Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Proverbs (Page 1 of 2)

Don’t You Know What They’re Saying About You?

Gossip is bad. If you disagree, it’s probably because you’ve never been on the receiving end of it. It stings, wounds, and separates close friends.

Scripture testifies to the reality of our experience:

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. (Proverbs 11.13)

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16.28)

So gossip is bad. What can make it go away?

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Proverbs 26.20)

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When there’s no whisperer, there is no wood for the fire. The trouble, of course, is that there’s more than just wood necessary for a fire. You need oxygen and a spark. And with gossip, you need not just a whisperer, but someone to whisper to. And that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.

We all know that we should not participate in gossip (speaking or listening). But it’s hard to stop when it starts! We can talk about godly gossip and various other methods of extinguishing the flame of gossip, but when it comes down to it, in the moment, gossip can be very appealing to our fleshly appetites.
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Proverbs 4 Through A Different Lens

Seeing the Obvious

It doesn’t take the hermeneutical genius of Don Carson to realize that the first several chapters of Proverbs emphasize wisdom. That much even I can pick up on. But in the past, I’ve always read these chapters as the ‘son’ who is called to gain wisdom.

And, to be sure, that is what I need to hear:

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
(Proverbs 4:5-9 ESV)

But now that my kids are getting older and approaching the age when they will go to school and need to begin making decisions on their own, I’m seeing these passages through a new lens. I’m beginning to see myself as the ‘father’ in Proverbs 1-9 as well as the son.

But Wait, There’s More…

The other night as I was reading through the same chapter (Proverbs 4), I began to contemplate my parenting. I read this and got reflective:
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Social Media and Temptations to Sin

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, the list is endless and growing. The options and opportunities for engaging in online social media are legion. To be sure, as Tim Challies points out in The Next Story, technology is not in and of itself either good or bad. Christians must engage deliberately and discerningly in an effort to redeem the opportunities afforded by living in the age we do.

It must be stressed again, however, that this engagement must be thoughtful. If we say, ‘I just like it’ and then go full-steam, headlong into the world of facebook, twitter, or whatever, we will be setting ourselves up for disaster.

Here are just a few of the immediate temptations we need to be aware of that come hand-in-hand with participation in social media:

Better to Say Something Than Nothing

All social media experts (and SEO folk for you bloggers) will tell you that dead air is death. You’ll lose your drawing power and your readership if you don’t post frequently.

Now, of course, when they say that, they mean ‘post something good frequently.’ But most of us are not Tim Challies (who has now blogged for 2,839 consecutive days). We simply cannot produce good content that regularly. So, we just post something rather than nothing.

But consider:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Prov 17.28)

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Prov 10.19)

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Prov 13.3)

Instant Broadcast of Words

Status updates, comments, replies, recommendations, text messages, ‘instant’ messages from your phone, tablet, or other mobile device… they all hang on the notion of communicating in a flash. But your words, once published, are permanent.

But consider:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov 18.2)

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Prov 18.13)

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Prov 29.20)

Confusing Talking (Typing?) with Doing

When using social media for just causes we can think that we’re actually accomplishing something meaningful. More often than not, however, we’re just placating our own consciences and rallying people who already agreed with us. The temptation here can be to think that we’re doing when all we’re really doing is talking.

But consider:

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Prov 14.23)

The Disembodiment of the Medium

Online we function as much as ‘avatars’ as we do real people. We can create and live in any persona we so choose. There are many downsides to that. One of them is that we tend to look at other people as disembodied avatars as well. We can be tempted to denounce things much more strongly and put people down much more absolutely when they are just an image on a screen rather than the image of the living God standing right in front of us.

But consider:

… no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3.8-10)

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Prov 16.21) {Note: Emphasis mine. Isn’t it interesting how so many people who prize discernment really aren’t all that big on sweetness of speech?}

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. (Prov 18.6)

Friends, Followers, and Feed-Readers

Much of what happens in the social media world is measured by some kind of ‘analytics.’ Friends in Facebook, followers in Twitter, subscribers in the blog-world, etc. It is tempting to measure our success by how many people ‘like’ what we write or ‘retweet’ what we post. We can find value in having people follow us, becoming our ‘online disciples’ of sorts.

But consider Jesus’s description of the Pharisees who set themselves up as teachers:

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:5-12)

In All That We Do…

In all that we do, whether we eat or drink tweet or blog, let us do so to the glory of God, carefully considering:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Prov 18.21)

Any more?

Have you noticed more temptations to sin using social media? What other Scriptures are relevant?

Proverbs 18 and Your Tongue

Last night at GFC we read the Scriptures publicly (like we aim to do at all our meetings). We’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs one chapter at a time at our prayer meetings. This week we found ourselves in Proverbs 18.

When Stacey and I got home we spent some time looking at a few of these proverbs again. I was really challenged to think about the tongue again. The Scriptures pull no punches when making statements about how we speak, how it affects others, how it reflects our heart, and how we will be held accountable for our words.

Here’s a little collection of proverbs (just from Proverbs 18) on the tongue. Note both the negative and the positive results you can reap from simply speaking. I hope it helps you to carefully consider how to use your tongue today.

  • A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
  • The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
  • A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.
  • A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
  • The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
  • If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
  • An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
  • The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
  • A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarrelling is like the bars of a castle.
  • From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
  • The poor use entreaties, but the rich answer roughly.

Ants in the Kitchen

This morning I saw ants in the kitchen. I won’t say where… but it wasn’t it my home (thankfully!). My first thought, naturally, was disgust and repulsion. I saw them crawling all over a little section near the back of the counter and shuddered. I can’t stand when ants get inside.

Since there appeared to be no Raid around, I decided to ignore them. Besides, they weren’t near the coffee mug I had brought in to wash in the sink, so they shouldn’t really bother me. But then, when I started to wash my mug, I looked down and there was one of those little pests, crawling around in the sink! Without a second thought I filled my mug with water and sent that ant a-swimming down the drain.

About 10 seconds later another thought hit me. Proverbs 6.6-8 says this:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

I remembered that and began to think this: How hard must it have been for those ants to get in here? I’m sure they’ve worked really hard for a long time to get where they are! And who told them to? No one, of course. They have no leader, no boss, but they are wise and work hard as long as they can, for the sake of the cause. 

But here’s the thing: What is it really worth? If an ant is found in the wrong place at the wrong time he gets trapped, sprayed, poisoned, or washed down a sink. He loses everything… for the sake of gaining pretty much nothing. But for his cause, he was willing to work–and to work hard, at that!

That was a good reminder for me this morning to get going with the day’s work. How much more do I have to work for! I actually have a Master who will call me to account. And unlike the ant kingdom, the kingdom of Christ really is worth dying for.

How much more shameful, then, if one of those little ants out-works me today…

Proverbs 11 on Money

The book of Proverbs is full of timely and ever-practical wisdom. Today as I was meditating on Proverbs 11, one thing that stuck out to me was the counsel of Solomon on money.

How timely this advice is for the fast-approaching Christmas season.

How are you spending your money? What types of things is your heart valuing / desiring / delighting in? 

Here is some eternal perspective warning against seeking earthly treasure and wealth.

Prov 11.4  — Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Prov 11.7 — When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too.

Prov 11.18 — The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

And here is some counsel on how to go about investing your earthly treasures for true, spiritual good.

Prov 11.24-26 — One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.

Prov 11.28 — Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

How will you spend this Christmas? How will you give this Christmas? Will you do so with a view to receiving in return, even if it’s just some warm fuzzies? Even the biggest hypocrites around can do that (Matt 5.46-47).

Or will you give to those who can’t give back? Will you give anonymously? Will you find those in need in your local church and seek to be a blessing to them–because you know it’s pleasing to God?

Here’s an encouraging thought to end with. Those who walk in blameless ways (like giving freely to those in need) are God’s ‘delight’ (Prov 11.20) As you seek to reflect Christ to the glory of God, ministering to the needs of those around you, you have this assurance: God himself takes delight in you.

What could be a more joyful thought than that?

How Can I Become Wise?

One of the greatest questions I think any young Christian (whether young as a person or young as a Christian–or both!) can ask is this: How can I become wise?

To say that the Scriptures speak highly of wisdom is an understatement indeed (see here for just one example). So how does one attain it?

Here is a very incomplete list. I compiled it a little while ago when reading through the book of Proverbs. I wanted to take note of everywhere the book gave instructions on how to become wise.

The funny thing about wisdom is that it’s not just attained by anyone. It begins with a humble heart and is wrought in us only as we diligently and continually look for it.

Wisdom, in the biblical sense, speaks more of the ability to skilfully live a godly life in a fallen world than it does to the mere amassing of knowledge. To be wise is to be blessed: a life that is approved by God is a happy life indeed (in the truest sense of happiness).

So how does one become wise? Here’s my (ever-growing) list. Feel free to make any additions from verses I’ve missed!

How Can I Become Wise?

Prov 10 8 The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Prov 10 17 Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

Prov 11 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Prov 12 1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Prov 12 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Prov 13 1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Prov 13 10 By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Prov 13 13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

Prov 13 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Prov 13 18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honoured.

Prov 13 20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Prov 13 24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Prov 14 15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

Prov 15 5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Prov 15 10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.

Prov 15 12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.

Prov 15 31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.

Prov 15 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Prov 17 10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

Prov 18 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Prov 18 15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Prov 19 20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Prov 19 25 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.

Prov 20 18 Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.

Prov 23 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

Prov 24 6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counsellors there is victory.

Prov 25 12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

Prov 27 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Prov 27 9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Prov 28 9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Prov 28 23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue.

Prov 28 26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Prov 29 1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Prov 29 5 A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.

Prov 29 15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Prov 29 17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

If you want, you can download a pdf version of this list to print or for further mediation here.

For more thoughts on the connections between humility and wisdom, you can download a sermon I preached a while ago, called ‘From Poverty of Spirit to Riches of Wisdom.

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