Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - Proverbs 17-20
Today is catchup day. When my computer generated our Bible reading plan, most of the Bible readings were one chapter in length. There were a few readings of two chapters to enable our to finish our plan by Labor Day. I overlooked the last three double reading days as I prepared my emails. This morning I set about to catch up.
Join me in these extra long notes to get us back on track. :)
- Your attitude can burn the dinner faster than the oven (v.1). The attitude around the dinner table can ruin a meal. It is better to serve a simple meal with happiness than a Thanksgiving dinner with frustration. This is a great reminder for the moms and dads who love to cook. If the complexity of the meal makes you serve dinner with frustration, simplify your cooking. Your family wants a smile on your face more than a fancy meal on their plates.
- The success of children is the joy of their parents (v. 6). Nothing makes a parent happier than seeing their children succeed in life. I first understood this when my children were successful in wrestling. I was incredibly proud of them for their success. I was one of those out-of-control parents on the side of the mat rooting for their success (and my joy). Seeing my sons win tournaments brought me more joy than if I won them myself. In the same way, the joy of a grandparent is their grandchildren. Visit a nursing home and talk with the aged. What will they do? They pull out the photos of their grandchildren and tell you about their lives. Grandchildren are their joy. If you are a young man or young woman, do your best in life not just for yourself but to give joy to your parents and grandparents. Nobody loves you more than they do. Your success and wise choices bring more joy to your parents than you realize.
- Learn to ignore the stupid things people do and say (v.9). If you are like me, it doesn’t take long for you to put your foot in your mouth. Everyone says and does stupid stuff. If people are like me, they lay in bed at night wishing they could take it back because what they said came out wrong. What they did made themselves look foolish. When people put themselves in a vulnerable position, the wisest thing you can do is learn to ignore it rather than take advantage it. If you take advantage of the situation and tell others of their foolishness, you will destroy your friendships. Be a loving person and ignore the stupid stuff people say and do, don’t repeat it and tell others.
- The best place to stop an argument is at the beginning (v.14). Stop an argument the moment it starts. As soon as you think of that good zinger to with a verbal punch to put someone in his or her place, shut your mouth. The longer an argument goes, the harder it is to stop. Stop it before it starts and you won’t regret it.
- You know who your true friends are when tough times hit (v. 17). True friends are the ones who come to help in your time of need, even though it in an inconvenience. I still remember when Cindy and I bought our first home. It had a dirt driveway. I had a load of crushed rock dropped off that I planned to spread. As newlyweds, all I had was a garden rake. It was backbreaking work to cover an entire driveway with crushed rock using hand tools. Even though it was Saturday, a friend canceled his plans to come and help spread rock. I will never forget my friend who came to my rescue when it wasn’t convenient and wasn’t easy. That is a true friend. In the same way, your family should be there for you in those tough times.
- If you are a loner, chances are you are selfish (v. 1). Many loners are not just quiet because that is their personality. They are loaners because they are selfish. They isolate themselves because they honestly don’t care about other people. If you are a loner, ask yourself why. Many loners are not that way because it is their personality. They are that way because they are selfish and don’t love their neighbors. Learn to open yourself up to people because you care for people.
- Be a better listener than a talker (v. 2). God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. It is easy to express your own opinion. Focus on listening to people instead of talking to people. In a social situation, it is easy to want to tell people your story. It is easy to spend time expressing your opinion. This week, try something different. Spend more time listening to other people about their lives than talking about your life. When people tell you about their day, express interest and ask more questions. Try your best to learn more about them than talk about yourself.
- Money gives us a false sense of security (v. 11). It is easy to find security in the size of our investment portfolio. After all, money is an important part of planning for the future. The problem is money provides a false sense of security. The stock market can crash. An illness can suck your bank dry. The only true security for our future is God. When you get up in the morning put your confidence for the future in God, not your banker.
- God will humble you deeply before he can use you mightily (v. 12). One of the best things that can happen to us is a crushing failure. It is what brings us to our knees. It is what teaches you to cry out to God for mercy. When God rescues us after a crushing failure we handle success differently. We know our success comes from God and not ourselves. We understand hard times and we are empathetic toward those with few resources. Our failure helps insulate us from pride that comes with success. One of the reasons David was a great king is he spent the first part of his life running from King Saul. The hard times in his life helped him be a better king in the good times. One of the worst things that can happen to someone is success that wasn’t preceded by failure.
- After salvation, a good wife is the best gift God can give (v. 22). A good wife is worth more than money. She is worth more than power. She is worth more than anything this world can offer. If you are a young man, look carefully for a good wife. Don’t just pursue the first woman that has an interest in you. The woman you marry is the second most important decision you will make in your life. If God blesses you with a good wife, it is the best blessing God can give after salvation itself. If you are a young woman, become the best woman you can be to bless your future husband. If you are already a wife and mother, don’t underestimate the importance of your role to your husband and family. There is nothing more important to a husband than his wife.
- Avoid impulse decisions and purchases (v. 2). Make sure you research something before you buy it. Quick decisions often lead to regrets. Make sure you understand a product or you will often regret it. This also applies to hiring staff. Do your research before you extend a job offer. It is better to higher slow than to have regrets after you bring someone on your team.
- Your nest egg will come from your parents but a good wife is a gift from God (v. 14). Parents bless their children by leaving an inheritance. A wise parent will leave resources for his or her children’s future when he or she dies. The one thing parents cannot bless their son or daughter with is a great spouse. The only one who provides this is God.
- God will repay you when you are generous to the poor (v. 17). If you are generous toward those in need, be confident God will supply your needs. God promises to provide the needs of someone who helps the poor. This week, put this promise to the test! If God puts someone in need in your path, be generous and trust God to provide.
- Watch out for people who are so lazy that even after you help them, they will not help themselves (v. 24). Don’t be a sluggard! Sluggards are too lazy to help themselves even after you help them. You can give them a car, but they won’t wash it or keep it clean. They will ask for help paying for gas. You can give them a meal, but they are too lazy to do the work of heating it in the oven. They let the leftovers go to waste. You can give them a job but they are too lazy to get out of bed and get to work on time. Those are the hallmarks of a sluggard. If someone helps you, don’t be so lazy you don’t extend some simple effort to benefit from the kindness extended your way. Don’t be a slug!
- Be careful of alcohol. In the end, the bottle will have the last laugh (v. 1). While the Bible doesn’t forbid alcohol, it has strong warnings about it. Last week I was counseling an alcoholic that lost everything. His face was beaten and bruised. He looked like he was in a fistfight. After he drank he lost control of his body. He had already lost control of his life. The bottle was leading him. I have personally chosen to not have alcohol as part of my life. While I am free in Christ to drink, after counseling enough alcoholics and seeing their ruined lives, I decided it isn’t wise to drink. In the end, I want to be in control of my life, not let a bottle of beer control me.
- Don’t be lazy. Work hard when life isn’t easy (v. 4). This verse talks about the sluggard not plowing in autumn. The Hebrew means winter. A lazy person will not do the hard work of plowing in the spring when the weather is harsh and cold. The result is when harvest season comes their crops are not ready. Don’t wait for perfect conditions. Discipline yourself and work hard even when it isn’t easy. In the end, you won’t go hungry.
- Don’t be lazy. Get out of bed (v. 13). There is nothing wrong with catching a little extra sleep. The problem is getting in the habit of getting up late. The best time of day and the most productive time of day is the morning. Go to bed early. Get up early and use those precious early morning hours! The lazy man doesn’t get up early.
- You don’t need to get even. Leave justice in God’s hands (v. 22). Our job is not to pay someone back for his evil. Leave justice in God’s hands. He will take care of justice better than we can. Wait and watch God take care of justice. This is talking about personal vengeance, not justice in government.
- Good leaders don’t tolerate injustice. They root out evil and destroy it (v. 26). Wise leaders find those who are wicked and remove them from power. The sin in the wicked person’s life will ruin the rest of society. Not only does a wise leader remove those practicing evil but a leader will also see the wicked are punished and justice is served. The wisdom of a leader is seen in the integrity of his rule and how he handles corruption. While we can not control our government in this area, we can control the business we lead. Don’t tolerate corruption. Remove it!