John T. Willis

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Proverbs 13:4-9

Proverbs 13:4-9 contain contrasts between the diligent and the lazy, the righteous and the wicked, and the rich and the poor.

Verse 4--The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing,
while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

Verse 5--The righteous hate falsehood,
but the wicked act shamefully and disgracefully.

Verse 6--Righteousness guards one whose way is upright,
but sin overthrows the wicked.

Verse 7--Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing;
others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.

Verse 8--Wealth is a ransom for a person's life,
but the poor get no threats.

Verse 9--The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

What uplifting lessons can one learn from these ideas?

1. Attaining what one desires depends on the quality of the desire. A lazy person desires great things, but is unwilling to work to get them. Righteousness is like a shield or huge boulder which guards one from danger, but sin is so powerful that it destroys the sinner. One can see that these statements are actually referring to God working in behalf of the righteous and the diligent, and against the lazy and wicked.
2. People who are wealthy are often the objects of attempted murder, theft, and slander by those who are striving to take away their wealth from them. In such cases, frequently the rich have to pay a great deal of money to ward off or escape those who are threatening them. Some wealthy people try to make the world think they are poor in order to avoid such dangers.
3. An individual's life is like the light emanating from a lamp. A righteous person's light keeps glowing in the darkest times of life, while the darkness prevails against a wicked person's light, and that light goes out.

John Willis

Monday, June 11, 2007

Proverbs 13:1-3

Proverbs 13:1-3 deal with various aspects of speech.

Verse 1--A wise child loves discipline,
but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
Good speech begins with good listening. We would all like to think that we never think, speak, or do bad things. But the truth is: we are all guilty of sin, and this continues as long as we live. Discipline by parents, siblings, friends, counselors, elders, and certainly GOD is very helpful--IF WE WILL LISTEN! Prov. 3:11-12 says that God disciplines those he loves. Discipline is an important component of love. When those who love us rebuke or reprove us, instead of getting angry and trying to defend ourselves, it is much healthier spiritually to listen and try to change what we have done wrong.

Verse 2--From the fruit of their words good persons eat good things,
but the desire of the treacherous is for wrongdoing.
The Bible often uses the metaphors of hunger and thirst when speaking of spiritual matters. Our words reveal our inmost feelings and concerns, and what we say to others and how we say it can make a big difference in their lives. May God help us use his gift of speech to bless others.

Verse 3--Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives;
those who open wide their lips come to ruin.
We all like to talk. But often the best thing to do in a critical circumstance is to say nothing. Even if we feel like we KNOW the best thing to do in a certain situation, often it is best to guard our mouths and let God work in his own time and way.

John Willis

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Proverbs 12:24-28

Proverbs 12 ends with five maxims, at two of which deal with work and laziness, and two of which advocate encouraging others.

12:24--The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the lazy will be put to forced labor.

12:25--Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
but a good word cheers it up.

12:26--The righteous gives good advice to friends,
but the way of the wicked leads astray.

12:27--The lazy do not roast their game,
but the diligent obtain precious wealth.

12:28--In the path of righteousness there is life,
in walking its path there is no death.

What practical lessons for daily living do these proverbs suggest?
1. Verses 24 and 27 observe that God has so made human life that the person who works will receive sufficient sustenance to prosper and enjoy an independent life, while one who is lazy and refuses to work will lack the basic needs of life and will depend on others to exist even to the point of being subject to them.
2. Verses 25 and 26 call upon people who love God to find and use opportunities to cheer up those around them and to give them good advice. Human speech has power. It is able to build others up or to tear them down. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:10: "So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down."
3. Verse 28 uses the metaphor of a "road" or "way" or "path" to describe the journey of life. This is a very common metaphor in scripture (see for example, Psalm 1:6; six times in Psalm 119:1-16 and very often in the rest of this psalm). The "righteous" way or path is a path of joy and spiritual growth and great blessings. The author of Proverbs 12:28 urges his hearers to take and follow this way.

John Willis