Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Proverbs 20:14 commentary

14 ¶ It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

This appears to be a rather strange commentary to be inserted into Proverbs. The shrewd buyer claims the car isn’t worth the price and haggles until he gets the price to where he wants it and then when he leaves he tells everyone what a shrewd deal he made. In the market, someone negotiates for a better price on produce and then brags when he or she gets home. We all know that’s the way it worked 3,000 years ago and that’s the way it works now.

A Christian, on the other hand, does something very similar. He goes to church, perhaps, shows tears, goes down the aisle to the “altar” and beats his chest at how wicked he is, how unworthy he is for God’s mercies. He has problems. He “wrestles” with God in prayer at that “altar” for everyone to see. He might even weep copiously at his seat at how the sermon struck at his heart. You’d think, when he leaves the church that there is no humbler person on the face of the earth. No matter what his station in life, no matter what his wealth or importance, it appears that he is just thankful to have been saved by the skin of his teeth. You know he’s going to have to have that tie dry cleaned.

But, in reality, he looks at everyone around him, the unsaved or the Christian that he thinks is carnal and worldly and he gloats. “Bless God, I’m sure not going to a sinner’s Hell. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t watch worldy movies or TV. I never miss a church service. Why, I’m not like those “other” people, those queers, those fornicators, those communists, those DEMOCRATS!” He’s full of himself. He’s proud. He’s boastful. He really does look down his nose at the unsaved. His compassion ends at “you ought to be like me so I could accept you” as opposed to genuine concern about their eternal destiny.

Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican (the hated tax collector). 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Now, if that publican had been like many modern Christians as soon as he left the temple he’d have started talking to his friends and family like the Pharisee was talking in the temple.

One of our main problems in our walk with God is pride. We’re full of ourselves. The more definite we are and confirmed about what we believe about Christ, the Bible, our Church, and many other spiritual topics, the more sure we are that others just don’t get it and are even more wicked and not as worthy as ourselves. What we often forget every day is a simple statement from Jesus Christ.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Christians often have multiple personalities. Within the meeting of the church on Sunday and Wednesday they are humble and just thankful to be alive and to be saved. But on the other days of the week you’d think they thought that God was lucky to have them on His team. Where is your humility at work, at school, and in your larger family, many of whom are perhaps unsaved? One of the reasons your unsaved family doesn’t respect your faith is because of your pride. Its written all over you in how you dress, the churchspeak you use, and in how you delight in telling them how you don’t or can’t do what they do.

Just think of what kind of testimony we’d have out in the world if we carried the same testimony we have in church out into the world! Do you not see what others see when they look at you? They don’t see the humble carpenter’s stepson from Nazareth. They see someone who, if they ever change their religion it will be because they no longer think THEY’RE God.

You know how you smile at the people when the church meets and eagerly shake their hands and call them brother or sister? How you smile when someone you don’t know comes through the door for the first time? You know how you want to be helpful and open doors for men and women and carry stuff? Remember how you are eager to pray for other’s troubles and shortcomings at their request and your heart just goes out to them for their trials and tribulations? You know how quick you are to get emotional and all worked up over their distresses? How about how you sit leaning forward to hear the Pastor’s sermon and how you can’t wait to come up front and pray on your knees? And how your Bible is always in your hand or nearby?

What happened to that attitude when you left the church? Where’d it go? Suddenly you’re angry? You’re in a hurry? You’ve got lots of important things to do? People are in your way? Your heart for the lost just turned into a fantasy Sherman tank that you’d like to use to blow them off the highway? The next day, the boss’s meeting was a nuisance and he really had nothing to say? The coworker whose marriage is falling apart and he doesn’t know what to do about it needs to get a grip? The lost kid standing in front of you at the store when you go for lunch, you know the one with the pink, spiked hair, all the tattooes, and the piercings, well, she must not be one of the lost people you were weeping about on Sunday because all you can muster for her is a “Christian curse” under your breath. How about that guy walking in the door of the county welfare office whom you know absolutely nothing about? Does he get any concern or a prayer about his health or his finding a job or do you just think to yourself, “if those people weren’t so stinking lazy they wouldn’t be living off the rest of us.”

So, I’d ask you and me, all of us, to remember what we believed and felt and did when we were with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to ask you to be that same way when you leave and throughout the week. Just try it. Act every day everywhere you go, as if you are meeting with God, just like you think you are on Sunday and Wednesday. I think you’ll notice the difference and so will the other people in your life. And don’t you think our Lord will?

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