Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.
One of the most horrible things that can happen
to a person, from the world’s viewpoint, is that that person might not have
stuff. A person who is missing the right
material possessions (or the right amount of material possessions) is called
“poor”, and is pitied by the world system.
The other side of this sad coin is that each person is also trained to
tell themselves that they would be much happier if they only had more money,
better things, or more “spare time”. This becomes the lash and spur for each person
to live a life of unconditional avarice for the next big house, nice car, or
new gadget. The Bible offers another
viewpoint: We would be better off by far
with the fear of the Lord in a loving home than we would with every treasure
and gadget, luxury and pleasure apart from Him.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Most biblical proverbs are met with a calm nod. “Yes, that is true,” we say to
ourselves. Some, like this one, are met
with a calm nod and then a horrifying shudder.
We nod when we think of how this applies to others, and shudder when we
realize it also applies to us. This
“way” could be the manner in which we do business. This “way” could be the choices we make in
our families. This “way” could be choosing
to try to earn our salvation through our own good works, rather than resting
upon Christ’s completed work. They
appear right, but they end in death.
This is the way that our sin nature gains control over us, by offering
“better” alternatives to problems than what is given by God in His word. They may seem
right from our perverse and biased little perspective, but when viewed from the
standpoint of the Truth of God’s word the end is clear.
Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
My wife would laugh if she ever read this sentence from me: I like things neat and tidy. It is probably better put: I like things simple and as conflict-free as possible. I find in ministry, in business and in family the reality is the same: The more people you bring in, the more mess you are going to have. There are temptations to be found on both sides. One side would seek to get rid of the ox so there was nothing to clean up. The other would get as many oxen as they can and choose not to clean up after them. Either extreme will result in failure, but if we are willing to accept that expanding our lives to include new relationships WILL bring more work we will find ourselves in the best relational situation possible.
He who spares the rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Discipline is a concept regularly misunderstood in the human context. The worst of this confusion is that which exists between discipline and punishment. Punishment involves righteousness, justice and fairness. A person is punished to in some way make things right after an offense or wrong action. Discipline, however, is corrective in nature. When parents observe their children behaving in ways that are selfish, dishonest, hurtful, or disrespectful and they take no corrective action they are not preparing their child to live in the world which they will one day face. The reason? They hate their children. That sounds extreme, but it is the reality. The parent who loves their momentary comfort more than the difficulty of training their child to live a godly life simply loves themselves than their child.
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Do you remember when television stations used to go off air? Once everything was said for the day the screen would go to a familiar pattern and that would be all that would be broadcast for a few hours at least. In reading and re-reading through the Proverbs each month I am always struck at how many of them are about the spoken word. They are a special caution to our modern time which almost never knows silence. This lack of silence seems to infect our conversations and time with others as well. Rather than allowing a quiet and understanding silence we feel compelled to fill the air with any talk, regardless of how empty, awful or destructive those words may be. The speech pattern “awkward silence” has become very common phrase in our regular speech, so common that any silence is viewed as being awkward. Becoming comfortable with silence in our private life may be exactly what is needed to become comfortable with silence in our social life, and that comfort with silence may be life-saving, in the right situation.