Fruit of Love

Continuing the conversation from yesterday, I want to consider our relationships in terms of fruit.  This conversation starts with a self-examination and as I take these thoughts and look inward and at the results I am getting, I invite you to do the same. 

Specifically, I want to look at the target or what I want to be seeing in my life.  In looking at the standard and comparing what I am seeing in my life, the goal is to reflect on God’s word, respond in prayer, and refocus my activity towards the Gospel and my relationships with my brothers and sisters.  Fruit of the Spirit vs. Fruit of the Flesh. What does this mean to me? 

In Galatians 5:22-23, we see that a fruit of the spirit is LOVE…which is agape and a love of choice that is we choose Jesus and in His service choose the highest good for others.  We should see ourselves elevating the needs of others above our own and even if it hurts, is tough, comes at a cost, or takes a lot of effort we will decide and commit to resisting selfish words, actions and thoughts.

This is the kind of LOVE God has poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5) and this kind of LOVE furthers a deeper love for God as our Father (Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 4:6) and will spill over into our relationships (1 John 4:10-11, 16, 21) in which God is further glorified.

The LOVE of God should be center stage in our lives.  We are to walk in LOVE (Ephesians 5:1-2) and we should love one another fervently (1 Peter 1:22).  LOVE as a decision/choice is fruit bore out of our relationship with God and is therefore the “tie that binds” and “garment” we as Christians put on (Colossians 3:12-14).  “Loose” connections in our relationships or allowing our own personal preferences or desires guide our thoughts, words, or actions is an indicator that we need to take a step back and choose different so that we might act different.  LOVE God and be positioned to LOVE each other which should be our primary motive in everything we do (1 Corinthians 16:14).  Further, LOVING as God has LOVED us will prevent our liberty in Christ from becoming destructive selfishness (Galatians 5:13).

Again, I invite you to reflect on the above passages in God’s word and examine your life and your relationships.  Be prayerful and consider what you see?  Do you see people who are getting stronger and relationships that are getting more and more united or do you see strife, confusion, hurt, anger, division?  Based on what you see, what part are you playing?  Are you holding fast to God’s love…allowing it to fill your heart…so that you can pour it out to others? 

Past-Present-Future

Many of you who know me know that I am an Air Force veteran, a student of history, and very much enjoy learning about military history.  There is a quote that you might have heard that goes something like “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana first said this in 1905 but most remember Winston Churchill saying ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” during a speech in 1948. 

This is wise counsel and biblical.

Consider this passage from Romans 15 (1-5):

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hopeNow may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has given us His Word and it is for our learning and it takes work and time…but in the verse above we see that God (through His Word) is patient and if we learn from Him we will have comfort and hope. Further, we can be link-minded with God toward our brethren and we will then be able to strengthen one another and glorify God. 

This is what is on my heart today and what I want to discuss with you over the next several days.  I want us to be united and to learn from God’s Word together so that we can edify one another, be strong when another is weak, love always…hold the line in the great spiritual battle we are engaged in. 

Let’s look at these attributes through the lens of self-examination and determination as to whether or not we are exhibiting them towards our brethren and if not what can we do differently so that we might have patience and be a comfort to each other as God is to us.

Spiritual Fruit not Fleshly Fruit.  That is the objective…what God expects of us.  Gentleness.  Continual self-examination.  Willingness to bear one another’s burdens.  Humility.  Ample knowledge of God’s Word.  Patience.  Sincere and demonstrated love. 

Let’s look at these together over the next several days and I invite you to look around and examine your relationships in Christ.  What do you see?  Do you see people who are getting stronger and relationships that are getting more and more united or do you see strife, confusion, hurt, anger, division?  Based on what you see, what part are you playing?  What fruit are you bearing?  Why?

We are not perfect nor will we ever be.  But we are in this together and we are saved by a Lord who was perfect but was willing to take on the burden of all of our imperfection and sins to the point of death on the cross so that we would be perfected and be able to go home to Abba Father in heaven.  Seems to me, with an example and an Elder Brother like that…we should be willing to do whatever we can in our life to bear spiritual fruit for the sake of our own soul and the souls of those around us.  We need to look in the mirror, examine our fruit, and if we don’t like what we see understand that we are going to have to be different or our history will be our present and will be our future.  Love you all!

Count The Cost

 “A pair of dead birds greet visitors at the chained front door of what would have been the YMCA on Dishman Road in Beaumont, Texas. The birds likely flew in an opening in the rear of the 22,000 square foot unfinished building ripped open by vandals or transients looking for a place to get out of this season’s unusually cold winter. The owner, Wells Fargo, is looking for a way out of the property it acquired through foreclosure after the YMCA declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and construction halted in February 2010. For about $2 million dollars you could own this facility.”

I read this in a newspaper about five years ago while living in Beaumont, Texas. It made me think about the words of Jesus in Luke 14:25-33. Jesus talked about discipleship. Those who follow Him must count the cost. Jesus demands total allegiance. While many might initially begin to follow Him, they fail to finish because they didn’t count the cost.

Jesus’ words in this text are some of the most challenging He taught. There is no middle ground when it comes to following Him. Being a disciple of Jesus is a life-long endeavor. There is no halftime, vacation, or sabbatical. How do you think the great crowds felt when they learned this?

How do we feel when we hear these words from Jesus?  Let’s consider a few thoughts from what Jesus said.

What is the cost? The cost of following Jesus is everything!  Despite the large crowds that were following Him, Jesus didn’t attempt to soften His words. His words were demanding, stringent, and probably shocking. To be a disciple of Jesus you must hate everyone including yourself, Luke 14:26. Jesus must be first. Jesus must come first before anyone else.  Many are surprised when they read the word “hate.” Certainly, we are to love all men. It’s the idea of “loving less.” We must love Jesus more than anyone else, including ourselves. Half-hearted discipleship will not work. An “every once in a while” kind of discipleship will not work. Read Revelation 3:15-17 as an example.

Can We Do It? Is it possible for us to put Jesus first above everyone and everything? The answer is YES. It is. Otherwise, Jesus would not have told us to do it. But it will require a lot of work. While our reward will be great, it will come with a price. But anything worthwhile comes with a price. The price of redeeming us required sacrifice on the part of Jesus, Ephesians 1:7. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that the same will be true for us. We can do what Jesus says. We will have to trust Him at all times. We will have to remember the big picture: eternity with Him.

Will We Do It? We are to count the cost. We don’t want to be like the man who began to build but then never finished. When I’m studying with people and teaching them about Jesus, this is one of the passages I share with them. I want them to see what Jesus says about discipleship. It really is a serious matter and one really needs to consider what Jesus says about it. As Christians, let’s be sure that we finish. As Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”

Courage To Arise And Build

Nehemiah is one of my favorite stories to read about in the scriptures. Nehemiah got things done. Nehemiah had a plan and vision. Nehemiah was a great leader. Nehemiah was a man of God.

We can go on and on about these characteristics he had. Today, I want to consider another great quality Nehemiah had.

Nehemiah had great COURAGE.

In Nehemiah 1:1-4, he received terrible news. But the news he received didn’t crush his spirit. He indeed felt terrible. But he cried out to God. He turned to God. While he was in great pain hearing the news, it didn’t crush him. Rather, he had the courage to trust in God and continue to find a way to make a difference.

We need to have the courage to continue and to find ways to make a difference. Nehemiah could have received the news of his family and brethren, cried, and then continued on with his work. But he didn’t. He had the courage to arise and build. This is the mindset we must have.

But that’s not all. Nehemiah had the courage to speak. In Nehemiah 2:1-5, we find Nehemiah making a great request to King Artaxerxes. This took a lot of courage. Nehemiah had a lot riding on the line. Yet Nehemiah had the courage to open his mouth. This may not seem to be like a big deal, but it is. When it comes to arising and building, we will have to open our mouth.

We will need to open our mouth to help encourage our spouse and our children.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth when things need to be corrected.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth and apologize when we are wrong.

I’m sure there are other examples we could consider. The point? We need to have the courage to open our mouth like Nehemiah. We will have to override the fear of rejection, difficulties, etc. Nehemiah had the courage to ask the king. He got a YES!

Finally, we are going to need the courage to finish. At times, it can be easy to arise and build. People do this every New Year. People get excited. They listen to podcasts. They read blogs. They are ready for growth. But. They. Don’t. Finish.

I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. This is where we will need to have courage. The courage to see something through even when it gets hard. That’s what Nehemiah did. He faced opposition, Nehemiah 4:1.  But he had the courage to finish building the wall. Let’s strive to have the courage to arise and build. Let’s go.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 31

Here we are at Day 31!

Proverbs 31:1-31 (1) The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: (2) What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? (3) Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, (5) lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (6) Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; (7) let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (8) Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (9) Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (10) An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (11) The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (12) She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (13) She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (14) She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. (15) She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (16) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (17) She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (18) She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. (19) She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (20) She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (21) She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. (22) She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. (23) Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (24) She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (25) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (26) She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (27) She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (28) Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (29) “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (30) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What are you doing? (vs. 1-10). I love this section of Proverbs 30. The mom says to her son, “What are you doing?” There are things that will destroy a king, and there are things that will destroy anyone who is not a king. The king’s mother also warned him about women, the wrong sort of women (vs. 3). Momma will follow up here later to talk about the right kind of woman. There is a time for alcohol, this Proverb teaches, but those times and amounts are limited. Alcohol will distort your ability to discern between right and wrong, so watch out for it! What should a king be doing? Opening his mouth to plead the cause of the helpless and needy. So should anyone who isn’t a “king.” That is what God’s people should be doing.

A virtuous wife (vs. 11-31). We began the book of proverbs looking at two kinds of women, two pathways, two choices. We end the book of Proverbs considering the kind of woman that God praises and that we should praise too! Remember from the beginning of this chapter that this advice and picture of a godly woman came from a godly mother who was counseling her son! I hope that we as Christian men do not read this section of Scripture and come up with unrealistic expectations for all of the things our wives must do to be pleasing to God (really to us). This is, I believe, a composite picture of the wonderful things that a godly woman is, says and does. She is a teacher of good things. This woman loves her family dearly and cares for them in a sacrificial way. She works hard to provide for her family in whatever way necessary. A godly woman is thoughtful of so many things and people. She sees those in need and reaches out to them. In her wisdom she sees the “winters” of life coming and prepares her household for them. Notice that the husband safely trusts in her. He is not micromanaging her affairs. He’s got his own work to do. But look at how the husband and the kids rise up and praise her. This is so important. Praise that woman, do not wait for Mother’s Day!

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 30

Here we are at Day 30! Tomorrow is the last day of our 31 days of Proverbs.

Proverbs 30:1-33 (1) The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (2) Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. (3) I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. (4) Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! (5) Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (6) Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (7) Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: (8) Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, (9) lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (10) Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty. (11) There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. (12) There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. (13) There are those–how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! (14) There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (15) The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: (16) Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (17) The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (18) Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: (19) the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. (20) This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” (21) Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: (22) a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; (23) an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (24) Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: (25) the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; (26) the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (27) the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; (28) the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces. (29) Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: (30) the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; (31) the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. (32) If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (33) For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Agur’s relationship with God (Verses 1-9). The author here, Agur not Solomon, speaks of his relationship with God. He recognizes how inadequate he is before God. On his own he could not come to the knowledge of God. He sees the value of God’s word and knows that to add to it or take away from it is defiance before God. I love how Agur asks for two things from God, and I believe these are good things for all of us to ask of God. First of all, take all falsehood away from me. May I speak the truth in my heart in the mirror before my God, and may I speak the truth to others around me. Secondly, don’t make me too rich or too poor. This Agur was a pretty wise man.

Groups of 4 things. The Proverb writer starts with three things and for emphasis adds that it is four things.

  1. There are those (vs. 11-14) who are proud, cursing and dangerous.
  2. Never satisfied (vs. 15-16). Just like the leech who has offspring who are gluttonously ravenous, there are some things in life that will never say “Enough!” The grave will never be satisfied, the ground will always drink up more water, and one who is unable to conceive is crying out to God for a baby.
  3. Things too wonderful to understand (vs. 18-19). Young, pure love is a wonderful thing to God. Just like watching a ship on the seas, an eagle flying or a serpent moving gracefully along the rocks.
  4. Things the earth cannot bear up (vs. 21-23). Some things make the earth tremble. When these things happen, it is just going to cause more trouble. You think a woman getting married is a good thing, but if she is a hard to love woman, that marriage will be trouble. We might think a slave becoming king is a great Cinderella story, but if the slave comes to the throne bitter and thirsty for vengeance, it will ruin the kingdom.
  5. Small but wise (vs. 24-28). Ants are small and can be squished with a finger, but look at what they do every year. They work hard and provide their food for the winter. Locusts are also small creatures, they have no king, they they are smart enough to “march in ranks.” Rock badgers have enough sense to find a safe place to live in the cliffs.
  6. Stately (vs. 29-31). Whether it is a king with his troops behind him, or a rooster or a lion, they all have a kind of swagger to them. Notice, though, what is said in the next verse. Vs. 32 warns us against having that kind of swagger in exalting ourselves.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29:1-27 (1) He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (2) When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. (3) He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (4) By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down. (5) A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. (6) An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices. (7) A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. (8) Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath. (9) If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. (10) Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright. (11) A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (12) If a ruler listens to falsehood, all his officials will be wicked. (13) The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the LORD gives light to the eyes of both. (14) If a king faithfully judges the poor, his throne will be established forever. (15) The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (16) When the wicked increase, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall. (17) Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (18) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. (19) By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond. (20) Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (21) Whoever pampers his servant from childhood will in the end find him his heir. (22) A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. (23) One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (24) The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing. (25) The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe. (26) Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. (27) An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.

Learning to calm down – A person who is given to anger will have lots of conflict in his life (vs. 22). Look around at your relationships, are you a person given to anger? You might listen to what others are saying to you. It may be that you have an anger problem and need to deal with it. You also might listen…who is doing all the talking and spouting off? The Bible says here that a fool is the one who vents all his feelings, but it is a wise man who holds them back (vs. 11). Don’t be in a hurry to talk (vs. 20). Don’t be the kind of person that just has to tell everyone what’s on your mind.

Mere words – Sometimes words are not enough (vs. 15,17,19). Your child may sometimes need to be punished in order for him or her to get the point. With patience, love, teaching and occasional punishment, you will see fruits bearing in your children. That is a general truth that Solomon teaches us here. If you leave your kids to their own devices, then they will bring shame to you (vs. 15). Again that is a general truth given here in the Proverbs.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 28

Here we are at day 28, let’s get started!

Proverbs 28:1-28 – (1) The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (2) When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (3) A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. (4) Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. (5) Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely. (6) Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. (7) The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. (8) Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor. (9) If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (10) Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (11) A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out. (12) When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves. (13) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (14) Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (15) Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. (16) A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. (17) If one is burdened with the blood of another, he will be a fugitive until death; let no one help him. (18) Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. (19) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. (20) A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (21) To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong. (22) A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him. (23) Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue. (24) Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys. (25) A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched. (26) Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (27) Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. (28) When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.

Rulers, good or bad (vs. 2,3,12,15,16,28) – Verses 12 and 28 say that when wicked people rule, people hide themselves. But when the wicked perish and good people rule, then the good people increase. Vs. 15-16 talk about how it is like dealing with a roaring lion or a charging bear…hide and get out of the way! When good people rule, there is stability in the kingdom, but when bad leaders rule there is instability (vs. 2).

To show partiality is not good (vs. 21) – It is easy to show partiality…toward our political party, toward our favorite school, our business, toward our family, etc. Solomon said here a man will transgress for a piece of bread. He may end up showing partiality and blinding his eyes to what is right because of the money in his pocket or other things that benefit him. For example, someone in the other “party” may do something corrupt and we cry out for justice, but someone in our “party” does the same thing wrong and we cry for mercy and compassion. That is not good, Solomon said.

Being greedy and in a hurry for money versus being generous and patient to make money – Chapter 28 has several passages about money, generosity and greediness. Verses 19,20 and 22 warn about what happens when we are stingy for money and are in a hurry to get it. Vs. 19 says we will have plenty…plenty of poverty! We end up broke and in debt! Be patient! Also, when you take from your parents instead of giving to them, God is most unhappy with that (vs. 24). It is greedy people that stir up trouble (vs. 25), most likely because they have a financial motive for doing so. God promises that if you are gathering money the wrong way, that it will end up in the hands of a righteous person somehow (vs. 8).

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 27

Happy Memorial Day! Here’s Proverbs 27!

Proverbs 27:1-27 – (1) Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (2) Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (3) A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both. (4) Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? (5) Better is open rebuke than hidden love. (6) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (7) One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. (8) Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. (9) Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (10) Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. (11) Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me. (12) The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (13) Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress. (14) Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing. (15) A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; (16) to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. (17) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (18) Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. (19) As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (20) Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (21) The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. (22) Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. (23) Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, (24) for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? (25) When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, (26) the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. (27) There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.

Verses 5-6 – Open rebuke or hidden love, which is better? Open rebuke. Kisses of an enemy or the wounds of a friend, which is better? The wounds of a friend. Being a friend doesn’t mean that we just smile and laugh and live with rose-colored glasses. Sometimes we need to be corrected, and if our friends and family don’t love us enough to talk to us directly, then are they really our friends? Verse 17 talks about how iron sharpens iron, which means that there are times we have to help refine each other. Just because you correct me and don’t agree with me all the time doesn’t mean you aren’t my friend.

Verses 23-27 – Knowing the condition of your flocks and herds. Solomon is so wise here to tell us to pay attention to our flocks and herds. Why? Because if we don’t pay attention, those flocks (your income stream) could go away. If you take care of those flocks and herds you will be able to maintain your family and your employees with plenty to spare. So, you may not have sheep and goats, but you have money and a job. Are we paying attention to our finances and managing them well? Like Solomon said, riches do not last forever, so keep a close watch on the state of things.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 26

Happy Memorial Day! I missed Day 26 yesterday, so here it is.

Proverbs 26:1-28 (1) Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. (2) Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (3) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. (4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. (5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (6) Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. (7) Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (8) Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. (9) Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. (10) Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard. (11) Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (12) Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (13) The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (14) As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed. (15) The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth. (16) The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. (17) Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. (18) Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death (19) is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (20) For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (21) As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. (22) The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (23) Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. (24) Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; (25) when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; (26) though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. (27) Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. (28) A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

In Chapter 26, there is a focus on three types of people:

Fools (verses 1-12) – One of the consistencies I see in this section is that truth really has no effect in a fools ear. Just like a drunk person wouldn’t feel a thorn in his hand, wisdom will not pierce a fool’s heart. Solomon demonstrates in verses 4-5 that you don’t go down in the pit with the fool and act like them in a quarrel (vs. 4). But you will have to answer him with wisdom according to what he deserves (vs. 5, compare the New American Standard Version here). A fool will shoot off at the mouth and will be more dangerous than an archer that carelessly shoots arrows everywhere.

Sluggards (verses 13-16) – A door on its hinges may swing, but it really doesn’t go anywhere. The lazy person is the same way…the only movement he makes is turning over in bed. And your advice will fall on deaf ears, because he has seven times your wisdom!

Quarrelsome, whispering, deceitful people (verses 17-28)- There is a lot of wisdom here about quarrels in relationships here. We have to have the wisdom to know when something is not our business and to stay out. I’m sure we all can think of times when we jumped into something that was not our affair, and we felt like just wrestled a pitbull. We also can take notice that fire takes fuel, and so do contentions. When we are picking on others and being rough with them, only to follow with “I’m joking,” then we are shooting flaming arrows at people’s hearts. When we whisper and repeat things that shouldn’t be repeated, we are throwing wood on the fire of strife. Also, there is the wisdom here of Solomon that shines the light on deceptive people that pretend to be nice but are hateful in their hearts. God says that will be exposed before the assembly.

So, let’s look at these three types of people here in chapter 26 and think of the OPPOSITE type of person. A wise person, a diligent person, and a peace loving person. Let’s consider how we can be like that today.