Tag Archives: Wisdom

Paranoid?

Proverbs 21:8

“The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.”
“The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.” ESV

Paranoid?

Have you ever known someone who was paranoid? People who suffer from paranoia exhibit irrational, unwarranted fears that others are out to get them. They act evasive, stealthy, and cautious. For example, some people wear aluminum caps on their heads in order to keep space aliens from reading their minds. Little do they realize space aliens have better things to do.

foil hatBut…one is only paranoid if his fears are unfounded. It’s not paranoia if someone’s really out to get you. Those who were afraid to use cell phones because the government might be listening aren’t considered paranoid anymore, are they?

Dodging

Some people may act a little paranoid, but they could have real reasons to fear. The one who is running from the law is always the one dodging and swerving, constantly on the lookout for blue lights and unmarked cars.

I used to know a guy who never drove on main roads. Every time he went anywhere he always took back roads, “short cuts”, and scenic routes. The reason was because his driver’s license had been revoked. He wanted to stay off the main roads because he knew the police were after him. He was not paranoid; he was guilty.

The man being described in this proverb has something to hide. He moves in “forward and strange” ways, not because he is crazy, but because he is trying to avoid being caught. His evasiveness is a dead giveaway.

In the Open

The guilty are always sneaking, shifting, and dodging in and out of arguments, discussions, responsibilities, and obligations. The pure of heart, however, are predictable and straight, never having to fear being found out. They know that God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12), so they have nothing to hide.

It is so much better to live in righteousness. Doing what is right allows one to take the main roads, the straight roads, and the visible-to-all roads.

“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” – Daniel 12:10 ESV

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8 ESV

Walk in grace and truth and it won’t matter who’s looking over your shoulder.


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.


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.


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.


God-given Understanding

Proverbs 20:12

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.”

Yesterday, we looked at how if even children are judged by their actions how much more adults are.

It would make sense that this verse follows, then.

Man in our world teach that our eyes and our ears came about by accident over millions of years.

They also teach that many cannot be held responsible for their actions in certain situations (to which there indeed are a few).

However, it was God who gave us our ears and our eyes.

Why is this important?

God has shown us we must follow His example:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

And He has told us how to live:

44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:44-48, NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35, NIV

God has given us eyes and ears to know that what He says and does is good and perfect and what we must do.

He has shown us the way and given us instructions. It is our duty to pay attention and follow Him.

Wise Lord, grant us the wisdom to listen to Your teachings, to see where You are moving, and to live in such a way to please You.

 


Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Fear God

Proverbs 19:23

“The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” (KJV). 

What is the Fear of the Lord?

The fear of the Lord is spoken of 13 times in the Book of Proverbs (in the KJV). Here are some of the things Solomon tells us about the fear of the Lord:

  • 1:7:      It is the beginning of knowledge.
  • 8:13:    It is to hate evil; pride and arrogance.
  • 10:27:  It prolongs days.
  • 14:26:  In it there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.
  • 14:27:  It is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.

One of the best descriptions is in Proverbs 16:6: “By the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” How can we break free from a life of sin? With a healthy fear of the Lord. But what does it mean to fear the Lord?

God the Great and Powerful:

In an effort to overemphasize the love and grace of God (to a fault), people have watered down what it means to fear the Lord. But if you study the original Hebrew word yirah, you will see that it means: fear, terror; awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear); fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety; revered. Although it is true that God is love, He is also awesome, powerful and great, and we need to rediscover a healthy fear of the Lord in the church today.

God is the Creator of the Universe, and as such, He is the one who has made the rules that govern life. And we as His creation have broken His rules, and therefore, we are guilty. Apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, there is no hope. But if we recognize that we are sinners, and turn from our sins and receive God’s free gift of salvation, then and only then we no longer need to fear the wrath of God. The Bible says, “So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family — calling him “Father, dear Father.” (Romans 8:15, NLT).

The Blessing to Those Who Fear God:

The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord leads to life, and when we have a fear of the Lord, we will be satisfied, and the Lord will protect us from evil. That’s a great promise! It’s time for those of us who call ourselves the children of God to begin to show respect for God and His Holy Word, and begin to live lives worthy of our calling. Away with apathy and compromise with sin!

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.” (1 John 4:17, NLT).


I’d Rather Be Poor

Proverbs 19:22

“The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.”
“What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.” – NASB

Nice Guys

A lot has been said about “nice guys.” Most of it is negative. According to everything I’ve ever heard, “nice guys finish last.” In other words, the only way to get ahead in one’s life or career is to be not nice.

This seems to hold true in many areas of life. For example, men know that women prefer “bad boys.” The heroes in movies are rarely 9-5 dads who drive the kids to ball practice in a mini-van. The sex symbol is usually a rough, tough, rule-breaking head-knocker in a leather jacket, not a law-abiding Presbyterian who mows the widowed neighbor’s grass.

Fortunately, God sees things differently. True nice guys (we’re talking men who want to serve God by serving others, not spineless wimps) will be rewarded for their works…if not in this life, then surely the next.

Poor Guys

Solomon said that it is better to be poor than to be a liar. True, but what does that have to do with the first part of this proverb? A lot, actually, especially if you understand how sales works.

I have heard sales managers tell me, “You goal is not to make friends, but to close deals.” They have told me, “You are too nice!” They have even said things like, “It’s not a lie, just as long as the client is happy.”

starving-bloggerDear reader, I would rather be poor than tell a lie. I have walked away from huge profits and badly-needed pay days in order to maintain my integrity.

It is truly better to be poor than to be a liar. Why? Because what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his own soul?

Father, teach us to be strong and courageous warriors for righteousness and soldiers of the cross. Yet, teach us also to be humble as Jesus was humble (Phil 2:7-8), showing kindness in truth.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” – Luke 6:35