Don’t falter!

If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? ~Proverbs 24:10-12 NIV

evangelism“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

~Charles H. Spurgeon

This passage is aimed squarely at you. And it’s promising great reward to those who obey. The Lord promises here to repay you, no matter what you’ve invested. No matter how much it cost.

Have you learned how to share the Gospel? There are several reputable organizations that will train you. Some will even take you out and show you how it works.

Maybe you’re one of the few Christians who is comfortable sharing your faith. If that’s true, good for you!

Learn to “give a defense for the hope that is within you.” Others may be counting on it.

 

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Never put off ’till tomorrow…

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. ~Proverbs 3:27-28 NASB

mark twain 2Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Never put off ’till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well,” by American humorist Mark Twain. 

While clever, it doesn’t mean quite the same thing as our verses from Proverbs. That’s because the wording is (intentionally) quite different. And words, they say, have meaning.

When you’re with a person who deserves good things, that’s the time to do them! Whether it is your brother or sister, or mother or father, doesn’t matter. Only your obedience to the Word of God does.

How are you doing today? Obeying the Word, or neglecting it?

Are you listening?

The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. ~Proverbs 10:8 NIV

Listen CarefullyA story about a young boy in 1 Samuel 3 personifies the first half of this verse:

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Note first that Samuel answers the Lord the very first time he is called. But he isn’t sure who is calling him. Samuel runs to Eli, the priest who was mentoring the boy. After this happens three times, Eli deduces that it is God who is calling Samuel. Being a man of wisdom himself, Eli instructs Samuel to respond with “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

As Samuel hears God call him once more, he responds exactly as Eli told him to reply. So Samuel can be commended for listening — both to God and to his human authority. Even better, Samuel obeyed Eli’s instructions. And he was rewarded with a stunning personal encounter with the living God, Creator of the universe.

The second half of Proverbs 10:8 is supported by the truth of Ecclesiastes 5:1-2:

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Who is the “chattering fool?” The one who is quick with his mouth and hasty in heart. The person who speaks repeatedly without thinking is sure to come to ruin. James 1:19 is also a strong reminder of this principle: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

Are you listening? Or are you too busy verbalizing your own thoughts and opinions to really hear when God speaks?

Offering advice?

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. ~Proverbs 9:7-9 NASB

counseling 2Have you ever tried to correct an arrogant or wicked person? Chances are your advice was rejected on the spot, according to these verses — perhaps even accompanied by a few choice words indicating a low opinion of your comments.

This passage teaches the foolishness of interacting with a “scoffer,” defined as one who jeers or mocks or treats something with contempt, or calls out in derision. A person with this kind of attitude isn’t interested in anyone’s advice.

Jesus offered a relevant comment in Matthew 7:6, saying, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Offering precious Biblical advice to a wicked person can bring you dishonor and insults.

By contrast, the scriptures teach here that giving guidance to a wise person will make them even wiser. Who are the wise and the righteous? They are people who have acquired godly wisdom by studying the scriptures. They are characterized by uprightness, integrity or morality. According to this passage, offering insights to such a person will only help them become more learned.

In Jude 1:17-19, there is an accurate description of present-day scoffers:

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

As you begin to offer correction or advice, remember to pray for the Holy Spirit’s discernment: Is this person a scoffer, or one who possesses Biblical wisdom? If you are confident they are not the kind of person who will cause you dishonor, hurl insults at you, or bring division to the body of Christ, offer your counsel. If not, it may be better just to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Give me just enough

O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. ~Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT

Man PrayingThis chapter in the book of Proverbs begins by explaining that Agur, son of Jakeh, is the author of these sayings. He is also known as Agur ben Jakeh. Many Bible scholars conclude that because his name, Agur, actually means “gatherer” or “collector,” he may only have compiled these verses from other sources.

Agur’s prayer asks the Lord to help him strike a delicate balance in life: He wants integrity. And he wants just enough: Not too little, and not too much. Interestingly, he worries that having too much could lead him to deny God’s true role in his life.

Agur isn’t so concerned that having too little would put him in a bad position. Having too little might lead him to steal, which could have a negative effect on how others see the Lord.

Reflect on the lesson of Agur’s example today. It may cause you to re-examine your priorities. As you spend time in the word today and pray, what are you asking the Lord to do in your life? Are you asking for too much? Too little? Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the life balance he desires for you.

There is no rest

When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. ~Proverbs 29:9 NASB

ArgueFamed American author Mark Twain once remarked, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

Who is a foolish person, according to the scriptures? In the book of Proverbs, fools are described as those who:

  • despise wisdom and instruction (1:7)
  • hate knowledge (1:22)
  • are complacent (1:32)
  • display dishonor (3:35)
  • bring grief to their mother (10:1)
  • spread slander (10:18)
  • die for lack of understanding (10:21)
  • think of wickedness as a sport (10:23)
  • will serve the wise (11:29)
  • can’t conceal their anger (12:16)
  • proclaim and display folly (12:23, 13:16)
  • bring harm to their companions (13:20)
  • tear down their own household (14:1)
  • mock at sin (14:9)
  • are arrogant and careless (14:16)
  • are quick-tempered (14:17)
  • reject their father’s discipline (15:5)
  • despise their mother (15:20)

Proverbs 29:9 correctly predicts that a fool will either rage or laugh when his inferior knowledge or intellect are exposed. He cannot win on the merits of his position, and he knows it. He resorts to deflection by way of an angry tirade or laughing, as if his opponent’s position is completely absurd.

Arguing with a fool is a complete waste of your time. Fools lack integrity. There can be no constructive conversation with them until they repent of their folly. Indeed, there is no rest.

Have you ever been the fool? Ponder today whether or not the Lord ever looks at you as displaying the character flaws listed above. Give thanks to your heavenly father for his forgiveness and mercy as you seek godly wisdom today.

Discerning or deluded?

The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are. ~Proverbs 28:11 NIV

WealthNowhere does the Bible condemn wealth. In fact, many people mentioned in the Old and New Testaments are described as rich or having an abundance of possessions. Some of them were godly and used their personal wealth for great good. Others were rebellious and evil, hoarding only for themselves. But there are many scriptures like Proverbs 28:11 that offer a glimpse into the troubles rich people must endure.

Wealthy people can fall into the trap of believing that their financial situation came about because of their own wisdom, hard word, business acumen or intelligence. This is rooted in sinful  pride. Deuteronomy 8:16-18 explains that God is the one who gives you the power to create wealth:

In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

If you possess material wealth, do so with humility. God has, indeed, blessed you. But remember that material wealth does not automatically mean you’re smarter than someone who has less.

In fact, this verse teaches that a person of lesser means who has discernment can easily see through the charade. Although many wealthy people have incredible intelligence and an amazing work ethic, a discerning person understands full well that some became rich by birth, and others by simple luck. Many wealthy people aren’t wise at all, in spiritual terms.

As you seek the Lord today, pray for godly wisdom and discernment, and ask the Lord to grant you humility. This problem isn’t limited to the rich; poor people can also be “wise in their own eyes.” The question today is whether or not you have discernment to tell the difference in your own life.