Tag Archives: Book of Proverbs

Haughty or Humble?

Proverbs  18:12

12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.

Haughty and in Hot Water

In the last several years there have been many high-profile stories out of politics. Granted, that sentence could have been written at any time in modern history.

What I am speaking of, specifically, are politicians who thought they were above reproach. Most called themselves committed Christians. Many of these were caught with prostitutes, girlfriends (other than their wives, of course), or sharing pictures (of their own body parts or other women/men).

They were caught for the very reason they thought they could get away with it: they thought too highly of themselves. Most these men lost their positions and even careers over these scandals. Most people could care less about these men today.

Humble and Honored

Now look at the other side.

Mother Teresa never held a public office. In fact, she spent the majority of her time with sick, injured, and societal rejects. She never considered anyone beneath her or less important. She put most people ahead of herself.

When she died in 1997, many millions of people mourned and remembered her. Many people called for her immediate beatification by the Catholic Church. She is still remembered well by over a billion people.

You and Me

Our pride can only lead to problems in our life. If left to continue unabated, our pride will lead to our separation from God after this life.

If we humble ourselves, confess our sinfulness and need for Jesus Christ, God is the One who will honor us.

every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Faithful Father, teach us true humility. Help us to seek You above ourselves.


Flimsy Green Walls

Proverbs 18:11

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”
“The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety” (NLT).

Money

Money is a strange thing. One day it can be worth a lot of, well, money. Then, at the turn of clock, it can become worthless. So many have seen fortunes disappear at the sound of a closing bell.

6 Confederate States of America currency notes...

6 Confederate States of America currency notes three $10 notes 3 $20 notes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Others have seen their wealth deteriorate along with a decline in political stability. Many years ago the southern states (The Confederacy) that broke away from the Union made their own money. After 1865 it all became worthless. There used to be a saying, “Save your Confederate money, boys! The South will rise again!” Oh, well.

The thing that really makes money valuable is what backs it or insures its value. Not too long ago the Dollar was backed by gold; now it backed “by the full faith and credit of the United States government” (Yeah, right). So, in reality, the rich that feel secure in their wealth are only as secure as the government that backs it.

Flimsy Walls

Solomon was the wealthiest man in the world, yet he knew that putting one’s hope in money is foolishness of the highest degree. He calls the wealthy who consider their riches a defense “conceited.”

If wealth is one’s idea of a defense or a wall of protection, then they are flimsy walls, indeed! Ask anyone who was around Wall Street in 1929. The sound of crashing walls was deafening.

A Strong Defense

Thank God for His unfailing protection! “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Money is a wall of security with no inherent strength. It’s might changes with the “full faith and credit” of sinful institutions. Those who trust in it for safety are fools.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2).

Praise the LORD!


Caught In the Lie

Proverbs 18:7

A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”

As Anthony discussed yesterday, the things we say can lead to a good, old-fashioned punishment, such as soap in the mouth, a spanking, or other bad consequences.

When I was going through my later primary and early secondary education, up until about the start of my Junior year of high school, I had a penchant for stretching the truth or outright lying.

Here are some things I learned:

  • misrepresentations and lies only spread distrust, hatred, and problems.
  • relationships are damaged and/or lost.
  • eventually, you start to believe your own lies.
  • eventually, you must face the consequences in one way or another.

Our World

Our world is full of lies spread by any number of people. Whether it comes in the form of religion, science, or social constructs, we are bombarded daily with lies.

Some of these lies have immediate bad consequences: we may see church splits or new religions, increased taxes or restrictive laws, or fights or wars.

The most dangerous have eternal consequences. As we continue to spread lies, we not only hurt each other, but we may end up apart from God after we die.

That is hell, and it is not ever a good alternative.

Lord of Truth, help us to hear and speak Your words. Make us aware of the lies of this world and in our hearts. Save us from our own snares and destruction by Your grace and for Your glory.


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.


The Weighed-Down and the Beaten

Proverbs 17:26

Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.”
If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.” (NIV)

There are many ways to go with this verse.

We could look at the injustices between the rich and the poor, the government and the people, or families.

Here is another track:

Religious Leaders

Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46, NIV)

Many people may think of the likes of the Catholic Church with all of its rules and traditions. Others may think of cults with their crazy rules and restrictions.

In some cases this may be true. However, any leader from the Pope all the way down to mom and dad at home can place restrictions on people that may be unfair or difficult, things which they may be exempt from obeying.

The other danger comes from giving too much freedom.

It is as though we all take Paul’s words to heart: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)

All we get from this much freedom, without any restriction, gives us the old burden of our sin. We still have no freedom.

Our Lord

The only true freedom we get comes from Jesus Christ, our good and perfect Judge.

And how did we treat Him:

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

The Prince of Peace and the highest official in the universe, the only One righteous, was flogged, beaten, struck by us.

It may not have been right, but God used it for our sake and His glory. He used our hatred and violence to show His love, forgiveness, and grace to us.

Righteous Father, thank You for redeeming our hatred and violence with Your sacrifice. Teach us to be just and merciful. Help us to love each other, even when we are unjust, by Your power.


Perverted Justice

Proverbs 17:23

“A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.”
“The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.” -NIV

What “They” Do

Bribes are bad, especially when truth and justice is perverted. That is the main point of this proverb. The wicked man takes a bribe in order to keep justice from going forward.

We’ve seen the movies, read the books, and may have even experienced the results in real life. We are all familiar with what the bad guys typically do. They take money to keep from testifying at a trial. They are given a little off the top to collect a little more from a debtor. They are paid to tell a lie in order to get another bad guy acquitted of a crime. That’s what bad guys do.

Image result for termite damage"I once knew of a pest control company that was bribed to give clearance letters. Builders who wanted to save a few hundred dollars would give fifty to the owner of the company, and in turn he would give the builder a letter stating the new property had been pre-treated for termites. Justice was perverted because the new houses were sold with no protection from termites, and when they did come, the homeowner was usually convinced to pay a large sum to the same pest control company for a termite treatment.

These were bad guys, and that’s what they do.

What “We” Do

What many fail to recognize is the wickedness in their own hearts. It is so easy to judge others, but it is very hard to judge ourselves.

Have you ever given someone money for doing a small job, but then asked the person to not report the money on his tax return? Have you ever said, “If we do this ‘under the table,’ you won’t have to report it, and we’ll both be better off“? If you did, the law was skirted, and justice was perverted. Now who’s the bad guy?

Lord, help us to do what is right at all times, even when doing what is right cost us a little more. Help us to desire justice, not pervert it. 


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