How Are You Walking?

Proverbs 28:18

“Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.”
“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” ESV

Not What You Might Think

The first part of this proverb could give the wrong impression if one’s not careful. It reads, “Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved.” However, this is not talking about a “works salvation,” as some would content. Our “walk” does not save us; only the grace of God through faith in Christ.

The second part of this proverb could also be misread or misunderstood, thereby making it seem like God’s word is untrue. At first glance it may seem that anyone who does wrong will immediately suffer the consequences, which we all know may or may not happen.

The promise and warning of this proverb has more to do with the moment that will eventually come – the moment in which one’s walk will determine the outcome.

Persistence and Faithfulness

Be persistent in your walk, dear friend. Remain faithful, even when the way is hard. When the time comes, you will be grateful for the trials you went through and the obstacles you overcame.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

Stay on the “straight and narrow” and trust God to deliver you in the moment of testing or the hour of need. Let Him guide you and “direct your paths.”

A Sudden Fall

When we walk “perversely” or “crooked,” never following the way lined with warning signs, we are only asking for trouble. The second part of this proverb warns us of such.

Some think that there is no God, that His word is useless, and that life should be lived without restraint. Others, the ones who watch the godless as they travel, often wonder why nothing bad ever happens. They may even get discouraged, thinking that they are missing out on all the fun, especially since there never seems to be any pits, traps, or snares in the way.

But God’s word IS true; there is pleasure in sin for a season (Heb. 11:25), but the ultimate end is death…a sudden fall. When the moment comes, it will come “at once,” possibly without warning, and without help from the God who’s direction was snubbed.


A Tell-Tale Heart

Proverbs 28:17

“A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.”

The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story over a century and half ago called “The Tell-Tale Heart” in which the narrator murders a man, dismembers the body, and hides it under the floor. Eventually the guilt of his crime gets to him, and he thinks he hears the beating heart of the man under the floor. It drives him to confess his wrong.

He could not live with the guilt.

The Traitor

In the New Testament we read of Jesus’ traitorous Apostle, Judas Iscariot. He helped the religious leaders arrest, and ultimately kill, Jesus. In his grief and guilt, he committed suicide. (See Matthew 27)

He knew he had killed Jesus, and he could not live with the guilt.

What About Us?

Are these stories and this verse telling us we should just let people get in trouble or even go to Hell?

Sort of.

The real warning for us is to watch ourselves when confronted with those with a guilty conscience. In the effort to try to help save them, we might find ourselves entangled in their problems.

We could get dragged into the results of their guilt, at worst by finding ourselves on the way to prison or the grave (think of those who inadvertently find themselves blamed for or involved with a crime).

If you offer advice to someone, and they seem intent on their path, sometimes it is better to let them go.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 18:5-6, NIV

Those who do not know Christ as Savior are still living in the guilt of their sin, and if they refuse to turn to Him are on the way to the grave. If they begin to cause us to stumble in our faith, we must get out of their path toward death. We will only join in their suffering.

Dear Savior, give us the wisdom to deal with our fallen world and those who are lost in their guilt. Give us the wisdom to know when to help and when to get out of the way.


Do You Want a King?

Proverbs 28:16  

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people, but one who hates corruption will have a long life. (NLT)

When I typed the question ‘how many countries are there in the world?’ into Google I expected the answer to be around the 200 mark. One website provided more information than others naming dependent and disputed territories in the answer:

Since South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, there are now 195 independent sovereign states in the world (including disputed but defacto independent Taiwan), plus about 60 dependent areas, and five disputed territories, like Kosovo.

That makes 255. I grew up in the island of Guernsey, which is one of the dependent areas, being a Crown Dependency of the UK. Systems of government vary widely across the spectrum of states, dependent areas and disputed territories. One thing that seems common to all systems is the requirement for someone to be in charge. In Guernsey the Crown is represented by a Lieutenant Governor and a Bailiff. In the UK the Queen is a constitutional monarch who is represented in parliament by the Prime Minister.

The teaching in this proverb appears to be directed to monarchs, prime ministers, presidents, governors, and the like. We don’t have to look far in our world to discover that many of the leaders of the 255 nations and dependencies have either never heard this proverb, or have chosen to ignore it. In many countries, perhaps even our own, politics has become a system of power that enriches the incumbent politicians to the detriment of much of the remainder of the population. Perhaps that is why it was God’s preference for Israel not to be like other nations and be ruled by a king? When the prophet Samuel warned the people that a king would draft their sons into his army, and their daughters into his service, they ignored him. Even warnings of slavery to the king and taxation failed to change their minds (1 Samuel 8:10-20). The people’s response was; “Even so, we still want a king, we want to be like the nations around us.”

Isn’t that true for us too? We want to be like those around us? We forget that God calls us to be different. If we keep one foot in the world then we will be corrupted by it. If you think about it, what the world has to offer is a form of oppression. We don’t need a prince or a politician to oppress us, because the ways of the world will suck us in and keep us in servitude, oblivious to all that God has to offer. Do you want a king? Then you need to look beyond the world and the voices that try to drown out the gentle whisper of the true and incorruptible King.


Lions and Bears

Proverbs 28:15

“As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.” – NLT

Tyrants

Plenty of tyrants have no regard for their subjects. One only has to review the last one hundred years of history to come up with scores of individuals who preyed on the poor, helpless, defenseless masses; each one a mad, blood-thirsty animal.

“[They are] brutish, barbarous, and blood-thirsty; [they are] rather to be put among the beasts of prey, the wildest and most savage, than to be reckoned of that noble rank of beings whose glory is reason and humanity.”[1]

Lion

Lion (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Even worse are the kind that convince their victims that the carnage being inflicted is supposedly for their own good. As self-proclaimed kings of the beasts, they claim it is their right to thin the herd, to remove the weak, so the strong can survive. But they are only hungry animals, void of compassion, fulfilling their natural desires.

Tyrant Topplers

To many it would seem like lions and bears are unstoppable. To be sure, those who value life run in fear from them, or at the very least give them what they want whenever they growl. But lions and bears are not invincible.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-35 KJV

Lest the tyrants become to smug and confident in their power, it would be wise of them to remember all it takes to topple them is nothing more than a little boy with a big God.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1018.


Multiple Choice Living

Proverbs 28:14

“Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” (KJV).
“Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” (NIV). 

The Best Tests:

When I was in school, I always liked multiple choice tests the best. The way most of them were written, you could almost always rule out one or two of the right away, and if you even had a basic knowledge of the material, you would be able to do okay on the exam. In the Book of Proverbs, many times Solomon kind of makes life out to be like a multiple choice test. Only instead of four answers marked A, B, C or D, there are only two choices, and one of them is obviously the smarter choice.

Only Two Choices:

For example, in the above Scripture, Solomon says you have two choices: You can either fear always (that is, fear the Lord), or you can harden your heart. If you fear the Lord, you will be happy and blessed. If you harden your heart, you will fall into trouble or experience mischief. Who wants trouble? Not me! I don’t think any smart person does. So, we’ll choose answer “A!”

Fear the Lord:

What does it mean to fear the Lord? I don’t think it means that we have to cower terrified like someone in a horror movie running from zombies or vampires. Rather, I believe it means that we are to respect God. If we respect God as our Sovereign Lord, then we are going to honour His Word. If He says that we are to be loving, forgiving, accepting people, then that’s what we’re going to do. And we will realize that God doesn’t give us commandments to keep us from having fun. Rather, His commandments are for our own good! When we obey the Bible, we are happy and blessed.

Don’t Harden Your Heart:

What does it mean to harden your heart? I believe this happens when we choose to sin and disobey God. When that happens, we lose the tender sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in our heart, and day by day, it becomes more hardened. We become desensitized to sin, and stop feeling guilty about doing wrong things. Eventually, we are running away from God, and we end up in trouble and mischief. So don’t harden your heart!

Lord, we are so thankful that you are a good God, and that your commandments are for our own good, to give us a future and a hope. Help us to reverentially fear you, and trust that you are good, and that your commandments are so that we can experience the blessed life. In Jesus’ precious name, amen!


Got Sin?

Proverbs 28:13

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

Hidden Sin

Hidden sin is the stuff we hide from view, maybe even from ourselves. Hidden sin is the kind of sin we don’t want others to know about for fear of being embarrassed, judged, or condemned. Hidden sin could even be what we choose to label “character flaws,” “idiosyncrasies,” or simply “bad habits.” They are buried, closeted, covered, disguised, or even renamed in order to keep from admitting what they really are.

Do you sneak away to where no one will see? Do you wait till the kids are asleep? Do you clean up the mess so no one will know? Do you hide records and notes? Do you cover your tracks? Do you say it with a fake smile? Do you daydream about what you would do if you could get away with it?

Keep on, keep covering and you will never find relief; you will never find peace; you will never lose the weight of guilt; you will never, ever prosper.

Look at It!

There were so many times when I was younger that I was injured and didn’t want to look at the wound. One time I was cleaning an automotive valve grinding machine when I briefly touched my left hand to the sharp surfacing stone that was spinning at 5,000 r.p.m. In a micro second flesh was ground away to the bone and blood began to drip forming a puddle by my feet. I grabbed my hand with my other, called for help, then said, “I don’t want to look!”

Had I kept my hand covered, I would have never seen that the injury was not as extensive as I first thought. But had I kept my wound covered, denied it ever happened, and went on about my day, I could have bled to death, or at least lost my hand to a horrible infection. My life could have been changed forever.

Thankfully, I looked at my wound, then began to feel the pain, but then began a long healing process. Quite frankly, the same thing needs to happen with hidden sin. We need to admit the problem, deal with the pain, and allow others and God to bring healing to our lives.

Need Mercy?

Hidden sin is dangerous for many reasons. Hidden sin eats away at one’s soul and callouses the conscience to the warning signs of life-threatening disease. Though hidden, it is contagious and harms others.

Like the hidden ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories, the longer we keep it, the more deadly it becomes – and the more deadly we become. But to he who confesses, admits what he has, turns from it, and asks for help, there awaits mercy.

Got sin? Need mercy? You know what to do.


Rejoicing or Hiding

Proverbs 28:12
When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.”

Most people in our world understand what this verse is saying.

There are people in Third World countries who hide from terrorists, tyrants, and warlords who steal from, maim, kill, or worse the people in their nations or allow others to do so.

We have the past century of history with the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Lenin, and Kim, who have ruled over their empires, nations, or blocs with the iron fist of communism, suppressing freedoms and dissent from the status quo.

When someone comes along who helps relieve or end the suffering of the average person, the average person wants to celebrate.

… Or in the Workplace …

When you work with a horrible boss, it becomes easier to just duck your head down and get your work done. You hide in your work to avoid confrontation. Or you quit.

When your boss is a joy to work with, you enjoy going to work.

… Or at Home …

When you have a spouse that complains about everything or is abusive, you might hide in your work, hide with your friends, or hide in a hobby.

When you have a spouse who is loving and caring, you enjoy being with your spouse.

… Or at Church …

When your church is less of a family and more of a gossip-factory or, strangely, a pep-rally of moralism or “your best life now”, you may find that you want to hide behind a smile than confess your short-comings, failures, and sins.

When your church is a family that holds you accountable to God’s Word with love and compassion, you rejoice in the freedom offered through Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness. You rejoice in the family of God.

Lord, give us strength and wisdom when we face wickedness in power, and help us to find support and strength through Your children in the Church.