In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
Peter Lord said, "You DO what you actually believe, all the rest is merely religious talk. This is a quote that I've read and remembered for years, because it keeps me away from the foolish practice of being all about the talk, but very little about actions that support what I say.
This proverb is not trying to get us to stop talking or speaking about the things of God. What it is trying to do is to help us see that it is foolish to talk big, but act small. Too often Christians have said very big things about how they would minister, or what needs to be done in our world - but they have not acted on their own passion to see things changed. The Lord wants us to say things that are Scriptural - especially when those things radically impact our world with the gospel. But when we DO nothing to see them come to pass, this is the height of arrogance and presumption.
There is profit in labor - in working hard to see something done, something made, something come to pass. But we need to be very careful that we are actually DOING something. You can have amazing and incredible ideas in the business world - but eventually someone is going to have to put effort and time into see those wonderful ideas turn into actual products and services. The business world is replete with men who dreamed big, but produced little. The ones that blessed generations were those who took their talk and turned it into work and finished things.
We are warned that mere talk leads to poverty. Just talking about things will get you no where. But some talk - and then they talk in bigger groups - then they hold summits on getting huge groups to talk. But in the end they will all wind up in poverty - either in real goods or in a poverty of spirit because their actions never translated into deeds and effort. There MUST BE WORK to succeed. No work equals no success.
The wise man not only talks - but works. He takes the time to dream and to plan - but also is wise because he take the time spend talking and planning and puts it into a course of action which, when taken, will bless those who do so with very profitable outcomes. Talk, dream, plan - but be wise enough to put those plans into demonstrable action.
He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 14:21
We continue to be counselled here on our attitude and actions toward the poor. God is truly concerned that we are gracious to the poor, for He Himself was gracious to us when we were poorer than any level of poverty could ever reach. He granted us His very riches in Christ through the gospel - therefore we too should respond with grace and with mercy to those who have little or nothing around us.
This proverb speaks of those who "despise" their neighbor. The one who despises his neighbor looks at his poverty and hates it. He sees no need for mercy or for kindness. He will most likely point out all the reasons why this one is in poverty - and say that is the reason why he should not do anything for the poor. While it is true that we need to give to the poor in a way that does not enable them to continue in sin, there is a need for them to receive genuine love and mercy from those who can help them.
Some despise their poor neighbor because their poverty calls for generosity - and that is hard to have when one is in bondage to a worldview where they are all that matters. They want much for themselves and therefore to give to another is an unwanted trouble. Therefore they despise the poor - and refuse to be gracious and give to their neighbor in need. We are told that such an attitude is sinful. It misses the mark that God has made for us to hit.
It is truly important to see the nature and the actions of God to see why this is such a sinful, wicked attitude. When we refuse to give, we are very much unlike God. He gives to the poor and to the unfortunate. As was said at the beginning of this post, God gave His Son for the poorest of all creatures - sinful man. That should help us understand His basic nature - that He is gracious and giving. We, therefore, should be gracious and giving as well. To be and to do anything else is just sinful.
The poor is hated even by his neighbor, But those who love the rich are many. Proverbs 14:20
Popularity is far too often determined by what a person has or does not have, rather than by whether they are a person of character and value. Today's proverb reminds us of this as we are faced with how people are judged by their bank account rather than by who they truly are in life.
The poor is hated by even his neighbor. That is a strong statement, but unfortunately, a true one. James warns in chapter 2 of those who judge by the mere appearance of wealth in the church. His statement is fascinating and will bring much light on our current verse here in Proverbs 14
"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of
personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be
rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:1-5
Here James confronts the attitude that respects the rich, but despises the poor. The rich are recognized by their clothing and their jewelry as they walk into the meeting of the church. As a result, they are treated with great respect and deference. The poor, whose clothes seem to betray their poverty, are treated with disrepect and disdain. One if given the seat of honor - the other is left to sit on the floor. The problem with this kind of judgment is that it is motivated by evil motives. Honor is given by what a person makes - not what God has made of them. Respect is shown because of a person's wealth of money - not their wealth of godliness and character. These things are done also because of selfishness, because we figure in the end that we can "get something" from them. We will profit from the relationship - but the profit we seek is only monetary. We shun spiritual blessing and true wealth.
We are reminded hat the poor of this world are usually rich in faith. We devalue that and forget that God sees all and knows all. This is evil - and shows great disrespect for Both God and His Word. It also usually aligns us with those who do harm to God's people. The poor, we read, are rich in faith and are heirs of the kingdom.
Ultimately we need to remember that Jesus was poor as He lived on this earth. He spoke of how the birds of the air had nests - but He had no where to lay His head. It is not that the poor are automatically saved - due to their poverty. It is that they have nothing in this world - thus they are far more ready to hear what God says - not being blinded by their money or their possessions. If we despise the poor - we in all honesty despise our Lord Jesus as well. Yet he is rich in what truly matters - and from what we read in James - the poor are usually rich in faith as well. That is why we need to be wise and value people not on a basis of their financial bottom line - but with true judgment - on the basis of their character and their wisdom gained from their intimacy with God and their study of His Word.
The evil will bow down before the good, And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. Proverbs 14:19
The word good in today's Proverb is so key to understanding this verse. It means that which is truly good - to its very core. This kind of good has love itself as its guiding principle. These men tend to rise in the world - or at least are ones who are still standing when the wicked man comes to the end that he deserves. It is at that point in their lives that they wind up bowing down before the good - and before the gates of the righteous.
Consider the story of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis. Joseph was a good man - maybe a little proud in his early years - but still a good man. He faced a great deal of adversity in his life, starting with being sold into slavery by his own brothers. His brothers, on a different trek, seemed to be doing well for most of their lives after their evil deed of selling their brother into slavery. Then came the famine that struck the Middle East so hard that all nations wound up coming to Egypt for grain because of Joseph's wise stewardship of their years of abundance. That was when things changed.
The brothers who at one time stood above the pit where Joseph pleaded for mercy, were now coming before an Egyptian ruler begging for food. When their youngest brother was found to have a golden cup in his sack of food - they tore their clothes and begged for mercy before one to whom they had shown no mercy. What they found was that he was a good man - and after testing their hearts to see if they had changed - he spoke kindly to them, fed them, and sent them back to get his father. This was truly the picture of the evil and the wicked bowing down before the good and godly man.
The ultimate picture of this though is seen in our approach to the throne of God. We are truly the evil and wicked when it comes to standing in the judgment before our God. There is no way that we can have favor there - and should only expect judgment. Yet the Only One who is truly good will be standing there - or more properly - will be sitting on that throne of judgment. In that day as we bow before Him, we will find that if we responded to the gospel with repentance and faith - we will be graciously received. As we approach the gate of the righteous we will also find that the Righteous One is there awaiting us with His blood by which we are forgiven, made righteous, and accepted into the presence of God. There has never been more of a reason to joyfully shout to God - than for the grace that will be poured out upon us in that day. We will gladly bow before Him - and acknowledge our wickedness and sin - finding in him the only thing by which we can be saved.
The naive inherit foolishness, But the sensible are crowned with knowledge. Proverbs 14:18
This verse in Proverbs is based on what has been said in the previous three verses before it. It has to do with the simple or naive person (whose simpleness is due to being foolish) as opposed to one who is sensible. Let's look at these two today - not just in light of this verse - but in light of the previous ones as well.
We are told that the naive or simple inherit foolishness. This is because they act like and think like fools. Going back to verse 15 we see that these people "believe everything" and do not consider where their actions and choices are taking them. Verse 16 reveals that the naive one is both arrogant and careless. They do not practice proper caution but walk headlong into evil and godless choices. They do not consider what God says about these things, either ignoring Him or arrogantly thinking that they know more than He does. Finally we see that they are quick-tempered - and because of their quick temper they act foolishly in the midst of their uncontrolled passions. They resort to evil plans and deeds - and are hated because of these things. When you consider the full picture of the simple, naive one who bases their life not on God's Word, but rather their own flawed reasoning, you see why God says that their inheritance will be foolishness. They do not take the time to think - to consider the end of the matter - to calm themsevles and think rationally about the actions they are about to take. Thus they are fools - and what comes to them is the fruit of their own foolishness and stupidity.
We are also sold though that the sensible one will be crowned with knowledge. Some call Christians simpletons and people who have a low I.Q. This is not the case - at least with the Christian who adheres to Scripture and who has gained wisdom over time. The true Christian does not shun study or knowledge - they embrace them. As they spend more and more time in the Scriptures - and specifically the book of Proverbs - they will become very wise, discerning, and knowledgeable. The word "sensible" here is the Hebrew word "arum" which means to be prudent. The idea here is that this one "takes careful thought" before doing things. He takes careful thought of his ways according to Proverbs 14:8
. He takees careful thought before he acts according to Proverbs 14:15
. In Proverbs 22:3
and 27:12 we are told that a man like this sees danger before it happens and avoids it. Thus this man walks with God in a way to where God's counsel is received and understood. This protects him from many things that would harm him.
The promise here is that the prudent/sensible man will be crowned with knowledge. The word knowledge is the familiar word in Proverbs that deals with our lifestyle from the standpoint of the choices we make. The word is "daath" which means to have a knowledge that gives us discernment, insight, and a notion about what we are doing - and how it will end. The word spoke of a way of living and choosing, thus it was known as the word that meant a person's chosen lifestyle. This points us to the reality that when we live by a prudent, biblical thinking and reasoning way - we will be filled with a knowledge that grants us discernment and insight. We will even have the function of "notion" as well - which simply means that over time we will just sense at times that something is right or wrong.
All this is said with the idea of being crowned with this blessing. Thinking and reasoning biblically will crown our minds with both wisdom and discernment. We will be able to know the difference between two choices - two ways of doing things - the simple idea of right and wrong. The world wants to blurr these lines of distinction. They want there to be little of no way of knowing truth of error, right or wrong. The world wants us to think everything is relative to a situation. But God's Word is true. God's Word is right. God's Word is sufficient to not only guide us in the big decisions of life, it will be what the Holy Spirit will use to guide us through every day. As we are guided - we will note that we are often crowned with the right choice - the right discernment - the right notion of which way to go. That is the blessing of being sensible and reasoning according to God's ways.
The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, But the stomach of the wicked is in need. Proverbs 13:25
This is an interesting proverb dealing with God's provision for the righteous. It involves both a promise for the righteous in regard to having enough food in addition to another apsect dealing with how the rightseous have an appetite that can be satisfied. The second has more to do with the heart than it does with food.
When we look at this from the viewpoint of food and the filling of a man's stomach we see that God promises that we will have enough to satisfy our appetite. In a psalm David said that he was young and now he is old, yet he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. God has blessed me with the honor of knowing a couple from Latvia who actually walked from Latvia to Eastern Europe during WWII. They did this while war was raging between the Germans and the Russians. They actually were trapped in the middle of a battlefield for a couple of weeks. During this time they had no food whatsoever. Yet for two solid weeks God would have various members of the family find hot baked bread in the middle of a battlefield. This was enough to satisfy their appetite each day. Truly God will provide for the righteous.
The stomach of the wicked is in need though. This is often the case in lands where God is rejected and false gods are worshipped instead. In India there is plenty of food for the entire population, but many are hungry because they will not eat cows for fear that it is a relative who was reincarnated. Some even refuse to kill rats that ravage their wheat and corn supplies for fear that they will have bad karma from killing a person reincarnated. Thus even though they have plenty of food each harvest, many stomachs are in need. A false view of God leads to religious views that harm a society.
There is another view of this proverb though that I also want to address. This is the fact of our inner appetites. Ecclesiastes says that God has placed eternity in our hearts. That is why there is an insatiable appetite within mankind for something to fill an inner need. Some spend their whole lives searchin in vain for this inner satisfaction because they seek it apart from Jesus Christ. It is only in Him that this void can be filled. So we see that this proverb is true once again - that the righteous (those who came to be righteous through what Jesus Christ did on the cross and by His resurrection) are filled and satisfied. The wicked - continue to want and need and feel like something is missing. My hope for each of you is that you will find your "eternal void" within filled by turning to Jesus Christ to find the salvation and the righteousness that will allow you to be satisifed and filled.
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24
Child discipline is an issue today that is quickly being taken over by worldly psychologists and child-advocates who think that spanking a child or administering any kind of coporal punishment is child abuse. Yet from what we see in Proverbs today, child abuse should be defined a little differently. It should be defined as those who refuse to apply the rod of discipline to their children in a loving way so as to train them to be unselfish.
The rod is mentioned here - and is it mentioned because the parent is supposed to apply the rod to the child's rear-end in a controlled way for the purpose of training that child properly. This is to be done without a fit of anger or rage - for disciplining under that kind of spirit will often lead to over-disciplining a child - or hitting them out of anger - rather than out of a desire to train and teach. The wise man and woman discipline their child - because to refrain from discipline is to hate your child. These are strong words - and need to be examined.
When we refuse to discipline a child - we are leaving them to the dictates of their sinful nature. Contrary to the world-view of modern psychology, the Bible does not teach that man is basically good. The Bible teaches that we are evil because of man's fall into sin. Because of that event - and the effect it had on all mankind - we are basically selfish and self-centered. Left on our own, we will become little monsters who demand our own way. There is also another problem with the sinful nature and the way it works in our hearts. The natural man does not submit himself to rules or authority very well. A child will learn to say, "No" early in life, and needs to be trained to submit to authority and to rules. Our sinfulness has us react to rules by wanting to buck them and do our own thing. This needs to be an area of child training. We need to teach our children to obey - and to submit to the authority that is over them. Without this they will not function well in society. When a child learns to be obedient, learns to be respectful, learns to work hard and be selfless in his attitude and actions it is a blessing to all those around him. Consider what an entire society would look like with this kind of parenting?
The Bible says that we need to discipline our children "diligently." I will be honest with you - that this is difficult to do. At times I would only discipline my children when they annoyed me enough to merit my all-important time and effort. Hope you got the sarcasm in that statement. Disciplining your children diligently requires a full commitment to seeing character and godliness developed in them. You cannot just discipline them when you get mad because they are making your life difficult. Discipline requires a full commitment of your life.
This may seem like a lot, but let me give another testimony about this kind of child-rearing. We have 6 children - 2 guys and 4 girls. We are not model parents by any stretch of the word. God has given us much grace as we stumbled and tried our best in this whole thing called parenting. But one thing we have noticed is that when you give yourself to parenting after this model - you truly enjoy being with your children throughout your life. We love being with our kids - and have the best time when we are. They are a delight to our hearts. I remember sharing with someone in a grocery store that we have 6 children. Her response was whether we were still sane - and how much Prozac we needed to handle that many kids. I smiled when she said this, but quickly stated that our kids were a delight - and that God gave us much grace and that is what helped us rear 6 kids. That is the joy of living this way and rearing your children. It is a blessing not only to your children as they mature - but it is a blessing to you and your wife as well. The truth is that God is maturing not just your kids - He is maturing you as well.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22
What kind of inheritance are you leaving to your children? What kind of inheritance are you leaving to your grandchildren? That is what today's proverb wants us to consider. There is a blessing that we should pass to our families. From what we read in Scripture there is one that we can pass to several generations if we choose to live as God would have us to live. Let us take a look at this today.
The good man leaves an inheritance to both his children and his grandchildren. He approaches his earnings in life in such a way as to use them frugally and save for the future. This is how he provides an inheritance for his family. Note that he is called a "good" man - which refers to his character. In order to be such a man one needs to be selfless and desire to bless his children - rather than to spend it all on himself.
One thing we need to remember is that God does not promise riches in wealth to all men in equal amounts. Therefore to say that this refers only to money is foolish. Solomon laments of the man who had worked himself to death to obtain money, only to leave it to a son who is a fool. This man may have left wealth to his son, but he forgot to leave him spiritual wealth and wisdom. Therefore the money he has earned and saved will only be wasted by a son who is a complete moron when it comes to how to live.
We need to leave our children an inheritance of godliness and wisdom as well as one that we can financially. Without this our children will suffer far worse than if they miss a few luxuries according to the dictates of society. There are those who will have wealth, but may spend eterntiy in abject poverty in hell when they die. This is no inheritance that you want to pass on to your family. If we leave them with wisdom and with knowledge of the Word and of their Savior Jesus Christ - they will be rich for eternity - even if they don't live on the upper east side in this life.
The wicked will leave their wealth to the righteous. This means that although they live wealthy for the few years of this life, they will eventually die and leave all of it to others. Since they have lived for wickedness, their children will most likely waste their wealth and have it transfer to those who use wise principles in how they do business. These are those who are godly and good in their business as well as their daily lives.
There is something that we desperately need to leave to our children and their children. It is a good thing if we can leave them an inheritance that will help them afford a home or other things financially. But more importantly is to leave them with an inheritance in the things of the Lord. This is something that can never be lost. God promised that a godly man can touch thousands over the lives of his children and grandchildren. But to do so we need to be willing to invest, not just in stocks and bonds - but in a godly heritage that will take a lifetime to develop and prepare for our families.
Adversity pursues sinners, But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. Proverbs 13:21
When we sin, we are setting loose a nemesis who will hunt us down to bring us the adversity that our sin produces. That is a rather disconcerting thought - but still one that is true. When we decide to depart from the Lord for a period to pursue the fleeting pleasures of sin, we are paving with our own hands the road that adversity and retribution will walk to our door. This is why the wise man considers the end of a choice before he makes it.
Consider David in regard to this matter. He thought he was only lingering on the sight of Batsheba bathing for a lustful look. He did not know that the look would lead to a desire which would lead to a choice to bring her to his chambers. He did not know that this choice would lead to adultery with another man's wife - which would lead to a pregnancy that promised a scandal in the kingdom. He did not know that asking her husband to return from battle would lead to seeing Uriah's character and godliness far exceed his own. He did not know that this would lead to his order to have Uriah killed by the hand of the Ammonites as he reacted in panic about what to do. He had no idea that all of this would lead to a year of his life spent in spiritual agony as the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin - and drained him of life itself. He couldn't even imagine that his little look - his brief indiscretion of lust would lead to two dead sons, a raped daughter, and 10 women locked away as widows for life. He did not see in his departure from pure eyes that several men would be killed with Uriah at the wall - and that thousands would die in a battle between himself and his rebellious son. If anything David thought this "little look" might result in a brief departure from God's will. He had no idea that he was paving a superhighway for adversity, pain, and regret that would last for many years to come. He was clueless that in that moment he was releasing a beast that would pursue him relentlessly until adversity would nearly overwhelm him as he trudged up a mountainside, cursed by a fool, and feeling that he was one because of the sin that had finally caught up with him. Indeed adversity pursues sinners.
We are not left hopeless though with this proverb. We are also reminded that the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. David was pursued with adversity by his sin - but he was also blessed for his godly obedience. He deserved death for his transgressions, yet God showed him mercy. He was able to amass tremendous riches and wealth for the construction of the temple during the time of his son Solomon. He was blessed not just during his time on earth - but for all time by the fact that one of his descendents would be the Messiah. There is tremendous blessing that will come to the godly.
There is no better illustration of this than the gospel message itself. We read here that "the righteous" will be rewarded. Yet our problem is that we are sinners - not righteous. There is no way we can be righteous by our works or by God's law. But when we were helpless Christ died for the ungodly. He can make us righteous - having been the One who became sin for us - so that we might be made righteous because of God's gift of salvation. Because of the gospel we are righteous in God's sight - but only because a gift of God's grace was bestowed on us when we responded in repentance and faith to the gospel message. Our passge here reminds us that the righteous will be rewarded with "prosperity." The word for prosperity here means entering into a wholeness and restored relationship with God. Too many think prosperity means money and wealth - but we must remember that the greatest riches we can have are those that come in spiritual blessings arising from a renewed relationship with God.
We face one of two choices - which results in one of two ends. We can choose sin and rebellion which sets off a chase in which the sinner or rebel will be hunted down for a visit from adversity. We can also choose to embrace God's way of righteousness through the gospel. This will set off a much different kind of pursuit. This sets in motion the grace of God working in us throughout out lives here on earth. His grace will bless us with spiritual prosperity here on earth - but also will culminate with His blessing on the day of judgment as well. The wise man knows that sin and rebellion set loose the hounds of adversity. That is why he chooses instead to set loose the spirit of blessing in his life by the gospel.
Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice. Proverbs 13:23
God is concerned about the poor - and about justice concerning them. What is interesting about this passage is that the major concern that God has is about freeing the poor to make the most of their lives by hard work. Unfortunately in our day too many think that the best way to care for the poor is for the government to take care of them by instituting programs that foster what is called social justice. This kind of justice involves the government using a taxing power to redistribute wealth so that fairness is reached as far as "outcomes" are concerned. What we see here is that God is more interested in the poor having fairness in regard to opportunity rather than outcomes.
God is the God of justice and He is very concerned about the injustices that are perpetrated against the poor. In the Old Testament He makes it very clear through the prophets that one of the reason judgment falls on societies is because they no longer have compassion for the poor. But, social justice is NOT a compassionate response toward the poor. It is rather an example of government trying to bring about justice by promising equal outcomes for all. This is done whether or not the person receiving the promised outcome is deserving of it or not. Whether we like it or not there is some poverty that is the direct result of choices made by the one who is in poverty. There is also poverty that is the result of people not being willing to work. The Bible is clear that if a man is not willing to work, he is not to eat. Then Proverbs tells us that when he is hungry enough - that will motivate him to work. The poverty of the prodigal son was due to his own ungodly living and ungodly choices. When a man wastes his money on drunkenness and riotous living, he should not prosper in life. To promise him the same outcome as the hard working man is not social justice. It is social injustice!
God makes promises to those who work hard and who live wisely. He also makes promises to those who choose ungodly paths - speaking of poverty and want that will come to them. We cannot try to stay His hand in these matters without eventually bringing the entire government under His discipline. That is what we are experiencing today. The government has decided to work for common outcomes for all in a perverted sense of what is just. But this is unjust - to confiscate the wealth of those who have worked hard for what they have - and to redistribute it to those who in many cases have not worked hard for it. When someone gives to the poor freely it is a gift. But when a government gives to the poor by confiscating the wealth and gain of the productive - it is thievery by taxation.
God says here that abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor. That means that the poor could till the ground and make a crop that would lift them out of their poverty. The abundant food does not produce itself - it is given when the poor have the freedom to till their ground and bring it forth. What is being restricted here is the freedom of these who have been reduced to poverty. When this happens, there is poverty abounding. But where there is freedom instead of injustice, the poor man is able to work hard and over time lift himself out of poverty. Where the government works to provide a level playing field for all to prosper equally from hard work - there will be a blessing on that society. The government also has a responsibility to make sure that in doing this the rich do not use their money to keep the poor from succeeding. This happens as well in the world - and it is the responsiblity of the rulers of a nation to make sure that they are not unduly influenced by money to decide for the rich in disputes. They are to make just decisions and not allow the rich to abuse the law to keep the poor in their poverty.
God desires justice and freedom to prevail in the affairs of men. He desires for these things to free men to be able to work hard and prosper from their labors. These things can be infringed upon in life, but not without cost. The cost is that the poor cannot achieve better things through hard work, saving, and investing in something that can give them more in their future. Whether this is done by the rich oppressing the poor - or a government oppressing all by taking from one class to give to another - God is not pleased. All men - and all governments will stand before God to give an account of their stewardship of the poor. May we be wise to free the poor to till the fallow ground of their farms and lives so that they may be lifted out of poverty, not by a government program, but by a work-ethic that encourages them to work hard, save, and build for a better future.