Tag Archives: Wisdom

Commended and Despised

Proverbs 12:8

“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.”

First Look

When I first read this verse, I thought “This is not how our world approaches a man of wisdom versus a man with a perverse heart.”

As of 2012 we can see a stark difference in how people see others.

Many people compare the 44th US President, Barack Obama, with the 40th US President, Ronald Reagan. Most Republicans view Reagan as one of the greatest leaders in American history, but most Democrats think he did horribly. Most Democrats view Obama as a great leader, but most Republicans think he has done horribly.

Depending on who you discuss these men with, they are either as seen as wise and adored or wicked and despised.

Second Look

Looking farther back, however, we see two different men generally respected. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is touted by both political parties as one of their own (even though he was the first Republican President), because he led the nation through a horrible civil war that helped free slaves (to an extent, at least). The other President, the 35th, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, is also generally seen as a wise leader. He managed to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis and balance the Federal Budget. Both men were assassinated.

Both men had faults – no one denies that. These men also were able to lead well during difficult times through wisdom.

The Church

People generally have good qualities, even the worst of us, but it may be harder for some people to see them.

Sadly, we see this kind of division within the Church, as well.

There are strong leaders who are not known by most people. There are nearly demonic leaders revered by the masses. There are people all throughout the spectrum in between and reversed.

Most of us know names like Billy Graham and John Stott. We also know names like Fred Phelps of Westboro “Baptist Church” and Jim Bakker of “Praise the Lord” fame. The first set are seen as great, holy men of God. The second set are seen as wicked and … perverse.

There are men and women throughout the Church who fall under these descriptions.

We must show grace to all, because even the best of us are weak at times (Even the Apostle Paul admitted so in Romans 7). Trust is always earned, but we must still show love. (There are other posts for discussing the reasons we fail)

Our wise King, give us wisdom to tell the difference between wise and perverse leaders. Help us grow in wisdom that we may be loved and respected, to Your glory.

Advertisements

The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


What Are Your Expectations?

Proverbs 11:23

“The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”

Righteous People

When we think of the term “righteous,” think of someone who is fair and just, for that is what the word entails. We’re not necessarily talking about a pious saint, or something, but a decent, God-fearing man or woman.

What are the characteristics of this type of person? The proverb says they “desire…only good.”

Now, some interpret this verse in such a way as to say, “The godly can look forward to a reward,” as in the New Living Translation. The ESV says that the desire of the righteous “ends only in good.” But I think it is better to interpret this verse as saying, “The object of the desire of the righteous is good.”

Righteous people are good people; they want good things to happen. And usually, because of their desires, good is the result.

Wicked People

Wicked people, on the other hand, want no such thing: they want trouble. What is good for the wicked is bad for everyone else. Wrath is what they hope for.

Again, some interpreters want to convey the idea that what the wicked will receive in the end is wrath. In other words, wrath is what they should expect in the end. That may be so, but there is something here in this verse worth noting.

Hope and Desire

The word translated “expectation” is also the Hebrew word for “cord,” as in a “line” of scarlet thread. Yes, it can mean “hope,” but interestingly it was the same word used in Joshua 2:18 that is translated “line,” as in the scarlet thread that Rehab hung from her window.

The word translated “desire” has more to do with a strong passion for something. Literally, it is the good version of lust. Lust is the wanting of something bad. In this case, desire is the longing of one’s heart for good.

It may not be a huge difference, but here are my “thoughts.” The only hope that a wicked, sinful heart has is the hope of selfish gain, even at the expense of every one else.

The desire of the righteous, however, is for good, and that selfless desire is a result of the Hope they have within.

Practically Speaking

Do you see all those people burning cars and beating people in the name of religion or anti-fascism? Do you see them calling for the destruction of others (including babies) in order to bring about or facilitate their desires? As they rejoice over the destruction of property and the death of innocents, they prove they are wicked.

Do you see those who walk into the fire to rescue the perishing? Do you see those who pray for peace? Do you see those who pray for the souls of wicked who persecute and mock them? They are the righteous.

So the question is: what are your expectations?


Sometimes Unity Isn’t Enough

Proverbs 11:21

“Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.”
Not Enough Space

Honestly, there is not enough space allowed in this entry to adequately cover all the things that could be gleaned from this proverb. Because we desire that these posts be published one day, if every “thought” was a thousand words, the final book would look like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

At the time of this writing, it is a Sunday evening, and I just preached a forty-five minute sermon on this very text. It was such a blessing, and the result was that a young lady came forward tonight and asked if I could show her how to be saved.  If I were to go into all that I preached, I don’t know how long this post would be.

So, what I am going to do is share some highlights. I would encourage you to take the time, as with all these verses in Proverbs, to study them for yourself.

“We are the World”

Do you remember that Michael Jackson classic, We are the World? Have you seen all the different organizations and activist groups that use pictures of people holding hands to send a message of unity? Have you ever played the game where kids stood in a line with their arms locked together and said, “Red rover, red rover, send some idiot right over?”

Well, the wicked of this world have the idea that if they stand together in a united front against the True God of the universe, all will go their way. You can see it plastered across all the news networks. Flames are rising around the planet as followers of a false god rise up against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and against Christianity.

They are united. They are hand in hand. They are the world.

Won’t Make a Difference

But even though the wicked stand hand in hand, it won’t make the outcome any different. The whole world joined together in one voice before the Deluge, yet they still drowned. Their unity couldn’t hold back the judgment of God.

Even now, militants are rising up, seeking the destruction of the righteous, but, “The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming” (Psa. 37:13).

The Promise

Many look at history and ask, “If God’s word is true, then why do the righteous die as martyrs? Why are Christians persecuted and killed? Why does it look like the ‘wicked’ are getting their way?”

Here’s the answer: it ain’t over, yet.

Isa 27:13 ESV – “And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

Deliverance may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come. It may not even be in this life, but it will come. And one day, when that “great trumpet will be blown,” the righteous will all worship on His holy mountain in Jerusalem.


Just Say “NO!”

Proverbs 11:15

“He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.”

Proverbs 11:15, 16, & 17 are connected in that each involves someone who acts with kindness, but with varied results.  In tonight’s verse, we consider a kindness that brings injury; in tomorrow’s, a kindness that brings honor; and in the third instance, a kindness that brings benefit.

A KINDNESS THAT BRINGS INJURY

In the first half of verse 15, we read, “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it,” or as the ESV reads, “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm.”  Solomon returns here to a theme he has already elaborated upon at length in Proverbs 6:1-5.  The idea is fairly straightforward in both texts.  So, somebody asks you to lend him a hand by cosigning on a loan… what is the “Christian” thing to do?  The problem is that you like to be liked. You want to come across as a decent and generous person.  You want to be helpful.  So you cosign on the automobile, or mortgage, or student loan, or credit card offer.  And now, my friend, you have obligated yourself in regard to the other’s ability to earn, budget, and spend income.  Unless you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  No, I take that back.  Even if you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  You have absolutely no leverage in the situation.

NOW GUESS WHAT?

You’re on the hook if and when the person defaults on repayment.  If your name is signed on the bottom line, the creditor can and will come after you.  The FTC tells us that in as many as 3 out of 4 loans that go into default, the cosigners are asked to repay the loans.  Think about it.  When you cosign a loan, you are taking a risk which the professional lenders have refused to take.  If the borrower could meet the lender’s criteria, there would be no need for a cosigner in the first place.  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre06.shtm

NEWSFLASH

Jesus didn’t die to make you “nice.” No, he died to make you His!  Sometimes the “Christian” thing to do is to ask, “Have you totally lost your mind?  You can’t afford that car, or house, or new TV!  Save some money for it and pay cash!”

A FIRM, WISE “NO”

In the second half of the verse we read, “And he that hateth suretiship is sure.”  Oh, the security and peace of mind enjoyed by the one who has not entered hastily into business agreements!  Years ago, First Lady Nancy Reagan, as she spearheaded a campaign against drug abuse, popularized the slogan, “Just Say No.”  The same firm “No!” might well be in order the next time someone approaches you about helping him with a loan.

Father God, thank you that when you see us, you see the righteousness of your own dear Son.  Thank you that our security and identity are in Christ.  Free us, Father, from the need to be people-pleasers to our own harm. Through Christ our Lord: Amen.    


What’s In Your Heart?

Proverbs 11:12

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

Have you watched any TV or movies in the past few decades and seen those stories with neighbors that fight about who has the best lawn, the best toys, or the best Christmas decorations?

Most of the best end (or at least have middles) with these enemies coming together to work together or even in friendship.

War and Peace

The funny thing about all of these stories is that these neighbors (usually men, but sometimes women or both) fail to see just how much in common they have with each other, even to the point of hating something both parties have in common, or go beyond reason in their hatred. It is as if they have declared war, not only against their neighbor, but against common sense and reason.

These neighbors spread rumors, sabotage each others’ endeavors, and openly mock each other without realizing how foolish they look to most other people.

Many times, this attitude ends up carrying over to others, including family and friends.

Compare this to the neighbor everyone loves and wants to be around.

This neighbor often lends a helping hand to others, even those people others might not be inclined to help … including unliked neighbors.

This neighbor rarely, if ever, has anything bad to say about others, oftentimes because of an understanding of how bad hurtful words can feel.

You and I

What about us? Have you considered the words that leave your mouth? Do you think about what you say before you say it?

Do you know what is in your heart?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: – Matthew 15:18-19 KJV

Perhaps the reason neighbors can not get along, people look and sound foolish, and we say things that we are ashamed of later is that we have those things listed above in our hearts.

You and I need to lift each other up as we seek the heart of Jesus Christ. We must help each other in our desire to have Jesus change our hearts to be like His.

You and I, to be able to hold our tongues and no longer have the need to hold our tongues, need the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, dwelling in our hearts.

Heavenly Father, without You we have evil hearts and defiled tongues. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, live in our hearts and change them to be like Your Son’s. Teach us to love our neighbors. Give us Wisdom to not only say what needs to be said but to want to choose You.


Passing Us By

Proverbs 11:9

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.”

“Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.” – NLT 1996

Polluted

The word hypocrite has its origin in the Greek word for stage actor. In Greek drama actors apparently used masks to portray different characters. While we understand that a hypocrite is a two-faced person who pretends to be what he is not, the Hebrew word used in Proverbs is ‘chaneph’ which may be translated as polluted, corrupt, profane or godless. Polluted aptly describes the condition of all humanity at birth. Although we cannot change the way we were born, God provided a way through Jesus Christ in which He can change the way that we live, if we let Him. This includes what comes out of our mouths.

Words

It isn’t difficult to see how a hypocrite might destroy his neighbor with his mouth. It all comes back to words. The NLT Life Application Study Bible note for Proverbs 11:9 states: ‘The mouth can be used as a weapon, or a tool, hurting relationships or building them up.’ We need to choose our words carefully. But we also need to remember who lives in us. In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the disciples and instructs them to receive Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit lives in us then how we say anything hurtful to another human being? If the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is present in us, then how we be anything other than relationship builders, who use words wisely to encourage. Are we speaking words of life to those around us? Do our words point others to the One who speaks words of eternal life?

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (NIV)

Reflections for Ragamuffins. Brennan Manning