Proverbs of Character, pt. 4

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Proverbs

Proverbs 16-17, “Proverbs of Character, pt. 4”

How do we know which way is right?  How do we deal with people who cause strife and division?  What do we look for in godly leaders and judges?  What are the things that God desires for us to value more than anything else?  These are some of the questions addressed in Proverbs 16-17.

By way of review, remember that these are penned by Solomon, as he is instructing his own son (and possibly other students) regarding the wisdom of God.  As the king of Israel instructing the next king of Israel, he wanted his son to be well equipped with the wisdom of God.  Thus Solomon has tackled all sorts of topics (and will continue to do so), in an attempt to bring his son to godly maturity.  And that’s valuable for all of us.

Proverbs 16
1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

  • Be prepared, but rely on the Spirit.  We want to think carefully about our plans and actions, and as we do so, we trust that God is guiding us in our speech.
  • Let the Lord guide your tongue.  Our words can get us into a whole mess of trouble – much of which Solomon has already written about at length.  But when our tongues are submitted to the Lord, He can also give us exactly the right words in exactly the right way at exactly the right time.

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.

  • Let the Lord guide your plans.  We may think we know best, but God knows what is truly in our hearts.  These are the things we need to lay out humbly before the Lord, ensuring that everything that we do is submitted to Him.  It’s so easy to allow ourselves to be swept up in all kinds of arguments over what is right & what is supposedly Biblical action as we listen to other people persuade us.  But have we taken the arguments of the people back to the word of God?  Have we taken the arguments of others unto the Lord in prayer?  Many things can seem Biblical until the moment we actually match it up with the Bible.  Let God weigh those spirits in your life.  Let the Lord guide your discernment and thoughts.  Never forget that the Holy Spirit of God indwells you as a believer in Jesus Christ.  You can trust God to guide you into the decisions that are right and holy (truly Biblical) when we remain submitted unto Him in all things.
  • The guidance of God is good!  What a wonderful promise it is that our “hearts will be established.”  More than mere success in our plans, we’ll have success in our walk with God, and be able to be firm in our knowledge that we are doing the things that God desires for us to do.  This is what Solomon was writing about early in the introduction to Proverbs: Proverbs 3:5–6, "(5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; (6) In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." []  Let God direct you through His Holy Spirit and through His word, and you can trust that you won’t go wrong.

4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

  • Everything will one day glorify God – even hell.  It’s a sobering thought that God has made all things, including wicked people – and that God has a plan for all things, including eternal judgment.  That’s not to say that God specifically created and designed certain people for the intent purpose of going to hell and eternal destruction; it’s simply acknowledging the fact that God has created all people, and those who remain in their sins will certainly experience their doom.
  • There is no denying that the Bible is very clear on the fact of judgment.  All people will one day face their Maker, and we will give an account for the things that we have done.  And considering that every single one of us have sinned against the perfect God, then ALL of us deserve the “day of doom.”  The good news is that NONE of us need experience it, because Jesus made our forgiveness possible when He went to the cross for our punishment.  Those who receive Christ as their Savior will receive His forgiveness; yet those who reject Him will experience the doom that awaits.

5 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.

  • That’s pretty blunt, is it not?  We think of certain things of being an abomination to the Lord: perverse sexual sin – idolatry – gross uncleanness, etc.  Yet what else is included in the list?  Pride.  “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD.”  Pride is disgusting to the Lord God.  Pride is anti-Christian behavior.  Jesus humbled Himself and came in the form of a bondservant so that we might be saved, yet it was Satan who rose up in pride and rebellion against God.  When we get bowed up and act in our pride, we are acting against the desire of God, and pride will be punished.
  • God desires humility from His people!  It is those who desire to be first who will be made last, and those who make themselves last whom God will make first.  Jesus came to serve, and the student is not greater than our Teacher – we are to humbly serve one another as well.

6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.

  • The fear of God keeps us from sin.  When we rightly look at God in His holiness, and we revere Him as the sovereign creator of the universe – the almighty powerful God, of course we would depart from evil.  How could we stand to continue in sinful ways when we rightly understand the power and person of God?  It’s impossible!  If we can willingly sin in the face of God, then we’re obviously not looking into the face of God.  After all, everyone who saw God rightly in the Bible ended up falling down prostrate before Him, asking for mercy, and declaring their own woe and sinfulness.  That’s the normal reaction of someone who has truly seen God as He truly is.  When our reaction is anything different, that’s a great indication that we are not fearing the Lord as He ought to be feared.
  • Of course, even knowing the fear of God, we still occasionally fall in sin.  Thankfully, God deals with it for us.  In Solomon’s day, it was pictured daily at the temple, as the sacrificial animals were brought forth and slain for the sins of the individual.  This was the “mercy and truth” illustrated through the law of God.  How is atonement provided for through mercy & truth today?  Through the cross of Jesus!  At the cross, Jesus showed us His “chesed” (His loyal lovingkindess & covenantal mercies), and He fulfilled the truth of all of the expectation of all of the law.  In doing so, He provides perfect atonement for us in covering over all of our sins fully for all time.  Praise God!

7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

  • Those who seek God become peacemakers.  This is just a natural by-product of the gospel.  Even in areas of the world in which Christians are persecuted, it’s very common for their persecutors to seek peace with those they have beaten & wronged.  Jailers come and show mercy to Christians in prison, just as Paul made friends with the soldiers to which he was chained.  The love of Christ has a permeating effect through our lives to everyone around us.

8 Better is a little with righteousness, Than vast revenues without justice.

  • Several comparisons in these chapters showing what is more valuable than money, or other worldly things. First, righteousness is valuable.  It’s better to have a small bank account with scruples, than to have a fat stock portfolio that was gotten through evil gains.  Too many people are willing to sacrifice everything for money, yet there is something vastly more valuable than riches: the righteousness of Christ.

9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

  • Referring again to God’s guidance.  Be sure to submit all things to God, and trust that the Holy Spirit is directing you regarding your decisions.
  • Vss. 10-14 look at thoughts for kings.  Remember that Solomon is primarily instructing his son, hoping to impart to him the wisdom of God needed to rule over Israel.  That said, be careful not to ignore these instructions.  We may not be kings, but we are a royal priesthood in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We need to have wisdom in whatever leadership capacity the Lord gives us.

10 Divination is on the lips of the king; His mouth must not transgress in judgment. 11 Honest weights and scales are the LORD’s; All the weights in the bag are His work.

  • Wise kings are just.  They treat their people with equity, and seek the righteousness of God in all of their judgments.

12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings, And they love him who speaks what is right.

  • Wise kings are righteous.  Not only do they judge evildoers, they themselves do not engage in evil.  That’s why it’s always so scandalous anytime our political leaders are found to have done something illegal or immoral.  They are to be held to the highest of standards & people who are wicked have no business leading others.
  • This is especially true in Solomon’s day.  Why?  Because the kings of Israel were supposed to represent God to the people.  Similar to the priests, the king had a role of representation.  Yet, instead of a religious, worship, and sacrificial representation, the king was to represent the righteousness and rule of God in the lives of the people.
    • Today, we do not live under the kingdom of Israel, but our national leaders are still entrusted by God with the ministry of justice.  God has given them the sword in order to protect citizens, and to right injustice.  Thus it is especially important for them to live righteously & submitted unto God themselves.
  • Wise kings are true.  Not only should their own lips speak in righteousness, they should delight in the righteous words of others around them.  The people who advise national leaders ought also be submitted to God, seeking to do righteousness.

14 As messengers of death is the king’s wrath, But a wise man will appease it. 15 In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.

  • Wise kings are merciful.  In Solomon’s day, the wrath of the king meant a death warrant.  But it didn’t have to be that way.  David had every right to have Shimei killed when Shimei taunted David in his departure from Jerusalem.  Instead, David was merciful & left it in the hands of the Lord.  (Ultimately, it was Solomon who had Simei killed!)

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

  • Comparison #2: wisdom is valuable.  Earlier, Solomon wrote that wisdom was more valuable than gold & more precious than rubies (Pro 3:14).  Just like it would be better to have a small bank account in righteousness, it’s better to have a small bank account accompanied with the wisdom of God.  There are many rich people in the world without an ounce of Godly wisdom, and ultimately their riches do them no good in regards to eternity.

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul.

  • Holiness keeps us safe.  No one in their right mind willingly says, “I wish I could harm myself today,” yet in essence that is exactly what we do when we make the decision to engage in sin.  The wages of sin is death – it will always bring harm to us.

18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

  • Getting back to the idea of pride vs. humility.  Proud people WILL fall…count on it. Everyone who struts around in pride is going to have a moment of comeuppance.  That’s not a position in which we want to be.
  • Comparison #3: humility is valuable.  It’s far better to be with the humble than with the proud, even if the proud seem to be raking in the riches.  After all, if the proud are going to fall, why be taken down with them?
  • Vss. 20-23, wisdom listens.

20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. 21 The wise in heart will be called prudent, And sweetness of the lips increases learning. 22 Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips.

  • Listening to the counsel of others who have the wisdom of God is to listen and trust God Himself.  Notice how vs. 20 ties in heeding the word with trusting God.  God could be using the Body of Christ to give us all sorts of sound counsel, but if we’re not willing to listen to anyone else, we’re not going to hear God’s own counsel to us.
  • Not only do we hear wisely; we are to speak wisely. (vs. 21)  As we speak the wise counsel of God to others, we do so prudently, in a winsome way.  As our lips become “sweet,” it makes it easier for people to listen to us.  Think about it: how often have we heard truth from someone, but they shared it in such a harsh way that we wanted to reject it altogether.  The wise person not only knows to receive godly counsel, but also knows how to give godly counsel in a way that it can be received.
  • When we do receive correction, that correction only helps us; it never hurts us.  Never stop learning & listening!  The moment we think we know it all is the moment we get ourselves into a lot of trouble.

24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

  • Good words are truly good!  Reiterates the point of vs. 21.  Beyond the idea of godly counsel and advice, sweet words are welcome words.  Who of us doesn’t want to be around others who are joyful in their speech, rather than a bunch of negativity?

25 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

  • Repeat of Proverbs 14:12.  Many things may seem right, but not everything can BE right.  We need to follow that which is really true.  Jesus’ way leads to life, and any other path leads to death.

26 The person who labors, labors for himself, For his hungry mouth drives him on.

  • Getting back to the idea of a good work ethic.  We work because we need it.  Eventually even the lazy person gets hungry enough to go get a job.
  • Vss. 27-30 – those who sow strife & division.

27 An ungodly man digs up evil, And it is on his lips like a burning fire. 28 A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends. 29 A violent man entices his neighbor, And leads him in a way that is not good. 30 He winks his eye to devise perverse things; He purses his lips and brings about evil.

  • Seeking division is ungodly.  Just as pride is anti-christian behavior, so is division.  Jesus is the one who became the peace between God & man, between Jew & Gentile.  Jesus is the one who makes us one with one another, and brings us into one body.  To try to stir up division among other Christians is to go against the work of Christ Himself.  It is “ungodly” and “perverse.
  • Christians are supposed to reject divisive people.  Titus 3:10–11, "(10) Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, (11) knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned." []  Local churches have always had different factions within them.  In the church at Corinth, some thought they were of Paul & others of Apollos & others of Peter.  Today, it is those who follow one Bible teacher over another.  It’s to stir up divisions between teaching styles.  It’s to focus on the non-essentials rather than the essentials, and ultimately to draw people away from focusing upon the Lord Jesus.  This is not something Christians ought to be involved in, and it’s certainly unwise behavior.
  • People who seek division can be influential.  Vs. 30 implies a person who sets up conspiracies and coalitions.  Be careful whom you listen to.  Be careful of the company you keep.

31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.

  • Age is good!  We tend to live in an age of Grecian Formula, but silver-hair “is a crown of glory.”  (Some of our crowns are rapidly expanding… J)  Those with life-experience among us ought to be cherished & valued.
  • Notice the “if” in the KJV & NKJV.  Grey hair is good when it was earned through righteousness.  The experienced counsel of the godly is a wonderful thing; but simply because someone has been around for a while doesn’t mean they have experience to offer.

32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

  • Comparison #4: Self-control is valuable.  The other comparisons have dealt with the value of the character trait over the value of money.  Here, self-control is compared with power and authority.  Why?  Because a mighty warrior might be able to take a city, but if he didn’t have any self-control, he would not be able to keep the city & govern it.
  • People might be able to accomplish much, but a quick temper can take it all away.

33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.

  • God is sovereign!  Even during supposed actions left to chance (such as casting lots), God is always in control.
  • Timely Scripture during an election season!  We do what we need to do – we do what we feel the Lord leading us to do, and we trust God for the results.  What we receive is what God has allowed.

Proverbs 17
1 Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife.

  • Comparison #5: peace is valuable…especially peace at home!  A dinner table full of food doesn’t do any good if no one is in the mood to eat because everyone is angry with one another.  Yet a household of peace will be a home of love, no matter if there is much or little on the table.
  • Sometimes we might tend to downplay this a bit.  We want things to be right at work – we want it to be right in our relationships at church, or with our other friends, etc., but we sometimes think we can put off our relationships at home.  After all, that’s always going to be there, and we can get to it later.  Yet in honesty, if things are not right at home, they won’t really be right anywhere else…it becomes a sham.  That’s one reason that overseers and elders in the NT church are supposed to have a godly reputation in their own family first.  Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense for them to give leadership to others.

2 A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame, And will share an inheritance among the brothers.

  • Wisdom is better than bloodline.  A son might expect to receive the inheritance, but if he shows himself to be foolish, and the servant to be wise, why would the father not give the inheritance to the wise servant instead?
  • This even played out in Solomon’s own family with his children.  (Walvoord & Zuck) “Interestingly Jeroboam rose over Solomon’s disgraceful son Rehoboam and became the leader of 10 of the 12 tribes (1 Kings 12).”  Jeroboam had been a servant, and yet God ended up giving him the northern kingdom.

3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.

  • God knows our hearts.  We need to be careful about judging others because ultimately we cannot know what is in their heart at any given time.  That is between them and the Lord.
  • More to the point, God refines and tests our hearts.  Just as silver and gold needed to be refined to burn out the impurities that were there, so our hearts need to be refined.  That’s a process that is left to the Lord.  God allows us to go through certain situations that cause this refining process to take place.   Peter wrote about our faith being tested as fire through the various trials we endure (1 Pet 1:7), and James wrote how our faith when tested produces patience (Jas 1:2).  Trials are never fun, but they can be used by God for very good purposes!  It is those trials that help us be conformed more and more into the image of Christ.

4 An evildoer gives heed to false lips; A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.

  • Evildoers speak lies and they pay attention to lies.  They love to hear gossip and juicy stories that cause division and strife between others.
  • Whom do we listen to?

5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

  • Wise Christians are to be merciful towards the poor.  Instead of saying, “He deserves it!”, we are to show compassion to one another.  After all, God made the poor man and poor woman just like He made us.  All of us have been made in the image of God, and it is that which determines our worth; not the size of our bank accounts.
  • We need to be careful with our attitudes towards one another.  It can be so easy to get cynical.  We need to beware that our hearts do not become hardened.  All of us go through tough times every now and again.  We may be the ones showing compassion now, but it may be us who are the receiving end of compassion later.

6 Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.

  • Generations are supposed to honor one another.  It doesn’t always work this way, but this is the ideal.
  • Thinking about our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, this is exactly what we experience.  Because of Jesus, we have been adopted by God, and we have been born of the Holy Spirit.  We have been given the right to become the children of God.  And that pleases God the Father!  It glorifies Him that we have been saved by Christ!  And likewise, what is it that we rejoice in?  The glory of our Heavenly Father.

7 Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool, Much less lying lips to a prince.

  • The idea here is that it doesn’t match up.  It’s the fool that has the lying lips, and the prince that is supposed to have the excellent speech.  Yet sometimes the foolish man tries to pretend that he has vastly more important than he does, and the national leader that spouts off lies and half-truths.

8 A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; Wherever he turns, he prospers.

  • The idea here isn’t so much a nice friendly gift, but a bribe.  People who are accustomed to receiving bribes enrich themselves, but wrongly.  Solomon isn’t giving approval to the idea, but is simply relating the fact.

9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

  • Solomon has written about the need for discretion many times – he comes back to the idea here.  The person who is discreet regarding the failings of others is someone who is acting in love towards his/her neighbor.  There has been much in Ch 16-17 about strife & division.  What is it that we are known more for: bringing people together in Christ, or tearing them apart?

10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a hundred blows on a fool.

  • The wise person can be rebuked.  There’s a point in loving, yet firm correction when applied to someone who has submitted himself to the Lord.  Yet the foolish person can hear the same correction over and over again with no effect.

11 An evil man seeks only rebellion; Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

  • It’s one thing to be a peacemaker; it’s another to try to reason with the unreasonable.  There’s no point in appeasement.  When someone is looking to cause trouble and stir up rebellion, the way to deal with that person is through the truth of the Scripture.

12 Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly.

  • Just as an innocent bystander can be killed by a raging bear, so can an innocent bystander by hurt by the actions of a fool.  When someone is determined to engage in sinful foolishness, perhaps the safest thing to do is step out of the way.  Like a lifeguard does not swim out to a person thrashing his arms in the water, sometimes the best course of action is to wait for the other person to calm down and experience some of the consequences of his actions before attempting to help.  It’s at that point that they might be willing to receive some help.

13 Whoever rewards evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house.

  • Godly wise people are to be just.  Justice does not reward evil for good, but recognizes the good for what it is.
  • This is an interesting statement coming from Solomon, one of the sons of David & Bathsheba.  David had rewarded one of his faithful warriors with evil, by sleeping with Uriah’s wife, and having Uriah purposefully killed in battle.  As a result of his sin, God declared that the sword would never depart from David’s house (2 Sam 12:10).  And it didn’t!  His sons quarreled, raped, killed, and rebelled in treason.  Solomon knew well the effects that rewarding evil for good could bring.

14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.

  • How important it is to control our tongue!  We can stop arguments before they begin, if we’re careful.  Otherwise, a tiny slip of the tongue can unleash all sorts of trouble.  Just like it’s tough to hold water in our hand, so it is that things can get undone quickly.
  • Practically speaking, how can we do this?  Sometimes it is as simple as allowing little issues to remain little issues.  Not every single minor offense needs a comeback or a correction.  Other times, it may be waiting until you’ve calmed down to address the offense.  If we are simply reacting in unchecked anger, we can almost guarantee that we’re going to enter into an unnecessary quarrel.

15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

  • Unjust judges are as bad as the wicked sinner that they are supposed to condemn.  Injustice condoned by those in authority is something that is abhorrent to the Lord (whether it takes place in the nation, or within the church).  God will be sure to right every wrong, and judge those who judge unjustly.

16 Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, Since he has no heart for it?

  • A fool has no use for wisdom.  He doesn’t listen to wisdom & never applies it.  He might say that he wants it (even willing to purchase it), but in the end he’s not going to do anything with it.  Like the person who buys all sorts of study Bibles, yet never cracks one to read it, so it is with the foolish man and wisdom.

17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

  • The test of a true friend.  Does the friend stick with you in trouble – or is he/she around only during the “fair weather” times?
  • Besides the friends you have, what kind of friend are you to others?

18 A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety for his friend.

  • Similar to Pro 11:15.  We are to be wise in our finances & be very careful with co-signing loans for others.

19 He who loves transgression loves strife, And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction. 20 He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.

  • Evil people seek to cause more evil.  They delight in arguments and division.
  • They also find division for themselves.  We will reap what we sow!

21 He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy.

  • Talking about the grief of parents when their children are foolish.  Our greatest desire as parents is to see our children mature into the godly men & women that God has designed them to be.  Yet when they walk in wickedness and foolishness, it grieves our hearts.  Few parents pray for their children like the parents of prodigals.  Like the father in the parable from Jesus, they continually watch for the repentance of their children, and they earnestly long for that day. …

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

  • Especially in light of vs. 21, a parent’s spirit can feel dry and desperate.  That’s why it’s so important for us to keep turning to the Lord to find our joy.  When our circumstances dictate our emotions, we’ll always be on an emotional roller-coaster, subject to all sorts of random things and depressions.  Yet when our eyes remain focused upon the Lord Jesus, our hearts can rejoice even IN times of trouble, and that will do us much good.

23 A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back To pervert the ways of justice.

  • Getting back to the idea of bribes.  True justice cannot be bought.  When something is right, then the righteous person does the right thing, no matter what he/she thinks he can get out of it.  Regarding kings & justice, that means the rich will not be able to buy their way out of trouble, but that the king will obey the Lord regarding right judgment.  Regarding Christians, it means that we’re not looking for our own benefit.  We’re not looking for a bribe; we want to do the right thing simply because it’s right & glorifying to the Lord.

24 Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.

  • Look to God’s wisdom; not earthly things.  It can be so easy for us to get distracted.  Be it from materialistic stuff – or political power and influence – or lustful desires – or hedonism, or whatever…so often we’re looking to the “ends of the earth” for our fulfillment.  That’s foolish behavior!  If we are in Christ, we are the children of God.  We have a better inheritance – we have a better promise.  We are to look to God for the things that He gives, and when we do so, God will continually give us His wisdom.
  • When we do look to God for wisdom, what is the promise?  God will give it!  (Jas 1:3)

25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.

  • This is the same idea as Proverbs 10:1, 15:20, and 17:21.  Foolish children grieve their parents.

26 Also, to punish the righteous is not good, Nor to strike princes for their uprightness.

  • Along the same lines as vs. 15.  Be just!  Do the right thing!

27 He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. 28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

  • Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  It seems quite possible that Lincoln might have had this proverb in mind!  Sometimes the wisest thing we can say is nothing.  It’s when our mouths run incessantly that we get ourselves into trouble.  Even foolish people can seem full of wisdom if they don’t say a word.  Other people don’t speak much at all, but when they speak you know that what they say is going to be valuable.  That’s wisdom!

Conclusion:
What are you looking towards?  Who are you listening to?  Depending on your answer, that might answer many questions about the fruit of the actions in your own life.  When we look to the things of the world for our answer, it ought to be no wonder when we experience all sorts of confusion.  When we listen to those who sow the seeds of division, it ought to be no wonder when we feel conflicted.  Worse yet, when we actually engage in those things – when we act in our prideful sinfulness, it’s no wonder when we feel as if we are far from God…because we are!  At that point, we’re walking in the opposite direction of Jesus.

That’s not what God desires for us!  God desires us to walk in wisdom.  He wants us to remain humbly submitted to Him – to make peace with one another and strive for unity – to act in righteousness and justice – to control our tempers and our speech – to value Him and His character more than all things as we generally seek the face of our Lord Jesus.  When we do those things, we know we will be walking in the blessing of God.  We will experience peace in our home, peace with our neighbor, and peace in the midst of trials all around us.  That’s when we’re walking with Jesus, but led by Him and growing in maturity.

Where we fail, there is forgiveness.  Where we stumble, there is help.  All of those things are true simply because we are resting in the salvation and grace of Jesus Christ.  But knowing that is true, let us not become complacent in seeking to walk with Jesus as He intends for us to walk.  May God give us the grace through the Holy Spirit to do exactly that!

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