She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
Proverbs 31:20-24The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excell at them. The result of tasing the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit. We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spiindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (Which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Verse 21 introduces us to the way that this woman is generous toward her own household. She does this by knowing of their needs. She lives in a climate where snow and cold affect her children and family. Therefore she labors to make sure that they are clothed with scarlet. The imagry here is that of seeing the heaviness of the clothing she provides for her family. She makes sure that they are warm when it is cold outside. The word household even goes a step further. This word also referred to the servants one might have in and out of their home. She is gracious and kind enough to make sure that even they are warm and well taken care of especially when it is cold outside and they need warm clothing.This next verse may seem strange to us - but she also provides for herself. This indicates her frugality, as clothes made by her own hands would cost less than those made by others. But it also indicates that she cares about her appearance. Her clothing is fine linen and purple. These are expensive and fine fabrics she uses and it indicates that her household (who are all clothed in this fashion as well - from verse 21) are dressed as those who are proud of their appearance. This is not because they are clothed in the latest fashions from Gapstein, Eyptian Eagle, or Old Testament Navy. These are clothes their mother produced by the labor of her own hand. There is class here - but not class that arises out of buying things from others. It is the class that arises from quality made at home. In this way she blesses her children, her husband, and even herself.
The excellent wife is generous toward her husband as well. We find it said that eh is known in the gates and sits among the elders of the land. He is successful and wise. Working with and for him and her family is this godly woman who takes great joy in seeing her husband respected. That takes for granted that she herself respects him - and respect for him grows in concentric circles from what men see in her heart and actions. When a man's household is in order and respectable - men want him to rise to other positions of leadership where he can do the same. The wisdom and discretion they see in his choice of a wife makes them want him to lead them. His wife, in this way, is his crown (Proverbs 12:4).
We see this attitude in Ruth - who delighted in seeing her husband Boaz honored in the gates of the land. She was indeed an excellent wife, even though she was a Gentile. Those who saw and experienced her wisdom and servant heart praised her to Boaz - and spoke to her mother-in-law of how she was better to her than seven sons. To bring honor to those around us by the way we carry ourselves is a high task. Too many live only for the honor brought to themselves - and are content with the compliments being spent there. The true servant and generous person is the one who gives of herself with no thought of herself. She is content to receive praise by seeing those she loved praised. Truly that is a generous person.
The excellent wife is generous even in business with others. Her skill is such that she is not just able to make garments for her own family - but she makes them for others. The quality of her work creates a demand for what she makes. She sells garments she makes to others who desire them for their beauty and quality. Even the tradesmen want her products. This is quite a compliment because a tradesman is one who offers quality merchandise. They learn their trade and perfect it over years. What we have here is a woman of excellence - who makes garments excellently so that those who know excellent merchandise want it when they see it. She is generous even to them for what she makes . . . sells and sells well.
The excellent wife is a generous woman. That generosity moves out in circles blessing first those she loves and calls family. Eventually though, she is so skilled in what she does that the demand for her work is great. Being selfish most often hurts the one who is this way. But being generous will bless the one who is in ways that only someone who is truly giving can understand.
Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. Proverbs 27:23-24
This verse in Proverbs kicks off a section that deals with diligence, as well as the fact of change in life. The wisdom offered here is to pay attention to things in your life because the one thing that will never change is that there is going to be change in your life. Time will march on whether you are paying attention to the parade or not. The danger posed to us by this is that life will change, either financially, politically, or spiritually and we will be caught off-guard by it.
One of the most effective ministries anywhere in the world is the ministry of neglect. This is an unintended ministry where we get busy in our lives - and neglect to watch over our finances, our marriage, our children, our business - even our own spiritual growth. Over time the ministry of neglect grows. Most people do not grasp what this ministry is doing until they are jolted as to its presence by a "suddenly-serious" problem. These are things that have been building up (or breaking down in many circumstances) and then make their appearance suddenly to us.
One of the best ways to describe this is to make reference to my very patient, very gracious wife. As a guy, I have a tendency to get over-focused in my life. As a result, I have had a pretty amazing track record of having the ministry of neglect in a number of areas of my life. What usually happens is that my precious bride wakes me out of my responbility slumber and alerts me to a way in which my life is in the process of falling apart. Whether it is in regard to my relationship with her - the rearing of our children - our finances - or any number of other things, I am usually shocked to see that there are problems. This rude awakening is a reminder that I truly do need to pay attention to things - many things - far better. The rude awakening is followed by - regret - conviction - repentance - and a flurry of action to put things right. Oh, and occasionally by being mad. The anger is experienced two ways - first I'm mad that someone is interrupting my stupidity (because at the time I don't see how stupid I'm being). Second, I am mad at myself for being so stupid - and letting things fall into disrepair through my ministry of neglect.
For the next couple of days, I want to look deeper into what is means to avoid having the ministry of neglect in your life. Before we are done, we'll look at several areas where this is important. We will examine the ministry of neglect and its affect on our personal lives, on our family, on our jobs or businesses, on our churches, and finally even on our nation and those who rule over us in the political structures under which we live. The ministry of neglect can be a very dangerous thing - if we continue in it. It is my hope that over the next several days we can strengthen the ministry of diligence - or said in a more eye-opening way - the ministry of true love.
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, And he who cares for his master will be honored.
Today's proverb will instruct us on how to be blessed by your master or your employer. For those who lived as slaves in the day in which this proverb was written, it applied to those who cared for their masters. In our day, when slavery is not practiced as it was in Biblical days, it refers to our relationship with our employers - of for that matter - anyone under whose authority we find oursevles.
The picture used here is that of someone who is tending a fig tree. The one who does this task will get to eat from the fruit of the fig tree. There may be an encouragment here to serve over a long period of time, due to the fact that a fig tree is a tree that lives a long time. It is also one that matures rather slowly. A great reminder for us who have been conditioned to think a certain way in our "fast-food" society. We think if we serve a week, or month, or even a year or two, we should be rewarded richly. The use of the fig tree should point us to faithful service over the long haul - not just a few weeks, months, or years. When we serve faithfully over a long period of time - our master or employer will consider us worthy to be honored. This is especially the case with wise employers.
The word used for "cares" in the second part of this verse is the Hebrew word "samar." This is a word that means to watch over, keep, preserve, or guard. The idea is not of grudging service. It points to a careful watchfulness. IT refers to those who pay closer attention to what their master needs. It also reminds us that this kind of "care" is not done with a bitter, resentful heart. It is done with a loving watchcare.
There is another reason to live this way towards those in authority over us. When we do this, we are leaving the sweet savory aroma of Christ with them. They watch how we love and serve them - and wonder at what it is that motivates us to live as we do. There will most likely be some kind of reward or blessing for that hard work - but there will be something far more valuable than silver, gold, or awards. There will be the questions that we can answer as they ask, "Why do you work harder than anyone else? Why is it that you work this way without complaining? Why do you live this way - with such a different work ethic as well as a desire to honor me as your employer?" These are the questions that they should be asking as we work as unto God in their business. When they do ask, our reply will be first to give glory to God for our work ethic - and then to turn to the gospel whereby our hearts were transformed to be different than the rest of the world. You see, our work ethic - our willingness to work as unto God - our desire to care for our master/employer with love and hard work - are all for the purpose of glorifying God and the gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. So . . . let me ask you in closing - through your work ethic have you glorified God today? Has how you worked made a way for the gospel that has changed your heart? You see, we do not work to bless our master for the reward of his favor alone. We work for our Lord and Master first and foremost for the glory of His grace and mercy. The fact that our earthly master notices and rewards us are just perks that come as we live to make much of our Heavenly Master.
A wicked messenger falls into adversity, But a faithful envoy brings
healing. Proverbs 13:17
Recently we've watched as the "Wiki-leaks" betrayals have become public. These were betrayals because they were the release of secret government documents that should not have been released to the public. Their exposure - as the exposure of any message that a messenger should have kept to himself, or delivered faithfully only to those to whom he was sent - is a betrayal of the highest order. Let us take a closer look, though, at why such things happen in every generation.
We learn that it is a "wicked" messenger who falls into adversity. This is a messenger with a propensity for his wickedness. It is that wickedness that makes him fall into adversity - first with those who wish to use him for their own purposes. They know of sordid details of his life. Many who have been wicked messengers were involved in adulterous affairs with double agents - or had financial problems - or drinking problems. Whatever the case - their wickedness was a flaw that their enemies used to get information from them. They finish using them when they are eventually caught by their own government. Then their lives are filled with even more misery as they are jailed or even executed for their crimes against their nation.
Whereas this is true of nations, it is even more true of those who preach a false gospel. They are wicked messengers because they preach peace to people, when there is no peace. They preach a gospel of man's works, when man cannot be made righteous by his own works. They preach a gospel of self-effort when no amount of man's effort will ever make him right with God. It is either by God's grace - or man will face the wrath of God for his sin. This kind of wicked messenger falls into adversity because if nothing else - he will fall into the hands of an angry God in the judgment.
A faithful envoy brings healing instead. He is faithful with the message with which his superiors sent him. This is a blessing to those above him. In the case of the gospel he is a faithful messenger of the gospel. This indeed brings about eternal healing - as the breach between man and God is closed by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This faithful envoy brings exactly what man needs. He speaks the truth about man's condition before God - sinful and rebellious. He speaks truth about God's nature - that He is holy and just - as well as merciful and loving. He speaks the truth about Jesus Christ - that He is the God-man who came to earth to pay for our sins. He speaks the truth about salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. He faithfully calls men to repentance and to put their faith in Jesus Christ rather than their works or in man-made religion. This man truly brings the healing of man's soul from his eternal malady of sin. The wise man is the one who embraces this role of speaking the truth - and who faithfully offers the healing of God to a world that desperately needs it.
He who speaks truth tells what is right, But a false witness, deceit. Proverbs 12:17
Today's proverb has a picture to paint for us about being a person who speaks truth and what is right, or a person who is deceitful and untrustworthy in what they say. The picture that is painted for us is framed by the Hebrew word used for "speaking" that is mentioned first in this verse. The word used here is the Hebrew word "puah" which means to breathe. It refers to how we breathe out. This is a word used in a poetic way in the Old Testament. In the Song of Solomon it speaks of the day breathing. This refers to how the shadows of morning flee at the appearance of the sun. Here in Proverbs 12:17
it refers to the way that we speak - but not just in a specific situation. It refers to our lifestyle - or - what kind of things come out of our mouths in every situation in life. Of course what we see in the rest of the proverb is that we either speak truth or deceit.
There are those who speak truth and what is right. "Truth" is the word "emunah" which refers to something true and faithful. The primary thing being communicated with this word is faithfulness. Through the rest of the Bible the word speaks of character - God's in Deuteronomy 32:4
, Psalm 33:4
, and 119:90 - and that of people in 2 Chronicles 19:9
, Proverbs 12:22
, and 28:20. When someone is speaking truth - they are being faithful in what they say. The whole proverb says that they are speaking faithfully - and what they speak is finally defined as "what is right." What does all this mean in the end? The faithful man or woman declares what is right. The word for right is "tsedeq" which is the word that speaks of righteousness - or right by God's standard. It is an ethical word that referred to God's justice and righteousness as represented by the Law of Moses - and by the reaffirmation of God's Word by the prophets. Here, though, is how this works out for you and me in the 21st century.
Situational ethics unfortunately rules the day in our world. Everything is negotiable. There is no absolute truth - except what you yourself are comfortable in holding - and even that only applies to yourself (except when you are uncomfortable with your own standards - and then you can change those too). What is left is a society founded upon shifting sands. But as the people of God - the people saved by His grace - we will stand out like brightly painted, fully lit up sore thumbs! We are those who regardless of public opinion - hold faithfully to God's Word as our source of truth and what is right. We not only believe this in our thinking - we also faithfully speak it out of our mouths. In the midst of a world where the winds of change and compromise drive the public conscience wherever they blow - we are a biblical breath of fresh air when we speak. To some we will be a breath of death - but to those who are being saved - it will be a breath of life to life.
At this point I am going to say some things that will most likely offend people - yet they need to be said. Too often a statement is made like the one above - and yet people will interpret it according to their "situational ethic" mindset. Thus what is right once again is mired in personal opinion. A faithful truth-teller will speak up when it comes to biblical ethics and righteousness. That means that they will speak up about biblical sexuality. Biblical sexuality is abstinence before heterosexual marriage - followed by faithfulness to one spouse in that heterosexual marriage until death parts them. Thus a faithful truth-teller will oppose heterosexual immorality and homosexuality, as well as their off-shoots living together outside of marriage and homosexual marriage. A faithful truth-teller will state that abortion is wrong - in all cases. A faithful truth-teller will openly stand for racial harmony - and will view racism as evil and sinful. A faithful truth-teller will state that we are to oppose greed and selfishness by giving to the poor - but will also say that providing for able bodied people who can work is wrong. Everywhere God's Word makes an statement of ethical morals - the faithful truth-teller will stand - and will speak it. And . . . just in case a person decides to speak the truth - but not speak it in love - the faithful truth-teller will remind them that the spirit in which you say something (i.e. not like a jerk - and with grace and mercy - yet saying what is true even if the truth itself is offensive) is as important as the truth itself.
There is a second kind of wind that blows from the words that people speak. It is the false witness who speaks deceit. The false witness is the one who speaks lies and vanity. The word is used of those who were false witnesses in a trial - who lied on the stand. It refers to a person who says vain things and lives their life in vain. There is little or no other purpose to their existance than to live for themselves and love themselves. Their deciet is an intentional misleading of others by either distorting or withholding the truth from them. Their deceit is evidenced by the fact that there IS absolute truth - but they will not state it or hold to it. As offensive as some will take this - the false witness is the one who does not speak according to the ethical and moral standards held by God's Law and the entirety of Scripture. There IS a right and wrong! God gives it to us by His divine authority - and has revealed it to us in the Scriptures. Not holding to this - or trying to twist it in any way - is being a false witness.
When it comes to your words - what kind of breath flows from you throughout your day? Are you one who breathes forth deceit. Please understand that in our culture this person is the norm. They breathe forth the lies of our immoral and biblically unethical society. We hear them every day on the news - in our entertainment - everywhere. You and I are to be a breath of fresh air. They may not see it as fresh because they have been breathing in the sulfuric lies of the pit for a lifetime. But to speak lovingly and biblically is to speak fresh, life-giving air to those all around you. Speak the truth. Speak faithfully. Speak life-giving, fresh air to all with whom you come into contact! Be a faithful truth-teller!
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters. Proverbs 25:13
How reliable and faithful are you when someone sends you with a message to deliver? Today's proverb encourages us to be faithful messengers. That means when our leaders or a friend - or even God sends us with a message, we need to deliver that message exactly as it was given to us. The problems that come from people misunderstanding one another are myriad. These misunderstandings can be the result of someone not grasping what has been said - but too many times it is because the original message has been changed in some way by the messenger. The end of these misunderstandings can be small - but there are other situations that can mean the difference between life and death itself.
Our proverb today involves a practice that was distinct to the region of the middle east. That practice was taking snow from the higher mountainous elevations and packing it very tightly to bring it to the lower, much hotter regions for the purpose of cooling water and other drinks. This was done, according to this proverb, during the time of harvest - which was a time which was very warm in that region of the world. Not only was the temperature hot, but this time of life involved very strenuous labor. That is why having someone bring snow to cool water was such a wonderful thing. It allowed someone to have a cold drink when they were very hot.
This wonderful cool drink is compared to someone who is a faithful messenger for his master. He faithfully communicates what his master wants to be said - and therefore refreshes his soul. The refreshing comes because the master knows that what he has said will not be misinterpreted or misunderstood because of a failure to speak the truth about what he has said. It is easy to understand why this is important in business because proper communication in that area can mean the difference between a job done well vesus a job that is completely messed up - and which costs the company anywhere from hundreds to thousands to even millions of dollars. Think about the recent recall of Toyotas that had defective brakes. That cost the company millions of dollars in repairs - and additonal millions of dollars in lawsuits. This happened because somewhere along the line someone did not pass the correct information along - and the brakes were defective because of it.
Now consider for a moment the damage that comes when the gospel is not faithfully communicated for our ultimate Master, God. Whether the error is because of a failure to understand the gospel, or because someone has added something they think is important to it, or because of a cult leader who twists the gospel for his own ends - all these scenarios are disastrous . . . eternally! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation - and if communicated so that anything other than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our hope - that power is short-circuited. How devastating it will be for those who have believed a false gospel that has only offered to them a false hope. Yet on the other hand how refreshing and delightful it is to God to know that the message of His salvation through Jesus Christ has been communicated faithfully. What a blessing it is to know that salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ has truly transformed another heart and life! It blesses the heart of God (not to mention the heart of the one who has been saved) to know that the gospel has been shared faithfully and truly.
Precious saints of God, we need to be faithful messengers with whatever has been communicated to us. We need to be those who take what has been entrusted to us - whether it is something small and seemingly insignificant or something as monumental as the gospel of God itself - and share it just as it has been given to us. By doing this we will be a wonderful drink of cool water on a hot day to those who have sent us.
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But
he who is careless of conduct will die. Proverbs 19:16
God's commandments are excellent keepers of our souls. God did not give us His commandments to make our lives miserable - or to keep us from ever having fun - as some would accuse. His commandments are boundaries that protect us from entering into areas where we would be harmed. He does not command us to honor and obey our parents because He desires for us to be miserable as children - not getting our own way and being dominated by an older generation forever. He does this so that children, who do not have good sense and whose sin nature would run rampant, would be protected from themselves. He does so because they must be guided and helped to know the right from the wrong in their lives. The Lord tells us to steer clear from adultery because God knows the damage and the destruction and misery caused by unfaithful partners in marriage. He knows that sexual immorality will lead to disease and to the destruction of our bodies. Thus the one who keeps the commandment indeed keeps his own soul.
God's commandments go even deeper than our physical beings. The one who keeps the commandment keeps his soul. The word for soul here is the Hebrew word "nephesh" which means our breath. This speaks of our inner being with its thoughts and emotions. This came to mean our whole person - both body and spirit. It spoke of the whole creature of man - both his outer health and his inner. When we keep the commandment - watching closely to obey and even kep the "spirit of the commandments," we are protected inside as well as out. Our mental health will be blessed by holding fast to God's commands and living by His ways. God blesses our thinking, our reasoning, our understanding, our discernment, our decision-making processes . . . He blesses so much when we learn to walk in obedience to His commands. But again I want to stress we obey the command - and we come to grasp the heart and love that is behind them.
The second part of the Proverb today reminds us that the one who is "careless of his conduct" will die. The word careless is "bazah" which means to hold in contempt or to despise. The reason one acts this way is because they have a basic disdain for something. They disrespect the idea of a code of conduct. They despise the idea that God would tell them how to live. Here is the sin nature exposed in all its ugliness. Mankind rebels against any master - and that is especially true of God as our Lord. Fallen man trumpets his own freedom of will to do as he pleases - yet is so blind not to see that his will is in bondage to his own sinful desires and the spirit of this world. He is careless of God's commands - and of his own ways. He walks where he wants - being led about by his own lusts and by the "ruler of this world" who has rebelled against God as well. He does not grasp that this rebellion - this contempt of God - this disrespect for His Word is a hellish thing.
The one who lays hold of such a lifestyle will perish. He will die in two ways. First he will die physically - the wages of sin is death. When God told Adam and Eve that in the day that they ate of the fruit they would surely die - He was not lying to them. This was no mere ploy of God to keep them away from something good. It was a loving warning that death lay in that decision to turn against Him and rebel. But there is a death that comes spiritually as well. The first pair knew sweet fellowship with God. They could actually walk with the Lord in the cool of the day in the garden. They could talk with Him, love Him, fellowship with Him in ways that we will only know in eternity. All that was gone after they despised their conduct - or at least the one commandment given to them. They died spiritually and passed down to all future generations a dead spirit at birth. They were dead in their transgressions and sins - and so was every child descended from them. In the first Adam we all died.
Oh such a warning is given to us by this proverb. How we should watch our ways - and watch God's commandments as our way. The one who does so watches not just over his physical existance in this world. He watches over the life that God gives him - both physically, but so much more importantly - spiritually. Watch dear saints - watch your life and keep it according to God's Word. See the positive call to life in every one of God's commandments. For though they are given with a thou shalt not - there is within every one of them a call to life and life abundantly. They is within them a freedom to walk in fellowship with God. Enjoy it and walk in it!
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
One of the greatest blessings that you can have in life is to have both family and friends that are there for you. This proverb reminds us of those things. A good friend is a friend who loves you at all times. The reason this may be said is because we all are aware of the dreaded "fair weather" friend. This is the friend who is your friend when all is going well. These kind of friends are a dime a dozen - and even cheaper if you have something they want at the time. But how they scatter when things go wrong - or you need them for something in a difficult time of your life. The true friend loves "at all times." Just a note for us though on this matter of good friends. As my mother always told me, "If you want to have a good friend, be a good friend." Before we get too out-rospective bout our friends - we might want to be a little introspective on what kind of friend we've been lately.
The second half of this proverb reminds us though that a brother is born for adversity. Family is often there when everyone else leaves. When a troublesome situation arises - one in which all your friends can't be there - your family can - or at least should be. As a pastor I've watched this again and again. An illness or injury comes and families rise to their best in taking care of the one who has had the difficulties. A wife or child sits by a bedside through thick and thin - loving and caring for someone who is in the process of dying. To have such a family is a blessing beyond imagination. One of the things that I fear with a society that is gradually tossing the elderly, is that we will consider our older parents something disposable - something that just costs to much to care for - so "death with respect" is pandered as the answer. So much character and family healing has happened in these times that we will find ourselves infinitely poorer if we think that it is better to assist in our parents deaths - rather than lovingly care for them.
If you have family and friends who love and stand with you at all times - you are truly blessed. If you were not blessed with such friends and family - be such a friend and family member. You may not get all the benefits - but you may start a different trend among those you love. A trend that could bless among them for generations!
He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. Proverbs 11:13
Did you hear what so and so did? Thus begins the phrase of the talebearer. The sin of gossip is alive and well in our world - at least that's what I heard from a friend of mine who has it on good authority that people are gossipping about others. But for anyone who has ever been hurt by those who spread falsehoods about them, gossip is a very harmful thing.
The "tabebearer" is the one who gossips. The word means to spread falsehoods about someone. This particular word has the distinction of never being used in a positive way. Gossip was expressly forbidden in the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19:16
, and the book of Proverbs is not terribly high on it either. When the Jeremiah and Ezekiel were declaring the prophesies that gave them - the Lord said some strong words against it as well.
The main condemnation here though is how a gossip "reveals secrets." Confidentiality is at the root of this issue. Information about others - especially that which is shared in confidence - is to remain a secret to all but the two who have shared it together. That confidence is shattered when someone takes the information and makes it public. The gossip goes even further and adds to the damaging information to make it worse.
A pastor who was the brunt of a woman's gossip in a city had his reputation severely damaged by what this woman said. She later came to him and apologized for saying the things she said. The story is told that he asked her to come with him to the bell tower in the church. As they stood overlooking the town, he took a feather pillow and tore it open. He then let the wind take the feathers and spread them into the sky where they immediately went a hundred different directions. The woman, puzzled by his actions, asked why he did this. He said to her, "I can forgive you for what you've said - but the damage falsely done to my reputation is as far spread as the feathers we just released. To undo that damage you would have to do out and track down every feather." This illustration hopefully will help us see the ultimate damage done by gossip. Everyone who heard our juicy tidbit may tell another - and that one another - until the ability to track down everyone who has passed the gossip on becomes utterly impossible.
The second half of this proverb reminds us that the faithful one is the one who is trustworthy. This one conceals the matter. The idea conveyed by the word "trustworthy" is one who supports, nurtures, and establishes another person. It is used as the term for the comfort and support a baby receives from the arms of its parent. Whether we initially realize it or not, when someone shares painful intimate details of their lives with us - we can either cradle them in our arms, providing love and support, or we can crush them and cause great pain. People share these painful things because they need the nurture and encouragment of someone who will love and conceal these things. They don't conceal them to be an accessory to their sin. They conceal them from others only because they are taking the confidence shared with them seriously. This information was shared so that we might help bring God's healing to their hearts. The information was shared so that we might counsel and encourage them - seeing the pain soothed rather than exacerbated.
If you want to know why God would allow you to know anything harmful about your brothers or sisters in Christ, it is so that you might be a part of God's healing in their lives. The primary thing God wants you to do with this information is to PRAY! You were given these embarassing details so that you might intercede for the person - and be an instument of grace and mercy in their lives. God wants to use you to aid this person in recovery. Don't take such information lightly. You are being given a precious trust. You've just been handed the very heart of that person. Handle with prayer and with loving biblical care. Conceal the matter to all except God, Who knows already - and who has just brought you into the situation to be His instrument of love, concern, and godly counsel. This is the choice of the wise man or woman - and it is one that shows you are worthy of God's trust. Carry that heart as you would a newborn baby. To God it is just as precious and worthy of loving care.
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man? Proverbs 20:6
I love it when one of the proverbs has a perfect biblical example in the New Testament. This is the case with today's proverb. It speaks of those who declare their own loyalty - but then asks the question of whether anyone can even find a trustworthy and faithful man.
The situation we learn of in the New Testament is the history of Peter - who declared that though all the other disciples would abandon Jesus - he would not! Peter made this statement during the Last Supper - and it was followed by strong declarations made aby all the rest of the disciples. But what we saw at the crucifixion was a very different situation. Peter followed Jesus at a distance and eventually denied he even knew Jesus. The others did not even make it that far - abandoning Christ in the garden when the mob came to arrest Him. So much for the prideful declarations of those who proclaim their own loyalty.
There is something fundamentally wrong with a man who trumpets his own loyalty. Filled with pride - he makes boasts of how loyal and trustworthy and faithful he is. Such declarations really should be made by those whom he serves. They are the ones who have evidence of his loyalty - and they should be the ones who speak of that loyalty. Yet this passage states that this guy is blowing his own horn. Be careful then with those who boast of how faithful and true they are. And . . . if you are one who has done this in the past, take the advice of another proverb and, "Let another praise you, and not your own lips."
The question that is asked in the second part of this proverb is also interesting. "Who can find a trustworthy man?" Let us take a look at that for a few moments. There are trustworthy men found in the history of the Bible. Solomon knew of one because of his own mother. She was married to a man named Uriah. Now he was a trustworthy man. He was faithful to God and to David. When David brought him home under the guise of asking about the battle - he would not go to his home and sleep with his wife. That was what David desired so that he could cover his own adultery with Bathsheba. But Uriah was a trustworthy man. He said he would sleep in the open like his fellow soldiers - and not go to his home and to his wife. His faithfulness eventually cost him his life. David, who was not being a trustworthy man, had Uriah killed by taking him too close to the wall - where the archers would be able to kill him.
The history of the world is more a history of men being unfaithful. When Solomon asks if anyone can find a trustworthy man - he is asking a very poignent question. There are actually no trustworthy men on the face of the earth - except one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All have turned aside and become worthless. There is a sin nature that is in every man and woman alive that will assure us that they are not an absolute trustworthy person.
There has only been one trustworthy man - the man Christ Jesus. God testified to that at His baptism where He declared, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased." Near the end of his time on earth - God allowed James, John, and Peter to see Jesus' inner nature at the Mount of Transfiguration - where the absolute purity and trustworthiness of Jesus was allowed to shine forth. And His resurrection from the dead was absolute proof that He was the only trustworthy man ever.
Solomon's question is a good one. There is only One Who is trustworthy. That man is Jesus Christ - the God-man. He was trustworthy and faithful in all God's commandments. That is why He was able to go to the cross and die for all our sins and rebellion. It is also why God can now declare us righteous. It was because of the One Man Who was a trustworthy man. Although it was said in a different context - Pilate was right when he declared, "Behold the Man!" Even Pilate could not find any fault in Jesus. And the only sentence Christ was declared guilty of - was the fact that He said that He was the Christ. The Pharisees and Saducees on the council declared Him a blasphemer - but God declared Him the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead! Cling to that faithful and trustworthy Man.