Tag Archives: proverbs

Get Rich Quick

Proverbs 21:5.

“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (KJV).
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (NLT).

What’s Wrong With That?

It’s amazing to me how many people chase after the latest get-rich quick schemes. “Make money fast from home and become a millionaire this year! Small investment, big return!” And don’t even get me started on lottery tickets: They are aptly named an “idiot tax.”

In the small town that I live in, we have a corner convenience store just down the street from my house, and it’s amazing to me that almost every time I walk in there, someone is buying a lottery ticket or scratch-and-win ticket, hoping to be the next big winner. What’s going on here? It seems we have created an entire culture that is devoted to trying to get something for nothing, to get rich without having to do any work for it. But some might be asking – is there really anything wrong with that? Well, that depends on whether or not you believe the Bible.

Poverty or Prosperity?

In today’s Scripture, Solomon tells us that we can choose plenteousness or want, prosperity or poverty. To reach each destination, there are two very different roads that lead there.

If you want to be prosperous, the road is called good planning and hard work. No shortcuts here! You need to be diligent. Get a job and work hard. And as Matthew Henry says, “The thoughts of the diligent are as necessary as the hand of the diligent. Forecast is as good as work.” It’s good to plan ahead if you want to prosper and do well financially! Plan a budget. Honour the Lord with your tithe. Be generous and give to the poor. All of these will help you succeed.

If you want to be poor, it’s a whole lot easier to get there. Don’t be diligent. Don’t get a job. Don’t work hard. Don’t plan ahead. Spend foolishly. Waste your money on things lottery tickets and other things you don’t really need. You’ll be poor before you know it!

Lord, help us as your people to make good plans and work hard, so you can bless us financially. Not just so we can be blessed, blessed, blessed, but we know you bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. To help the poor. To build the Kingdom of God. To make a difference in the lives of others. Help us to make wise choices with our finances, and be good stewards of all of our resources. In Jesus’ name, amen.


More Pleased

Proverbs 21:3.

“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (KJV). 

Justice and Judgment:

What does the Lord want us to do? To do justice and judgment. Or, as it says in the New Living Translation: “The LORD is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices.” That tells us that – contrary to popular belief in the world today – there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong. And God wants us to do those things that are right. He wants us to be loving, forgiving and gracious people.

But – what does Solomon mean when he says that doing justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice? What kind of sacrifice is he talking about here?

The Sacrifices:

Under the Old Covenant, when the people would sin, they would have to make a sacrifice to atone for their sin. Under the New Covenant, when we sin, we confess our sins to God and tell Him we’re sorry for what we’ve done, and when we do, He forgives us.

However, some people have taken the grace of God and used it as a license to sin. They think that because God is good and forgiving, they can go out and sin all they want, as long as they make a sacrifice / confess their sins to Him. Some people try to make up for their sin by trying to balance it out with good deeds. Because they feel guilty, they go out and do something good like go to church, worship, fast or pray.

But God is more pleased when we do what is just and right in the first place, rather than going out and doing bad things then having to offer sacrifices to try to make up for our wrongdoings. Yes it’s true that God is gracious and will forgive us when we sin, but we cannot let that be an excuse to be a Sunday Christian, doing our religious duty at church, then forgetting about doing what is just and right the rest of the week.

A Story from Spurgeon:

I think this story by Charles Spurgeon best illustrates our motivation for doing what is just and right, even though God forgives us when we sin:

Spurgeon“There is the story of half-a-dozen boys who had severe fathers, accustomed to beat them within an inch of their lives. Another boy was with them who was well beloved by his parents, and known to do so. These young boys met together to hold a council of war about robbing an orchard. They were all anxious to get about it except the favoured youth, who did not enjoy the proposal. One of them cried out, “You need not be afraid: if our fathers catch us at this work, we shall be half-killed, but your father won’t lay a hand upon you.” The little boy answered, “And do you think because my father is kind to me, that therefore I will do wrong and grieve him? I will do nothing of the sort to my dear father. He is so good to me that I cannot vex him.”


It’ll be Okay, Right?

Proverbs 21:2 

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.” ESV

Sadie:  Come on, Alison! It’s nothing that will hurt you.
Alison:  Sadie, I was told not to smoke it.
Sadie:  Who told you not to smoke it?
Alison:  My parents did, and if they find out I was here I’m dead!
Sadie:  Seriously? You are going to listen to them? Alison, it’s just a plant! What harm could it really do? Besides, you can’t trust your parents all the time.
Alison: They told me that it is dangerous.
Sadie:  I have been doing it for a long time and I’m still here! Look at me! I am living proof that its okay!
Alison:  Well…
Sadie:  Just try it one time. Trust me. I promise you that it is worth it.
Alison:  …Alright… I guess it won’t hurt to do it just this once.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think about this situation? Do you think it is fairly obvious that what Sadie is trying to get Alison to do is wrong? Well, she thinks it’s okay, and as far as Alison knows, Sadie was telling the truth and there was really nothing wrong with burning and inhaling the smoke from the “plant”.

The Truth.

Truthfully, we all think our wrong actions are right from time to time. The Lord, however, knows what is good; He knows what is right. This story didn’t have to be about drugs. It could have been about drinking, lies, sex, or anything else that has consequences. Any one of those topics have heartache as one of the side-effects, but the way of the Lord leads to heart-help.

And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. – Luke 16:15 (NASB95)


Leadership Advice

Proverbs 20:28.

“Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” (KJV).
“Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.” (NLT).

 

Advice for Leaders:

In this Proverb, Solomon teaches us two things. First, he commends to us two virtues of a good king: mercy and truth. Secondly, he shows how the ruler who walks in mercy will ensure he is successful in his rule. And although this proverb specifically deals with a king, I believe that the universal principle behind it can be applied to anyone in a leadership position – be they a government leader, teacher, parent, employer, or pastor.

Two Leadership Virtues:

In the world today, we are experiencing a crisis of leadership. There are so many leaders that don’t lead well. How many leaders – both prominent political leaders and religious leaders – have lost their position and influence because of a lack of integrity? Too many to count. If a leader wants to lead long, finish well, and have a lasting influence, he must be a person with a virtuous character. And two of the most important virtues, Solomon tells us, are mercy and truth. In fact, in another Proverb, Solomon tells all people, not just leaders, to aspire to be people of mercy and truth: “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (3:3).

What does it mean for a leader to be merciful? It means that you don’t rule with harshness, cruelty or legalism. It means you are tender and gracious, and willing to forgive the mistakes of those you lead. It means you choose to lead with love, acceptance and forgiveness. And what does it mean to be truthful? It means you are faithful to your word, you keep your promises, and do what’s right. When you make mistakes (and you will make mistakes, and that’s okay), you are quick to admit it and ask for forgiveness where necessary.

Successful Leadership:

When a leader walks in truth and especially mercy (which is mentioned twice in our text), it is said that his throne will be upholden, or made secure, by mercy. In other words, his leadership will last. His character and integrity will be preserved, and his influence will outlive his life.

I know of a leader in a church once who got hurt and offended, and rather than being merciful and choosing to forgive the other leader who had hurt him, he got bitter and started lying and gossiping about that other leader. As a consequence, many people were hurt and affected by his actions. It was such a sad and terrible situation that resulted in many people walking away from the church as a result of it. It totally broke my heart. This story serves as a warning to all who would neglect the proverbial admonition to walk in mercy and truth, which is designed to protect a leader – and the people he leads.


The Gossip

Proverbs 20:19.

“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (KJV). 

Gossip Described:

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the dangers of gossip:

  • “A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” (11:13, NLT).
  • “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (16:28, NLT).
  • “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much.” (20:19, NLT).

To sum up, a gossip tells secrets, stirs up strife and separates friends. And how does the Bible tell us to deal with gossips? Don’t hang around with them! It should go without saying, but if someone will gossip to you, they will also gossip about you.

Gossip Illustrated:

I read this poem once that best illustrates the destructive nature of gossip:

My Name Is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
 
I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless.
They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
I am nobody’s friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and ruin marriages.
 
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion.
I spawn suspicion and generate grief.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.

Even my name hisses. I AM CALLED GOSSIP.

Gossip Experienced:

I hate gossip. I have seen firsthand how it can destroy friendships, break hearts, and ruin lives. I know of someone who gossiped about their pastor, and how it caused other people to leave that church as a result of their malicious lies and slander. It caused the pastor no small amount of sleepless nights, heartache, many tears and overwhelming stress. It was so hurtful that it almost caused him to want to give up and quit the ministry! Thankfully, the pastor leaned on the Lord for strength and he is still in the ministry today.

Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon tells us: “Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (26:20). If we want to guard against strife, we need to take a stand against gossip. Make a commitment to never speak a negative word about someone else – whether what you are saying is true or not. The power of life and death is in your tongue: speak life only!


Sweet Stolen Bread

Proverbs 20:17

“Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” (KJV)

The Pleasures of Sin:

I’m not going to lie to you – sin feels good. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t sin all the time, would they? The Bible says that sin is pleasurable… for a season (Hebrews 11:25). In the above Proverb, Solomon tells us that the bread of deceit is sweet to a man. In a literal sense he is saying that stolen bread tastes sweet, but in a figurative sense, I believe he is also talking about sin.

The term the bread of deceit reminds us that sin is deceitful. It looks and tastes good, but in the end it leads to death. When the devil first tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, it says that “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Gen. 3:6).

Before I became a Christian, I used to go out and get drunk with my friends. And I had fun doing it! Eating, drinking and being merry, getting drunk, dancing and partying was fun. For a season. A season that usually lasted until the next morning.

The Consequences of Sin:

When I woke up the next morning after a night of drunken partying, I was often hung over and feeling sick. There was one night when I had gotten so drunk that I blacked out and didn’t even remember the things I had done the night before. (Apparently I threw up in the backseat of a friend’s car, and they took pictures of me passed out in a ditch. Thank God they didn’t have Facebook back then!). I often felt guilty and ashamed of my behaviour while drunk.

Sin had promised pleasure, but instead provided pain and destruction. I think this is what Solomon means by the bread turning to gravel in your mouth. Sin may be pleasurable for a season, but in the end it leads to death.

A Harvest of Blessing:

So how should we respond to this warning? I believe Paul gives us a great application point in Galatians 6:8-9: “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” (NLT).

I spent the first 18 years of my life serving sin and Satan, and enjoyed the fleeting pleasures of sin. But I can honestly say that for the past 22 years, I have had more fun serving God, loving people, and doing good. There’s a joy that comes from a life that is surrendered to Jesus Christ. Live for Him today!


Mexican Haggling

Proverbs 20:14

“It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” (KJV).
“The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!” (NLT).

Haggling in Mexico:

In 2005, my mom blessed my wife Liza and me by sending us on a trip to Mexico to celebrate our ten year anniversary. While we were there, we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, reading and resting. There was one thing that Liza wanted to do while we were there: shopping.

I’m not a fan of shopping on the best of days. When Liza and I go to the mall, I will walk around with her for a little while, but inevitably, I will reach my limit and have to go find a food court so I can go sit down with a coffee to hopefully read a good book. But one of the things I wasn’t looking forward to was the obligatory haggling that would ensue on our shopping excursion.

Here’s an example of haggling from an old Monty Python movie…

One time a street vendor approached Liza and tried to sell her some bracelets for $60 each. Now, the bracelets weren’t worth anywhere near that, but my wife didn’t know how to haggle – even though it was welcomed and expected in Mexico. She had paid thirty dollars for a cowboy hat earlier that day (it was hot and she needed it) and we later saw it selling for $10-20 in other shops we entered. I told the vendor that the bracelets were more money than we were willing to pay, and so he offered to sell us three of them for $20 in total. So I bought them for Liza.

The Boasting Buyer:

How does the above story – and the concept of haggling or bartering – apply to today’s Scripture? Solomon is talking about a man who goes to a shop or the market to buy goods and he undervalues them, and says that they are no good, but after purchasing the items for a lower price, he goes away and boasts about his purchase. Does this mean that we shouldn’t haggle or barter for items? Not necessarily.

The issue that Solomon is dealing with here is the dishonest means that some would use to get a good deal. Matthew Henry says, “See how apt men are to be pleased with their gettings and proud of their tricks; whereas a fraud and a lie are what a man ought to be ashamed of, though he have gained ever so much by them.” John Gill also says the Scripture describes a buyer who feels like he has outwitted the seller “and so glories in his frauds and tricks, and rejoices in his boasting, and all such rejoicing is evil.”

So what is the universal principle behind this Bible verse that we can apply to our lives? God wants us to be honest and generous in all of our financial dealings, whether we are buying or selling. No dishonesty. No cheating. No stealing.


Mud Puddles

Proverbs 20:9

“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”

Mud Puddles:

boy in mud

Did you ever notice how little kids love to play in the mud? There’s something inside of them like a magnet that draws them towards mud and dirt. If you Google “child in mud” you will instantly come up with hundreds of photos of children playing in the mud. (And of course most of them are boys).

When I was a youth pastor in BC, I used to go to Stillwood Bible Camp every summer to be a counsellor at our church’s kids and youth camps. One of the highlights at the kids camp was the log fighting. We would have two kids of equal size sitting on a log that was elevated over a mud puddle, and both kids were given pool noodles. The object of the game was to knock the other person off of the log into the mud puddle. By the end of the game, everyone was covered in mud – even the counsellors! And then came the fun part – getting cleaned up.

Now, when you’ve got two hundred kids covered in mud from head to toe, it’s probably not a smart thing to send them back to their cabins to get cleaned up. (If you did that, the next big event of the day would be cabin clean up). So we lined the kids up in a field and got out the fire hose to hose them off. And that water was cold!

A Clean Heart:

It’s one thing to remove the dirt from your skin. It’s another thing entirely to remove dirt from your heart – we call that dirt sin – and make your heart clean. Have you ever tried to do it? It’s impossible, isn’t it? There’s no amount of good deeds we can to do reverse the stain of sin. When Solomon asks the question: who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” the assumed answer is, “No one.” That’s the bad news. But I have some good news, too!

In Isaiah 1:18, the prophet says, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” This is the good news! Although in our own ability, we can do nothing to take away our sins, God has already provided a solution for us – through His son Jesus Christ.

When we believe in Jesus, trusting Him to be our Lord and Saviour, God takes all of our sins and places them on Jesus on the Cross, and then freely credits to our account the righteousness of God. As we confess our sins to God, not only does He forgive us, but He also washes us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. What joy! What hope!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 


Beer is Good?

Proverbs 20:1

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (KJV). 

God is Great and Beer is Good…

Ahhh… family weddings. The pattern of these events is always the same: ceremony, reception, and then dancing! And with the dancing comes an abundance of country music songs. One of the popular songs that always makes it out onto the dance floor is a song by Billy Currington called People are Crazy. In this story song, he tells the tale about meeting an old man in a bar who tells him, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

Now while it is true that God is great (and few would argue with the fact that people are crazy!) is it true that beer is good? What does the Bible have to say about drinking alcohol? This has been a controversial topic among Christians for many years. The Bible does not have a black and white standard that says, “thou shalt not drink alcohol” but it does say a lot on the topic. Our Scripture teaches us that people who drink become mockers and fighters, and if you are led astray by alcohol, you are not wise. Still though it doesn’t say you cannot drink. Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the following Scripture gives a real clear picture into some of the dangers of drinking alcohol:

Warnings Against Drunkenness

“Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with – the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, Reeling and seasick, drunk as a sailor? “They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!” (Prov. 23:29-35).

So the Bible doesn’t say that you can’t drink alcohol, it just makes it abundantly clear that if you do, you can ruin your life! How many people have destroyed their lives or the lives of their families through the use of alcohol? My dad was an alcoholic who abandoned our family, so I know firsthand the negative effects of alcohol.

Finally, although the Bible doesn’t forbid the use of alcohol, it does state that drunkenness is a sin: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.” (Eph. 5:18). (Note – just because it says don’t be drunk with wine doesn’t mean it’s okay to get drunk on beer or rum or another form of alcohol!). Drunkenness leads to dissipation (excess in the KJV), a word that means an abandoned, dissolute, wasted life.

So – is beer good? You be the judge!


For Our Good

Proverbs 19:27

“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” (KJV).
“If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you have turned your back on knowledge.” (NLT).  

Mandatory Bike Helmets:

In the province of Manitoba where I reside, our government recently made a change in the laws regarding cycling. Effective the beginning of this month,* all cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a bike helmet. If you’re caught biking without a helmet, you have to pay a $50 fine. (However, first-time offenders can have the $50 fine waived if they complete an online bicycle helmet safety course).

I have four children – Caleb (16), Tori (15), Austin (13) and Hannah (10), and all of our family enjoys going bike-riding. However, when this new law was announced, our children – especially my oldest son Caleb – weren’t too excited about it. Wear a bike helmet? No way – that’s not cool! Not to mention the fact that it messes up your hair! However, as parents, we have told our children that our expectation is that if they want to ride a bike, they must wear a helmet.

Out biking with my daughter Hannah

Out biking with my daughter Hannah – with helmet on!

The Reason for the Rules:

I think one of the biggest objections children have to following rules is this: They want to know why. “Why can’t I ride a bike without a helmet? I’ll pay the fine myself if I get caught!” Such objections are missing the point. The purpose of the bike helmet law isn’t just to get people to pay a fine – it’s to keep people safe!

Our province says each year about 160 cyclists end up in hospital from cycling injuries, and many collisions result in serious injury or death. About 40% of those injuries involve children. Wearing a helmet reduces the chance of serious head and brain injury by more than 85% in the event of a crash. That’s the reason for the rules.

For Our Good:

Today’s Proverb tells us that if we stop listening to instruction, we are turning our back on knowledge. And we’re turning our back on God’s wisdom, too – and the benefits of obeying the Bible. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deut. 10:12-13). In other words, God’s commandments are for our own good – to protect us from harm, or provide blessings for us.

Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are a good God, and that when you give us rules, it is not to keep us from having fun, but rather to protect us and provide for the best life possible. Help us to listen to your wise instruction, and never turn our backs on knowledge. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

*Originally written in May of 2013.