Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Proverb Series



THE FEAR OF THE LORD

Pr 1:7   The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Pr 9:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Pr 15:33  The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4,5

And Peter writes, "If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each oneís work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear" 1Peter 1:17

Therefore let us evaluate our attitude towards God as to whether or not we truly fear the Lord. For one cannot mature in the Christian life without such an attitude.



ILL-GOTTEN GAIN

Pr 1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Much of Proverbs speaks of the general principle that one cannot benefit by doing evil. In fact generally speaking when people do evil, they do it with the intention of obtaining some benefit for themselves, but they end up worse off in the end. And if one repents of their ill-gotten gain, they're just going to have to give it back - and more. Notice the repentance of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham." So consider how you might have cheated someone or stolen something, and consider what would be an appropriate compensation to return to them.



FINDING THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

Pr 2:1-5  My son,
if you accept my words and
store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and
applying your heart to understanding, and if you
call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you
look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Listening to what God says with an application-oriented mindset shows that one understands the fear of the LORD. Notice the verbs here:
 

  • One needs to ACCEPT what God says. For some will read the Bible but not accept what it says.
  • One needs to STORE UP his commands. Scripture memory, for example, is a good application.
  • One needs to TURN their ears to wisdom. Taking time and effort to listen.
  • And to APPLY your heart. Bible Study without applications is not really Bible Study.
  • And to CALL OUT and CRY ALOUD - one application being to pray for insight.
  • And to LOOK and SEARCH as for hidden treasure. Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God being like a "treasure hidden in a field". Matt 13:44



  • TRUST GOD, FORSAKING YOUR OWN OPINION

    Pr 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

    The Bible provides us with God's understanding of things. So when our understanding of things conflicts with the Word of God - let us trust that God knows best. Many pray to know God's will about particular circumstances. Try to apply the Bible in everything you do. And then you will get the guidance you seek. Don't think that you know better than God. Fear God and avoid being involved in anything which you recognize as evil.



    BE GENEROUS

    Pr 3:9-10  Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;  then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

    This is one of the many promises concerning generosity. Practicing generosity also helps one to measure to what degree money, in the form of greed, has become an idol in one's life and if so, generosity helps to overcome such greed. Thus Jesus said to the rich young ruler, who thought that he was a "good" person,  "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." Mr 10:21 But the man went away sad. Do you find it difficult to give away money?

    A good New Testament reference to the promise above is 2Cor 9:6-11

    Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
    Here we learn first that, contrary to a legalistic "tithing" concept, the Christian is to give whatever amount and to whatever cause he has decided in his heart. This is a good principle when it comes to deciding on the amount to give to a particular cause. Give up to the point where you feel reluctant to give more. (As you practice generosity you may find that you're increasingly feeling less reluctant the more you give. But that's often a matter of practice) And secondly we learn that the purpose of God granting prosperity to the generous giving is in order that they may use it for further acts of generosity.

    Now there many opportunities to practice generosity whether giving to individuals or to charity organization. As an example, I mention some charities at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/charity.html



    ACCEPT DISCIPLINE

    Pr 3:11-12  My son, do not despise the LORDís discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Heb 12:5-7)

    There are two extremes when people react to discipline. Some who are disciplined take it too lightly, and so don't learn from the discipline. When God disciplines us, we shouldn't take it too lightly. But on the other hand, we shouldn't take it too seriously. Thus it warns fathers, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph 6:4 and "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Col 3:21 There are those disciplined by the Lord who may feel that God has completely rejected them. That is not the case.

    "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Heb 12:10,11



    DO THE GOOD YOU CAN

    Pr 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

    Likewise James writes, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesnít do it, sins." Jas 4:17 Sins of omission are easier to overlook than sins of commission. Thus one needs to be all the more prudent in evaluating whether there are things they are not doing which they should be.  "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10



    CONTROL YOUR DESIRES

    Pr 4:23-27 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

    That is, take care as to what you desire. Desires can lead to life or death. Desires start in the heart, but are reflected by things like what one says (the mouth), what one looks at (the eyes), and where one goes (the feet). In fact the converse is also true. By controlling what you say, look at, and where you go you can affect your desires. "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Gal 5:16 and "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24



    SIN ENSLAVES

    Pr 5:22,23 The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

    Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." John 8:34  When people sin, they may not have the intention to become a slave, and yet that's what happens. Some are slaves to sin and don't know it until they try to stop sinning. Others are quite aware of their slavery - whether reluctantly or willingly.

    For the Christians I mention Romans 6:17-22

    Thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
    And "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1



    CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS OF YOUR AGREEMENTS

    Pr 6:1-5 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighborís hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

    In particular Christians should avoid cosigning a loan. That is not a recommended act of generosity towards one's neighbor. Rather it shows a lack of judgment to do so. There are a number of proverbs about this subject:

    Pr  11:15 He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

    Pr 17:18  A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.

    Pr 22:26,27 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

    Pr 27:13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if he does it for a wayward woman.



    LAZINESS BRINGS SLAVERY, POVERTY AND DISGRACE

    Pr 6:6-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to restó  and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

    Notice here that just like ants, the diligent don't need much in terms of leadership or oversight. They don't need bosses or managers to push them along. And the diligent take initiative.

    Pr 12:24  Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

    Among the many causes of one's enslavement to the job, one of them is laziness. If you want to free yourself from oversight, it helps to show yourself to be diligent in your work. In fact the diligent themselves are often called upon to lead and manage others. Furthermore:

    Pr 10:4,5 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

    Pr 20:4  A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

    Pr 24:30-34 I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to restó  and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man

    Thus among the many causes of poverty - one of them is just plain laziness. So if you end up poor, don't let it be for that reason.



    HATE SIN

    Pr 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

    It is quite appropriate for Christians to be characterized as intolerant and hateful people by those who love sin. Of the characteristics of those who may dwell with God, David writes, "He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts ..." Ps 15:2-4

    In fact Christians themselves are hated by the world because we testify that its deeds are evil. Jesus said of those in the world, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil." John 7:7

    In conclusion:
    "Let those who love the LORD hate evil." Ps 97:10



    WHAT ONE'S REACTION TO REBUKE REVEALS

    Pr 9:7-9  Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

    Likewise it is written, "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid."Pr 12:1 And conversely, "One who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than one
    who flatters with the tongue." Pr 28:23

    So if you want to find our how stupid a person is, trying correcting them.

    Pr 15:12  A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.



    YOUR RESPONSE TO DISCIPLINE SERVES AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS

    Pr 10:17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (NIV)

    People don't often think about the fact that the way they respond to correction can have a major impact on the behavior of others. So while it is humiliating to be corrected, consider it also an opportunity to teach others by responding well to correction.

    CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY

    Related to the above proverb is Pr 12:26 "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray."
    And "he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Pr 13:20
    And "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Pr 22:24,25

    Again I repeat the idea that you may not realize to what degree you are being influenced by those close to you - whether positively or negatively. Nor may you realize to what degree you are an influence on others close to you.



    INTEGRITY: Part 1
    YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT

    Pr 10:9 The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

    People don't take crooked ways because they are crooked, but rather because they think that they will benefit from it. However they fail to consider all the real and potential downside to taking crooked paths. And notice how frequently the media reports on one public figure after another, revealing something wicked about them which they had tried to hide.

    Is there a sinful behavior which you are trying to hide? Consider the consequences of it being revealed and use that as a motivating factor in changing such behavior.



    INTEGRITY: Part 2
    INTEGRITY AS A SOURCE OF GUIDANCE

    Pr 11:3  The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.

    A person of integrity, as they walk in accordance with a good conscience, views life with limited options, and as such only needs limited guidance. The perverse, with their corrupted conscience, view life as having much less limitations, and they end up walking right into the pits they overlooked.

    Love further limits one's options as the upright are not only concerned about maintaining their own good conscience, but also not violating the conscience of others. Thus for example Paul deals with the issue of eating meats sacrificed to idols. For some Christians it didn't bother their conscience to eat such meats, but Paul reminds them to be concerned for the conscience of others. 1Co 10:28,29  "But if anyone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscienceĎ sakeóthe other manís conscience, I mean, not yours."

    So when you consider what is God's will concerning any particular situation, take into consideration your conscience and that of others.



    INTEGRITY: Part 3
    INTEGRITY MAKES ONE BETTER OFF

    Pr 28:6  Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

    Walking with integrity may not make one richer, but you will be better off than if you had gained wealth perversely.

    Pr 20:7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.

    Just as with wickedness, integrity has an effect on your children. Therefore don't violate your integrity even if you think that by doing so you will somehow benefit your children. They would be better off if you walk in a good conscience.



    FEARS AND DESIRES REALIZED

    Pr 10:24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted.

    Want to go into the fortune telling business? Find out what the wicked are afraid of and then tell them that's their fate. I'm reminded of the fears of the religious leaders who had Christ murdered. They said, "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." John 11:48, and yet despite trying to avoid it, what they feared came upon them. Or consider those who would even follow Christ - except in regards to certain areas. Like the rich young ruler who feared being poor. God asked him the one thing he feared. In coming to faith in Christ and in walking in that faith requires overcoming our fears.

    Therefore do not let worldly fears rule your behavior, for despite your best effort to avoid them, God may allow your fears to be realized.

    On the upside, the desires of the righteous generally come to pass. In fact many things that the wicked fear happen to the righteous. But righteous are generally not afraid of those things. Indeed many of the New Testament commands concerning the Christian life are to NOT FEAR. It says, "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 1Peter 3:14 And Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more." Luke 12:4



    TALKING TOO MUCH?

    Pr 10:19  When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

    Or
    Pr 12:23 "A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly."
    Pr 17:27,28  "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.  Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."

    Likewise James writes, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." Jas 1:26 and "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Jas 1:19

    So also even in prayer "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." Ecc 5:2

    Pr 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.



    KNOWING WHAT IS FITTING TO SAY

    Pr 10:32  The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

    But how do you learn what is fitting?

    Is 50:4,5  "The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away."

    Eph 5:3,4  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.



    HONEST DEALINGS

    Pr 11:1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.
    Pr 20:14  "Itís no good, itís no good!" says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.

    Scales are used in buying and selling things. The Law of Moses states, "Do not have two differing weights in your bagó one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your houseó one large, one small. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly." Deut 25:13-16

    But besides the issue of weights and measures, there are related ways in which people deal dishonestly like making false claims about an item or not disclosing problems with the item. These are all forms of theft. The Bible tell us, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another." Lev 19:11



    HUMILITY

    Pr 11:2  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
    Pr 18:12  Before his downfall a manís heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.
    Pr 15:33  The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
    Pr 29:23  A manís pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
    Pr 22:4  Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.

    Jesus is the model of humility "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deathó even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name ..." Php 2:6-9

    The Bible is also full of examples of the principle of pride coming before a fall. For example, "on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died." Acts 12:22-23

    Another example is that of the King of Babylon who said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"  The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." Dan 4:30-32



    BE PREPARED FOR GOD'S JUDGEMENT

    Pr 11:20,21 The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.
     

    Likewise Paul writes, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10

    Interesting to note that even in the New Testament where all are recognized as sinners, nonetheless it speaks of a categorical distinction between the righteous and the wicked - a distinction disclosed by one's characteristic behavior. In fact John writes, "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  He who does what is sinful is of the devil." 1John 3:7,8



    BEAUTY

    Pr 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pigís snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

    And given this new generation caught up in the folly of body piercering, this proverb is even more applicable today. The Hebrew word for "discretion" speaks of one's judgement, decisions, or taste. Peter describes the measure of beauty for Christian women, saying, "(Wives) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Godís sight." 1Peter 3:3,4



    DON'T BE A MISER

    Pr 11:24  One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
    Pr 11:25  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
    Pr 11:26  People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.

    Jesus also warned in a parable concerning hoarding things for yourself.

    Parable Rap
    Luke 12:16-21

    A rich man's field produced a big gain
    But what would he do with all that grain?
    "I have no place to store my crops."
    I filled my barns all the way to their tops.
    I'll tear them down and build ones bigger
    And then retire while I still have vigor
    I'll take life easy and bask by the pool
    But God said to him, "You are a fool! 
    Tonight you'll die, you'll go on the shelf
    Then who will get what you prepared for yourself?"
    So it will be for those who hoard 
    Things for themselves but not for the Lord



    HE WHO WINS SOULS IS WISE

    Pr 11:30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

    There's a double meaning in that last phase. For it is wise to give oneself to the winning of souls. For little else has eternal value. But it also takes wisdom in order to win souls. Thus even the Apostle Paul asks, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." Eph 6:19

    So also it mentions in Dan 12:3  "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever."

    Today consider how you're involved in this activity of winning souls, and how you may be more effective in doing so.



    CARING FOR ANIMALS

    Pr 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

    This is applicable to domesticated animals, whether they be pets or otherwise. One way to percieve a person's humility and level of kindness is how they treat their animals. Wicked people treat their animals with cruelty, and yet they reckon themselves kind. If a person considers himself righteous, then he should consider and meet the needs of his animal. Domesticated animals are in a position of humility - lower than that of any human. Thus not only can we learn to discern one's humility by how they treat animals, but we can also learn humility from animals. (Want to have a companion who is humble, faithful, and always glad to have you around? Get a dog!)

    By the way, only two creatures were allowed into the Most Holy Place - the high priest, and the blood of a domestic animal. So animals are worth respecting



    TOO QUICKLY ANNOYED?

    Pr 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

    Take note of how quickly and in what manner you respond to an insult.

    Jas 1:19  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

    Furthermore:

    Pr 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
    Pr 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

    In fact only a fool always expresses how they feel. The righteous should be dispassionate to a degree. In particular being slow to anger requires an exercise of one's self-control. A person lacking in self-control has his defenses broken down and as such is open to the enemy's attack.



    LAZINESS

    Pr 12:11 He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

    Seems, among other things, that's a warning against playing the lottery, or more generally against all kinds of get-rich-quick or easy-money schemes.

    Pr 20:21  An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.
    Pr 21:5  The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
     

    Pr 12:27  The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.
    Pr 26:15  The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.

    There are those who gather the resources for some business venture, but then are too lazy to actually utilize them.

    Pr 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

    This also is a warning to those who hope to earn easy money just by talking - without hard work.

    Pr 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

    Seems the Bible advocates more of a get-rich-slowly scheme.



    EXPRESSING YOUR OPINION

    Pr 18:2  A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (NIV)

    What's your opinion of that verse?

    Or the NKJV translates it this way:

    Pr 18:2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. (NKJV)

    How do you feel about that?

    Expressing one's opinions or feelings are secondary to listening to the Bible and grasping it's application - a fact which eludes many today in this post-modernistic culture where facts are reckoned secondary to personal opinions and feelings.

    One evidence of this is the common phenomenon of people responding before they listen, as it says:

    Pr 18:13 He who answers before listeningó that is his folly and his shame.

    Ever have that happen to you? You try to tell someone something and they respond before they listen to all the relevant facts?

    Pr 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.



    CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

    In many regions spanking children is not only discouraged but may even land in jail. Even in my own town a pastor was arrested for spanking his child. Yet such is one of the forms of disciplines the Bible recommends.

    Pr 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

    Pr 22:15  Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

    Pr 23:13,14  Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.

    Pr 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

    Pr 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

    Pr 20:30  Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

    More generally concerning discipline:

    Heb 12:10,11  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

    So if you're concerned about any negative affects of disciplining your children, consider the negative affects of not disciplining them.



    TEARING DOWN YOUR HOUSE?

    Pr 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

    Some wives are unintentionally involved in tearing down their own house. How?

    Pr 21:9  It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
    Pr 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.
    Pr 19:13  A foolish son is destruction to his father, And the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.
    Pr 12:4  An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.

    Such attitudes are in contrast to what Peter commands concerning wives, that they be submissive to your husbands (1Peter 3:1) and be of a of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Godís sight. (1Peter 3:4) If you tear down your husband, you'll tear down your house.



    FEARING OR DESPISING GOD

    Pr 14:2  He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.

    For example Paul warns the unrepentent, "do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that Godís kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of Godís wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Rom 2:4,5

    And just as the wicked take God's graciousness for granted, so also they despise his discipline as it is written, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Pr 1:7

    So when things go well they congratulate themselves, and when things do not go well they get angry at God even when it's clearly their own fault, as it says, "A manís own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD." Pr 19:3

    Those who despise God will eventually learn the fear of the Lord on the day of judgement. Better if we all learn to fear God now while there is still opportunity for redemption.



    MAKING AMENDS FOR SIN

    Pr 14:9  Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

    For example  Zacchaeus made amends for sin saying, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." And Jesus commended him saying, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham."Luke 19:8,9

    So if you're repenting from sin, be encouraged to make amends for sin. (And don't let fellow "Christians" discourage you with the false claim that making amends for sin is a salvation by works idea. For fools mock at making amends for sin.)



    SEEMS RIGHT TO ME

    Pr 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

    For example, "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18 Thus for example the Muslims reason that since Jesus is God's prophet, God would not allow him to suffer the cross, and therefore the message of the cross is false - a fabrication by Christians. Or how about the idea that if God is good then there wouldn't be any unjust suffering in the world. But since there is, therefore God is not good. Or how about the idea that my good works make up for my bad works.

    All these are fallacious. These and like ideas which seem reasonable to the world will end in them getting thrown into hell.

    So also, the way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. Pr 12:15



    DON'T BE GULLIBLE

    Pr 14:15 A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

    "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

    2Co 11:3  But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpentís cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

    1John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    Don't be gullible to believe anything you hear. But then again don't be gullible to disbelieve anything you hear either. That is, don't gullibly accept anything that critics say. You should be just as skeptical about criticisms of propositions of alleged facts or ideas as you are about such propositions themselves.



    ANSWERING GENTLY OR HARSHLY

    Pr 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

    This is more descriptive than it is prescriptive. It is not that we should always answer gently. For harsh words are often called for, with predictable results. Such was the case in the ministry of Jesus and his apostles - leading them to be persecuted and even killed, like Stephen the first Christian martyr who was killed soon after declaring, "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered himó you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." Acts 7:51-53 Examples of this type of rhetoric are abundant in the Bible among God's messengers. Thus frequently we are called to use harsh words - and yes, with predictable results.

    On the other hand it also says, "the Lordís servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2Tim 2:24-26

    In general it appears in practice through the Bible that one starts with gentle words, but if people continue to be unteachable, harsher words are called for, which stirs up anger - but that's all a part of Christian ministry to stir up the anger of the stiff-necked.



    WHAT KIND OF A PERSON KINGS VALUE

    Pr 16:13  Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.

    To those who haven't been in positions of authority this may seem counter-intuitive. Many think that leaders value those who agree with everything they say. (So called "Yes men") And man-pleasers tend to gravitate towards those is high positions of authority. Rather than tell him the truth, they'll tell him what they think he wants to hear in order to get what they want. But a person that speaks the truth, regardless of the consequences, that is a rare and valued commodity in an adviser to the king.

    So if you want to be valued by those in authority - tell them the truth. And tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. If they don't value that, then they are not much of a leader.



    BETRAYING A CONFIDENCE

    Pr 16:28  A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
    Pr 17:9  He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
    Pr 20:19  A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

    A person who gossips - even betraying personal matters or things spoken in confidence - will not have close friends. For people will avoid telling them anything of a personal matter. And concerning those who sin against you, that should be treated first as a private matter as it is written,  "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over."Mt 18:15 What is implied here is that if he repents, then the matter should go no further, else you will be the one sinning against him. More generally the Bible does legitimize "privacy". So it is inappropriate to try and expose everything about a person.



    CONTROL YOUR TEMPER

    Pr 16:32  Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

    It's easy enough to get angry. But "manís anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:20 Anger is not mentioned in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23, but patience and self-control are listed. Anger is not mentioned in the characteristics of love in 1Cor 13:4-7, but being patient and being not easily angered are listed.

    Ecc 7:8,9 "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools."



    FLIP A COIN

    Pr 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

    Want to see God intervening in natural events? Just flip a coin. God determines the outcomes of all stochastic events. Statistically it can't be proven nor disproven. For while the probability curves of stochastic events are generally predictable in simple cases, the outcome of each particular event is not predictable. Thus while on the average the flip of a coin will result in heads half the time and tails half the time, the outcome is indeterminate for each particular flip. This is one way in which God is intimately involved in everything that happens, and yet his involvement is hidden.

    This is not to encourage people to gamble. For though God controls the outcome of such events, he is unlikely to ultimately intervene in favor of gambling fools or greedy persons. But there were times in the Bible where casting lots was used to determine God's will.

    For example the Lord commanded casting lots to be used in the Levitical sacrifical system to determine the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat. "He is to cast lots for the two goatsó one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat." Lev 16:8 Joshua cast lots in the distribution of the land of Israel to the various tribes. Jos 18:10 That helped to settle disputes as it is written, "Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart." Pr 18:18 Perhaps even the use of the Urim and the Thummim to determine God's will may have involved a sort of casting of lots.

    While casting lots may be useful where wisdom wouldn't lead one to make one decision over another, I think that the casting of lots should not be used until all avenues of wisdom have been explored. For example I would say that the apostles were mistaken in their decision to cast lots for Judas's replacement, as it is written, "Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles." Ac 1:26  Rather than wait for the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would guide them into all truth, they took this unnecessary action without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So while they gave God only two choices in this matter, it appears that Jesus chose someone entirely different to replace Judas - namely Paul.

    So don't be quick to cast lots until you've explored all avenues of wisdom.



    THE BALANCE OF JUSTICE

    Pr 17:15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocentó the LORD detests them both.

    While the ordinary Christian is generally only involved to a very limited degree with the justice system of whatever particular country they abide, the Lord is concerned for issues of justice. In fact this is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. Jer 9:23,24 The Lord is not only concerned for issues of justice. He involves himself in such matters.

    Now there are some who would argue that the guilty should be punished, even at the cost of some innocent being condemned. And there are others who would argue that the innocent should be acquitted even at the cost of acquitting some of those guilty. Both arguments should be weighed equally. God is equally concerned that the guilty not be acquitted as he is that the innocent not be condemned. The Lord detest corrupting justice to either degree.



    DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE APPLICATIONS

    Pr 17:24 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a foolís eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

    Wisdom is the discernment of the appropriate applications of knowledge. A person of discernment recognizes the direct or immediate application. But the fool overlooks such applications and even finds no application of knowledge in all the world. Such people reminds me of those Paul speaks of as "always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." 2Tim 3:7

    Pr 14:6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

    Mockers study the Bible only that they may mock, but they miss the application. Therefore as you study the Bible, do so seeking for direct and immediate applications. Don't just study it, do it!



    THE BROTHER OF LAZINESS

    Pr 18:9  One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.

    Ec 10:18  If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks. Lazy people may not have the intention of destroying stuff, but that's what often happens. For example a lazy person may overlook safety concerns or not keeping up with maintenance - it's just too much effort - resulting in people getting injured and things getting broken.

    And much worse the effect of lazy Christians. For many will go to hell or otherwise miss the opportunity to be edified simply because Christians were too lazy to be involved in ministering to them. Christian faith should be contrary to laziness, as it is written, "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Heb 6:12 Therefore "diligently follow every good work." 1Tim 5:10b



    FEELING OFFENDED?

    Pr 18:19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

    So one word of advice is to avoid offending your brother unnecessarily.

    Pr 17:14  Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

    It's very easy to offend people - especially those close to you. It's easy enough to start a quarrel over the most trivial matters. But it may be very difficult to reconcile.

    If a Christian feels offended, they should first consider whether they are overreacting. Recall the servant of the parable Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18:32-35 who had been forgiven of a huge debt, but failed to forgive his fellow servant of a minor debt.

    Secondly the Christian should consider whether their feeling of being offended may actually be a feeling of guilt for having sinned. For it is a natural reaction of the flesh to feel offended or humiliated when sin is pointed out in one's life. True, that there's an appropriate way in which sin should be exposed, and some offend by exposing sin in an inappropriate way, but let not that be confused for feelings of personal guilt. Where there is sin, there should also be repentance.

    Jesus instructs Christians in dealing with fellow Christians who have offended them unjustly.

    "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that Ďevery matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.í If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Mat 18:15-17

    Therefore "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3

    So while such offenses need to be discussed, offenses not repented of cause relationships to be distant.



    ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE

    Pr 19:2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.

    The unbelieving Jews were in this category. "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to Godís righteousness." Rom 10:2,3 So also for Muslims today, zealous in their faith, but ignorant of the knowledge of God contained in the Bible.

    This is not to discourage zealousness per se. Of Jesus it is written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." John 2:17 And Paul writes to the Galatians saying, "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you." Gal 4:18 So also  he instructs, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Rom 12:11

    But zeal or enthusiasm which is not based on proper information is not a good thing and may have seriously bad consequences. Therefore, not to discourage the zealous, but those who are enthusiastic need to control themselves not to be too hasty, but to make sure their applications are based upon proper information.



    PATIENT WISDOM

    Pr 19:11 A manís wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

    There's a correlation between wisdom and patience. If you want to be more patient, become wiser. Furthermore:

    Pr 20:3 It is to a manís honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
    Pr 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
    Pr 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
    Pr 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

    More generally it's not wise to become offended over every particular thing, nor to unnecessarily seek to be offended. Very commonly I've notice that some Christians upon meeting other Christians will immediately try to find something to be offended about - whether concerning their doctrine or practice. Is that really wise?



    BEING KIND TO THE POOR

    Pr 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

    Apparently one sure guarantee of reward concerns giving to the poor. Likewise Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Luke 12:33

    And while Christians have responsibility to support Christian ministries or Christian ministers, let us not build elaborate churches while neglecting the poor. When Paul's ministry was affirmed by James, Peter and John, Paul writes, "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Gal 2:10 Are you eager to do that as well? And later when he came back he writes, "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings." Acts 24:17

    Helping the poor should be part of anyone's activities who wants to be commendable. Consider Cornelius - the first Gentile convert. Why did God chose him? The angel told him saying, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." Acts 10:4 So also it is written that "In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor." Acts 9:36 After she had died, the poor commended her to Peter, who then raised her from the dead. There's always reward in helping the poor.

    Even the Law of Moses says, "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs."Deut 15:7,8 And it goes on to promise, "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Deut 15:10

    So don't miss out on the blessings. Be generous to the poor.



    ALCOHOLISM

    Pr 20:1  Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

    Pr 31:4,5  It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink, For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

    Pr 23:20,21  Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;  For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

    Pr 23: 29-35  Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. "They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink."



    ALL SIN

    Pr 20:9  Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"?
    Ec 7:20  Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

    In fact John writes, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1John 1:8

    But the gospel takes into account the fact that all sin, saying, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Rom 3:23,24

    Or here, "the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe." Gal 3:22



    VOWS

    Pr 20:25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.

    The Bible takes vows very seriously. (Like if you vow "till death do us part", God will hold you to that)

    Deut 23:21-23  "If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.  But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth."

    Therefore consider carefully the implications prior to making promises to God.

    Ecc 5:4-6 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?



    PLEASURE SEEKERS

    Pr 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

    Ecc 7:3,4  Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

    1Tim 5:6 The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

    2Tim 3: 1-5 Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Godó having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.



    TRAIN A CHILD

    Pr 22:6  Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

    Eph 6:4  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

    Gen 18:19 I have chosen Abraham, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

    Deut 4:9  Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

    A significant part of parenting involves training your children. If you have children, don't simply view it as other people's responsibility to train them. God holds you responsible to train them. When you become a parent, you take on the role of a teacher. So learn to teach well. And neither be too harsh and demanding, else they become discouraged, nor too lenient, else they become too lazy. Teaching involves not only transferring information. It also involves motivating your students. And it involves applying the information.



    LAZINESS AND COWARDICE

    Pr 22:13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion outside!" or, "I will be murdered in the streets!"

    Laziness and cowardice go hand in hand. Cowards characteristically become couch potatoes because they're afraid to do anything. And the lazy will come up with all kinds of excuses for procrastinating - excuses often revealing their fears. So today observe and consider whether inordinate fears are being used by yourself or others to excuse what is just plain laziness.



    GIVING TO THE RICH

    Pr 22:16  He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the richó both come to poverty.

    The Bible discourages giving to the rich. One reason for this is because what you have given to the rich could have been given to the poor. And when the rich give to themselves things that they don't really need, will not God call them to account as to why they didn't give to those in need?

    Today I heard one of those - prosperity gospel preachers who instructed his people to buy expensive cars for themselves so that outsiders would be impressed. He claimed that "poor Christians are a blight on the kingdom of God". And that they're poor because they didn't give him enough of their money. He claimed that if it were up to him they should give him 90% of their money. It makes me sick to hear such preaching. Ignore such preaching for "in their greed these teachers will exploit you." 2Pet 2:3  And James writes, "Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  But you have insulted the poor." James 2:5,6

    Secondly considering the disparity of living conditions in the first world compared to the third world, many of those who reckon themselves "poor" in the first world are actually quite rich by third world standards, not to mention that most of us are rich by the standards of the past. I don't think Solomon had a TV, washing machine or refigerator.

    Bottom line: Neither oppress the poor nor favor the rich. Give according to the need.



    DON'T WORK TO GET RICH

    Pr 23:4,5  Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

    Pr 28:22  A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.

    For the love of money people waste their lives, living in discontentment and envying their neighbor. Consequently either they end up overworking themselves to get rich to the neglect of other responsibilities and other significant aspects of life, or they take unnecessary risks or incur a great deal of debt to achieve wealth. But in the end they get what's coming to them. In the Christian life, wealth is not a legitimate goal. Though there are some alleged "Christians" "who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1Tim 6:5-10



    RESCUE 24:11

    Pr 24:11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter  If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

    If you didn't know about this rescue mission you were called to - WELL NOW YOU KNOW! People's eternal destiny is in the balance. And God has not only allowed Christians to be involved in their rescue, He has called us to do so. Jesus was sent on a rescue mission. And he prayed to the Father, "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." John 17:18

    Yes, you are sent on a mission. So consider the training and resources you need to accomplish your mission, and get to it.



    FAMILY PREPARATION

    Pr 24:27 Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

    This is some practical advice for young people. Establish your career before starting a family. A family incurs great responsibility much of which involves providing resources for the family. There are enough problems and issues in raising a family besides the issue of resources. So try to take care of that one before you start.



    SEEKING HONOR

    Pr 25:16  If you find honey, eat just enoughó too much of it, and you will vomit.
    Pr 25:27  It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek oneís own honor.
    Pr 27:2  Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

    There are alot of applications to the idea of not eating too much honey. (Besides the obvious issue of diet) There are many things which are sweet in life. But if we experience too much of them, we appreciate them less. Thus it says that "He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." Pr 27:7 One sweet thing is the receiving of praise. Praise should first of all come from others, and even so too much praise from others is simply flattery. But one should never have to praise oneself. For that is pride. Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." 2Cor 10:18

    Therefore do not seek to be honored for it's own sake. Nor seek a celebrity status. Rather seek to be found worthy of honor by others - and by the Lord in particular.



    ANNOYING VISITORS

    Pr 25:17  Seldom set foot in your neighborís houseó too much of you, and he will hate you.

    People vary in the degree to which they can put up being around others and the degree to which they desire privacy. In particular the more extroverted my not realize how they may be damaging their relationships by their constant demand for attention. Even within families or other circumstances in which people are living together, too much time together can make people be an annoyance to one another. So consider whether your relationships may not be less annoying by introducing some privacy.

    On the other extreme it says, "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment."Pr 18:1  It is not wise to be completely isolated. For "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" Ecc 4:9,10

    While practicing hospitality is to be part of the Christian life, the person being subject to hospitality should likewise consider whether they are themselves being hospitable or unnecessarily overstaying their welcome.



    INTERPRETING PROVERBS

    Pr 26:4   Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
    Pr 26:5  Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

    Here are a pair of verses, one following the other, of which the foolish would claim contradict one another, as if the author in writing verse 5 forgot what he wrote in verse 4! In fact what they do is help us to understand how proverbs is to be read.

    On the surface, taken literally, these appear as contradictory commands. But what we must understand is that for many proverbs there are two principles which describe the sense in which they are written which resolves such paradoxes.

    Principle #1: Many of the apparent commands are to be taken not as explicit commands but rather as principles - IF A THEN B.

    Principle #2: Most of the proverbs are GENERAL principles as opposed to things which are true in every particular case. Thus most should be understood to be preceeded with the expression "Generally speaking".

    So for example in the cases above we would say

    "Generally speaking if you answer a fool according to his folly then you will be like him, but on the other hand you will prevent him from being wise in his own eyes."

    Thus you are presented with a choice in answering a fool. Proverbs considers the pros and cons but leaves it up to you to decide which is best for your particular circumstances. Thus proverbs is less a set of rules and regulations and more a set of observations from which the wise in spirit can derive applications.

    An application of Principle #2 is to beware of applying labels universally. For example proverbs speaks much of "fools" as if there are a distinct group of people in the world who are fools and everyone else is not a fool. But in fact all of us are fools to different degrees. And so also is in the case with other such labels as the sluggard, the stingy, the scoffer, the righteous, the wise, the faithful. But this is not to say that it is inappropriate to label individuals. For such is done both in society and throughout the Bible. However such labels, if they refer to a person's behavior, are not to be taken in an absolute sense but rather to be understood as a description of the person's overall lifestyle or character.



    DECEPTIVE JOKES

    Pr 26:18,19  Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows  is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!"

    There are many kinds of joking that Christians should not be involved. in. "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place." Eph 5:4 In this case Christians should not be involved in joking where deception is involved. Seems that would exclude alot of "practical jokes".

    Secondly are those who try to deceive their neighbor to harm them or steal from them or slander them, and then when they are discovered, they lie saying that they were only joking. If nothing else, that kind of joking will destroy relationships.



    LYING

    Pr 26:28  A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

    There's no mistake about it. If you lie to someone, even while flattering them, you are revealing that you hate them. (Something to think about before telling your kids about Santa Claus)  And if someone lies to you, they show that they hate you. So we should learn to appreciate the truth even when it hurts.

    The Old Testament Law states, "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another." Lev 19:11 And the New Testament says, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices." Col 3:9

    Lying can come in many different forms. Slander and false accusations, misrepresenting what someone said or did, for example, are forms of lies. Affirming myths as fact is another form of lie. In many cases people lie "inadvertently" by not bothering to check out the facts. But those who love the truth, and love to tell the truth, will be diligent to make sure that what they affirm is actually true. Thus for example Paul praised the Bereans saying, "the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" Acts 17:11



    BOASTING ABOUT TOMORROW

    Pr 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

    There is virtue in planning ahead. But a person goes too far if they think they are the master of their destiny. One of the most universal experiences people have is that life does not turn out exactly the way you planned. "A manís steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?" Pr 20:24

    In fact God will often frustrate our plans in order to help us maintain a proper level of humility. The David prays, "do not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud." Ps 140:8  Rich people are especially  prone to such sin. Thus James writes, Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lordís will, we will live and do this or that." Jas 4:13-15



    THE SWEETNESS OF HUNGER

    Pr 27:7  He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

    Or another way of saying this is that you don't have to cook very well to satisfy those who are really hungry. Sometimes church and Bible study can seem too boring simply because we're too full of it without having put it into practice. Eating without exercising makes people fat. So also it's unhealthy to feed on the Word without exercising it. Eventually one will loathe it.

    1Peter 2:2  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

    What would make us crave the Word but the desire for and expectation of satisfaction by its utility and implementation in our lives. For the Lord says, "as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Is 55:10,11 The Word will inevitably have an impact.

    Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. And being filled, nothing else satisfies. In comparison to this, worldly desire are fleeting. "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17 And how to overcome earthly desires, but to find satisfaction in the God's spiritual provisions.



    THE DANGER OF PROSPERITY

    Pr 27:23,24  Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.

    When things go well it's easy to become neglectful like the rich fool of Luke 12:19 who said, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." But God said, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you."  Jesus concluded saying, "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." So though you may be rich on earth,  don't expect to be rich in heaven if you've not been rich towards God. And besides the issue of accountability  is also the issue of maintenance. Even earthly prosperity requires maintenance. And more so the more you have. But  riches can make one too comfortable and thus lazy, apathetic and inattentive to dangers.

    1Tim 6:17  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

    But besides the issue of material possessions The Church itself is in greatest danger after it experiences a time of prosperity. The Christian life was not meant to get to the point of saying, "Take life easy". When did Jesus "take life easy?" The Christian life requires constant vigilance - be watchful.  "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1Pet 5:8



    GLUTTONY

    Pr 28:7  Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, But a companion of gluttons shames his father.

    Pr 23:20,21  Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;  For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

    Gluttony and drunkenness go hand in hand along with other sorts of over-indulgence. It says in Eph 5:18 "do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation." "Dissipation" means wastefulness. In fact today getting drunk is spoken of as "getting wasted". But along with drunkenness there are other ways people are involved in wasting their lives and their possessions.



    CONCERNING THE POOR

    Pr 29:7  The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

    Taking care of the poor is naturally part of the Christian life. It's inherent in the command to love one another and is commended throughout the Bible - both Old Testament and New. Jesus taught his followers, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." Luke 12:23 And the first Gentile Christians was commended for such actions when an angel told him, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." Acts 10:4  The apostles had this very thing in mind when Paul was affirmed who testified, "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Gal 2:10

    But while we normally thing of providing for the material needs of the poor, these proverbs also speak of providing them a voice - caring for issues of justice.

    Pr 31:8,9  "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."



    CASTING OFF RESTRAINT

    Pr 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

    "Revelation" here is the idea of prophetic revelation of the application of the law. If you read the prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah you will note an emphasis on sin and the law. If the standards contained in the Word of God are not being preached or otherwise communicated, people cast off restraint. Such in the case in much of the world today.

    If you want society to stop casting off restraint, then allow for the preaching the Word of God.



    SEEKING THE RULER'S FACE

    Pr 29:26  Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that man gets justice.

    Many Christians are exhorted today to be involved in politcal actions or otherwise seeking to influence the civil authorities. But what tends to be downplayed is the significance of prayer. God is in charge of civil authority.

    "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Rom 13:1

    And furthermore, "The kingĎs heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."Pr 21:1

    Christians should not think that the solution to all political problems is necessarily a matter of their own political actions. If authorities are screwing up, don't neglect to call upon the King of kings to deal with it.



    TWO THINGS I ASK

    Pr 30:7-9  "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ĎWho is the LORD?í Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."

    Here's two things I challenge you to pray for.

    1. That you be kept from lies and deception or otherwise be able to discern such.
    2. That God would subject you neither to poverty nor to wealth.

    The challenge is that while many pray to be kept from poverty, how many are willing to pray that they not become wealthy?



    A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER

    Pr 31:10 ∂  A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
    11  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
    12  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
    13  She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
    14  She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
    15  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
    16  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
    17  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
    18  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
    19  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
    20  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
    21  When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
    22  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
    23  Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
    24  She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
    25  She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
    26  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
    27  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    28  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
    29  "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
    30  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
    31  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015