Tag Archives: Wisdom

Help the Poor

Proverbs 19:17

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (KJV).

Help the Poor:

The first thing we see here is that God wants us to help the poor. Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.” (Mark 14:7). But who are the poor, and what does it mean to help the poor?

In his book, The Power of Generosity, Dave Toycen (President of World Vision Canada) writes: “Living in the twenty-first century offers tremendous opportunities to those who have, but for the three billion people of the world living on less than two dollars a day it’s a crushing existence of grinding poverty, despair, and unremitting daily challenges.”

In the Western World (those of you reading in Canada, the United States, England, etc), none of us think that we’re rich, but the truth is, we are. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? I have been on several missions trips to countries like Mexico and Costa Rica, and I can testify to the fact that we really do have it good.

To those of you reading this blog post today: We are the rich, and God has called us to help the poor. What does that look like? It could be as simple as giving money to a family that you know that is struggling financially, taking a homeless person for lunch, or giving money to mission works in third world countries.

Lend to the Lord and He Will Repay:

The Lord gives us a wonderful promise in this Proverb. When we give to the poor, we are actually lending to the Lord! This was echoed by Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40:

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me… inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” 

When we help the poor, we are lending to the Lord, and when we lend to the Lord, He will repay us. We will reap what we sow. When we care for those that God cares about, He takes care of our needs, too. So trust Him today, and look for ways to help the poor around you. Amen!

Lord, we have so much, but we are often selfish and unthankful people. Open our eyes to the poor and needy around us, so we can help them with your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.


It’s Black and White

Proverbs 19:16

“He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.”

Black

When we boil some things down to the basics we find that there are, in the bottom of every pot, little things called “black and whites.” Believe it or not, even though we live in a world of fifty shades of gray, blacks and whites are always among us.

It is not easy to label all the “blacks.” Nevertheless, some of the blacks have horrible consequences. When a man chooses not to keep the commandments of God he runs the real risk losing everything, including his life.

When will men and women ever learn that choosing to “despise” God’s way is not only selfish, but shows how messed up our priorities and preferences must be. How crazy is it that men will purchase destruction with their own rebellion?

Black and White

A wise man understands that there is a great price to pay when he breaks God’s commandments. The wise man keeps the Word of God because he knows his soul is more valuable than any temporary pleasures.

IMG_4120It is not always easy to tell between black and white, but God gave us his Word – in black and white. On those pages we can read what leads to life. We are warned of the things that lead to death. Yet, the fools of the world often choose to blur the letters on the page, smudging the ink until the page is gray and anything goes.

Dear God, we may not always keep your commandments, but we repent and ask for help to do what is right and holy. Even though we may fail at times, give us a heart with a desire to keep your Word, not despise it.


Restrained Anger

Proverbs 19:11

“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (KJV).
“People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” (NLT).

In Your Anger, Don’t Sin:

It’s not wrong to get angry. Anger is an emotion, and when bad things happen to us, we will feel angry. However, the Bible says, “Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Eph. 4:26, NLT). So anger itself is not a sin, but what we do with that emotion is what makes it either good or bad. If we let that anger control us or we explode and hurt other people with our words or actions, we have sinned.

The above Proverb tells us that a man’s discretion (or good sense, NLT) causes them to restrain their anger. When they are hurt, wronged, or offended, instead of lashing out in anger, they pass over the transgression. They choose to overlook the wrong. Or – they forgive.

Increase our Faith!

There’s an interesting story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is teaching His disciples about offenses and forgiveness. He said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:1,3-4).

What makes this story interesting is not just this hard statement about forgiveness, but how the disciples responded. They said, “Increase our faith!” In the past, Jesus had told them to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out devils, and they never asked Jesus for more faith. But when Jesus told them they had to forgive, they said, “We need help with this Jesus!”

How to Deal with Your Anger:

Jesus made it clear that offenses are going to come, and most of our anger comes from being hurt or offended by someone. We are living in a sin-cursed earth with hurting people who are hurting other people. So what do you do when you get hurt?

First of all, there is another Proverb that says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love.” (Prov. 17:9). To cover a transgression means you are willing to overlook it or forgive it. Because God has been gracious to us and forgiven us, we should extend grace to others and forgive them, too.

Secondly, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the one who heals our broken hearts (Luke 4:18). If someone hurts you, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for His healing. Spend time abiding in Jesus in prayer, and allow the fruit of the Spirit – which includes peace, kindness and self-control – to replace the anger. Amen! Receive His healing and forgiveness, and be at peace today.


Understanding Our Need

Proverbs 19:8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”

Understanding Ourselves

Our world likes to teach us that we must dig down deep inside of ourselves to find the truth of ourselves. They tell us it will help us find peace and freedom.

I tend to agree.

… just not for the reasons they claim.

Their claim is that we will find the good inside of us, the things that will bring us happiness, joy, and peace as we discover our true selves.

That is where I disagree.

While we may have good inside of us (God did create us, after all), if we dig down deep we find even more that we are not so good.

We are selfish, dishonest, angry, blasphemous individuals.

Being Honest with Ourselves

If we could be honest with ourselves, we would understand that there is no way we could find good in and of ourselves.

The only way to find good in ourselves is to get wisdom.

As has been said many times during our adventures through Proverbs (one time that comes immediately to mind is my commentary on Proverbs 3:18), Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is the only good we can find in ourselves when we believe in Him.

Getting a hold of Jesus, putting our faith in the truth of His life, death, and resurrection, shows that I love my soul.

Do you love your soul?

Wise Lord, reveal Your wisdom to us. Create in us a desire to seek You through bringing us all to understanding ourselves. Help us to live within that understanding and wisdom.


Head vs Heart

Proverbs 19:2

‘Desire without knowledge is not good –
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’

Desirable

It’s good to be passionate, to have strong desires to be love and to care. Without it life would be very boring, but as this Proverb hints at heart without a bit of head can lead us to miss the real path.

Unbalanced

A lot of people these days are driven purely by emotion. They go after things they want with reckless abandon. When we are totally driven by emotion we often end up making bad decisions and hurting people in the process. People driven by emotion will throw away relationships on a whim because they have seen the next best thing, they will chase promotions at the expense of colleagues, they will attempt to satisfy every whim and fancy in any way possible, and worst of all usually be blind to the trail of destruction in their wake. Our emotions need to submit to our common sense, and both need to submit to Jesus.

Counting the Cost

We need both desire and knowledge to make our decisions as we do not want to miss the way. Consider the words of Jesus:

Luke 14:28-33 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’

May we learn the power of passion and desire guided by wisdom and knowledge.


Still Waters Run Deep

Proverbs 18:4 

“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.”

The deepest waters in our world are found in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is reported to be 6.831 miles below sea level. The trench has been explored during several scientific expeditions, but for most of us it is just a name on a map or chart, or an entry in Wikipedia. Despite the efforts of scientists the deepest parts of the ocean generally remain a mystery because of their inaccessibility.

rockpool 4But even a rock pool is a different world. Life is different in the water. There are strange creatures and unusual colors. To reach the best and deepest pools it is necessary to scramble out across the rocks at low tide. This is something I did regularly as a child. Although my friends and I returned often to our favorite rock pools, they were never the same. Each new tide brought changes, trapping different creatures.

And so it is necessary to explore and go deep when searching for words to use in our daily encounters with other human beings, and also with God. We have to be careful with words. We have to be wise users of language. We need to develop a wellspring of wisdom as a resource on which we can draw every time we speak.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7 NIV)

A People of Understanding

Proverbs 18:2

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Time after time the book of Proverbs has given us characteristics of a fool:

  • Fools despise wisdom & instruction (Proverbs 1:7) 
  • Fools hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22)
  • Fools slander (Proverbs 10:18)
  • Fools cause mischief (Proverbs 10:23)
  • Fools are deceitful (Proverbs 14:8)

Our verse today adds one more characteristics – a fool is someone who does not want to understand.

Bla_Bla_Bla_by_explosiv22I knew a guy in college that was never wrong, even when he was wrong. He did not want to even consider the possibility of being wrong. He knew everything and had the answer to ever question that has ever been asked.

You know the type of person that I am talking about! They have no interest in hearing the truth but are speaking to hear themselves talk and to show others just how much they know.

The New Living says, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Fools want to talk all of the time and tell other people their opinions and how things should be done but don’t want to hear any instructions themselves because they know best. Many times, these people talk just to hear themselves, and all that the other people are hearing is “BLA, BLA, BLA”.

FULL CIRCLE

There are several verses in Proverbs that do this, but I believe that our verse today comes full circle with the whole theme of Proverbs. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

As Christians, how can we expect to fear the Lord and grow in knowledge when we want to live our lives the way we want to and aren’t willing to submit to HIS will for our lives. We are saying to Him that I just don’t want to understand Your ways and I think that I can do better. If we are living our lives this way, we are nothing but fools, but I do it all the time!

Lord, I pray that you would help me and others to live our lives in such a way that we would not be fools with our lives. I pray that we would be willing to submit ourselves to you and understand Your ways. 


What I Thought Was a Good Thing Was Not

Proverbs 18:1

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh [and] intermeddleth with all wisdom.”

Embarrassing

When talking through the Proverbs on one Wednesday night at church, my own wife, sitting on the front row, asked a question that caused me a little embarrassment. I had just read the above verse from the King James Version and was about to give my thoughts when she asked, “Why does my version read so differently?”

You see, I encourage my congregation to compare translations when doing a verse-by-verse study of Scripture, for, like turning a faceted jewel, a different perspective can bring out color and sparkle never seen before. It’s the same flawless stone, but from a different angle. Granted, not all translations agree on every interpretation, but where one might be off, a group of translations will clarify the proper meaning of the text.

So, my wife’s version read: He who separates himself seeks [his own] desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom(NASB). At that, another church member volunteered her version’s take: “Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense” (NLT).

I didn’t have an answer. What’s even worse, my interpretation of Proverbs 18:1 and the application I was going to make was no where even close to the idea the other two versions were conveying. What we had here was a preacher who didn’t follow his own advise and got caught not doing his homework.

My Original Thoughts

My original thoughts on Proverbs 18:1, based simply on a cursory reading of English I thought made perfect sense, went something like this:

“Through desire,” because a man has to have the desire or drive to do something worthwhile, a man who wants to learn sometimes has to get alone, push aside distractions, and “separate himself.” It’s something that takes commitment – you have to want it. But it’s not simply the “getting alone” that makes all the difference; it’s the seeking of wisdom from multiple disciplines that gives one understanding in more than one area of life. Or, you could just say that learning takes hard work, but you can’t be lazy – you have to work for it.

But that wasn’t what this verse is saying.

The Real Meaning

Please understand, the King James Version’s translation of verse 1 is not incorrect; the way we say things and how we use our words have changed, that’s all.

The other translations I mentioned rendered Proverbs 18:1 in a way modern readers, such as myself, could better understand the original text. Where I thought “desire” and “separated himself” meant something noble, the actual meaning of the original text (and the way an Elizabethan reader would have understood the KJV) was something selfish and arrogant.

Where I thought “intermeddleth with all wisdom” was saying the man checked out more than one book in the library, the word “intermeddleth” means to “to expose, lay bare,” or “quarrel with anyone, especially in dice, drinking, or in dividing an inheritance” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon).

So, another way you could interpret Proverbs 18:1 might go like this:

“Loners and arrogant know-it-alls think they’re in a class all to themselves and make few friends. They also have contempt for any wisdom that doesn’t come from themselves and are always trying to meddle with or subvert it to gain an advantage.”

Would you have interpreted it differently?


Grieving Parents

Proverbs 17:25 

A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
Foolish children bring grief to their father and bitterness to the one who gave them birth. (NLT)

This is an easy one for me to write given the many times I brought grief to my parents. However, I could blame them. I could say that it was their fault for moving to England when I was eleven years old. Perhaps if we had remained in Guernsey I would have been a better student, and a more respectful son. The friends I left behind in the island all stayed on at school until they were eighteen, and then went to university. I don’t recall that any of them got into much trouble.

Surroundings and friends definitely played a part, but at the end of the day it was me who made the decisions. I chose to mix with the bad kids and mess around at school. I chose to start drinking alcohol at fifteen, and I chose to start smoking. I chose to bring grief to my parents. They must have been secretly relieved when I joined the Merchant Navy at sixteen. At least they could no longer see what I was getting up to. But that didn’t stop me from being a foolish son. What stopped me was the need to be responsible in a working environment that was dangerous at times.

Fast forward many years and I have four sons, one daughter, and one grandson. There may have been occasions when one or more them (but not the grandson) have caused grief, but fortunately not so many. That is something for which I am very grateful to my heavenly Father. We sometimes forget that we cause Him grief too when we act foolishly as sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. It is a huge relief to know that He made a way for fools to be forgiven, and foolish behavior forgotten.


Facebook or Face-to-Face

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (KJV).

The Importance of Friendships

I can still remember the best friend I ever had in elementary school. His name was Jamie. His dad was the coach of our little league baseball team, and we did everything together. Friends have always been such an important part of my life, and I think that’s probably true of most people.

Social Networking?

However, in the world today, it seems like people are more isolated from one another than ever before. People may have 500 friends on Facebook, but how many of those connections are real life friends? It seems that in our social networking age, we’ve lost the art of face to face communication. Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here: I enjoy Facebook just as much as the next person, but we can’t allow our online friendships to become a substitute for real world interactions.

So how do those of us living in the 21st century maintain our important face to face friendships? By going back to the Book of Wisdom – Proverbs – and learning God’s keys for healthy relationships. We see three of them in the above Scriptures:

1.         A Friend Loves at All Times:

Did you ever notice that on the bottom left hand corner of your friends profile pages on Facebook that there is an “Unfriend” button? What a sign of the times! If your friend does something you don’t like, you just unfriend them. This is not how to keep and maintain healthy relationships. We must learn to love at all times and be loyal friends who stick closer than a brother. Jesus gave us that example of friendship when He said that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Let’s love at all times…

2.         A Friend Helps His Friends When They’re in Trouble:

Solomon said that a brother is born for adversity. What does that mean? The NLT translation says, “A brother is born to help in a time of need.” A true friend will help their friends when they go through difficult times. Jesus is a great example for us in this: “Jesus didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” (Romans 15:3, Message).

3.         If You Want Friends, Be Friendly:

Another Proverb says this about friendships: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24). I love the common sense wisdom of the Bible: If you want to have friends, then simply start by being friendly! If you want to have a good friend, then be a good friend. Wisdom to live by…