Tag Archives: theology

Guard Your Mouth

Proverbs 13:3

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

Big Mouth

What can be said about this proverb that is not painfully obvious? Would it help if we read it in another translation?

The Holman (HCSB) puts it, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” The ESV says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” I’d say the message is the same, wouldn’t you?

A big mouth will get you into serious trouble. It may even cost your life.

Loose Lips

There used to be a saying back in the 1940’s: “Loose lips sink ships.” During World War II enemy spies were known to make friends with the families of soldiers and sailors. Knowing the tendency for proud parents, spouses, and children to talk about letters from the front, the enemy would listen and take note.

Many times, without even knowing it, something was said that gave details of secret missions. Lives were lost when people said more than they should.

Sometimes people get into serious trouble because they can’t keep secrets. Some people say things they don’t mean to say. Some people open their big mouths without thinking, then destruction comes.

Post a Guard

If you have a tendency to say things you shouldn’t, you may need to erect some barriers, or even post a security guard in front of your mouth. You can never be too safe when you know you possess something so dangerous.

Look back at the proverb; it says, “he that keepeth..” That means “to put a guard around.” A wise man will have in place a guard – a mental guard – that checks his words before they cross his lips.

Guard:  Good evening, Mr. Word. Going out for a stroll, tonight?

Mr. Word:  Actually, Mr. Security Guard, it’s none of your business where I am going.

Guard:  Oh, most certainly it is! If you don’t provide a good reason for leaving the premises, I must ask you to return.

Mr. Word:  All right, then. I was about to tell my wife that dress looks better on the hanger than her.

Guard:  (Speaking into a radio microphone) I need backup, immediately  Get back sir! Get away from the gate! You are a danger to all of us!

A Real Danger

If you don’t think your words are worth guarding, consider what James said about the tongue…

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT

Now, consider the words of the Apostle Peter…

“For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'” – 1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT

Be careful what you say.

 

 

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An Honest Salesman?

Proverbs 12:5

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.”

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was actually a pretty successful salesman at one time. But if there was anything that characterized the average salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? You will know him when he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say that there were times I did just that, even when the rent was due. Taking advantage of customer was wrong, and even though I might have needed the money, the end didn’t justify the means.

Believe it or not, there are some honest salespeople out there. However, there are also a lot of deceitful customers, too. Just saying.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.


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.


Am I spending too much time with fools?

Image result for fool no god

Atheist

Scripture portrays fools as those who have rejected God and his ways and are unable or unwilling to appreciate the wisdom of knowing and obeying him. A great example is “A fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”

So what to do? Argue with atheists? Have wonderful debates over theology and dogma?

Not hardly. They are a waste of my time. They are a waste of my words. Jesus warned me to not cast my pearls before swine. Continue reading


Foaming Angry

Proverbs 25:23

“The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.”

Which Is It?

This is one of those verses in the Bible that cause interpreters and writers of commentaries to scratch their heads. One puts it this way: “This little proverb is extraordinarily beset with problems.”* According to the scholars and biblical language experts, it is hard to determine what Solomon means, exactly.

You see, there are issues with the “north wind”: does the verb “driveth” really mean to “drive away” or to “bring?” The verb actually means to “bring forth, as with labor pains.” Either way makes the second part hard to interpret: does an angry look come because of a “backbiting tongue,” or does the indignant tongue make the “angry countenance” go away?

If the north wind drives a cold rain away, then the parallel is that an angry look should hush up a slandering tongue. However, if the north wind brings the rain, then a slandering, backbiting tongue causes angry looks. Which one is it?

My Interpretation

One day, a long time ago, I tried to help someone. With a humble, servant-like attitude I bent over backwards to accommodate this individual, even though I knew it was going to be difficult for me. Then, that very evening, I was informed of slander being spread about me – stories that I had done the complete opposite and actually refused to help the person in need.

The word in this verse translated “angry” means “to foam at the mouth, speaking of a camel…”** Dear reader, I am not super spiritual – I am still human – so when I heard of what was being said of me, well…let’s just say I’m glad the walls of my house are made of brick. You could say I was foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

However you choose to interpret Proverbs 25:23, backbiting and slander can cause serious problems. Talking about people behind their backs simultaneously drives away showers of blessing and brings in cold rains of sorrow.

Watch your tongue and the weather will be fine.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalms 34:13-14 ESV

Sources:

*Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 209.

**Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 250.


Fe Fi Fo Fum

Proverbs 21:16

The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

It wouldn’t take much to imagine a fairy tale attached to this proverb. If we ponder the meaning of the last word, a tragic version of Jack and the Beanstalk might unfold.

The Giant Dead

Go ahead and think of the “congregation of the dead” as an assembly of gruesome zombies. No one would want to have supper with them, not unless they wanted to be the main course. Think also of a cemetery, a place where the dead have surely congregated and remain to this day. Either one would be a mental picture worthy of us staying on the right path.

giant

From “Jack the Giant Slayer”

But one could also think of the “congregation of the dead” as something else. One commentary points out that the early church Fathers regarded the Rephaim [the Hebrew word translated as “dead”] as “the giants,” in accordance with their interpretation of Gen. 6:1–4.* So, picture with me, if you please, a spiritual version of bone-crushing, fe-fi-fo-yelling, monsters.

What could be scarier than foolishly wandering off the path of understanding, only to run into a congregation of 50ft-tall man-eaters? Not much one can do.

The Wanderer

Sadly, there are many who wander away in their own wisdom. They think the way of understanding is too boring, too uneventful, and too safe. They believe they know a better way, so they take off on their own into the dark.

Unfortunately, Solomon uses language that implies a sense of permanence. He says that the one who wanders away “shall remain” with the dead, or giants, or whatever. By that he means a “rest as at a journey’s end; death will be his unchanging home.”**

The Wayward

Too often parents and grandparents say that children need to “sow their wild oats,” meaning that they should be allowed to act with indiscretion and abandon while they are still young. Tragically, many of those young people wind up trapped by the congregation of giants, never to be seen again.

Would Solomon have suggested sowing oats in a giant’s field?

Sources:

*Proverbs, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 407.

**Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Pr 21:16.


Watch Your Mouth or Get Your Lights Turned Out

Proverbs 20:20

“Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

My Daddy Used to Say

My father has been mentioned before, but I am going to talk about him again. You see, my dad had a very simple way with words – he said what he meant and he meant what he said. I rarely heard him raise his voice, and I didn’t want to.

One of the things my father used to say was based on the stand-up comedy of Bill Cosby (before he became infamous). He would tell me, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” But unlike modern children who never hear talk like that, I believed him.  And believe me, he was very capable.

Respect

Once I said something disrespectful to my mother and quickly regretted it. Another time, when doing some martial arts sparring, I struck my dad a little too hard in the jaw (doing the “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine). That was a big mistake.

I loved my daddy. He was my best friend and my hero. But my dad was quick to remind me that he was my father. He expected and demanded respect for both my mother and himself, and I gave it. I would have never considered “cursing” either one of them.

Cursing

When we look closer at the word “curseth,” we see that the meaning has more to do with making little of, or showing contempt for one’s parents, which is more than simply hurling bad words. Cursing one’s parents is showing utter disrespect.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where children think they have the right to fire off obscenities and make demands of their parents, like parents were meant to be their slaves. And what makes it worse, many laws encourage this type of “cursing” by punishing parents who exercise any discipline.

Consequences

Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The “cursing” that Solomon mentions, then, is seed which will one day reap a harvest of darkness.

Irony can be a wonderful tool, and Solomon uses it beautifully in this proverb. Just take a moment and think about it: the cursing children wouldn’t even exist without the parents they deem so invaluable, so who needs a progeny with no predecessors?

Our Father in heaven brought us into this world, and He can surely take us out.