Tag Archives: forgiveness

Foolishness Hurts

Proverbs 10:1

“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”

The Heaviness of Folly

I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son who thought he knew everything and made some very foolish decisions. This young man demanded his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. Amazingly, Dad agreed. The young man filled his pockets with cash, and then left for a foreign land where he wasted his entire inheritance. Heaviness may be an appropriate word to describe how his father must have felt at the loss of his son to such behavior.

The Hebrew word used by Solomon for heaviness is also translated by Strong’s as depression, grief and sorrow. These three words put into perspective the extent of the hurt that foolish children can bring to their parents.

Finishing

It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. When he recognized his situation the foolish young prodigal swallowed his pride and was welcomed home with a huge party, albeit to the disgust of his brother who had stayed behind, faithfully working in his father’s business. In contrast to the brother the father was overwhelmed with joy. He was glad that his lost son had returned.

The lives of folly that we lead are immensely hurtful to our heavenly Father. Humanity has caused Him so much grief and sorrow that the only way to relieve His pain was through the additional experience of inconceivable heaviness caused by allowing His Son to be sacrificed on the cross at Calvary. Now He waits for the prodigals to come home and make Him glad. Because of Calvary we have a chance to finish the race and bring Him joy. The prodigal son shows us how. If we are wise enough to recognize our condition, swallow our pride, and say sorry, then our Father will welcome us with undeserved forgiveness and incalculable joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

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Source of All Royalty

Proverbs 8:15-16

“By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.”

The Apostle Paul wrote about earthly authorities in Romans 13: 1-2 (NIV):

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Wisdom Reigns

It is a fact that kings, princes, nobles and judges are not always viewed favorably by their subjects. Queen Elizabeth II is a notable exception. Incredibly she has served, rather than ruled, the United Kingdom for sixty years. At the age of eighty-six she is still faithfully serving her country, and working harder than many of her much younger subjects. Even Britons who are not Royalists cannot deny that the Queen has served her country well and with great wisdom.

The Faith of a Queen

One thing that is very evident in the Queen’s life is her faith, which she sometimes mentions in her yearly broadcast to the nation on Christmas Day. Towards the end of her Christmas 2011 speech the Queen said the following:

Queen Elizabeth II“Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”

Words of wisdom such as these can only originate from the Source of all wisdom. If only such faith and wisdom was found in kings, queens, presidents, and prime ministers throughout the world. If only such faith and wisdom was found in us.

 

7/8


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Welcome to the first week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the first week of Advent reminds us of the importance of prophecy and that we are desperately in need of a Savior. The Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – reveals much through the Prophets and Wisdom literature and poetry.

If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;
If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:
And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.
Job 11:13-18

We first need to see our need for cleansing from sin. Then we need to remember that, through Christ, we have already been cleansed of our sin.

This knowledge gives us hope.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Therefore, we no longer wait, as Israel did, for an unknown Savior. Rather, we wait for the return of our Lord, when all misery, pain, and tears will cease. He shall reign as God and Lord over a remade and perfect Creation.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Heavenly Father, we have sinned against you, but You sent Your Son to save us from our sin. Thank You for revealing Jesus’ first coming through Your Prophets of old and His immanent return through the Apostles. Give us a grateful heart and a sense of urgency to spread this Good News with the world with humility and grace.


Love is Forgiveness

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. -Proverbs 10:12, KJV

Hatred holds a grudge.

Hatred causes problems for others.

Hatred causes division.

Hatred is taking things into your own hands.

But hatred is not the opposite of love.

The opposite of love is fear.

Fear is often the motivator for everything hatred becomes.

The best remedy comes out of love and is the definition of covering all sins:

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the wrongs.

Forgiveness does not mean trust.

Forgiveness is saying, “I will not let fear control me.”

Forgiveness is saying, “I will not focus on what you did to me.”

Forgiveness is saying, “You are more important than that to me.”

Forgiveness is letting God take the wrong and change your heart. Maybe to change theirs.


Contrasting the Parallelisms

A New Section

You may notice that starting here in chapter 10, the verses read a little differently. The reason is that here we see the beginning of the second part of this book (Prov. 10:1-22:16) which contains what are called “parallelisms.”

Parallelisms are grammatical and poetical devices which both help make a point and make the point easier to process while including an easier-to-remember element.

Sometimes parallelisms are antithetic (Prov. 10:1-15:33), while others are synthetic (Prov. 16:1-22:16). The first use two lines of prose to make a contrast; the second uses two lines to point out similarities.

A good extra-biblical example of antithetic parallelism can be seen in the words of Sir Winston Churchill (House of Commons, 22 October 1945):

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A good example of antithetic parallelism from chapter 10 might be the following verse:

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. – Proverbs 10:12

Churchill made a positive point about capitalism, but he did it by contrasting the “vice” of capitalism with the “virtue” of socialism. Solomon highlighted the caring and peaceful value of love by contrasting it with strife: false love can be exposed by the debris it stirs up.

However, neither kinds of parallelisms are meant to be understood as all-encompassing. Some are best understood as being more “rule-of-thumb” than absolute (i.e., Prov. 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” yet some children leave and never return).

Unpacking It All

Because there is no real way to connect all of these parallelisms into one coherent message, unlike the previous chapters which addressed particular themes, we could take a long time unpacking each one. Therefore, I would encourage you to go back and check out our past commentary on Proverbial Thought which dealt with each individual verse. You can do that by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page (chapters 9-12 will be uploaded soon).

But for now, since this time we are going through Proverbs in a more condensed fashion, we will only be addressing the verses which most stand out to the particular writer.

I’m looking forward to reading what the Holy Spirit shows the other writers. It should be interesting.

That being said…

Thinking of Proverbs 10:12 (as seen above), isn’t it wonderful when we choose not to bring up past wrongs, but rather let things lie, even cover them with a blanket of grace?

Solomon isn’t talking about sweeping guilt under a rug or denying wrongdoing or sin (such as abuse); he’s talking about forgiveness.

Sometimes the better part of forgiveness is to keep some things packed away and forgotten. Real love seeks healing; false love (hatred, selfishness, pride) demands a never-ending string of “I’m sorry’s” and never lets the dust settle on the past.

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8 CSB


Debts & Promises

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1‭-‬5, NKJV

Co-signed

Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.

Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.

I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.

This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.

Leaving the Altar

You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.

And then we don’t.

We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.

Say, tithing.

But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23‭-‬24)

In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.

If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).

The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.

That is why Jesus sacrificed glory, comfort, and life: to forgive our debts and broken promises to restore the relationship. And He arose to guarentee it for eternity.


The Two Adams

Proverbs 28:7

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father. (NIV)

The First Adam

A long time ago, God created everything. At the end of that creation process, he made humans, specifically Adam and Eve.

These people were created perfect, and the walked with God.

Then they messed it all up. They sinned. They did what God said not to do, and this rebellion led to generations of death, suffering, rebellion, and selfishness that continues to this day.

Because of Adam and his wife Eve, we all choose to rebel against God … at least in some way, and always in our own way, but always away from God. Too much blood has been spilled and suffering caused because of our sin.

We all shame, disgrace, our Father, God.

The Second Adam

Fortunately, God could not leave us alone. He started with a rebellious people, the nation of Israel. He showed grace and favor they did not deserve, and He showed them the way to live. They still failed, but the story does not end there.

Out of this people, God stepped into flesh: Jesus of Nazareth was born, the Son of God, God incarnate.

Jesus was the only One to ever live a sinless life, and He was killed on a cross so that as we spilled His blood it would cleanse away our sin. Three days later, He came back to life!

If we trust in His death for our forgiveness and believe that He now lives, we no longer identify with the First Adam but with Jesus, the Second Adam. If we heed His instructions to love God, love others, and love each other through the help of the Holy Spirit, we become heirs with Christ as wise sons (and daughters)!

45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49, NIV

Gracious Lord, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness delivered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Help us to live in that truth daily and share it with the world!