Fool for Christ

Proverbs 17:7 

“Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.”
“Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler.” (NLT)

If you Google ‘Prince Philip gaffes’ you might be surprised to read some of the things the husband of Queen Elizabeth has said in an official capacity. It’s not that Prince Philip is a fool. On the contrary he is an educated man who served as an officer in the Royal Navy. He has also been an excellent husband who has never failed to support the Queen as she has served the UK since 1952. Prince Philip just has a knack of putting his foot in it. Examples include:

  • To Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
  • To Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
  • When offered wine in Rome in 2000, he snapped: “I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!”
  • To Elton John on his gold Aston Martin in 2001: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car, is it?”
  • “Where’s the Southern Comfort?” When presented with a hamper of goods by US ambassador, 1999.

While Prince Philip may be able to get away with making numerous verbal gaffes, his wife the Queen cannot. If you Google ‘Queen Elizabeth gaffes’ the results all feature gaffes made by other people when dealing with the Queen. As the constitutional monarch of the UK the Queen has ruled with wisdom for over sixty years. She is widely respected, even by citizens who do not approve of royalty.

Although this proverb speaks of fools and princes it has a message for all who profess to be followers of Jesus, who Timothy says will reign with Him:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us; if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 NIV)

Paul admitted being a fool for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10) but we need to be very careful in what we say, and how we speak. The advice given by James is that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Lies are but one of many things that are not fitting for someone who is destined to rule with Christ.


Raising Them Right

Proverbs 17:6
Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”

Being a Parent

One of the things that is discussed regularly in the men’s group attend is how fathers and sons do not talk to each other.

There are some men with sons have stopped talking to them. There are some men whose father’s barely acknowledge them.

The biggest issue is communication, obviously, though the reasons in each individual circumstance is different. The biggest issue always seemed to stem from how good of a parenting job was done.

Regardless of how well parents parented, sometimes it is the events later in life that lead to closeness or division.

Becoming “Grandpa” (or “Grandma”!)

A surefire way to tell if you have made it as a parent – whether as raising your children or after they have grown; whether you were a rambunctious child or a sweet and innocent child who now has children of your own – is the Grandparent Test.

One of the men in my group longs to meet his grandchildren from his estranged son. This is a godly man, so no one can understand why his son will not allow him to meet his grandchildren.

Yet, here is a family who shows the parents are loved by their children, even if only a little bit: the proud children spend much time taking their children to grandma and grandpa’s home (or “Nana and Papa” or “Nani and Papi” or whatever!).

The grandparents want to show off their grandchildren to anyone who will listen. The parents of those children eagerly want them to!

The Christian

How do you live your life in Christ?

Do you help win others to the Lord, or do you do your own thing?

If you only do your own thing, you are like the parent who avoids their children and the child who avoids their Father.

If you help win others to the Lord and train them in the ways of godly living, you are like the parents who are invested in their children’s lives and can not wait to show them to your Father in Heaven!

Heavenly Father, help us to love our families with Your love. Help us to realize that the Church is our family, and You are our Father. Help us to love all people in a way that Our love is overflowing. Please, bless our families.


Making Fun of the Poor

Proverbs 17:5

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

Me? Poor?

I live in one of the richest countries on the planet, so who am I to talk about being poor? Compared to some people, I am rich as a king. Even though I may not have the best of everything, or even the third or fourth best, I am still better off than people who have to live in cardboard boxes under a bridge.

Even thought I may not be rich, there are plenty of people worse off than me. However, I do know a little about what it’s like to be mocked. My sister and I were made fun of because my parents couldn’t always afford to buy their children new clothes. When we lived in a house that had no electricity or running water, and one could see the sky through the walls, we were mocked. I know how that feels.

For that matter, I know how it feels to drive a school bus full of public high school football players to a game at a private school where the tuition for one student exceeds $40,ooo a year, not to mention room and board. Not only do the football players get sneered at, but bus drivers like me get treated as “common help.”

Me? Like God?

The lesson that Solomon wants us to learn is that when we mock or make fun of those who poorer than us, we make ourselves out to be better than God. “What? How’s that possible?” you ask.

What if God treated us the way we sometimes treat others? Seriously, is the richest man in the world, even if he owned the whole world, as rich as the Maker of the Universe? The richest of the rich in this world are living in inestimable poverty before the King of Heaven. Aren’t we glad He doesn’t make fun of us?

Thankfully we have a loving Lord who humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8), that we, the poorest of all, could become fellow-heirs with Christ (Eph. 3:6). If He doesn’t feel it proper to mock lowly sinners such as I, then who am I to mock one less fortunate than me?

Wishing Bad

But what if you have never been one to make fun of the poor, or the rich? Does that get you off the hook? Maybe. That is, unless you’ve ever been one to talk of the rich with words like, “I hope they go broke,” or, “I’d love to see them crash that fancy car!”

I asked my daughter, “How do rich people make fun of poor people?” She said, “I don’t know…all I ever hear is all the poor people griping and whining about the rich.” Hmmm.

What did Solomon say? “He that is glad at calamities will not go unpunished.” Maybe we all would be a little better off if we learned to be content.


What Are You Listening To?

Proverbs 17:4

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (KJV).

Be Careful What You Hear:

There is an old Sunday school song that says, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear!” It’s a fun song, but it also promotes a very Biblical principle. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a). To take heed means to be careful. We need to be careful what we choose to listen to! Words are powerful, and words can either bring life or death into people’s lives.

In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us warnings about two different kinds of people: Wicked people, and liars. He tells us that a wicked person will give heed – or listen – to false lips, and a liar will give ear – or listen – to a naughty (malicious, spiteful, destructive) tongue. We know that as Christians, God doesn’t want us to be a wicked person or a liar. Therefore, we would be wise to not listen to false lips or naughty tongues.

False Lips and Naughty Tongues:

There are many false lips and naughty tongues in the world today. Wicked people and liars will use their lips and tongues to tell lies, slander people, gossip about others, and stir up strife and disunity – in families, churches, and indeed all relationships. Therefore, we must be on our guard against such people! It’s sad to say that you can even find those people… in the church. As a pastor, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous or harmful in a church than people who will stir up strife and division through their negative words!

So what do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by people with false lips and naughty tongues? We can’t just go and bury our heads in the sand or move into a monastery, can we? Of course not. However, we must still guard our hearts from such negative words. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon gives us this warning: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). (Click HERE to read Jason’s devotional about this Scripture). Our ears and eyes are the windows to the heart, so we must be careful what we put into them.

How to Guard the Heart:

How can we keep our heart from being affected by hearing negative words – lying, strife, gossip, slander and more? First of all, make a decision that you will not allow your heart to be a garbage can for other people’s negative words. The next time someone starts gossiping to you, or talking negatively about someone else, refuse to listen to it. (And remember this – if someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you! This is not the kind of friend you need…). And secondly, make a decision that you will watch your words, and make sure that no negative speech comes out of your mouth. Use your words to bring life to people!

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the old Sunday school song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes:

 


Golden Hearts

Proverbs 17:3 

“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.”

Gold refining 1A friend of mine used to work for a company that specialized in precious metals. He gave me a factory tour several years ago. It was interesting to see the difference between raw materials and unrefined items, and the final product be it silver and gold bars, or jewelry supplies and products.

I remember the tremendous heat involved in the refining process and the large vault in which everything was secured, before and after refining. Everything in that factory was of value, regardless of where it was in the production line. Refining added value, as did the process of transforming silver, gold and other materials into jewelry. Needless to say, I had to undergo an airport type search before leaving the factory.

imagesThe point is that every human being was created by God in His image and is of value to God, whether they are still rough around the edges, undergoing a refining process, or fast approaching becoming a finished product. God sees value in us all, but He needs to take us in our unrefined state and add further value. The only problem is that most of us do not want to pass through the heat of the furnace.

The Hebrew word used for trieth in this proverb may also be translated as test, investigate, examine, prove, tempt, try (by trial). Each of these words describes part of the process God applies to us. We cannot expect it to be a walk in the park. This is serious stuff. But consider the end result!

Imagine a worker in the precious metal factory handling a shiny gold bar having watched it take shape from the point it entered the production line as dirty unrefined ore or nuggets. Imagine the joy of holding the finished product and seeing your reflection in it. Then imagine how God feels when He can finally see Himself reflected in one of us.

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
 
Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
 
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within
 
Brian Doerkson
 

Refiner’s Fire – Christy Nockels


The Wise Servant

Proverbs 17:2

“A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.” 

The Wise Butler

I wish I could remember the details of it, but years ago I saw a movie that that was like this verse. Of course, the fact that a movie from Hollywood reminds me of a story in Scripture shouldn’t amaze me; many of the plots in movies are stolen from the Bible.

Nevertheless, I remember seeing something about a butler who had to manage a wild, rebellious, reputation-ruining heir. I just can’t remember if the butler wound up with everything, or not.

The Wise Servant

In this proverb we read of a servant who was smart enough to look out for the family’s interests, even if the son only cared about acting the fool. The servant wisely took charge over the unruly son, maybe even saying, “Your daddy put me in charge, so yes, I am the boss of you!

It was not uncommon in those days for a servant to be very close to the members of the family he served. It was not uncommon, even, for a servant to have part in the family’s inheritance  especially if the servant was considered a family member. So, it stands to reason that the wise servant, caring for the family that employed him, might have seen the profit of keeping his master’s son out of trouble.

Sometimes, it was even the case that a servant got everything, but his master got nothing. We read about that happening to Ziba, the former servant of Saul (2 Samuel 16:1-4).

The Shameful Son

There is another way to look at this, however. Even though the son was related by blood to the master, he was still subordinate to the servant. Whether it had to be that way, we don’t know. But the way this verse reads, the son might have been old enough to have been out from under the control of a tutor. He may have been old enough to have been the one to give the orders. Yet, because of his behavior, the servant was placed over him.

Let this be a lesson to us. Even though we may be children of the King, when we act up and begin to bring shame to His name, someone not even in the family may be used to discipline us. And, if it goes far enough, the blessing once due us may even go to someone else.

 


A Crumby Life

Proverbs 17:1

“Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (NIV)

Struggling Through

I have some friends. These friends are great people, and soon after they got married they moved in with my wife and me.

We had to live together, you see, because I had lost my job, my wife had just graduated and was looking for work, and they had no jobs of their own. The little bit of income the four of us brought in was barely enough to pay rent, the bills, and get food.

And you know: the four of us have so many great memories together.

There were times when we were sharing three-day-old spaghetti, because that was all we had. There were times we borrowed toilet paper from their parents. There were times we had to ask family for money or food just to get by.

But we would play games together, laugh about the silliest things, and share all of our hurts and joys together.

Too much on the plate

Of those friends, his family is great. My wife and I call his parents “our other parents”. Her family makes Jacob’s (from Genesis) look like a finely functioning family. (If you do not know what I mean, go read Jacob’s story in Genesis 25-37!)

Her family squabbles about every little thing (really, it is her sisters who do all of the squabbling), while dad lets them figure it out on their own and mom cleans up the messes. My poor friend (and her mom, really) are the closest to sane in the whole family.

The problem is not that the family does not need to worry about money, because they are doing rather well.

The problem is that everyone is either looking out only for themselves (the sisters) or do not know how to deal with issues well if at all (mom and dad). They just keep heaping everything on until there is an explosion, and everyone is hurt.

My friends prefer spending the afternoon with us walking our dog and cleaning up his messes than a short meal with her family.

The Crumby Life

It is possible to “have it all” and live in peace and quiet. The real issue is that people try to make this life all about themselves, and they take and take and take without really giving back.

We must learn to be content, to seek God and what He has for us, and to share with others more than we demand.

Only then will we find peace.

God of peace, grant us the wisdom to find contentment with what You have already blessed us. If we are eager for more, may it be of more of You and sharing with others. Make us the peacemakers and givers of this world!