John T. Willis

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Proverbs 15:1-5

The primary theme running through Proverbs 15:1-5 is the power of speech.

Verse 1--A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Verse 2--The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Verse 3--The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Verse 4--A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Verse 5--A fool despises a parent's instruction,
but the one who heeds admonition is prudent.

What instructions to guide one in daily godly living do these verses declare?
1. It takes the "sting" out of an angry statement for the one addressed to answer kindly and gently. By contrast, a person can arouse anger in a peaceful situation with a harsh statement.
2. A person's speech betrays her or his thoughts in the heart. Thus, a wise-hearted individual communicates knowledge to her or his hearers, while a fool-hearted individual conveys folly.
3. Like Proverbs 5:21 and 22:12, Proverbs 15:3 proclaims that nothing escapes God's all-seeing eyes (see Hebrews 4:13). He observes with deep interest every small act of kindness (Matthew 25:31-46) and every sinful, oppressive deed by the powerful (2 Samuel 12:1-7).
4. The "gentle" [Hebrew "healing"] tongue stimulates life and vitality in the heart of the recipient, while a "perverse" tongue discourages the heart of the hearer.
5. Assuming one's parents are God-centered people and have the child's best interests at heart, it is obvious that the child serves himself or herself best by listening to and carefully weighing the parents' instruction.

John Willis

Friday, September 21, 2007

Proverbs 14:29-35

Proverbs 14 ends with these thoughts:

Verse 29--Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Verse 30--A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh,
but passion makes the bones rot.

Verse 31--Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but those who are kind to the needy honor him.

Verse 32--The wicked are overthrown by their evildoing,
but the righteous find refuge in their integrity.

Verse 33--Wisdom is at home in the mind of one who has understanding,
but it is not known in the heart of fools.

Verse 34--Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.

Verse 35--A servant who deals wisely has the king's favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

What practical lessons can one gain from these proverbs for daily spiritual growth and godly living?

1. Anger can control a person, and cause that person to say or do something he or she would not say or do normally. This is a great stimulation for trying to control one's anger.
2. One's behavior toward others reveals one's true behavior toward God. If one oppresses the poor, one insults the poor person's Maker=God. If one is kind to the needy, one honors the needy person's Maker=God. Jesus reflects this truth when he says: "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
3. A wicked person assumes he or she will be able to control his or her evil deeds and to gain power over others. Just the opposite is true: Evildoing controls the evil person, and ultimately destroys her or him.
4. No one lives in a vacuum. All live in community, small or large. This is true of a nation. The corporate life of a nation [all her citizens participating] determines that nation's destiny. Godly living leads to good outcomes, while wickedness leads to destruction.

John Willis