I know it is sometimes easy to think that we are on this journey of life alone. Obviously there are people around us, but on some level, I think that we all think that we are independent people who are capable of making our own decisions.
That is true at some points, but we also can be influenced heavily by the people that we choose to associate with. Proverbs 13 has some pretty straightforward advice regarding the company we keep.
Pro 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
There are two choices. We can either be wise, or we can be foolish. If we associate with people who make us better, then we are probably going to be better. If we associate with people who makes us worse, then we are going to spiral downhill.
I think that this one is rather straightforward, and even non-Christians will agree with this sentiment. However, there might be another specifically Christian level to this verse that bears exploration.
Earlier in this book, we read a lot about how wisdom comes from God and the fear of God. In other words, these wise people are people who have a right perspective on God. They fear Him, and they have that relationship in place.
As a result, I think that this could be a reminder as well that we need to have Christian friends. We need to have community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please don’t take me out of context and feel like we can only talk to believers. Obviously I would never say that or else evangelism would be impossible.
However, I am saying it is important for us all to have some kind of Christians support network. If we walk with these people who love God like we do, they are going to encourage us on this walk. They’re going to help us move nearer to God and develop in our relationship there. That is definitely a wise thing to do.
I think that deep down we all want to have some kind of foundation. We want to know that we are standing on something that is worth standing on. Proverbs 11 tells us something about finding our base in the foundation from where we want to live our lives.
Pro 12:3 A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.
Basically, if you are basing your life on wickedness, you’re not going to be established. You are going to have a hard time having the kind of philosophy that you need to make good decisions in your life.
Alternately, if you base your life on righteousness, you will then have something that adds value to your life. You will have something that you can use to evaluate the other aspects of your life.
Obviously, since we are reading the Bible, we are talking about rooting our faith and our lifestyle in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the One who is righteous, and He is the One who came to earth to die as a sacrifice.
His teaching is what we need to be putting our faith in. If we are basing our lives on anything else, then the Bible doesn’t have good news for us. It tells us that we are simply going to have to deal with instability. When times get tough, we’re not going to be able to stand firm because we do not have a proper footing.
Jesus had something very similar to say about this.
Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
I know it is not always popular to have a commitment to a particular belief system. I know that the world wants to affirm that there are many truths that all lead to same place. The Bible does not provide for that. If you want to stand in truth, then you need to stand and be rooted in Jesus Christ.
I found an interesting little piece of information in Proverbs 11. I have to admit that it sounds a little bit odd off the top, but if we think about it a little bit, I think that it makes quite a bit of sense.
Pro 11:26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
I thought this sounded odd. Why are we spending valuable time in the most important book in the world talking about produce sales? I think that we need to step back and take a look at the situation that is being described here.
Obviously, there is a demand for corn. We don’t know why. Perhaps there is a famine in the land, or perhaps where some other reason, but it seems that people want corn.
There are generally two responses in this situation. On one hand, we can withhold anything that we have. Perhaps there is a famine, and we are thinking about ourselves and providing for our own needs. Perhaps we hide everything that we have so that we can guarantee our own survival for years.
On the other hand, we can sell the product that we have. We can give people the opportunity to get what they need. We can satisfy the demand by making what we have available. Sure, we might not be stockpiling as much for ourselves, but the people around us will also be able to get some of what they need.
I think our response to this ought to be pretty clear. If we have something in excess, perhaps we ought to think about those around us. Maybe we ought to think about how we can use what we have been blessed with to help other people rather than to build up a stockpile for our own potential future needs.
I am definitely not trying to urge anyone to go out and irresponsibly burn your entire life savings. I think that this is more about what we are attached to. Are we so concerned about our own stuff that we can’t even see beyond our own situation? Do we not realize that there are needs that we are able to meet in the world around us? Are there any ways that we can be especially charitable right now?
Proverbs is one of those books that I seem to find a lot of application in. Obviously, that was the purpose it was written for, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but Proverbs 10 is home to one of the more well-known verses from this book that I think we all need to keep in mind from time to time.
Pro 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
I want to approach this one in two parts. The first part talks about hatred stirring up strife. Thinking back over my life, this is a pretty obvious statement. If you don’t like someone all that much, it seems as if it is so easy to find even more ways to disagree with them. The little things that they do drive you crazy simply because you don’t like them all that much. You are starting from the wrong point in that relationship. You are starting from a point of hatred as opposed to a point of love.
The second part of the verse talks about love. It talks about how love covers over sin. It doesn’t mean that it absolutely erases the problem, but it covers them over. It allows you to move on. You don’t need to become hung up on that. The offense still happened, but it is not in the forefront anymore. Because you are starting from the spot of loving people, you are able to have that healing.
I think that it is important to remember these two starting points. On one hand, you are dealing with someone that you might not like very much. If you approach them with that attitude, only difficulty is going to come out of that. On the other hand, when you are dealing with someone that you love, you are able to have the reconciliation that you really need to have in these situations.
We need to have the right attitude when we relate to other people. We need to remember that God did command us to love other people. This proverb brought that thought back to the front of my mind.
Proverbs 9 provides some very good advice for those of us who are interested in apologetics. Obviously, our interests often times bring us into deeper discussions with people who we might not see eye to eye with. These discussions can be frustrating to say the least. I was involved in a conversation with a few people where it seemed like everything I was twisted into something that I had never said. On top of that, no one bothered to address the questions I had.
Proverbs 9 tells us something about interactions like that.
Pro 9:7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
Pro 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Pro 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
I think this is important for all of us to remember. We need to be careful with our interactions. Some of them are simply not worth pursuing. This makes me think of something similar that Jesus said.
Mat 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
I have a hard time with this concept because the truth that we have is important for everybody. If Christianity is true, everybody needs to hear about the saving work of Jesus Christ, and I think that is an example of why we need to make sure that we are having productive conversations rather than spinning our wheels with people who aren’t listening.
We can’t be wasting our time with someone who is not willing to accept. Jesus certainly told the Pharisees what they needed to hear, but when they rejected Him, He went away for the time being. He didn’t stop interacting with them, but He recognized that He was brought to earth to do a lot more than stand around and argue.
Let me tell you the end of the story I started above. I decided that it wasn’t worth my time to debate forever. It was obvious that there wasn’t an interest in conversation. However, there was one guy who somehow sought out my email address, and we proceeded to have a very good conversation. I don’t know if it ultimately changed anything for him spiritually, but I think that we both were able to have a profitable discussion, and maybe I put a stone in his shoe.
I think that is that the proverb is talking about. Wise people are willing to learn and are willing to talk about these things. They are honestly intellectually curious, and they are willing to pursue truth. They are the ones that God is already drawing to himself. We are called to be involved in that process.
I am really liking how Proverbs fits together so nicely. We have been talking a lot about wisdom, and as you will remember, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. As a result, I have kind of played around a little bit with how I would define the fear of God in a way that is consistent with the other times we have talked about it.
However, in Proverbs 8, we discover another definition for what it means to fear God.
Pro 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
If we truly fear God, we are going to get as far away from evil as we can. We will not want any part of it, and we will want to hate sin as much as God does. Of course, I know that it is cliché, but we need to always remember to love the sinner through all of this.
However, my previous point still remains. We do not want to get into the kind of situation where we are actively trying to keep any kind of sin in our lives. Let’s say that I really enjoy bullying people. I get some kind of personal satisfaction out of it, and in some kind of twisted way it makes me feel better about myself.
We all know that it is not right to treat people in that way. I think that that is a pretty straightforward application of loving neighbor as yourself. Therefore, by violating the direct teaching of Jesus Christ, we are committing a sin.
Now I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am not hating the evil in my life. I am not actively trying to stop the problem that I have. I am enjoying the problem, and I am not really trying to change anything.
That’s a major problem. I know that none of us will ever be perfect, but I also know that we don’t need to embrace our sin. It seems as if this is an important part of learning how to fear God in a Biblical way.
Proverbs 7 begins with great imagery about the relationship that we are supposed to have with wisdom. It ought to be something that we are very close to and interact with as if it were family.
Pro 7:1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
Pro 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
Pro 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
Pro 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
I think that this is so important. It is one thing to know about wisdom. I can talk about how important wisdom and understanding are, but until I actually apply them in my life and relate to them like I relate to my family, I am not going to have the right relationship I need to benefit from them.
Now, we have been over this before, but it is important to keep in mind that true wisdom and understanding come from a right relationship with God. They come from the fear of God. They come from respecting our position relative to God and giving Him all of the glory and honor that He rightfully deserves.
This chapter expands on that even more. We can have that relationship with God, and we can intellectually know that wisdom comes from God and all that stuff. However, I think that we are talking about another step here. I think that we are talking about something that you actually need to embrace like a family member.
I think that we need to make sure that we never give up on this relationship. We cannot all of a sudden decide that we are going to ignore it. We need to continue pursuing it and loving it. With another person, you don’t all of a sudden drop them and keep the same relationship. It is the same way with wisdom. We need to keep it beside us at all times.
God is certainly a loving God, but He hates sin, and Proverbs 6 is one of the more famous passages on sin in the entire Bible.
Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Honestly, this list seems rather limited. The entire book of Leviticus is about things that we should or shouldn’t do, but for some reason, the seven get called out as particularly important. There were even 10 Commandments, but this list is reduced to seven. Why would you have this kind of reduction?
I think that we have a reduction have because if you think about it, these actions cover a lot of ground. For example, in verse 18, we hear about the heart that plans to do bad things. In my mind, that pretty much encompasses almost any time we sin. That is kind of the definition of sin in a way. We set our hearts on something that we shouldn’t. In other words, we plan on doing something bad.
I think that this is an interesting chapter without a doubt. This particular passage about the seven things that God hates really makes you think. They are general enough to include a wide variety of missteps, but like most of this book, they are simple enough to be memorable. Rather than memorize a book of a million possible sins, I feel like they memorizing the seven characteristics, we have the criteria to evaluate whether something is right or wrong.
This can help us with those gray areas that the Bible does not speak to directly. Does the activity violate one of these seven principles? If it does, then we know that we probably stop doing it. It is not like God left us out there to evaluate what was right and wrong through trial and error. We have a guide to help us.
Proverbs 5 sounds a lot like marriage counseling. Solomon is basically warning his son about the dangers of having relationships with women outside of his marriage.
Pro 5:3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
Pro 5:4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.
Pro 5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Pro 5:6 Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.
I first think that this is applicable to both genders. Solomon was writing to his son, but obviously the intent can apply to both men and women.
Basically, it sounds to me like the old proverb, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Later in the chapter, we hear Solomon advise that his son should enjoy his wife which does imply that his son was already married.
People may think that there are better options out there, and it might sound pretty good. However, and I’m sure that we have all heard that about this happening hundreds of times, these types of affairs only lead to pain.
I’m not married, so I am certainly not an expert on this field, but part of me thinks that it is pretty much common sense. If you are married, that is a serious commitment, and violating that relationship and that trust only leads to a vast amount of pain and suffering for everyone involved.
It might seem like the grass is greener on the other side, but it never really works out that way at least in any experience that I have heard about.
Proverbs 4 talks about about learning from your parents. It talks about gathering wisdom from people around you and staying on the path that God has prescribed for us.
For a few verses, it contrasts what evil people do. I found one verse of that part so compelling and interesting that I want to zoom in on just that thought today.
Pro 4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
I know that this verse doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is really interesting that the people who are wicked do not know what they are stumbling over. They do not realize that they are doing anything wrong.
I think that is why it is so important for Christians to be public about our faith. We know that the Bible tells us that some things are right and others are wrong. The Bible does provide guidelines that we can use to live our lives in the right way.
For people who had never read or don’t want to read the Bible, they might not know what they are stumbling over. They may not realize that they are doing things that God has said should not be done. Because of that darkness, they might recognize that they are falling. However, they will not understand what they are falling over because they don’t have the background knowledge.
That is one of the reasons that we cannot be afraid to talk about the Bible. If the Bible is true, then it is very important for people to come to repentance. That is a central part of salvation. However, how can they repent if they don’t know that they did anything wrong?
I am not saying that we need to be incredibly judgmental or the Bible police, but I am saying that we cannot be afraid to call a spade a spade. It might not make us very popular at times because people don’t want to hear about what they are doing wrong, but sometimes it is necessary.