Tag Archives: proverbs

All Hands On Deck!

Proverbs 12:24

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.”

Hard Work Never Hurt Anyone!

Ever had a lazy day? Did you feel better afterwards? Perhaps you did. Perhaps you followed one lazy day with another. We are told that there are people in society who live like this. Certain elements of the media in the UK regularly feature stories of large lazy families who spend their lives doing nothing, apparently encouraged and supported by the welfare state. It is wrong to condemn those who may have to rely on welfare in difficult economic times, but it is hard to understand those individuals who just don’t want to work.

Working for God

Scripture tells us to do everything as if we were doing it for God (Colossians 3:23). This instruction should apply equally to every aspect of our daily lives whether we are at work, at home, at church, or socializing with friends, etc. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that laziness is acceptable. So why are there so many passengers in church?

All Hands on Deck

Think of church as a working ship. If the church is the body of Christ then there can be no passengers. We are called to work together for the advancement of God’s kingdom. If all we do is occupy a seat every Sunday morning then the warning about slothfulness contained in this proverb needs to be heeded. In a working ship there is no room for the slothful. Every person has a job. Every job is important. While the captain is ultimately in command he cannot sail without a crew. A ship needs watch-keeping officers and engineers, deckhands and catering staff. It is vital that the right skills are exercised in the correct places, and it is important that all members of the crew are diligent in their work. Is your church a working ship or a passenger liner where half the people on board are on permanent vacation?

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Just Zip It

Proverbs 12:23

“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.”

My wife has an expression for the person whose mouth opens and gushes forth streams of idiocy which should have remained locked away in the reservoir of the heart.  She calls it, “a case of diarrhea of the mouth.”   Mark Twain must have had the same idea in mind when he famously quipped, “It is better to have people to think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

WHAT IS IT ABOUT US? 

What is it about us, that we think we have to speak even when we have nothing of value to say?  Is it that hearing the sound of our own voice makes us feel important?  Is it that we want to be perceived as intelligent, wise and knowledgeable, able to speak authoritatively concerning any and every subject?  Or is it that we are threatened by silence, as if we must fill the space between us and the others around us with words, lest a moment’s silence should become an awkward void?

A PERSONAL ISSUE FOR PREACHER-TYPES

I submit that the issue of Proverbs 12:23 is of tremendous significance for myself and my fellow “preacher-types.”  We are absolutely the worst when it comes to feeling obligated to fill the air with words.  I have just come away from a Sunday afternoon, pastoral visit with a senior citizen, a widow in my congregation.  She, like many women of her age and station in life, is lonely and doesn’t have company in her home very often.  Therefore when I visit, she enjoys the chance simply to chat away about loved ones, some of whom I know, most of whom I do not.  As she reminisced this afternoon, there was a moment in which I could hear my own voice, rising above hers, commenting on something she had just said.  Maybe I was simply trying to let her know that I was listening, that I was engaged in what she had to say.  But probably not.  It’s more likely that I just couldn’t stand being out-talked for even a few minutes.  I thought to myself, “If I were listening in on this conversation, I would conclude that guy (me!) is quite a jerk.”

IN THE PULPIT

Oh, and how about in the pulpit?!  I once had a seminary professor who warned my class that the greatest danger for preachers in the pulpit is that we’ll be tempted to say things that simply aren’t true—treating biblical principles as promises, projecting guaranteed outcomes, and so forth.  Is that anything other than “proclaiming foolishness”?  I had another seminary prof who often remarked, “Anyone who makes his living from his religion will eventually lose one or the other.”  How many “hireling” preachers have absolutely prostituted their faith in the pulpit, proclaiming foolishness, just to earn a paycheck?

ZIP IT UP

The proverb above tells us quite bluntly:  zip it up!  You don’t have to say everything you think. You don’t have to teach everything you know.  You don’t have to win every argument.  You don’t have to express every opinion.  You don’t have to weigh in on every debate.  If someone asks you for the time, you don’t have to lecture them in the craft of building a grandfather clock. It is far more prudent to keep a reservoir, a storehouse, of wisdom inside, from which you pull out treasures only when necessary (Matthew 13:52).  Knowing our propensity for gabbing when wisdom calls for silence, the great Peter Marshall prayed, “Great questions stand unanswered before us, and defy our best wisdom.  Though our ignorance is great, at least we know we do not know.  When we don’t know what to say, keep us quiet.”

WHAT A WISE MAN!

Twenty years ago I recall an elderly Presbyterian gentleman giving some tidbits of wisdom to me and several other young aspiring pastors.  He said, “Men, for your first year in ministry, at each meeting of Presbytery simply sit and do not say a word.  No matter how important the issue, no matter how heated the debate, no matter how much insight you might have about the subject, for your first year you are to say absolutely nothing on the floor of Presbytery.  After you have completed one year of silence, then you may make your first motion on the floor.  Your first motion should be, ‘I move that we break for coffee and doughnuts.’  Then the entire Presbytery will think of you, ‘What a wise man!’”

 

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw, the less he spoke

The less he spoke, the more he heard

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

 

  Father God:  Give us the grace of silence.  Through Christ our Lord:  Amen. 


Do You Sing Your Lies?

Proverbs 12:22

“Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”

Strong Words

God is very clear about how He feels about lying lips. Proverbs 6:16-19 gives us a list of seven things that God hates:

  • A proud look
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
  • Feet that be swift in running to mischief
  • A false witness that speaketh lies
  • And he that soweth discord among brethren

If this list of things God hates is not bad enough for you, let me share with you another list. This list comes from Revelations 21:8 which says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, AND ALL LIARS, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

These are some strong words coming from God! So then why do we not take lying more serious? Why do we (Christians) dismiss the little “white lies” and “half-truths” as something that is OK? 99% of the truth is a lie and God hates it!

Singing Our Lies

Since 1999, I have been the worship leader at my church. Many times I have stood on the stage and watched people sing lies. Yes, you heard me! I have watch people “sing” lies. For the record, I have been guilty of singing quite a few lies myself.

We all stand together in a church service and sing the beautiful song “I Surrender All”, with the words, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presents daily live”. Then as soon as we get up out of our seat (or maybe even before the service is over) we begin to worry about how we are going to handle things. Or we go on living the lives that we want to have instead of the life that God wants for us!

We sing the song “You Are My King (Amazing Love)” knowing full well that we are the one calling most of the shots in our life.

A. W. Tozer once said, “Christians don’t tell lies they just go to church and sing them”.

These are lies and God hates them!

“Ratsown”

In the last part of this verse we see the word “delight”. The Greek word for delight is “ratsown”, which means “acceptance, pleasure, favor”. God is telling us that He takes pleasure, or finds favor in those who tell the truth. The New Living Translation of this verses puts it this way, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.

Tell the truth and tell it right,
A lie will never do;
The Bible says that God is truth—
He wants the truth from you. —Branon

Lord, help us to be truthful with our words. Help us to understand just how much you despise lies! I pray that each and everyone of us would find favor in your sight by speaking the truth!


Wound or Incision?

Proverbs 12:18

“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Cut Open

I have never been pierced with a sword but I have been cut open during surgery. While under anesthetic the surgeons made a twelve-inch incision from my chest bone downwards so that they could gain access to my abdomen to remove a large section of diseased colon. Thirty-five metal staples were used to close the wound. When I came round after the surgery the pain was indescribable.

Of the several tubes I found attached to my body, one was set up to allow me to self administer measured doses of morphine. This dulled but did not remove the pain. It was ten days before the staples were removed and I was discharged from hospital. Although the pain had reduced it took a while for it to fade completely. For three months the discomfort meant that I slept sitting up, while the scar remained sensitive for years.

Pain or Healing?

This proverb is a warning of the pain that words can cause. “Reckless words piece like a sword” says the NIV, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The truth is that words can hurt just like the cutting of a sword, or a surgeon’s scalpel. Pain of this nature does not go immediately; it lingers. It may fade, and time may indeed be a healer, but words can cause lasting damage. It may be years before the scars left by hurtful words cease to be sensitive.

Where words of healing are required then the challenge is to select such words with the utmost of care, and preferably under the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. It is often the case that we mean to bring healing, but the words that we use merely intensify the pain. Be careful. Sometimes it is wiser not to speak at all.


Lego Lesson

Proverbs 12:15

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Let’s be honest, this is not a hard verse to understand, but extremely hard to follow. If a person thinks that they know it all, and that they have all the right answers, and that their way is better than everyone else’s, then they are pretty much a fool. Plain and simple! But before you get angry at me for saying this, don’t forget that these words are coming from the wisest man who ever walked on the earth.

The Fool

Many times as a teenager, my father would give me advice on how to handle situations that were coming up in my life. And as a very stupid kid, most of the time I did not listen to his wise counsel. Why? Because I thought that I knew how to handle the situation more than he did. I thought my way was right. I was too proud and thought that I knew what was best.

My father had every right to hand me the Bible and ask me to read about myself in Proverbs 12:15. I was a fool for not listening to his advice that he was willing to give to me to help me in tough times.

Oh, how I wish I had listen to my father!

A Lesson from Legos

Back in January of 2012 we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday. We had been asking her what she wanted for her birthday and she kept telling us Legos (a girl after my own heart!). A few months before, Lego came out with a new line of products just for girls called Lego Friends.

Well, her birthday came and we purchased her a part of the Lego Friends collection. We celebrated her birthday and the first thing she wanted to do was to open her new Legos and put them together.

I explained to her that it was very important that we read the instructions and follow each and every step. She promptly told me that she did not need my help and that she knew how to put everything together. I explained it to her again, but I got the same response.

I walked across the room from where she was gathering all of her pieces to put together and I sat there, watching her try to figure out where to start and what to do next. She got her instructions out and began to follow them step by step, until…

I had moved on to other things because she seemed to have everything under control. That was until I heard her scream for help. When I came into the room, she was trying to force a Lego into a section where it just did not want to go. She kept telling me, “This piece fits here, I just know it does”.

As I began to search out the problem, I realized that she had skipped several pages in the instruction manual and had just started to put pieces where she thought they needed to go. After a while, it caught up with her and caused problems.

Why did she have problems? Because she did not follow the instructions (advice or counsel) that were given to her. She thought her way was better!

Some of the best advice that I, or anyone else can give you is this, get advice! Get people in your life that are godly people and seek their counsel. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Don’t be a fool, seek wise counsel!


The Word that Makes a Difference

Proverbs 12:12

“The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

Which Word?

In the version of Scripture written above (KJV), the Hebrew word מָצוֹד (mä·tsōde’) is translated net. In other versions it is rendered as stronghold, booty, catch, loot, and “what evil men have” (HCSB). So which is the correct word? Simple! The correct word is מָצוֹד; the rest are translations.

Seriously, there are still many in Christendom who would argue over this, but I’m not going to. You see, the idea is the same: the wicked desire what evil men have, along with whatever it takes to get and keep it.

Sometimes it’s just not that easy to put all that into one English word.

The Contrast

There is a stark contrast between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” Can you distinguish it? One wants what another has, while the other wants nothing more than to produce for others.

We see in this proverb the difference between one man who envies the successful criminal, and another man who cares not for what others have; he just wants to be a productive citizen.

The wicked, however resourceful, however brilliant, is selfish. In his heart he longs to be more like his more evil counterparts, his heroes who live in bigger houses, drive nicer cars, and exert more influence and power. He cares nothing about who he has to walk on to get there, even his heroes.

The righteous is content with where he is planted and only wants to do the best with what he has been given. He doesn’t necessarily aspire for a greater station in life, only to be useful, helpful, and an encouragement to future generations. He is known for giving of himself.

The Hard Truth

But do you want to know something really sad? Do you want to hear something horrible? So many of us have allowed ourselves to be the “wicked” man in this proverb and don’t even realize it!

James chapter four deals a lot with the envious nature of man and his tendency to fight and war when he doesn’t get what he wants. We war with each other because we want what the other has. We lust; we envy; we even consider killing.

You cry out in defense of your character, “Oh, but that’s not me!” Really? I’d bet you a dollar to a movie ticket you’ve had thoughts like the “wicked” man in Proverbs 12:12. Ever wished you could be the bad guy in a movie? Ever wished you could have the power that came with being a vampire? Ever wished you could strike fear into a person’s heart like a mob boss can?

See, the hard truth is that none of us are righteous, “no not one.” Our wicked flesh is more desperate and sneaky than we give it credit. But how do we change? As the Apostle Paul once asked (Rom. 7:24), “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Jesus, that’s who…the Word that really makes a difference.

 


Vision or Fantasy?

Proverbs 12:11

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Uh Oh

Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?

Vision vs Fantasies

I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.

But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.

Leaning on Webs

What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.

Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
    what he relies on is a spider’s web.
 He leans on his web, but it gives way;
    he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)

Lean on God.