Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Insect Industry

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
Providers her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.

Industry is a regular theme of the Proverbs because it is a central theme of godly wisdom.  A dear friend once told me, “I think that much of the problem with the world today is that we no longer talk about the story of the ant and the grasshopper.”  This fable contrasts the ant who works to store up for the winter, and the grasshopper who chooses leisure all summer long.  The ant survives the winter and depending upon the source, the grasshopper is either reduced to beg from the ant or simply dies.  Rest and leisure are never condemned in scripture.  In fact, we find them regularly commanded for Israel in the Sabbaths and the Feasts.  Laziness, however, is universally condemned.  Physical laziness and spiritual laziness alike defy the very character of our God.  God designed humanity for constructive and sweet labor in every sphere, and any form of sloth flies in the face of all that He is and all that He has created us to be.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Co-Signing Risks

My son, if you become surety for your friend,
If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
You are snared by the words of your mouth;
You are taken by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son deliver yourself;
For you have come into the hand of your friend:
Go and humble yourself;
Plead with your friend.
Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids.
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1-5

It would be an oversimplification of the message of Scripture to say that debt is always sin.  However, the reality of the financial burden of debt is a clear and regular message of the word of God.  It is so enticing to help another believer by cosigning on a loan, or taking financial responsibility for them.  This, however, is contrary to godly wisdom.  Giving and lending generously and responsibly is the clear character of the mature believer, but “giving” out of what a person does not have is not generosity, nor is it helping, it is simply pride.  This pride brings a special kind of pain and destruction.  It places undue tension between the borrower and the co-signer, and can ultimately result in great loss on the part of one who pledged what he did not have in order to appear the hero rather than prayerfully waiting upon God to provide what is truly needed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Amazing Wisdom of Marriage

Drink water from your own cistern
And running water from your own well.
Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer in a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
For why should you, my son,
Be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?
Proverbs 5:15-20

Marital fidelity is a constant theme in scripture.  Perhaps because sexual temptation is such a ready temptation to people of all ages.  These verses clash violently with the tide of human thought.  We think of love as a feeling, we use phrases like “fell out of love” and imagine that we might be justified in our selfish and self-satisfying thoughts and actions because the wind of fancy and emotion blew us in another direction.  Yet Scripture is clear: love is a choice and a commitment.  This is the love that God has shown humanity in Jesus Christ who died for us while we were yet sinners and enemies of God (Romans 5:1-8).  It is this love and commitment that is meant to permeate the marriage relationship (Ephesians 5:22-33).  This love is only found in, and supplied endlessly by, the vital relationship of the believer with Jesus Christ.  Anything less than that is sin and sin as always brings only waste, division, destruction and, ultimately, death.  When Christ’s love is at the center of the marriage there is the full display of all of the joy and happiness that marriage was always meant to bring.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Keeping the Heart

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

The world is enamored with the idea of self-help.  Book after book is written to help with this addiction, that pain, to bring success in this area of life or to improve ones ability in one arena or another.  Yet the word of God speaks clearly.  The external actions and behaviors are mere results of the state of the heart.  Jesus put this same concept clearly in Mark 7:20-23: “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’”  The central concern for every believer must be the spiritual state.  From that place come the patterns of the mouth (Prov. 4:24), the eyes (4:25), and the feet (4:26).  With our spiritual gaze fixed upon Christ Jesus the external choices practically make themselves as we submit ourselves to the true Physician of our souls.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;
For the perverse person is an abomination to the LORD,
But His secret counsel is with the upright.
Proverbs 3:31-32

History overflows with personalities who gained great power and wealth by forcibly subjugating others to do their will.  This dirty struggle for power mars great kingdoms and local businesses alike.  It can lead to a sort of sad despair in thinking that an honest person may simply not be able to get ahead in the world.  It may even seem attractive to take on worldly ways of living and grasping after power as part of the same dirty system.  The injunction of Scripture, however, is quite clear.  While the oppressor may have much to envy the one who knows the living God has nothing to envy.  Those short term gains bring only sorrow and trouble to those who make them and history is littered with the evidence of what results from power abused, as well as the example of those who walk in wisdom and inherit glory (Proverbs 3:35).