Tag Archives: Warnings

Hiding in Hatred

Proverbs 18:3

When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.”
When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.”

Sinning in plain sight

You probably know or know of someone who does whatever he or she wants. There is no apparent care about what others think, because they keep doing things that annoy/disturb/gross out/offend most everyone around.

You probably find yourself thinking unholy thoughts, such as “God, just smite him already!” or “I should just smack her!”

This is how contempt comes.

The good Christian wants to point out how this person is sinning. It is good to bring people to an awareness of sin in the hope that they repent.

However, if done with contempt, we should expect a backlash, for we are acting no better and not showing true love to our neighbor.

For shame!

Of course, when sin is exposed and guilt is felt, we may still see a backlash even if we confront sin in love.

When a person feels shame, the first reaction from our sinful nature is to justify, excuse, and defend. Often times this happens through attacks on the one who exposed the sin, such as the good Christian friend.

As Adam and Eve hid in the bushes, a sinner caught in sin hides in hatred and contempt.

If the sinner is called out in a moment of contempt, there comes a good, old-fashioned fight!

The Christian

When the Holy Spirit convicts us, how do we respond?

Do we respond out of shame, trying to justify, excuse, and defend our sin?

Do we respond instead out of reverence and thankfulness, repenting and praising God for His grace and love?

Gracious God, thank You for grace and forgiveness. Thank You for going to the cross in spite of our wickedness and contempt. Help us to love all, especially those who show contempt for Your Son and righteousness.


What Are You Listening To?

Proverbs 17:4

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” (KJV).

Be Careful What You Hear:

There is an old Sunday school song that says, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear!” It’s a fun song, but it also promotes a very Biblical principle. Jesus Himself said, “Therefore take heed how you hear.” (Luke 8:18a). To take heed means to be careful. We need to be careful what we choose to listen to! Words are powerful, and words can either bring life or death into people’s lives.

In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us warnings about two different kinds of people: Wicked people, and liars. He tells us that a wicked person will give heed – or listen – to false lips, and a liar will give ear – or listen – to a naughty (malicious, spiteful, destructive) tongue. We know that as Christians, God doesn’t want us to be a wicked person or a liar. Therefore, we would be wise to not listen to false lips or naughty tongues.

False Lips and Naughty Tongues:

There are many false lips and naughty tongues in the world today. Wicked people and liars will use their lips and tongues to tell lies, slander people, gossip about others, and stir up strife and disunity – in families, churches, and indeed all relationships. Therefore, we must be on our guard against such people! It’s sad to say that you can even find those people… in the church. As a pastor, I can tell you that there is nothing more dangerous or harmful in a church than people who will stir up strife and division through their negative words!

So what do we do when we find ourselves surrounded by people with false lips and naughty tongues? We can’t just go and bury our heads in the sand or move into a monastery, can we? Of course not. However, we must still guard our hearts from such negative words. Elsewhere in Proverbs, Solomon gives us this warning: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). (Click HERE to read Jason’s devotional about this Scripture). Our ears and eyes are the windows to the heart, so we must be careful what we put into them.

How to Guard the Heart:

How can we keep our heart from being affected by hearing negative words – lying, strife, gossip, slander and more? First of all, make a decision that you will not allow your heart to be a garbage can for other people’s negative words. The next time someone starts gossiping to you, or talking negatively about someone else, refuse to listen to it. (And remember this – if someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you! This is not the kind of friend you need…). And secondly, make a decision that you will watch your words, and make sure that no negative speech comes out of your mouth. Use your words to bring life to people!

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the old Sunday school song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes:

 


It’s a Trap!

Proverbs 16:28.

“A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

The danger of strife:

In an earlier passage in Proverbs, Solomon describes seven things that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). It’s interesting to note that three of those seven have to deal with sins of the mouth – a lying tongue, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord. As we are working on building healthy relationships, God warns us about one of the deadliest traps to avoid: strife.

Solomon tells us that strife comes from a froward, or a perverse, person. A godly man on the other hand will not stir up strife. Strife is so deadly that it can even separate the best of friends. It is very dangerous to cause strife, by gossiping about and slandering another person. Proverbs 6:15 warns us about the consequences about being a person who sows discord: “But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken beyond all hope of healing.” We must be ever-vigilant to guard against strife. Proverbs also warns us: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Prov. 17:14). “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” (Prov. 26:20). Want to stop the deadly fire of strife? Stop gossiping!

The importance of unity:

In one of my favourite Psalms, David shows us why strife is so dangerous by talking about its opposite: unity: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious anointing oil… For there the Lord commanded the blessing– Life forevermore.” (Psalm 133). Here, David teaches us that unity is good, and that when we walk in unity with one another, God’s presence is there (symbolized by the anointing oil), His blessing is there, and eternal life – salvation – is found there. Is unity important? Absolutely.

As a pastor, when I work with a team of leaders, one of the most important principles I try to instill in them is an understanding of the importance of unity. If a leadership team (or a church, or a family – the principle works anywhere) walks in unity, they will experience God’s blessing. But once we allow strife to come in, it can destroy any team, church or family. It is one of Satan’s greatest weapons – it’s a trap! If God blesses unity, then the enemy will do whatever he can to stir up strife.

How to guard the unity:

How do we walk in unity? First of all, realize that offenses are going to happen. People are going to do things to hurt you, but you don’t have to pick up that hurt or offense. Choose to forgive. And if you have a problem with someone, go and talk to them about it, instead of talking to someone else about it. Guard the unity, keep out the strife, and you will walk in God’s blessing!


Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


Stop Yelling At Me!

Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.”

I’m not listening!

I have been that person.

I know I am right. I know you are wrong. Therefore, I do not want to hear what you have to say.

Something becoming increasingly popular in Western society is the idea that we are basically good and can make our own truth.

When we are each good and can make our own way to heaven (if it even exists), we do not [think] we need to hear any other supposed truth.

Stop yelling at me!

I have been that person.

When I  have felt guilty, I always wonder what others are saying about me. Then, if someone innocently brings up whatever has me feeling guilty, it feels like they are attacking or even yelling at me.

Look at our world today. Whether or not they can admit it, everyone is guilty of sin. If we try to tell them of their guilt and/or the Guiltless One, Jesus of Nazareth, they get defensive. They feel attacked.

Final Destination

Sadly, in their self-righteousness or guilt, they come to hate any correction we can offer.

It really comes down to pride. If this is the way the continue, ultimately they may very well miss out on eternal life. The only other destination is Hell, eternal separation from God.

Ask yourself, do you get defensive when another person points out your faults or sins? Do you feel attacked if you are corrected?

Patient Father, show us Your grace and help us overcome our pride. Let us not be counted with those who spurn Your rebuke. Lead us in all righteousness to humility and truth, that we might heed Your correction and lead others to everlasting Life.


Fire Words

Proverbs 15:1

“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (KJV).
“A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire” (The Message).

Have you ever thought about how powerful your words are? Solomon tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21). Think about that for a minute. Every word you speak to someone can bring life or death to them. In the above passage of Scripture, we learn that our words can diffuse the most difficult fights or arguments. If we speak gentle words, we can turn away wrath. But if we respond with harsh words, we will only stir up that other person’s anger. We also learn here that gentle words can bring life and health to someone, and negative words can crush someone’s spirit.

James gives us a great word picture to help us see the power in our words when he writes: “The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:5-6).

I think it’s interesting that James uses fire to represent the power of the tongue. Fire is a tool, and it can be used for either good or evil purposes. The same fire that can be used to cook your food or warm your house can also be used to burn down a building. Likewise, our words can be used to bring encouragement or comfort, or to bring death and destruction.

In his book, The Power of Your Words, Robert Morris gives three suggestions for how we can begin the process of taming our tongue.

  • Pause: Hold on there just a minute. Before you open your mouth, pause for a minute. James exhorts us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” (James 1:19). God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk!
  • Ponder: Let’s give that some thought. The Bible says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Eph. 4:29). If your words don’t fit into that category, then don’t say them!
  • Pray: Appeal to a higher power. If words are so powerful, then we should pray that God would give us the ability to tame our tongues. Let’s pray that God would set a guard over our mouths.

Control Your Anger

Proverbs 14:29

“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” (KJV).
“Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” (NLT).

The Emotion of Anger

The Book of Proverbs gives us a smorgasbord of wisdom that applies to every area of our life: It gives us wisdom in our relationships, family life, dealing with finances and walking in righteousness. But it also gives us a window into our heart, and helps us to consider our emotions as well. In the above Proverb, Solomon addresses the emotion of anger.

Anger is not necessarily a bad thing. It is an emotion, and when we are treated unfairly, we are going to get angry. However, what we do with that emotion is what makes it good or evil. If we can control our anger, it proves that we have great understanding. But those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. I’ve seen people get angry and then do things that they later regretted, impulsive and often embarrassing mistakes. When we control our anger, we can avoid some of those blunders.

How do we control our anger?

So what is the antidote to a person who struggles with anger? It’s easy to say, “Stop being so angry!” But it’s another thing entirely to try to control those emotions in your own life. What is the answer then? I believe it’s found in a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a church in Galatia. He starts out by identifying the problem: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21). He then gives the solution: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23).

How do we get more of this fruit of the Spirit in our lives? Spend time with Jesus in prayer! Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Lord, help us to abide in the secret place of prayer, abiding in Jesus the Vine, so we can bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Amen!