Monday, October 31, 2011

Proverbs 27:4 commentary: do you envy someone else?

4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Christ was turned over to his executioners out of envy. Roman governor Pontius Pilate knew this.

Matthew 27:17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers for envy, as the martyr, Stephen, explained to the Jewish council, the religious elite, before they stoned him to death.

Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,

Several times the Jews were moved with envy against Paul’s teaching.

Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Acts 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

Envy is listed as one of the sins of mankind that God released mankind to as a result of mankind’s persistence in idolatry, worshipping and acknowledging anything but God even while having reasonable evidence of God’s existence and sovereignty. I won’t quote the entire passage from Romans 1:16 to 2:1 here but you can read it. Here is the verse it’s listed in. Notice the company envy keeps.

Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

But what exactly is envy? First, it is linked to strife.

Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

It is malicious and hateful.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

It is a consequence of loving the world system rather than God and the basis for war.

James 4: 1 ¶ From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Envy is your resentment at the fact that another possesses something you don’t have. Older women will resent a young woman’s youth and beauty. Men will resent another’s success. Both men and women will resent someone for the material possessions or the spouse or money that others have. Sometimes its envy over status, or wisdom, or the approval of other people, a job or position that you lusted after but were denied. You’ll find ways to criticize, undermine, or hurt the person but you’ll never admit your envy. You’ll accuse them of not being submitted to Christ, of being worldly, of being wicked even, but you won’t admit the simple fact that you hate them for having something you lust after but can’t have and they do.

Envy is wickedness and next to pride is the Christian’s greatest downfall and they go together like a hand in glove. You see, Satan, was envious of God Himself.

Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

You envy because you have never cast off the values of the world system. In America we are taught to covet, to lust after, and to envy from the moment we turn on the television the first time. Advertising is a practice designed to create envy, lust, and coveting. Television and radio and the internet could not exist without it. We are bombarded night and day by images and words designed to make us envy and lust and covet. In my youth, the suburban lifestyle was jokingly called “keeping up with the Joneses”.

The world system teaches values that God hates.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

These are the very things that Satan tempted Eve with in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to line up “good for food” with “lust of the flesh”, or “pleasant to the eyes” with “lust of the eyes”, or “make one wise” with “pride of life”. And when you cannot have the things you lust after, the things you covet, then you begin to look upon the one who does have them with envy. Adam and Eve saw these things as more important than the relationship with God that they had.

Cain, the founder of the first man made religion, killed Abel for envy. Just read Genesis 4:3-8. Envy is the foundation upon which war stands, as the verses in James show. Admit it to yourself and to Christ, much of the reason you don’t like a particular person is that you’re jealous, envious of something they have that you don’t; whether it be looks, youth, money, strength, spouse, possessions, children, position, or status.

Do you envy someone else in the church? Do you envy the Pastor? Examine yourself. Your envy is not pleasing to God. Your envy is wickedness. The Holy Spirit has told us what our attitude as Christians is to be toward what we possess.

1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

The proverb says that it is more dangerous than wrath or anger. Be warned.

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Proverbs 27:3 commentary; a fool's wrath

3 ¶ A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.

A stone can be so heavy that it takes many strong arms to move it.

Genesis 39:1 ¶ Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth. 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place.

Or an appearance (which is what an angel is Isaiah 63:9; Judges 2:1) of God.

Matthew 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Sand, and particularly wet sand, is also very heavy and weighty (notice how heavy and weighty are synonyms based on the way they are used in context in our Proverb.)

Job 6:3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.

So, the fool’s wrath weighs him down and destroys him and sometimes those around him.

Job 5:2 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.

In the Middle Ages there was a torture and execution method known as peine forte et dure where a person was crushed slowly under a great weight. Christian martyrs were sometimes pressed to death in this way as related in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. In some Muslim countries today homosexuals are crushed to death.

A fool’s abiding wrath is heavier than the stones that killed prisoners in olden days and now. It weighs heavy in his heart like Nabal’s and will result in his death (1 Samuel 25:3, 37.) A fool has a hot temper, gets angry quickly, and has trouble controlling his wrath. Remember, that wrath is anger when it has boiled into action.

Genesis 49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Hosea 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.

Although, like fierce and cruel, wrath and anger are fairly synonymous.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Who of you boasts of having a short fuse, a hot temper? “Oh, I’m quick to get angry but also quick to forgive and forget,” you say? You are a fool.

Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Get on your face before Almighty God and plead with Him to deliver you from such foolishness and evil. Curb your wrath, learn to turn it over to God. Read the Bible and pray for God to change you with it. God is not pleased with your wrath, fool. Must He deal with you now and chastise you for your evil ways?

James 1:19 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Proverbs 27:2 commentary; don't praise yourself

2 ¶ Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

In the part of the Bible written to Christians for doctrine by Paul under the wisdom given to Him by God (2 Peter 3:15), given by inspiration from God (Job 32:8; 2 Timothy 3:16), with understanding which is synonymous with wisdom as something that goes hand in hand with it (Job 39:17; Proverbs 2:6), it says this;

2Corinthians 10:18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

All self praise and boasting are trash. Let your work be such that others may praise you but do not extol yourself. All glory is to the Lord anyway. We have heard this self praise time and time again and often mistake such boasting as confidence when actually the person is merely trying to convince himself that what he has done is great or sell you on what he or she has done. As with the arrogant and proud what we are really looking at and hearing is a weak, little person trying to convince others of how important they are.

Matthew Henry includes in his commentary the Latin saying; “Proprio laus sordet in ore—Self-praise defiles the mouth.”

We know Christians who brag about everything from their church attendance to how well they’ve raised their children and yet, those of us who actually believe the Bible know that it is only God’s mercy and grace that has given them both the ability to attend church and the blessing of a well behaved child. In fact, most of the people who brag about their child rearing ability, those who boast about it, did not raise their children with daily devotions, Bible reading, and prayer. But God was merciful.

And yet, we brag. If I hear one more “I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” I might just scream. No, you haven’t. You’re human. Most often you choose to do the wrong thing and in most of your decisions you did not seek God’s counsel anyway. Stop praising yourself and get on your knees and praise a most merciful and gracious Creator and Sustainer for the fact that your sexual morals, your tendency to substance abuse, and your life of self worship as a young person didn’t result in your early death and that you are even conscious and not on life support or, worse, on death row.

It is not fitting for a Christian not to give God all the glory and to praise his own efforts at all. It’s also probably not fitting for them to glorify in others who do praise themselves whether it be the football player who dances in the end zone or the fighter who climbs on the ring ropes with his arms upraised for his own glory. These types of things were rarely tolerated in sports before 1950, in any event.

So, Christian, seek God’s approval but don’t engage in self praise. You’re probably just a legend in your own mind, anyway.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Proverbs 27:1 commentary; now is the time

1 ¶ Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

At other times God has said;

Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

James 4: 13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

We should not boast about what great things we will accomplish tomorrow, next week, or next month. We only have today. Life can turn on a dime and you can be alive one second and the next be in eternity. All boasting is foolishness anyway.

This Proverb is not against preparing for tomorrow, for doing things that will afford oneself or one’s family a better life, or some temporal security which, within our power, it is prudent to do. It is about bragging on the great plans we have, all plans of which are completely in God’s hands. He may not allow us a tomorrow.

Another thing that can be said is to not put off any needful thing until another day, a day which you might not have. When the Holy Spirit directs you to witness to someone, to do some thing to tell others of Christ, don’t put it off as you don’t know what the day will bring, for you or them.

Finally, save your words of vanity. If you knew that this would be your last day, what would you do? If you knew that tomorrow you would be in Heaven or in Hell what would change about your plans? I would hope that if you haven’t trusted Christ yet that you would declare your faith in Him now. There may not be a tomorrow in which to do it.

All that is required to have eternal life is to believe on Jesus Christ and to trust in His righteousness, not your own, to get to Heaven. Give up all of those things that you think about yourself and how good you think you are. Just follow the literal statements in the Bible in order to be saved right now. Don’t let any TV preacher or religious celebrity fool you. The answer is found right in God’s word.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Paul told the Philippian jailer;

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Jesus Himself said;

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
And Peter admonished us;

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

If anyone adds any words to those verses reject what they say.

It is the simplest thing in the world and yet it’s the hardest. You haven’t done it yet, have you? Pray for Christ’s salvation and God will send His Holy Spirit into you to live and dwell there until He calls you home to Him. Once you have spoken and prayed that belief to Christ then read His Bible and pray about what you read, asking for guidance.

At some point you should unite with a body of believers, even if it’s only two or three who believe and will discuss the Bible with you and pray and worship Christ with you but a good church family is a blessing and will help you in your spiritual walk, believe me. Notice I didn’t say you had to accept someone’s political or economic beliefs, to deny your family, to quit your job, or to sell all your possessions and home and move to a compound. I didn’t tell you to beat your children black and blue or wear a Moslem Burkha. You should avoid angry, paranoid, and hateful Christians, as well as preachers with ANY political agenda or jingoistic, hyperpatriotic or any masochistic, America hating ideology. Just believe and trust in Christ and let His words have their way with you. God wants to use you to save others right where you are and He wants you to grow in grace and grow in Him. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in your life.

I know you’re thinking you have time to think about eternity later, that you have your own spirituality now, that you’re a good person. But, there is no tomorrow for you. Don’t boast of it. You don’t know what the day will bring.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Proverbs 26:28 commentary; lies and flattery

28 ¶ A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

Christians are told not to lie to each other;

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

And by extension to other people as well as we are to always try to maintain a good reputation before the world. Liars are not acceptable to God. Look at the company liars keep here.

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

The liar has nothing but contempt for the people he or she is deceiving. An example would be the swindler, Bernie Madoff. A closer example would be the person who deceives those around them. We have politicians, scientists, religious leaders, teachers, and people from all walks of life who have been caught in lies. All of us know at least one person who is a pathological liar.

Jesus said that the Devil was the father of lies.

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

There are fewer more clear cut commands for the Christian in the Bible than the admonition against lying. Don’t distort the truth. Don’t exaggerate it. Don’t change it to suit your agenda. Your testimony should be such that you don’t even need to underscore your statements with an oath. When you confess, declare, or swear to something as true it should not be “by” anything.

Matthew 5:33 ¶ Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

The liar will often get what he or she wants by flattery and deceit. They destroy and ruin others, cheating and defrauding them. Beware of these people. Don’t be so keen on hearing good things about yourself. That sets you up for the phony who will play you like a violin to get what they want. A liar is afraid of the truth. It’s not good enough for them to get what they’re looking for, whether it be approval or something you have that they want, like your money. A Christian should never be afraid of the truth nor should he or she be willing to entertain the lies that people tell. It’s an old saying that it’s hard to con an honest man. When you lie to me, I know you hate me. When you flatter me, I assume you are setting me up. All we need is an “attaboy” or a pat on the back sometimes but we all know the difference between that and flattery that works ruin.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Proverbs 26:27 commentary; the boomerang effect of a Christian's sin

27 ¶ Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

That evil that men do often comes back to get them. The web of deceit we weave is the one we become entangled in. Haman learned this;

Esther 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.

The Holy Spirit warns us through David, the Psalmist, about the unrepentant wicked person’s fate.

Psalm 7:15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

And again, for the enemies of God.

Psalm 9:15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.

And again, for those who would persecute the innocent.

Psalm 10:2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

Psalm 57:6 They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.

We don’t always see this happen so it can be very frustrating, as it was for the prophets of old who I’ve quoted before in their frustration at the wicked seemingly getting away with murder, but it does happen quite often.

We can use these verses in a rather smug and self satisfying way in pointing to those we believe oppress us but let’s look at it from our own perspective of the three fingers pointing back at us when we point at another.

The Christian who chooses to sin, to do wrong, particularly if that wrong is done to another, can expect, by virtue of his or her having the Holy Spirit inside theme, that their wickedness will come back to bite them. One of the proofs you have the Spirit of God dwelling in you by way of the new birth, of being born again (John 3:3, 7) is that a true Christian will not get away with much for long when he or she, living by the flesh, decides to do the work of the flesh. Brother or sister, you’ll get caught and that rather quickly. No one told you that when you “got saved” did they? Sort of puts a different twist on things, doesn’t it?

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

There is an old saw that God has three things that start with “c” for the Christian who insists stubbornly on sinning. First, there is conviction. You are bothered by your sin. It haunts you. Your conscience isn’t seared by it yet and you know you’re wrong.

But, you’re stubborn and pigheaded so you push on, doing your own thing, but claiming the blood of Christ to get you to heaven. “After all, we’re only human, right?” Then comes chastisement. You got caught. But, for some that isn’t even enough. They are adamant that they’re going to pursue their little dance with sin.

If you refuse to hear, to obey the Holy Spirit, then God can provide your coffin. You can be taken home to face Christ at the Judgment Seat.

Just be sure that your stab at pleasing the old man, the flesh, particularly if it involves some innocent person, will come back to haunt you. It’s almost a sure thing if you really are saved. Some of you are involved in a sin right now. I’m not talking about not coming to church six days a week or giving half your paycheck to missions. I’m talking about SIN; cruelty, maliciousness, hatefulness, bigotry, prejudice, meanspiritedness, gossip, a vengeful attitude, disrespectful, abusive, self righteous, materialistic, putting things other than God in the place of God, you know, the garden variety, normal human attitudes that lead to many more and much worse things.

Remember this Proverb the next time you pick up the phone and “request prayer” for some wayward, blacksliding (in your estimation) brother or sister. Remember this Proverb the next time you “express your concerns” about the Pastor to a brother or sister. Remember this Proverb the next time you plot revenge or plan to get something you want that rightfully belongs to someone else. Just watch the dog you release on another turn around and bite you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Proverbs 26:24-26; beware the dissembler

24 ¶ He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; 25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. 26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.

In 2 Samuel 20:9, 10 Joab pretends to ask Amasa a friendly, cordial question only to disguise his murderous intent.

2 Samuel 20:9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.

To dissemble is to disguise your true feelings behind a false appearance.

Joshua 7:11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

Psalms 26:4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.

Jeremiah 42:20 For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.

Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

You have known people in your life who claimed to like you or even love you but who were hiding hatred and contempt for you in their heart. Matthew Henry said that love is great armor but a terrible cloak. People who hide their hatred, despising another in their heart, by protestations of love or affection are among the most wicked of men and women. This person’s hatred will be revealed. It usually comes out in small behaviors if not outright betrayal.

The person who pretends to be your friend but, in reality, despises you will repeat your confidences to others, avoid spending time with you as much as possible, deceive you in the smallest matters, show envy at your slightest success or good fortune, act jealously of what you have that they don’t, and generally do anything they can to betray you, all the while bragging about how they’ve stood by you through thick and thin.

Watch for these people in the congregation. They are friendly with the preacher but, at the first opportunity, will stab him in the back. They are approving of your good fortune or success with their lips but behind your back denounce how you must have done something wrong to obtain either. They will be oh so friendly to the young woman and young man while bitterly envying her beauty and health and his strength and good looks, running them both down in very spiritual ways.

Always beware of people who are overly generous with compliments and approval. The more exaggerated their compliments, the more out of place, the more you must wonder in your mind what they really think. And, ladies, if a person complimenting your looks or dress makes you feel dirty or uncomfortable you can be sure there is something there you should be very wary of as sexual objectification is also a form of contempt and hatred. To the preacher or teacher whose sermons or lessons are “the most profound”, “unbelievably on point”, or some such wonderful, ego building epithet keep a sense of caution in your mind. Some attempted treachery may be afoot.

Beware of people who hide hatred and contempt in their hearts behind approving words and gestures. The back you keep from being stabbed may be your own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Proverbs 26:23 commentary; fakes, passionate fakes, but fakes nonetheless

23 ¶ Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

Commentators like Henry make two applications to this verse. Both have to do with the first part. One application he makes which goes well with the next verses is that, and I’m paraphrasing, lips that profess love, loyalty, faith, friendship, and allegiance with a passion and fire but coming from a false, wicked heart are like a broken piece of pottery covered with the castoffs of the process of refining silver.

Dross is defined in such a way in the following verses;

Psalms 119:119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.

Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

Isaiah 1:22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:

The silver looks good from a distance but up close you realize that its just pretty trash covering a broken piece of pottery. Such is the profession of someone who claims with tears and much emotion that they have trusted Christ as their Saviour but when God examines them closely it’s just a phony profession. I am very wary of politicians and those who seek power over the lives and money of the populace and constantly talk about how God has told them to run for office. I have often wondered why we can’t have a debate where we try to find out who God told first. (Just joking.)

Jesus warned about false prophets, who may be preachers in our context as “to prophesy” can mean to not only foretell but “forth tell” as in preaching God’s word, or even regular Christians in Matthew.

Matthew 7:15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

When I first joined an Independent Fundamental Baptist church I thought everyone would be like Dr. Ruckman; folksy with common sense, human but with good intentions, a plain understanding of the Scriptures, and desiring to draw people closer to Christ through God’s words in His Bible knowing that not everyone will agree with everything he says and not being too concerned about it. You never see him in the main stream news telling people how to vote or throwing his support to one candidate or another, marching down the street against abortion with his arm around a Catholic priest, or trying to have a “revival” meeting in the park across from the White House for the cameras. I heard him say things like “if you have to work a shift on Sunday morning don’t get too upset, you can come to church on Sunday night or Wednesday”, and “not my own children or any of my students believe everything I believe so I’m not a very good cult leader if you accuse me of running a cult”, “I may have to apologize to a bunch of people at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I doubt it, but I might have to”, and also “there is nothing more ridiculous looking than a woman trying to ride a horse in a ankle length dress or in a canoe that’s overturning. Use some common sense folks.” (I’m reciting those from memory so they aren’t perfect quotations.)

I have been disappointed to see that there are many in the pulpits across the land who have a personal agenda, who twist the Bible, and who desire to control the congregation for their own purpose, drawing them away from Christ and to that preacher. It is really apparent to me that there are a lot of Christians in America in positions of religious and political authority who, from a distance and hearing their professions of faith appear to be passionate Spirit filled Christians who want to turn the nation back to Christian values and principles but, upon closer examination have an agenda where they are using God for a purpose, like a broken piece of pottery covered with glittery trash draws you to it. They look and sound genuine from a distance but up close they don’t bear up to much scrutiny.

Burning professions of faith with a wicked heart are like a broken piece of pottery covered with silver dross. Look very closely at those people on TV, folks. Look very closely and compare what they say with the Bible’s clear admonitions to Christians. Don’t be deceived.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proverbs 26:20-22 commentary; talebearers

20 ¶ Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. 21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

A talebearer will reveal anything you’ve said to them in private to the people you didn’t want to hear what you said. They will tell things about you that you didn’t even know they knew to other people. A talebearer is a gossip. Whereas a false witness makes things up about you a talebearer may be telling the truth but it is your business, not theirs, that they are telling.

Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

But, they can’t keep a fire going if there is no fuel so don’t be the wood for a talebearer’s effort to start trouble. Refuse to listen to them. Let them know with your demeanor, your looks, and your words that you aren’t going to play along. God wants you to discuss a person’s private business only with them and not to make it known to others.

Proverbs 25:9 Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:

In these verses a talebearer is linked to a man of contention. A contentious man starts trouble. He even does good things out of a bad spirit.

Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

We can see how in the verse in Philippians how contentious people are linked with envy and strife and how in Proverbs they are linked with talebearers. We know that a talebearer will not only reveal your personal business but will misrepresent your intentions and your words. They constantly stir up trouble. Remove a talebearer from the congregation and you will remove much trouble. Sadly, some talebearers can make themselves an essential part of the church body and thereby split a church when they are revealed and exposed.

Proverbs 18:8 ¶ The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Don’t listen to a talebearer. Simply tell them you don’t want to be a part of their sin. Of course, then you’ll quickly become the object of their work for the Devil. But, refusing to hear them will be something that shows that you have an understanding of what it takes to be a Christian.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Proverbs 26:18-19 commentary; jokes, pranks, lies, and deception

18 ¶ As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, 19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

Here, we are told that the person who deceives another and when caught, insists they were just joking, that it was all in fun is like an insane person who does great bodily harm to another and insists they meant no harm. The act of deceit is akin to malicious, physical behavior performed by a person who is “off their rocker”.

Here, the Christian is warning against jesting which is making sport at someone else’s expense, mocking them, or their circumstance, and thinking its funny. Notice the company jesting keeps with regard to various sins.

Ephesians 5:3 ¶ But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Much of what goes on today as bullying begins as making fun of someone, jesting at their expense. It is not for a Christian to do.

But, with this Proverb we are talking specifically about deception. We have our April Fools jokes and our pranks. These can backfire. You don’t know what mental state your victim is in, what they have gone through of late, or what they are pondering. Your “harmless” little deception might be the trigger that sets off a fire you did not expect. I’ve been guilty of everything I have spoken against at one time or another so I know how things can go too far. This is particularly true of saying something about the person that isn’t true but we’ll get to that next.

Deception is lying, pure and simple.

Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

So, for us, again, the principle here is that deceiving another person and insisting you were only joking when caught, is as malicious as an insane person setting fire to their barn or shooting arrows at them and then, when caught, claiming it was all meant to be in fun. Can’t you take a joke?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Proverbs 26:17; mind your own business

17 ¶ He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

When I was young my Dad warned me not to get in between two fighting animals. He told me to stay out of other people’s fights. This Proverb tells us to stay out of a fight that is none of our business. As Matthew Henry pointed out, if we are not to be hasty to get into a fight on our own account we most certainly shouldn’t be meddling in someone else’s business.

Proverbs 25:8 ¶ Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.

Moses thought he was defending his people when he interfered but he didn’t get the result he probably expected (Exodus 2:11-15) and went ahead of God’s plan by forty years. Joash’s death on the field of battle was due to a deliberate seizing of the dog’s ears (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).

Another thing that’s pointed out by the commentators is that sticking your nose in someone else’s strife is like grabbing a dog by the ears because once you’ve gone that far you’re in deep trouble because he’s going to bite you whether you let go or not. Ruckman points out that if you let go you get bit and if you hold on you’re not free to do anything else.

How often have you been bitten by sticking your nose in a family dispute that was none of your affair? What about within the church? You thought you’d offer to be the mediator but instead were viewed as taking one side or the other and attacked as well and had a hard time extricating yourself from the mess. Its unfortunate for the many dead young men and women and children that they didn’t but our own government would have been wiser in the past to have heeded this advice and to have not gotten into some issues between others that were not our business as a people. But, as many historians have pointed out, war increases a government’s power over its own people and lessens their freedom at home, so it is in the nature of a modern nation-state, whenever possible, to get into someone else’s fight if they can’t conjure up their own.

In the church we are to try to avoid this kind of self imposed disaster and if we had the following attitude most strife just wouldn't happen.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

This is one of those admonitions for Christians that we like to overlook because it’s not pleasing to the flesh. Mind your own business.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Proverbs 26:13-16 commentary; spiritual sluggards

13 ¶ The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. 14 ¶ As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. 15 ¶ The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. 16 ¶ The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

I am including the slothful man and the sluggard here as they are very similar. The slothful man and the sluggard are very lazy and make excuses for their inaction. We’ve discussed several Proverbs dealing with them before.

The slothful man makes up unlikely excuses to justify not being diligent and hardworking. He’s too lazy even to prepare and cook his own food he took in hunting.

Proverbs 12:27 The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.

The sluggard makes excuses for not working as well.

Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

These Proverbs point out how the lazy person makes excuses for not working. I think everyone can understand this idea.

Leaving the normal, literal views of these verses which are most certainly true, let’s look at a spiritual application of the last verse; the one mentioning the sluggard. Here, he is said to be “wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.” In spite of his laziness and unwillingness to do anything for himself the sluggard regards himself as the only person really “in the know”. He is wiser in his own mind than many counselors who can answer and debate weighty questions.

The Christian sluggard will not feed himself on God’s word. He won’t read the Bible and depends on all of his Godly wisdom from the preacher on Sunday, if the sluggard shows up to hear. He won’t avail himself of the Bible’s self defining qualities or its dispensational arrangement of books but will immediately run to a commentator or a famous preacher’s opinion on even the smallest matter. He refuses to cross reference verses and can’t tell you that an angel doesn’t have wings and is an appearance of someone or something who is somewhere else but can act as if, and for all practical purposes, is that individual, church, or country (Isaiah 63:9; Judges 2:1; Daniel 9:21 with Luke 1:26, Revelation 21:17; Galatians 4:14; Acts 27:23). He can’t tell you that “given by inspiration” is not dictation but understanding and wisdom and guidance (Job 32:8; 2 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 1:21). The sluggard has been told that angels have wings and that God told the Bible writers every individual word to use. The sluggard refuses to check it out.

The sluggard thinks the angels sang in Luke 2:13, 14 because he was told so. He thinks the word “rapture” is somewhere in the Bible and that the word “antichrist” is found in the book of Revelation and doesn’t even know what the definition of “antichrist” is as per 1 John 2:22. He thinks these things because he’s been told to think them. He thinks the one that “overcometh” in Revelation is the one who follows all the rules and doesn’t sin rather than the definition of what it means to “overcometh” given clearly in 1 John 5:5. Why? He won’t read himself. He or she wants be spoonfed their ideology by someone who graduated from a seminary throwing definitions of Bible words, doctrines, and expressions at them that aren’t from the Bible.

The sluggard will stop, as soon as someone he’s talking to insists he or she is saved and goes to another church. He wouldn’t think of helping that Christian out with CD’s or books to further them along and edify them because, one, they may be already saved so he can’t get the glory he wants, and, two, they already meet with a church so he can’t get credit for getting them in the door.

The sluggard will tell you something about the Bible you know isn’t true and when cornered he or she might admit that a preacher told them that. They don’t really know themselves. They’ve never searched into it. I had a sluggard tell me one time that 1 John 5:7 wasn’t “in the Greek.” I asked him, “which Greek, as there are over two dozen Greek texts composed of readings from many different manuscripts which go into Bible translations?” All he finally could say was that a former preacher of his told him that.

The sluggard will not avail himself or herself of the power of God’s words because it requires effort. He’d rather sit passively in the pew or watch a preacher on TV or listen to one on the radio, and feel smugly self satisfied, in his ignorance, that he knows all.

Try not to be a sluggard. When was the last time that you seriously gave consideration to what your preacher said when you left the building in which the church meets? When was the last time you asked your children at a meal after church what they got out of the sermon? When was the last time you prayed for everyone in your church body by name, the names you know? When was the last time you meditated on a verse or verses you memorized just for that purpose or maybe a verse you just know from repeating it many times? We have far too many spiritual sluggards in American Christianity.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Proverbs 26:12 commentary; the one thing worse than a fool

12 ¶ Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

We’ve now come to the one thing worse than a fool. Perhaps he is a kind of super fool. John Gill laments the conceited, proud, and haughty person who professes faith in Christ but isn’t worth, as Dr. Ruckman says, “the shot and powder it would take to blow him into the lake of fire.”

Gill doubts the salvation of such a conceited ass, an arrogant, pompous, and continually angry so called Christian who doesn’t display anything remotely like the fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians, chapter 5. This person is not submitted to Christ and his behavior and speech shows it. Is this man or woman saved? Who can say but Christ? But you certainly wouldn’t know it by their behavior and what they value.

Matthew Henry calls it a spiritual disease; self conceit. Some of our most famous “men of God” were infected with it. Henry claims that they believe their spiritual state to be very good, when it is very bad in fact. This man or woman might attend church with Bible tucked under their arm, never missing a moment to grace the assembly with their presence, or they might feel themselves too good and spiritual to attend church at all, although often they will permit their wives and children to go.

Paul makes this interesting statement for our consideration about the wisdom of the world;

1Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

How sad is it when a Christian comes across as conceited and arrogant. How almost laughable if he or she weren’t doing so much damage to the cause of Christ to get people saved from the natural destination of all mankind.

We are commanded within the church;

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

And given this admonition;

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

From reading the Bible and from personal experience, I’d like to point out to the man or woman who claims personal knowledge of Christ and yet is wise in their own conceit that God can take something very precious from you, like a child, to get you to look up and to stop worshipping yourself. Beware of your vanity and arrogance. It is not only not pleasing to God. It makes your life a tragic-comedy of the worst sort. No one really takes you seriously. They just try to avoid you at all costs. It is a sad thing when there is more hope for a fool than for you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Proverbs 26:11 commentary; dogs and fools

11 ¶ As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

In this unpleasant remark we have a great truth about fools. They keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Again and again, the fool makes the same mistake, the same error, commits the same sin over and over. Each time he or she faces catastrophe, hurts people that love them, disillusions friends and associates, and each time they are bound to do the same thing.

This is one reason why you should never assume that a fool has learned his lesson and that he’ll never make the same mistake twice. That’s what a fool does.

Peter alludes to this verse at the end of his chapter on false teachers.

2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

You can ask a person in the world how many times have they filed bankruptcy, how many abortions they’ve had, how many arrests for DUI, how many times they’ve been married, how often they’ve been fired from a job, how many times a doctor has told them they just have to give something up and they’ve ignored him as their health got worse, or how many times they’ve felt empty and without a purpose or a point to their lives and, on occasion, you’ll be shocked and surprised at the answers. The fool just doesn’t get it, and won’t. It’s not in his or her nature.

But, the Holy Spirit can reach anyone. All the fool needs is to submit himself to Christ and to the word of God. The fool won’t change his human nature. But, God can change him. The Holy Spirit will make him a new creature, give him hope, and lead him, just as long as he stops trying to do it himself. All the fool can do is to trust in Christ, read His word, unite with His people regularly for worship, and wait on the Lord. Don’t jump ahead. You’ll just repeat the same mistakes. Let the Lord lead you even if people start complaining about your indecisiveness. The Lord’s timing is perfect even if His ways seem tedious to you. Don’t trust yourself ever again. Trust the Lord. No self help course or guru will change what you are.

This is an important point. We often tell people to repent of their sins. But, what we need to repent of is the fact that we are sinners; we are all fools. Come to Christ. Admit you’re a sinner and be sorry for it. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His righteousness, not your own, to get to heaven, and then confess that faith before men.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Proverbs 26:10 commentary; God's patience with fools

10 ¶ The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

There is a lot of conflict in the commentators I have read on the meaning of this verse. I think, though, that it goes well with other verses in the Bible which show that there are certain benefits that the people of God share with fools, certain facts of existence that might disturb the most self righteous of us. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says;

Matthew 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

One of God’s character traits is that He gives the chance of life to the evil and the good, to fools and wise men. Fools, too, enjoy the pleasures of life, the possibilities. They dream, they hope, and they have access to the little joys that make life pleasurable. God rewards fools and those who have transgressed against Him, sometimes with long life and the enjoyments pursuant to it. The Bible and our experience make it clear that evil people just don’t usually drop over dead because they are evil or burst into flames. Not only are our prisons filled with evil people who disregard God, His statutes, and Laws, and His love and sacrifice but also our businesses, schools, government, and, yes, even our churches. God settles accounts in His own time and gives unrepentant men a long, long time to repent and turn to Him before He visits them with what they deserve.

Job complained;

Job 21:7 ¶ Wherefore (Why) do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? 8 Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. 10 Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. 11 They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. 12 They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. 13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. 14 Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?

Jeremiah, too, complained;

Jeremiah 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

Jesus statement in Matthew, chapter 5, shows us that, for the Christian, God’s forbearance, His mercy on those who regard Him not, is an example for us to follow in treating those who hate us. If He can be patient and longsuffering, then so can we. The time of the fool and the transgressor is coming but don’t be angry that it is not yet. After all, aren’t you glad He had patience with you and didn’t terminate your life before the light of the truth dawned on you?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Proverbs 26:6-9 commentary; don't trust a fool

6 ¶ He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage. 7 The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools. 8 As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool. 9 As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

A fool acts on the wrong information and acts according to the impulsiveness of his or her emotions. To play the fool is to err or act in a mistaken manner exceedingly.

1Samuel 26:21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

A fool does things in vain, that serve no good purpose. Even their death is a waste.

2Samuel 3:33 And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

The fool doesn’t believe in God and/or doesn’t believe what God has said. He is wholly corrupt, does evil things, and is incapable of doing good.

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Come on. We all know people like this. In fact, I myself have been a fool most of my life. Slowly, since 2002, God has been teaching me through His words in His Bible, working on the inside of me. I have slipped and fallen a few times, too many times, but does that make me a hypocrite? You decide for yourself. I am just still amazed that the Holy Spirit is still working on me.

Before 2002, the year it was finally shown to me what the Bible actually was, I, on my own was incapable of doing anything right. God led me to good things; salvation, my marriage, exercise, health, a passion for learning, and perhaps one or two useful character traits but those good things were gifts from God. I was only able to receive the good things I was given. There is still much I just don’t get but slowly, ever so slowly, and with much struggle……..

The fool is not trustworthy. Don’t send an important message by him. Don’t trust a parable to him. Don’t give him honor. To do these things is to invite trouble for yourself. They are like binding a stone in a sling so it can’t be thrown. They are like a man who has trouble walking because his legs aren’t the same length. They are like a thorn in your hand when you’re drunk and helpless to remove it.

There are people you know who seem intelligent. They might be bookish and well spoken and well read even if they lack common sense. You might think highly of them and speak highly of their smarts. But there are different kinds of intelligence. One important kind of intelligence is emotional intelligence. An interesting book about that is “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman. I didn’t like it. I kept popping up in its pages. But even a better book is the Bible. In the Bible we have the doubting and frustration of Jeremiah, the emotional instability of Saul the king, the stubbornness in the face of the Holy Spirit’s clear warnings not to go to Jerusalem of Paul the apostle to the Gentiles. We have the churlish and evil Nabal, the henpecked and prideful Ahab, the carnal Samson, and the compromising Lot. They are all there in the pages of God’s book. There are unbelievers like the Pharaoh in Exodus 5:2 whose heart the Lord had hardened for a purpose, knowing he would never accept, in his pride, the words from God.

Before you entrust anything important to people who share these traits with these Bible characters, think carefully, use the reasoning ability God has given you, and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. You may be drinking damage to yourself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Latest Reading

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe.

This Pulitzer Prize winner for history is simply too long and covers too many events to hold your interest. It is, however, an excellent resource for information on that era. It particularly deals with information on the religious scene in America of that time in a very solid and responsible manner. A good reference source but not a great read.

Proverbs 26:4,5 commentary; don't talk like a fool

4 ¶ Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Here’s a pair of verses that usually get a chuckle or a questioning look out of a person when they first see them. The commentator John Gill, from the 1700’s, points out that one should not answer a fool at all, as the ministers of Hezekiah didn’t answer Rabshakeh, nor Christ to the Scribes and Pharisees, and when an answer is offered it should not be in the same manner as the fool who asked the question with evil for evil, railing for railing, or in the same lying manner in which the question was given. When you must answer the fool you should use the wisdom you have received from God’s word.

So, here we have a Proverb telling you not to answer a fool in the same manner in which he asks a question lest you look as idiotic as him. When you must answer a fool, do it in wisdom, to keep him from thinking he has carried the field with his argument and that you are surrendering due to his superior reasoning ability, which is a joke.

Matthew Henry underscores the need to know when to answer a fool and how not to appear to be as stupid as he is when arguing your point. You don’t let him get away with his foolishness but you don’t respond in the same manner as he proposed the question. Seems simple enough. Henry’s point is that it is often best to remain silent unless you believe that silence would make your case look weak.

The internet has become, among other things, a great platform for endless arguments. Having the last word seems to be a lot of fun for many people, even if that last word is as moronic as it can possibly be. But, these Proverbs and, God’s word, in general, are not concerned with the trivialities of politics or sports as points of argument. We need to be careful when presenting the Gospel to others, particularly when a person is argumentative and obnoxious about their unbelief. Should questions like this be answered?

“If God is just and good, why is there suffering in the world?”

“Can God make an object too heavy for Him to move?”

“God doesn’t make junk. I was born this way, so obviously ‘this way’ must be good.”

At least two of these questions might come up in a rational discussion of the Gospel and the Bible. But, if the person posing them is acting as a fool; being hateful and combative, dishonest and verbally abusive you are not to respond in kind. As it is said, it is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open up one’s mouth and remove all doubt. Christians being combative and hostile when presenting the Gospel of Christ, even in reply to a fool, do nothing to further the cause of Christ and usually get angry because their false Self has been attacked. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ. If you are standing on the street having a shouting match with someone you have been trying to witness to, how can a bystander know who is the fool and who isn’t? Know the Scriptures forward and backward. Pray. State your case. Don’t get tangled up in endless disputations with a heart that’s unwilling to receive Christ.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 ¶ Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

So, always be ready to give an answer to everyone that questions your faith but don’t act like a fool doing it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Proverbs 26:3 commentary; a rod for the fool's back

3 ¶ A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

This is one of the numerous statements in Proverbs about how unteachable and uncorrectable some people are. The fool, a wicked person, is placed here in contrast to the horse and the ass. In fact, a similar metaphor was made in the book of Job regarding man and the ass.

Job 11:12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.

We are stubborn and unteachable in our unregenerated state. Most Christians, even after they have claimed to trust Christ, have no interest in being taught by Him. So, many of us will find after receiving Christ as our Saviour that we have a rough time of it as the Holy Spirit seems to drag us down the street by our feet banging our head off both curbs. This has to happen, though, to get our attention. Intractable, willful, and selfish we insist on doing things our own way which is the wrong way. Our lives reflect that no matter how pious and spiritual we pretend to be, that, in fact, we are a living train wreck. Broken marriages, lost children, alcoholism, drugs, pornography, and even suicide itself are the legacy for many so called believers, just like the unsaved world, who refused to submit to the God of the Bible through His words in His Bible.

Christians can get so much more out of their faith if they would let God speak to them through His Bible. So many of us have not even read it through one time and, other than locating stories, and a few memorized verses we are lost in it. Even our nation, which once proudly declared itself to be a Christian nation, was warned early on by Robert Winthrop in 1849 that we have a choice of being ruled either by the Bible or the bayonet, meaning an internal working of the Holy Spirit through His words versus the external working of a totalitarian state.

You who claim to be Christians but have no use for God’s word, can’t you see how the Holy Spirit chastises you each year you live in rebellion, sometimes each day? God uses the rod for your stubborn back because you will not be changed by His gentle and sweet words. His chastisement is for your own good, to draw you closer to Him and to make you see your helplessness without Him. O, miserable Christian, how long must you be forced to submit to discipline rather than simply surrendering to God through His words as He speaks to you each day and changes your heart?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Proverbs 26:2 commentary; the curse causeless

2 ¶ As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

The commentators I read on this refer to this Proverb as being about the emptiness and meaninglessness of anger and curses without a cause. Jesus said to His Jewish disciples still under the Law given by God through Moses;

Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Look also at how God has given warnings about those who would curse Abraham’s physical descendants, the Jews.

Genesis 12: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

On a more practical note for Christians, there has always been an epidemic of carnal, baby Christians who think that by vulgar language and cursing they enhance their masculinity. It is a very insecure and immature man or woman who feels that using foul language in their speech, particularly their arguments, makes them somehow more manly or more adult. Sadly, we have far too many professing so-called Christians who throw curses about like words mean nothing.

The commonly used phrases “God Damn” or “God Dammit” are ones I heard often in growing up. It is blasphemous and arrogant, calling on God to condemn someone at your command. However, it is without any value or meaning as it is usually said as an expression of anger or contempt and the foolish simpleton saying it is saying it as a verbal assault, an attempt to make themselves feel more powerful in a situation over which they are really impotent. Another popular word begins with “F” and it’s too vulgar and demeaning to repeat. Many powerless, weak people use it almost as a replacement for “the”. If that’s the way you talk you’re pretty weak, not only in power but in spirituality. It is the talk of silly, vain, and empty people. We, as Christians, will be called on to give account of every word when we stand before Christ.

Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

For our benefit, it is simple to remember the commands we have received in the letters written by the hand of Paul or his designated secretary, such as Tertius, or, as tradition holds, Timothy, who wrote Hebrews from Italy at Paul’s dictation.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

When you utter pointless curses with the same mouth you use to pray to God in Christ’s name by the power of the Holy Spirit you show yourself to be a worthless hypocrite whose heart probably doesn’t really belong to Christ at all. Examine yourself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Proverbs 26:1 commentary; fools with honor

1 ¶ As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

It is as out of place to give honor to a fool as it is for it to snow in the summer and as inconvenient and troubling for a fool to receive honor as it is to have it rain when you’re trying to bring in the harvest. The first understanding of what a fool is can be found in the verse that underscores how far he or she is from God.

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

This same sentiment is repeated in Psalm 53:1 only linking the abominable works here to abominable iniquity there.

But, in our culture, in our country in particular, it is common although out of place and troubling when fools and wicked men and women are celebrated as heroes.

Psalm 12:8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

We have a culture of death, a cult if you will, where people who are corrupt and without any moral standard other than “I want” are placed in positions of power in government and, as entertainment celebrities, admired by millions. Excess, waste, depravity, murder, and self destruction are the objects of our fascination. We have placed fools in power over us and we have supported fools with our money and attention.

The fool doesn’t really believe in God or, if he or she has a nominal belief, does not believe God is relevant. To the fool, God can demand nothing from their life and, if He is there, He is there to justify their ambitions and lust for power or fame.

We’ve learned in Proverbs that fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7), they hate knowledge (1:22), and that punishment and destruction are their end. Its amazing how many fools there are who are professing Christians, who make up their god as they go along, ignoring the words the Creator has left them on the written page to change and sanctify them. Its amazing how many Christians will follow a fool who talks about God’s will for their lives and feeds them with lies and half truths, also ignoring the Bible that God has given us, twisting Scriptures in order to justify an agenda.

And, when all is said and done, it is as unseemly and strange and unhelpful for a fool to receive honor as it is for it to snow in the summer or rain during the harvest.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Proverbs 25:28 commentary; self control

28 ¶ He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

A similar thought was given in a previous Proverb.

Proverbs 16:32 ¶ He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

In this context spirit, lower case “s”, refers to man’s spirit as opposed to God’s Spirit which is always uppercase “s” when referring to the Holy Spirit. With the lowercase “s” spirit can be a reference to the will, desire, emotions, and mind without necessarily being a reference to one of the three major components that make up the higher animals, man, and God; body, soul, and spirit.

For instance, Caleb had a different “spirit” in them when he reported on the Promised Land.

Number 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

And again, unless you believe the following is a reference to demonic possession, then this is a feeling that has come upon a husband.

Numbers 5:14 And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:

The point of this Proverb is simple. If you have no rule over your emotions, your will, and your desires you are defenseless. You’ll be blown about by every wind of fortune, or misfortune. Your relationships will be all based on knowing how not to set you off and you and those you claim to love will be miserable.

My suggestion is simple. Apply the balm of God’s word to your life. I can’t guarantee exactly what will happen or how long it will take but if you commit yourself to reading God’s word, His Bible, every day to a great extent and praying over what you read, God will speak to you, and calm your soul. You may always have a relatively short fuse but you’ll give God the control, not yourself. Most Christians neither understand the power of God’s word nor are they willing to submit themselves to it regularly and in depth. I am not talking about Bible Study, although that is an essential part of learning God’s word. I am not talking about memorization, although, that too will help you learn to meditate on verses and to consider them. I am talking about simply reading the Bible.

Admit it. You don’t do it. Start today. Pick it up and begin reading expecting God to show you something, to do something with you. Come to it expectantly. Let God control your spirit because you have proven to yourself time and time again you aren’t in control. You are defenseless. Almost anyone has the power to make you angry, sad, bitter, disappointed, paranoid, humiliated, furious, and miserable. Satan knows this. Over and over again he’ll destroy your testimony by putting someone in your path, your helpless “baby Christian” path who will totally obliterate your puny defenses and render you useless for God’s purpose as you explode into a thousand fragments over the least little nuisance.

Forget about controlling your family, your friends, your coworkers. The only person that needs to be controlled is you. Let God do it through His word. Sanctify means to set apart for God’s purpose. Jesus prayed for His followers.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Proverbs 25:27 commentary; false glory

27 ¶ It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

Everything on earth from sports, to entertainment, politics, education, and almost every single discipline is designed for man’s glory. We want to know who had the most home runs, the most yardage, who built the tallest building, discovered the most important cure, or who made the most money. Hands are raised in victory, the stands erupt in chaos, the audience stands to applause, prizes are handed out in the form of cups, trophies, awards, and money. It is all about self glorification, the kind of counterfeit, false glory that mimics the triumph of God over the darkness, but lasts only for a moment, rather than an eternity, and, in the end, is meaningless and empty.

Rather than teaching them to glorify God, Christian parents want to see their children learn to seek self glory. But, that isn’t glory. Its simply empty and vain self worship. Success in sports or academics or in business and entertainment is sweet to the person who succeeds. His or her adoring fans partake of it and applaud their approval but, like honey, they eat too much. The mind is overcome with self worship and self glorification. And, in the end, there is nothing but a hunger for more, usually frustrated as one’s time in the sun is past. Then, there is nothing but some half hearted acknowledgement of the former champion in the stands or the retiree in the audience who once held the record.

We are obsessed with false glory and instead of giving credit to God and exulting in an eternity of glory sharing His glory we look for an empty medal signifying nothing, that will languish in some closet collecting spiderwebs while we brag at some dinner to young people who are sick of hearing it of how we scored the winning touchdown, shot the final free throw that won the game, received awards for being number one salesperson in the company, or a trophy for some success. But, it’s all gone now. Just a memory. But, the glory God shares with us, the real glory, lasts forever, an eternity.

Finally, the word of God is like honey, but if a man is searching to justify himself, too much of it will make him sick with his own self praise, his own self worship. Come to the word of God, the King James Bible, emptying yourself of all excuses or justifications, of all attempts to justify oneself. Seek God’s glory and praise the name of Jesus Christ in all things. Seek not your own. Your triumph will last an eternity rather than until the last fan leaves the stadium or your obituary is burned with last week’s newspapers.

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

1 Corinthians 3: 21 ¶ Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Proverbs 25:26 commentary; falling down in front of the world

26 ¶ A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.

It is a terrible shame when a Christian, particularly a Pastor or a leader in a church body, but really any professing Christian, falls down morally in front of the unsaved. Corrupt and troubled, in this context, are synonymous so a fountain or a spring that has been polluted or made worthless for drinking is likened to that Christian, in our application, who has done this. Jesus said in the context of talking to His Jewish disciples which, I believe, we can rightly apply to our situation practically;

Matthew 5:13 ¶ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Commentators also point out that the meaning can refer to a good man, righteous only by virtue of him having the Holy Spirit residing in him, humbling himself before the wicked unsaved, wicked because they reject Christ, not calling them on their sin and need for Christ, being afraid or ashamed to confront the person that God has put in your path for the purpose of witnessing.

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The Holy Spirit is then first and foremost, lamenting the fall of Pastors and prominent professing Christians who succumbed to sexual sin or other types of sin, which sin is trumpeted by the unsaved in newspapers and Christianity is mocked in blogs and forums online because of it. As Nathan said to David concerning his wicked sin with Bathsheba;

2 Samuel 12:14a Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme……...

Secondarily, he is pointing out the shame to the cause of Christ when Christians are unwilling to speak of the things of God to the unsaved for fear or shame.

We are not justified by good works, not saved by them, nor do we keep our salvation by simply looking morally pure and keeping our heads down, out of the radar, and we can’t lose our salvation by a moral failing but when we deliberately do wrong and fall, the world is eager to latch onto it as the ultimate truth of Christian faith, that it is an hypocrisy that they are justified in turning away from.

1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Proverbs 25:25 commentary; good news for a thirsty soul

25 ¶ As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Our good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also called “glad tidings” or “good tidings”, as can be shown by cross referencing Genesis 29:13; Exodus 33:4; 2 Samuel 4:10; 2 Samuel 18:27, etc. etc. and by comparing, most of all, Isaiah 52:7 with Romans 10:15, and Isaiah 61:1,2 with Luke 4:18 (remember in cross referencing to note that two different words inserted in a like phrase can be synonyms as per specifically the last two verses noted comparing the gospel with good tidings and poor with meek). We are not doomed to an empty life of toil and drudgery, pain and restlessness, then to an eternity of either non-existence as pseudo-scientists believe or a burning Hell for our souls. We have the promise of eternal life with the God who created us, being transformed into being like Himself, free, in a spiritual, glorified body from all suffering and pain we can experience in our physical existence on earth. This salvation is predicated only by belief in and trust in Him alone as per Romans 10:9,10 and other verses like Acts 16:31.

Jesus gave this command to His Jewish disciples. It is called “The Great Commission” in ExtraBiblical parlance.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mankind has been at war with His Maker since early on and Jesus’ brought us the gospel of peace with God. How wonderful this is to a thirsty soul which hungers and thirsts after God’s righteousness but has no idea how to obtain it. As Paul wrote, referring to Christ and referring to Christians being made a living temple for God to live in;

Ephesians 2:14 ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

This is truly good news from a far country for our thirsty souls. Now, as Jesus commanded His disciples let’s get out there and teach others this wonderful news; first by our manifesting what a Christian is supposed to be by our behavior and then, as people are drawn to that Spirit in us, by explaining why we have that peace so that they can experience it, as well.