Tag Archives: faith

Sometimes Unity Isn’t Enough

Proverbs 11:21

“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.”
Not Enough Space

Honestly, there is not enough space allowed in this entry to adequately cover all the things that could be gleaned from this proverb. Because we desire that these posts be published one day, if every “thought” was a thousand words, the final book would look like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

At the time of this writing, it is a Sunday evening, and I just preached a forty-five minute sermon on this very text. It was such a blessing, and the result was that a young lady came forward tonight and asked if I could show her how to be saved.  If I were to go into all that I preached, I don’t know how long this post would be.

So, what I am going to do is share some highlights. I would encourage you to take the time, as with all these verses in Proverbs, to study them for yourself.

“We are the World”

Do you remember that Michael Jackson classic, We are the World? Have you seen all the different organizations and activist groups that use pictures of people holding hands to send a message of unity? Have you ever played the game where kids stood in a line with their arms locked together and said, “Red rover, red rover, send some idiot right over?”

Well, the wicked of this world have the idea that if they stand together in a united front against the True God of the universe, all will go their way. You can see it plastered across all the news networks. Flames are rising around the planet as followers of a false god rise up against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and against Christianity.

They are united. They are hand in hand. They are the world.

Won’t Make a Difference

But even though the wicked stand hand in hand, it won’t make the outcome any different. The whole world joined together in one voice before the Deluge, yet they still drowned. Their unity couldn’t hold back the judgment of God.

Even now, militants are rising up, seeking the destruction of the righteous, but, “The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming” (Psa. 37:13).

The Promise

Many look at history and ask, “If God’s word is true, then why do the righteous die as martyrs? Why are Christians persecuted and killed? Why does it look like the ‘wicked’ are getting their way?”

Here’s the answer: it ain’t over, yet.

Isa 27:13 ESV – “And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

Deliverance may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come. It may not even be in this life, but it will come. And one day, when that “great trumpet will be blown,” the righteous will all worship on His holy mountain in Jerusalem.


Just Say “NO!”

Proverbs 11:15

“He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.”

Proverbs 11:15, 16, & 17 are connected in that each involves someone who acts with kindness, but with varied results.  In tonight’s verse, we consider a kindness that brings injury; in tomorrow’s, a kindness that brings honor; and in the third instance, a kindness that brings benefit.

A KINDNESS THAT BRINGS INJURY

In the first half of verse 15, we read, “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it,” or as the ESV reads, “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm.”  Solomon returns here to a theme he has already elaborated upon at length in Proverbs 6:1-5.  The idea is fairly straightforward in both texts.  So, somebody asks you to lend him a hand by cosigning on a loan… what is the “Christian” thing to do?  The problem is that you like to be liked. You want to come across as a decent and generous person.  You want to be helpful.  So you cosign on the automobile, or mortgage, or student loan, or credit card offer.  And now, my friend, you have obligated yourself in regard to the other’s ability to earn, budget, and spend income.  Unless you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  No, I take that back.  Even if you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  You have absolutely no leverage in the situation.

NOW GUESS WHAT?

You’re on the hook if and when the person defaults on repayment.  If your name is signed on the bottom line, the creditor can and will come after you.  The FTC tells us that in as many as 3 out of 4 loans that go into default, the cosigners are asked to repay the loans.  Think about it.  When you cosign a loan, you are taking a risk which the professional lenders have refused to take.  If the borrower could meet the lender’s criteria, there would be no need for a cosigner in the first place.  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre06.shtm

NEWSFLASH

Jesus didn’t die to make you “nice.” No, he died to make you His!  Sometimes the “Christian” thing to do is to ask, “Have you totally lost your mind?  You can’t afford that car, or house, or new TV!  Save some money for it and pay cash!”

A FIRM, WISE “NO”

In the second half of the verse we read, “And he that hateth suretiship is sure.”  Oh, the security and peace of mind enjoyed by the one who has not entered hastily into business agreements!  Years ago, First Lady Nancy Reagan, as she spearheaded a campaign against drug abuse, popularized the slogan, “Just Say No.”  The same firm “No!” might well be in order the next time someone approaches you about helping him with a loan.

Father God, thank you that when you see us, you see the righteousness of your own dear Son.  Thank you that our security and identity are in Christ.  Free us, Father, from the need to be people-pleasers to our own harm. Through Christ our Lord: Amen.    


Naughty Nothing – Pursuing Illusion

Proverbs 11:6

“The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.”

Other Versions

As I did with the last verse, let’s look again at a couple of other versions of Proverbs 11:6. Let’s look at the New King James (NKJV)and the New International Version (NIV).

The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.” –  NKJV

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” –  NIV

It would seem that the part that is causing any confusion or needs any clarification is the word “naughtiness.” I wonder if that has anything to do with the phrase we hear around Christmas, “naughty or nice?”

Naughtiness

Whenever I hear this word it makes me think of strict elementary school teachers, paddles, grandmothers, and disobedient, candy-stealing, bratty children. Snotty-nosed little kids are “naughty.” So why was this word chosen in the translation of the Hebrew word havah?

Havah can be translated as words such as “desire,” “mischievous,” or “perverse.” As a matter of fact, both the NKJV and the NIV do a good job and conveying the appropriate message. Yet, when you dig into the word “naughty” there is something worth noting.

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word “naughty” can be found in the word “naught,” which is an old, Middle English word for “nothing.”

Taking that into account, what is “naughtiness” but the perverse and lustful pursuit of what amounts to essentially nothing? The transgressor, the “unfaithful,” shall be caught and destroyed by what seems to him as “real” and “natural.” While he scoffs at faith and pursues wickedness, he is doing nothing more than chasing an illusion. What a fool.

The Upright

The “righteousness” of the believer is nothing more than faith, for without faith (in His Word; in His Son) it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). One cannot be righteous without it.

One cannot be “upright” without a foundation on which to stand, but get this! “Faith is the substance,” the foundation on which the righteous stand upright. Faith is what delivers!

The wicked says, “I don’t believe in God, only the things I can see and feel.” Then he pursues a “nothingness” that leads to destruction.

The righteous puts his faith in the unseen Hand of God, and is delivered from destruction.

Scripture is full of irony, isn’t it?


Not That Complicated

Proverbs 11:5

“The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.”

“The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.” – NLT

“The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness.” – HCSB

Straightforward, or Complicated

Some people love to live lives that are in constant turmoil. They love the drama. They thrive on making excuses for failure. They are the wicked. They live complicated lives.

Then there are others who love to live simple, ordinary lives. They deal with issues in a sensible fashion. When they don’t succeed, they try again, learning from their mistakes. They are the “perfect,” the godly. Their lives are pretty straightforward.

The difference between the ways of the blameless and the wicked can be seen in how complicated or straightforward they are. One is clear for travel, while the other is littered with obstacles.

9 to 5, or 90 to Life

Speaking of Prov. 11:5, one commentary says, “Righteous living results in a straight way (cf. 3:5-6), a life with fewer obstacles and troubles (cf. 11:8), but wickedness leads to a person’s downfall.”[1] It really all comes down to how a person lives his life.

Honest, hard-working people who go to work and provide for their families are not usually the partying type. And by virtue of their consistency, their lifestyle is usually free of trouble. But when you look at the lives of people who live to fulfill the desires of the flesh, they are constantly in and out of court, in and out of jobs, and in and out of jail.

The difference is that living right makes the road of life smoother, while living wickedly brings trouble. Sometimes I wonder why that truth is so hard to understand. Yet, there are many who would rather risk prison than live in a way that pleases God.


[1] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Pr 11:5). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.


Watching the Scales

Proverbs 11:1

“A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.”

True Weight

In the attempt to stay a lean, mean, fighting machine (oh, get real), I have found myself watching the numbers when I weigh myself. As a matter of fact, there is a small calendar in our bathroom where I have recorded the numbers over about three months.

One day I was so excited that I had seemingly lost several pounds. I told my wife, “See, I am losing weight!” Then, later that day, I went to the doctor’s office for a regular checkup. It was there that my inflated ego became a lead balloon, for the official scales told a different story.

What I had thought was my weight when I stood on the cheap scales at home did not square with the expensive, worthless-to-argue-with scales at the doctor’s office. Instead of losing weight, I had gained weight. The scales at home lied!

Balances and Ducks

In order to really understand this proverb, we must understand what is meant by a “false balance.” As you can see by the illustration, things used to be weighed by placing one object on one side of a balance, and then a standard weight on the other.

A humorous example of false weights and false scales can be found in a scene from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that scene a woman is accused of being a witch, so “logically” they decide that since wood burns the same as witches, and wood also floats, then something besides wood must be put in a scale to determine if the woman was actually a witch. They choose a duck, because ducks float in water like wood. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Once they take the accused witch to the scales, they place a duck on the opposite side. When they remove the blocks underneath, guess what? The scales did not move. Hmmm.

False Balances

But what God hates is a false balance. In other words, God hates scales that have been tampered with in order for a merchant (or a witch burner) to make a profit. God hates scales that do not tell the truth, but lead others to believe they do. God loves the truth, even if the scales tell us something we don’t want to admit.

In the book of Daniel we read of Belshazzar of Babylon seeing a message written by God on a wall. Among other things it said, “TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.“(Daniel 5:27). In Belshazzar’s mind his bathroom scale was just fine. But according to God’s scale, he was way, way off.

This proverb is primarily pointed at those who lie to make a profit. It is about those who tamper with what is a “true” weight to perpetuate a falsehood. In other words, hypocrisy.

But from a different perspective, we should remember that how we think of ourselves needs to measure up with God’s standard. The world’s scales are always a little unbalanced.


Never Removed

Proverbs 10:30

“The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.”
It’s About Home

One of the hardest things a person can endure is the forced expulsion from one’s home. The pain and humiliation of being forced to leave the place where your ancestors lived, where your parents played, and where you planned for the future is a terrible thing. And it is especially hard when that home is not only taken away from you, but given to your enemies.

This verse is really all about having a home. It is about staying where one’s planted. It’s about security and peace. It’s about having a place where you belong.

It’s About a Promise

This verse also has to do with a promise that was made to the children of Israel. When Solomon penned (or quilled) these words, he was familiar with the promises and warnings God had given his forefathers. I am sure he knew of the final warnings of Joshua as the Israelites settled down in Canaan…

When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you. – Joshua 23:16

The promise was that if they kept the commandments of the Lord, they could stay in their homeland. But if they decided to act like the heathen and forget who brought them there, they would be evicted. That was a promise.

It’s an Awesome Truth

But stop and think about something. Notice what is said about the righteous: they shall “never be removed.” Never being removed from somewhere tells me that you’re already there. How is that possible? It is only possible through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ by grace through faith.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ … But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” – Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-6

The ESV translates Proverbs 10:30 this way: “The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.”

If we are in Christ, then we are as good as there. But those without His righteousness will never have a place to call their own. They will always be strangers without a home.