Tag Archives: Christianity

Red Mist vs The Green Eye Monster

Proverbs 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I was never that bothered about hitting 30. I just thought it would be a birthday like any other, the only significance being what others placed on it. I was wrong. Since hitting 30 my memory has declined, I can no longer stay up past midnight and operate the next day, sprained ankles take months to recover rather than days… you get the picture and it’s a grim one. I also noticed I was rapidly becoming a grumpy old man.

Red Mist

I decided to cheer up a bit, I couldn’t change some of the physical stuff but I could change the grumpiness, and I was doing so, and then we adopted a three year old boy! There is nothing that challenges patience greater than a child! I certainly look back on my own childhood now with a slightly different perspective! Raising a child certainly shows me the truth of the first part of this verse. For my son his anger can strike at any time with no obvious reasons and it cripples him. When I get angry it’s easier to spot the reasons but just as hard not to be overwhelmed and suddenly flip into hulk mode. Anger is overwhelming, but anger passes. Losing control is not comfortable, but it usually dissipates fairly quickly. The chemical reaction in our body does its work and then we come down. Our son certainly bounces back quickly, the events seemingly left in the past.

Green Eye Monsters

Just as we all experience anger, we all certainly recognise the pangs of envy. The writer of this proverb seems to be implying that jealousy is worse than anger. I wonder if it is because of jealousy’s lingering nature. Jealous leads us to be consumed by something we don’t yet have. At worst it can make us plot and plan devious schemes to obtain said items, at best it can lead to restless nights consumed with thoughts of our supposed ‘need’.

So What?

We may all agree with the verse in question but so what? Should we favour anger over jealousy? Anger and jealousy are both things that we are told God has experienced – so what is this verse all about? Well firstly I think there is a recognition that anger and jealousy are very much part of the human experience – there will be a day when they are gone, but for now we are stuck with them. But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in them especially when they are both potentially destructive. This verse hints that we may not be able to control when they hit, but we can certainly limit the damage they cause.

Self Control

The problem is a lack of self control, we are encouraged to revel in our feelings as long as they make us feel better. This is world’s apart from the way of life Jesus choose, a life of self control and sacrifice benefiting others before himself. If we want to be more like Him we need to spend more time with Him drawing from His reserves of love, being strengthened to be self controlled and disciplined and getting grace when we invariably mess it up.

Philippians 2:1-11 (The Message) ‘If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.’


Afflicted and Ruined

Proverbs 26:28.
“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” (KJV). 

Life Lessons:

There are three main places where we go to learn things. One is the home – where we learn from our parents. Ideally, we learn here values, morals, good habits and etiquette. Second is the school, where we learn the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. (I know, neither writing nor arithmetic – math – start with the letter ‘R’, but that’s what they used to call it back in the day). And finally, the third is the church, where we learn about the love of God, how to know Him, how there’s a hell to shun and a Heaven to gain.

At church, we have the benefit of learning from the wisest of all wise – God Himself. The Bible is the Word of God, and in it we learn wise lessons for living life. I want to challenge you, reader – do you read the Bible? If not, then what are you waiting for? A virtual treasure trove of wisdom awaits you!

SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon, an old Baptist preacher from the 19th Century (known affectionately as the Prince of Preachers) had this to say about the Bible: “The best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace.” The challenge is this: Read the Bible!

Warnings against Lying and Flattery:

After that lengthy introduction, let us now come to today’s text. Here Solomon says: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin.” (NLT). Let us look at both of these warnings separately here.

First of all, in the KJV of this verse, Solomon tells us that a lying tongue causes affliction. The original Hebrew word sheqer translated lying means lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood, deceit, fraud, wrong, to testify falsely. And when you lie, you cause affliction. That Hebrew word dak means to oppress or crush someone. Anytime you lie about someone, you are afflicting, oppressing or crushing them. Think about that the next time you go to tell a lie! And Solomon also says here that when you lie about someone, it shows that you hate them.

Secondly, Solomon tells us that a flattering mouth works ruin. Flattery means to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively. I don’t mind an encouraging word of affirmation if it is sincere, but someone who flatters insincerely causes ruin. So be warned – our words are powerful, and if we don’t use them wisely, we can cause affliction and bring ruin!


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