercy and truth, which is designed to protect a leader – and the people he leads.


Let Your Light Shine

Proverbs 20:27 

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. (NLT)

I have long been fascinated by flashlights, or torches, as we call them in the UK. One of the earliest I owned was shaped like a gun. To make the torch work you simply pulled the trigger. That torch didn’t last long, it was cheap and my friend’s sister broke it. I was heart broken at the time, but since then I have been on a quest for brighter and better torches. The latest LED torches are currently meeting my needs!

aldisLampWe had some fairly powerful torches when I was at sea – they were important emergency equipment, but none were as bright as the Aldis lamp we had on the bridge for the purpose of signaling. The Aldis lamp could light up pretty much anything, but it was intended for sending messages by Morse code over long distances. I remember a third mate on one ship standing outside the wheelhouse and shining an Aldis lamp into the jungle while we were anchored in the River Orinoco in Venezuela. He had hoped to spot some monkeys in the trees. All he actually achieved was to become a focal point for every hungry insect in the vicinity.

Just like the third mate got more than he expected when he shone a bright light into the jungle, so God’s light exposes more than we expect or wish it to when He penetrates our human spirit. Stuff we thought we had hidden away is suddenly exposed for all to see. But God doesn’t want everyone to see all our hidden secrets. He wants us to see them, recognize them, and surrender them to Him. Then He can deal with them so that when His light shines in us it also shines around us, illuminating His beauty in us and attracting others to Him.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15 (NIV)

Human Resources

Proverbs 20:26

26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
26 A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them. (NIV)

I have worked for many companies over the years. One of the great differences between some of them were how employees were handled.

A good human resources (HR) department handles issues with employees really well.

At one of those companies, the HR Manager volunteered to take all of the difficult situations no one else wanted (hence her being the manager!) Whenever there was an employee who caused more problems than good work, she would convince them that they wanted to work in a different area.

If they still did not improve, she would remove them from employment (fire them, lay them off, however you wish to say it).

Separated

God is our wise King and the greatest at handling human resources.

Jesus told us that at the end of the Age all of humanity would be separated out.

In Matthew 13, He tells the parable of the wheat and weeds. The wheat and weeds grow together, and then after the harvest they are separated with the weeds sent to the fire.

Likewise, when Christ returns, the righteous will be separated to go with Him, but the wicked will be sent to the Lake of Fire.

To be saved, we must seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, believe in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our forgiveness, and believe in His resurrection. His Holy Spirit takes care of all of the hard work of preparing us for the final harvest.

Trust in God, and follow Him.

Wise God, thank You for saving us and in Your judgment preparing places for all of us. Help us to find and root out the evil in our lives wherever we encounter it.


Think Before You Promise

Proverbs 20:25

“It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.”
“It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.” – NIV

Bad Deals

Have you ever made a bad deal? For instance, have you ever committed to an agreement thinking you were going to make a profit, only to find out later that you lost money? If you have been in that position, when did you figure out you were on the losing end of the deal?

Some people sign contracts and then once the job has begun try to renegotiate every little detail. Others will agree to do a project of some sort, agree on a price, but in the end haggle over the agreed amount. One person I know was promised a certain amount for a job, but then when it was completed, the person for which he worked decided to pay him less. He was told, “I have been thinking about what I promised, but now I don’t think the job was worth that much.”

Bad Vows

There are people who treat God the same way. The make promises, but then, when the real cost is figured, try to renegotiate.

For example, a businessman might say, “God, if you bless my investment, I will give you fifty percent of the profit.” He may even call a meeting with his staff and proclaim, “I am dedicating fifty percent of my business to the Lord!” But then, later that evening, he sits down and starts planning for the future and realizes he could have used that extra money. The next day he goes into the office and says, “You know, I think I promised God too much.”

Solomon says that we fall into a “trap” when we make rash vows or promises unto God. It is our responsibility to think about these things beforehand, not afterwards. Once we make a vow to God, we are wise to keep it.

“A man who makes a vow to the LORD or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.” – Numbers 30:2 NLT


The Potter’s Hand

Proverbs 20:24 

Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?
The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (NLT)

A non-believer might challenge this verse on the basis that if God gave us free will then why is He still pushing buttons somewhere that control our daily comings and goings? Most believers on the other hand are probably grateful for this one line reminder that God is watching over each one of us. The challenge comes when we don’t understand the things that take place around us, be they global, local or personal events. The prophet Isaiah was given an explanation, which he wrote down for us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

There are people who would like to mold God to fit their image of Him. It is not possible for any human to mold God, but if we allow Him, He will mold us. This is the challenge that we face daily – to be completely surrendered to our loving Father God to the extent that His will for us translates into His direction of every single step we take, regardless of our understanding of the process. We could use the words of a Darlene Zschech song as a daily prayer of submission to our Heavenly Father:

Beautiful Lord, Wonderful savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in your hands
Crafted into your perfect plans
 
You gently called me into your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life
Through your eyes
 
I’m captured by your holy calling
Set me apart. I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me, Lord. I pray
 
Oh take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
 
http://youtu.be/VH6uHnxGQNM

I’ll Get You For This!

Proverbs 20:22

22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.
22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you. (NIV)

Growing up, my siblings and I frequently were at odds over things. One of us would do something to one of the others that was down right mean, usually over something trivial. The usual response from whichever of us was wronged?

“I’ll get you for this!”

And we tried.

The usual result was the same, too: two or all three of us would be in trouble with mom and dad!

Forgive Your Brother

The Apostle Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Jesus’ response was and is revolutionary. He told Peter, “Not only seven times, but seventy times seven!”

In other words, you need to forgive those who wrong you as many times as they wrong you!

One of two things will happen as you forgive:

  1. God deals with them personally, whether through consequences or at the Final Judgment.
  2. They seek to understand your forgiveness and turn to God!

Another way to think about is that you can live in sin by responding to their sin, and in effect kill both of your souls; or you follow God’s will and potentially save both of your souls and bring glory to God!

Gracious Lord, thank You that You did not respond to our evil with evil, instead using our evil to redeem us and forgive us. Give us the strength to forgive those who have wronged us, as You forgave us.


Using a Legacy

Proverbs 20:21 

An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. (NLT)

Jesus taught about early inheritances in the Parable of Prodigal Son. Interestingly, in our society an inheritance is no longer guaranteed. People are living longer, and many are tempted by schemes that release equity in their properties to help them remain financially secure during retirement. This often means that there is very little left to pass down to the next generation.

We received a small inheritance of £1,000 back in 1983 when my grandmother died. It was very welcome and we used it to purchase items we desperately needed for our home, such as a washing machine (we were getting by with a handed down twenty-year old twin tub at the time). That £1,000 didn’t last long, but it was used wisely. We knew where it had gone.

IMG_4574When the end was in sight for my mother-in-law she changed her will to leave each of her grandchildren £5,000 (the sum had originally been £1,000). We asked her to state in her will that these sums should be invested and released on the marriage of each grandchild, or when they had reached twenty-five years of age. Mother-in-law felt that her grandchildren should receive their legacies at eighteen years of age. Two of our children, and our nephew and niece had already reached that milestone. Sadly, not all of the grandchildren used their inheritances wisely. Perhaps it would have been better if the money held been held in trust until they were older and wiser.

CIMG1917Receiving an inheritance when we are young in age or lacking in wisdom is not necessarily a good thing. To use an inheritance foolishly is also disrespectful to the memory of the person who left that inheritance. When I think back to my mother-in-law’s passing the real inheritance was visible in the village church where we held a service of thanksgiving for her life. This woman who had been tragically widowed in 1979 lived the next twenty-four years of her life actively serving others. When I stood at the front of the church to talk about her life I was amazed to see the church so full that people were standing in the aisles and in the entrance. What a legacy to have touched so many lives. What a witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit in my mother-in-law’s life. And what a challenge to follow the example she set by following the example provided 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ.

Relevant Posts: Leaving a Legacy


Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.


The Gossip

Proverbs 20:19.

“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (KJV). 

Gossip Described:

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the dangers of gossip:

  • “A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (11:13, NLT).
  • “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (16:28, NLT).
  • “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much.” (20:19, NLT).

To sum up, a gossip tells secrets, stirs up strife and separates friends. And how does the Bible tell us to deal with gossips? Don’t hang around with them! It should go without saying, but if someone will gossip to you, they will also gossip about you.

Gossip Illustrated:

I read this poem once that best illustrates the destructive nature of gossip:

My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
 
I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
 
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses. I AM CALLED GOSSIP.

Gossip Experienced:

I hate gossip. I have seen firsthand how it can destroy friendships, break hearts, and ruin lives. I know of someone who gossiped about their pastor, and how it caused other people to leave that church as a result of their malicious lies and slander. It caused the pastor no small amount of sleepless nights, heartache, many tears and overwhelming stress. It was so hurtful that it almost caused him to want to give up and quit the ministry! Thankfully, the pastor leaned on the Lord for strength and he is still in the ministry today.

Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon tells us: “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (26:20). If we want to guard against strife, we need to take a stand against gossip. Make a commitment to never speak a negative word about someone else – whether what you are saying is true or not. The power of life and death is in your tongue: speak life only!