The wicked versus the righteous

What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. ~Proverbs 10:24 NIV

WorryThis verse sets forth the simple proposition that evil people, along with the righteous, will both get what they think about most.

What do wicked people worry about? First, to know who they are, we must define wicked. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the short definition is, “morally very bad; evil.”

In C.S. Lewis’ book God in the Dock, he wrote: “Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable.”

Lewis cleverly used this contrast between a hotel and a prison to illustrate how we view life based on our expectations. He says, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”

So what do evil people dread? A clue is given to us in Galatians 5:19-21:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

And what about the righteous? What are they thinking about? Galatians 5:22-24 finishes the thought:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Which one describes you?

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Wisdom’s source

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~Proverbs 2:6 NIV

Wisdom StoneThis single verse tells you a lot about the origins of godly wisdom. God himself is the one who can give you wisdom. Knowledge and understanding — the very things you need to navigate life successfully — come directly from his mouth.

Consider Jesus’ response to Satan in Matthew 4:3-4:

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

There are many verses in scripture that describe the Bible as the word of God. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word.” Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…” 1 Peter 1:23 calls the scriptures “the living and enduring word of God.”

God delivers knowledge and understanding from his mouth. The Bible describes itself as God’s words. Doesn’t it stand to reason that you can gain both knowledge and understanding by studying the Bible?

May the Lord richly bless your time in his word today as you seek his wisdom.

What do you know?

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth —  Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~Proverbs 1:1-7 ESV

Reading the WordThis introduction to the book of Proverbs explains the purpose behind this important collection of sayings. It’s a straightforward inventory of the benefits of godly, practical wisdom. Reading and meditating on these 31 chapters of scripture offers you eight specific promises:

  • wisdom – God’s practical advice about how to live your life
  • instruction – specific teaching about God’s principles that will benefit you
  • ability to understand words of insight – the Holy Spirit will unlock for you what were previously mysteries
  • instruction in wise dealing – specific details about how to work productively for and with other people, for mutual benefit
  • training in righteousness – learning how to live a life that pleases the Lord
  •  justice and equity – a solid grasp of the principles of fairness
  • prudence to the simple – a supernatural ability to know and do the right thing, no matter the situation
  • knowledge and discretion to the youth – perception far beyond one’s years

Even those who are already wise can learn from God, and greater wisdom is also among the benefits of reading and internalizing the words of this book.

The introduction concludes not with a definition of wisdom, but an explanation of how to begin the journey toward wisdom. “The fear of the Lord” is the gateway to godly wisdom. This means having a healthy respect for who God is, and holding his living, active word in awe. If you approach your study of the scriptures believing God is who he says he is, and that his word is true, you are on your way to godly wisdom.

Lastly, the passage reminds you that fools detest and hate both wisdom and instruction. A fool — one opposed to or wilfully ignorant of God’s word — completely rejects the suggestion that he or she might have anything to learn from God.

As you read the Bible and pray today, ask yourself, “What do I know?” Be honest with the Lord about this. Ask him to help you learn more and more about him. Pray that instruction you receive from the word will help you to think and act more like Jesus.

Good versus evil

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. ~Proverbs 17:15 NASB

justiceThis verse is packed with application for the 21st century Christian. We live in a sinful, fallen world. And we find ourselves living in a culture eager to justify the wicked and condemn the righteous.

We hear unending justification for abortion in our culture, despite it being an evil act of killing unborn babies. There are even voices that claim to speak from within God’s church claiming that abortion is not only justifiable, but actually compassionate and kind. Nonsense. Such claims are lies; nothing more than justification of wickedness.

Crooked politicians have their defenders. There are organizations that exist to justify sexual relations between adults and children. And the list goes on.

Isaiah 5:20 warns that your standards of good and evil must align with those used by the Lord himself:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word “abomination” means abhorrence or disgust. So in plain English, God is disgusted when the wicked are defended, or when the righteous are called evil.

In John 15:18 Jesus tells his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” So if the world condemns you for adhering to the Biblical standards of good and evil, you’re in good company.

Be careful to call good only what God calls good, and call evil only that which God calls evil. Do you know God’s standards well enough to judge fairly and rightly? Only by studying his word will you know the difference.

Find wisdom

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” ~Proverbs 8:32-36 ESV

Marked-Up BibleIn the eighth chapter of Proverbs, wisdom is personified, and speaks. The chapter closes with this exhortation to pay attention to the ways of godly wisdom.

These verses promise blessings and life to those who live according to godly wisdom. You are encouraged to listen to wisdom, to intentionally seek it out daily. That can only happen as you spend time in the scriptures.

When you find godly wisdom, according to this passage, you find both life and God’s favor. Psalm 84:11 offers insight on the value of God’s favor:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

But those who fail to find wisdom do injury to themselves – presumably because they won’t know how to live according to God’s word.

The final verse says that people who hate God’s wisdom actually love death. That may be a strong statement, but it is true. There are people who reject God’s word and the person of Jesus Christ. The scriptures make it quite clear that such people will not enjoy eternal life, but will suffer an eternity separated from God.

Are you determined to find God’s wisdom in the Bible and apply it in your life today?

How do you see yourself?

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. ~Proverbs 26:12 ESV

Read the BibleThis verse promises that a fool has a brighter future than a person who thinks too highly of their own human wisdom and insight. As dismal as life can be for a reckless person who pays no attention to God or his precepts for living, the person who relies on his or her own human wisdom has even more difficulties ahead.

Without condemning education or learning, this scripture exhorts you to seek godly wisdom, rather than godless wisdom. In Isaiah 5:20-21, the Lord offers an even stronger warning to those who are certain of their own wisdom:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

In Matthew 23:12, Jesus explains that people who boast of their own importance will be humbled by God, while those who have a modest view of themselves will be lifted up by the Lord:

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The message of Proverbs 26:12 is to seek the wisdom that comes from meditating upon God’s word, rather than relying on your own intelligence or learning. How will you humble yourself today before the wisdom of the One True Living God?

A fool’s words come quickly

A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. ~Proverbs 18:2 NKJV

Prayer Alone

Have you ever known a person who preferred to talk and express their own opinion, rather than listen and learn? Perhaps you’ve encountered someone who is always eager to tell you what they think, only to find that their ideas just don’t line up with what scripture teaches. According to this verse, that person is a fool.

Conversely, a wise person is one who takes the time necessary to develop true understanding. That means careful listening. Paying attention to circumstances and what others say. Making informed decisions – after meditating on what God’s word says about the matter.

Upon what standard are your opinions based? Are your ideas shaped by television programs? What you read in the newspaper today? Or are you basing your thoughts on the eternal, living, true word of God?

In the New Testament, James 1:19 clarifies the principle that underlies Proverbs 18:2:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

It isn’t easy to be a person who is slow to speak. Ask the Lord to help you today in this important discipline of listening well and speaking thoughtfully.