December 10, 2017
Listen and think before talking. The book of James, which is sometimes called the “Proverbs of the New Testament,” advises: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
Try listening more and talking less today. Who knows what you’ll learn.
October 30, 2017
Do you know a “talebearer?” They always know the latest gossip and rumor. They speak with a wink and a whisper. Their words never elevate your estimation of others, but always tend towards disunity and strife. Yet, their news seems irresistible to the ears, like the “tasty” morsels of Turkish Delight were to Edmund’s stomach. Their words “go down” sweet, but sour your heart towards others. If you know a talebearer, rebuke them. And if they continue, avoid them.
October 25, 2017
What does it mean to be wise in your own eyes? It means that you think your know better than the Lord. Your “wisdom” is just as good as His or anyone else’s. Ironically, this is the worse kind of foolishness. For the truly wise man admits his limited knowledge and is always teachable. But the fool is a know-it-all that will not listen to counsel. Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is more than intellect. Wisdom is the knowledge and fear of God put into practice. The one who knows and fears the Lord accepts his own insufficient wisdom. The truly wise know that they don’t know all.
October 15, 2017
Solomon answers the question, “Can we ever have too much of a good thing?” In short, his answer is, “Yes.” Instead, we should practice moderation, “eating only what we need.”
Our problem: We’re all born with a sin nature that the Bible calls the “flesh.” The flesh always wants more. It is never satisfied. God gave Adam and Eve every tree and every fruit in the garden, but one. Yet, they had to have the one. We are their children. We eat too much, drink too much, sleep too much, say too much… we desire too much, always to excess. We always want more.
Be warned. We have a self-inflicted sickness. It comes from the sin nature, which is the flesh. It has an insatiable appetite. It always drives us to excess. What we need is a new nature, one born from above. We need a new nature that is born again by the Holy Spirit, so that we have the spiritual fruit of self-control. Then, we will be able to enjoy the good things of life… in moderation, “eating only as much as we need.”
October 14, 2017
This proverb describes how to persuade “a ruler.” In modern leadership parlay, this principle is called, “leading up.” Some may think it impossible to lead a boss or supervisor. Yet, Solomon taught how to do just that.
Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs to give his son wisdom on how to live. It is filled with practical instruction. In this proverb, he taught the importance of “forbearance” and “gentleness” when it comes to leading those who have authority over us. “Forbearance” is the art of patient, self-restraint in offering advice. Solomon called this “long forbearance,” because it takes patience to gain influence as an advisor to your boss. “Gentleness” is the second attribute that Solomon prescribed. It is the art of making sure your supervisor feels no challenge, nor rebellion in you. Being gentle in your feedback, your influence grows as the leader’s trust in you grows.
True leadership is more about influence than position. You don’t have to have a title to have influence. You only need wisdom like Solomon’s, which is ours in Christ Jesus. And He would have us use this influence, in forbearance and gentleness, to lead others to hear the gospel and follow Him.
As the apostle Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). When we share the gospel, we lead up, not down.
September 30, 2017
Wisdom of God through the pen of Solomon, whose name was from the Hebrew word, “Shalom” (“Peace”).
Two imperatives are given:
1) “Deliver” – Rescue those who are being carried toward death.
2) “Hold back” – Actively persuade those who are stumbling, as if intoxicated, towards their own demise.
Certainly, this instruction might be applied to the gospel ministry, wherein we are to both care for the physical needs of the poor and at the same time, proclaim the good news about Jesus to them. But the application that seems most relevant to our day is that of the young woman with an unplanned pregnancy. How can we “deliver” the unborn child from being carried to death through abortion? The child’s mother and father are being “drawn toward death” by what the culture calls an inconvenience. Yet Scripture calls us to help rescue the innocent victim of this modern insanity. However, the baby isn’t the only victim, for the mother is the one “stumbling to the slaughter.” She has come under a strong delusion that abortion isn’t murder, but only a medical procedure. The truth is, she will be wounded by this choice in body and soul for the rest of her life. She needs someone to lovingly “hold her back” from “stumbling” towards death as her best choice. Wisdom chooses life. Folly draws us toward death.
September 9, 2017
There is a theology of work. God works. God made man in His own image and gave him work to do too. The modern view that there is a division between secular and sacred work is in error. All work is sacred when done “as to the Lord” (Col. 3:23). When good work is done with excellence, even kings take notice. Such a worker will “stand before” well known and important people. Their work will become a platform from which to communicate. Will they accept glory for themselves or will they give glory to God? Jesus worked. He said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). A right theology of work teaches us that there is no work that is to be considered beneath us, for Jesus Himself washed the disciples feet. And a right theology of work also teaches us to rest, for Jesus Himself knew when to rest. All work is sacred when done in Jesus’ name.
August 26, 2017
The Hebrew is literally, “The rich and poor meet…” What does this “meeting” imply? Perhaps it points to the human tendency to focus on the externals, such as wealth and material things, that often cause the rich and the poor to clash. Or perhaps it is an observation that the rich and the poor need one another. However, I like the idea that it points to the great leveling of the gospel that invites all to come to the cross on equal terms, namely, through repentance of the sin that besets rich and poor alike, and believing in Christ as the only means of salvation. It is this gospel that allows the poor to boast in their “exaltation,” and the rich in their “humiliation” (James 1:9-11). The ground is level at the cross. All who approach will recognize their common need. All who receive must recognize their common Lord, who is the Maker and Savior of us all.
July 28, 2017
Righteous parents who live a life of integrity, leave a legacy that continues to bless their children. Integrity is that crucial character trait of consistency, so that one’s walk matches one’s talk. Children see both the public and private lives of their parents. Those who observe their parent’s faith in Jesus practiced in the home, as well as in the church, are truly blessed.
Do you walk in integrity before your children? Will they be blessed after you?
July 25, 2017
How many have been “led astray” by alcohol? The one who is normally thoughtful and well-spoken becomes a “mocker” when intoxicated. The peaceful one becomes a “brawler” when under the influence. How many families have been torn apart, how many friendships broken, how many fortunes lost because of alcohol? Be wise. “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).