Tag Archives: Christianity

Fiery Strife

Proverbs 26:20-21.

 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”(KJV).

The Most Important Things: Love and Unity

In John 13:35, Jesus made it abundantly clear what one of the most important aspects of discipleship is love: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” In other words, walking in love is one of the surest signs that we are true Christians. A few chapters later in this same book of the Bible, John records for us the high priestly prayer of Jesus that He prayed right before going to the Cross:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21). Wow! That’s one of the most sobering thoughts in the entire Bible. Here Jesus essentially says, “If Christians could become one in love and unity towards one another, the whole world would be saved.” That tells me that love and unity are the most important things we can learn as believers!

The Most Dangerous Things: Strife and Gossip

If the two most important things for us to learn to do as followers of Jesus is to walk in love and unity, then guess what the enemy is going to try to get us to do? To keep us from walking in love and unity! We shouldn’t be surprised then when we find the enemy coming and sowing seeds of strife and gossip… even (nay, especially) in the church.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon says, “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.” (NLT). In other words, people who gossip and stir up strife are firestarters. In the same way that a fire can destroy anything from a house to an entire forest, so too a little gossip and strife can destroy relationships and unity.

So how do we guard against stripe and gossip? Fire needs fuel to burn, and so too strife needs the fuel of gossip to keep raging. Therefore, if we want to stop strife, we need to stop gossip. If we want to see the church of Jesus Christ prevail in the world, then we must contend for love and unity. We must refuse to gossip or talk negatively about another believer, and we must also refuse to listen to gossip about another Christian. And remember this truth: If someone will gossip to you, then they will likely gossip about you as well.

T.H.I.N.K.

T.H.I.N.K. before you speak: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, then remember the wisdom from Thumper’s mother from the Bambi movie: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Church – let’s let love, acceptance and forgiveness become our banner! As we do this, we will show the world that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ. Amen…

think


The Sluggard Life

Proverbs 26:16 

“The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
“The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” – NKJV
Self Perception

The idea here is that the sluggard….wait just a moment…what kind of mental image do you have this very second?

slugSluggard. Think about that word, sluggard. Not just lazy or slothful, but slimy, covered with mucous, moving slowly about the ground leaving shiny trails behind. Sluggard. A slug. A snail-like critter, but too poor for a shell.

The idea, here, is that the sluggard has a self perception problem. He is wiser in his own eyes than seven men, simply because he is the sluggard, not the ones working. The great Matthew Henry comments:

“His slothfulness is the cause of his good opinion of himself. If he would but take pains to examine himself, and compare himself with the laws of wisdom, he would have other thoughts of himself… So wretchedly besotted is he that he takes his slothfulness to be his wisdom; he thinks it is his wisdom to make much of himself, and take all the ease he can get… Of such sluggards, who are proud of that which is their shame, their is little hope.”*

Beyond Reason

So, is there hope for someone who sees laziness and living off of others as a virtue? Verse 12 says that there is more hope for a fool than one that is wise in his own eyes. How much worse, then, one wise in his own eyes that is also a bum? A sluggard?

The Fox News Channel did a story on how some people are scamming the American food stamp system (EBT). They attempted to show how assistance originally meant to aid those in real need was being taken advantage of by people refusing work. Fox News found a perfect example in a young surfer named Jason.

Jason, an unemployed surfer who mooched off of relatives and friends, determined that work was something he did not want to do. He admitted to being perfectly happy taking tax payers’ dollars each month to buy food. All he cared about was playing in a band, meeting cute girls, drinking, and most of all, surfing every day.

There was no reasoning with him. He had everything figured out.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY AND WATCH THE VIDEO

Beyond Argument

But what does the Bible have to say?

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” – Proverbs 21:25

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1014.


A Fool’s Errand

Proverbs 26:6.

“He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.” (KJV).

Teaching about Fools:

For the past several days on Proverbial Thought, we have been reflecting on Solomon’s wisdom concerning fools:

Click on the links to review, or read them for the first time if you haven’t done so yet! Anyway, Solomon continues his teaching on fools here when he says: “Trusting a fool to convey a message is as foolish as cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison!” (NLT).

Don’t Trust a Fool:

The Bible gives us this sage advice: Don’t trust a fool! I think it’s interesting that we have a figure of speech in the English language called a ‘fool’s errand.’ This simply means a fruitless undertaking, something that is completely absurd, useless or hopeless. In other words, to ask a fool to do something for you is, well, foolish. It’s a stupid as cutting off your own feet – you’re only hurting yourself. When the foolish person doesn’t do what you asked them to do, you will have to either waste time now having to find someone else to do it for you, or you may even end up having to do it yourself.

Trust a Wise or Faithful Person:

If it is foolish to trust a fool to do a job for you, then the flip-side is also true: You are smart if you choose someone who is wise, faithful or trustworthy to do something for you. Jesus Himself said, “Who is a faithful, sensible servant, to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family?” (Matthew 24:45, NLT).

Let us be Faithful:

Now some of you may never find yourself in a leadership position, having to hire or choose someone to get a job done. But as Christians, all of us are called to serve the Lord and serve His church. So let us be found faithful even with the smallest tasks the Lord asks of us, and He will reward us. If you have a job to do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and do it with a spirit of excellence! As we do this, God will be glorified. Amen!


No More the Fool

Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation. (NLT)

Back in 1978 when I was second mate on a 100,000 ton bulk carrier we had a first-trip engineering cadet who quickly gained the nickname ‘village idiot’. The problem was that while everyone on the ship recognized that this lad wasn’t blessed with significant brainpower, he thought he that was. The other problem is that idiots are not easily tolerated on ships.

To be fair, most first trippers begin their careers as idiots. I did. There is so much to learn. The key is being willing to learn. A superiority complex never goes down well on a ship, but a first trip cadet with a superiority complex is quite intolerable. Inevitably life becomes intolerable for the intolerable one as he or she is brought down to size. It would be foolish to allow a foolish seafarer to become wise in his own eyes, but also potentially dangerous given the working environment on board ship.

Solomon was spot on with his advice. It is important to let a fool know that he is a fool. Fail to do so and the fool will believe that he knows better than everyone else. Lack of experience combined with lack of wisdom might then have disastrous effects.

Challenging as it may seem this proverb speaks to everyone. It is important to know and understand our limitations and focus our energies on what we do best. This is particularly important in church where sometimes we place or find the wrong people in ministries where they simply do not belong. The out-of-tune choir member might make an excellent Sunday School teacher, but someone needs to identify this and gently guide the croaky crooner to the place where God can really use him. And that does call for wisdom.


The Fool

Proverbs 26:1.

“As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.” (KJV).

The Fool

The Oxymoron:

This past Sunday morning at church, I shared the story of the Good Samaritan. I told our church family how that expression – though very common in our world today – would have been seen as an oxymoron to the Jews in the first century. An oxymoron is a group of words that don’t go together, like jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly and deafening silence. The Jews hated the Samaritans because they were half-breeds, and they would have never seen a Samaritan as being good.

In today’s Proverb, Solomon talks about two things that don’t go together: Snow in summer and rain during harvest time. He uses these two examples to make a point: Honour is not seemly, or fitting, for a fool. In other words, you don’t give honour to a fool! But – to properly understand this Scripture, we must discover what it meant by a fool, and what is meant by honour.

The Fool:

Who is a fool? The Bible gives the most basic definition of a fool here: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1). In other words, a fool is a sinful, rebellious atheist – some who denies the existence of God. Proverbs also describes fools by saying they are people who spread slander (Prov. 10:18), do evil for fun (10:23), are quick tempered (12:16), are not teachable (17:10), have big mouths (18:7), are trapped in habitual sin (26:11), and give full vent to their anger (29:11).

Bible Honour:

The Hebrew word that is translated honour here is kabod. This word has a much fuller meaning than just respect or esteem. Kabod means glory, honour, glorious, abundance, riches, splendour, dignity, reputation, reverence.1

When Solomon says that honour is not fitting for a fool, he is saying that sinful, rebellious atheists should not be given glory, honour, riches, reputation or reverence. Why is that? Because when an ungodly person comes to power, they will most likely encourage wickedness and discourage righteousness, and abuse their power. Like rain during harvest time, they will hinder and hamper the growth and progress of godliness and righteousness in their sphere of influence.

Our Application:

How then should we put this Scripture into practice? First of all, if we are in a position of choosing leaders – whether it be through voting in an election for political leaders, or being involved more directly in the choosing of a leader for a company or business, we would do well to choose someone who is wise – a Christian believer who lives by the Bible. And secondly, we should pray that the Lord would grace our country, our schools, our churches, and our communities, with wise, godly Christian leaders. Amen!

  1. Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon, biblestudytools.com

A Nagging Wife

Proverbs 25:24.

“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” (KJV).

nagging wife

Which Would You Choose?

If you had a choice between living in a big house and living in the corner on a roof, which would you choose? I believe most people would choose to live in a nice big house. But as Solomon is wont to do, he puts a little twist in his Proverb and says that it’s actually better to live on the roof… if there’s a brawling woman in that house!

But – what does the word brawling mean? If you look at some of the other ways this word is translated in other versions of the Bible, it reads: quarrelsome, contentious, nagging, and bitter-tongued. In other words, Solomon is talking about a contentious wife who likes to fight, nag, and stir up strife. If that’s the case, you would be better off on the roof, out in the cold with the wind and rain. If you ask me, neither one of these options sounds like fun!

Application:

How then should we apply this Scripture verse to our lives?

To the single young men: If you plan on getting married one day, take the time to prayerfully think through the choice of a spouse. Next to giving your life to Jesus Christ, there is no more important decision you will ever make. One of the deepest, most profound thoughts on marriage is this one: “Happy wife, happy life.” It’s true! If you have a wife who is quarrelsome, contentious, nagging and bitter-tongued, you will be miserable. So take the time to get to know your prospective mate before saying “I do!”

To the married men: If you have a wife who is peaceable, then thank the good Lord above. You are blessed! Proverbs 18:22 says, “Find a good spouse, you find a good life – and even more: the favor of God!” (The Message). However, if you have a wife who tends to be contentious, then pray for her. Pray that the Lord Jesus would change her heart, and that she would have the fruit of the Spirit in her life – which includes peace, kindness and gentleness.

To the married women: If I can be so bold as to give you a piece of (Scriptural) advice: Don’t be a nag! If you criticize and complain to your husband all the time, then don’t be surprised if he wants to spend all of his time out in the garage with his tools, watching football with the guys or being anywhere but with you. It’s no fun being around a woman who fights all the time.

A Post Script: Now lest some of you conclude that the Bible is picking on the women here, know that there are many Scriptural admonitions to the husband as well: Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25), to love her and never treat her harshly (Col 3:19), and to treat her with honour (1 Peter 3:7). The bottom line? If a wife will respect her husband, the husband will love his wife, and if the husband will love his wife, the wife will respect her husband (Eph. 5:33). Amen!


Foaming Angry

Proverbs 25:23

“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.”

Which Is It?

This is one of those verses in the Bible that cause interpreters and writers of commentaries to scratch their heads. One puts it this way: “This little proverb is extraordinarily beset with problems.”* According to the scholars and biblical language experts, it is hard to determine what Solomon means, exactly.

You see, there are issues with the “north wind”: does the verb “driveth” really mean to “drive away” or to “bring?” The verb actually means to “bring forth, as with labor pains.” Either way makes the second part hard to interpret: does an angry look come because of a “backbiting tongue,” or does the indignant tongue make the “angry countenance” go away?

If the north wind drives a cold rain away, then the parallel is that an angry look should hush up a slandering tongue. However, if the north wind brings the rain, then a slandering, backbiting tongue causes angry looks. Which one is it?

My Interpretation

One day, a long time ago, I tried to help someone. With a humble, servant-like attitude I bent over backwards to accommodate this individual, even though I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Then, that very evening, I was informed of slander being spread about me – stories that I had done the complete opposite and actually refused to help the person in need.

The word in this verse translated “angry” means “to foam at the mouth, speaking of a camel…”** Dear reader, I am not super spiritual – I am still human – so when I heard of what was being said of me, well…let’s just say I’m glad the walls of my house are made of brick. You could say I was foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

However you choose to interpret Proverbs 25:23, backbiting and slander can cause serious problems. Talking about people behind their backs simultaneously drives away showers of blessing and brings in cold rains of sorrow.

Watch your tongue and the weather will be fine.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalms 34:13-14 ESV

Sources:

*Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 209.

**Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 250.