Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
What a blessing it is to have godly accountability - especially between men. Today's proverb uses a very masculine picture to show how two men can be of great blessing to each other. That picture is of iron sharpening iron. You have a picture of two pieces of iron - most likely that of a pair of swords or other sharp instruments. As these two pieces of iron are rubbed against one another they have the affect of sharpening each other. The friction and the strengths of each wear away the edge on the other - and the result is a sharpened blade. As this process goes on there usually are sparks - but in the end both pieces of iron are benefited as they knock off the rough and unsharpened edges of each other.
We are then introduced in the second part of this proverb to the fact that in the same way that iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. This is all about a brother helping a brother in an accountability relationship. This is something that I truly believe is indicative of manly relationships. It is not that women should not be accountable to each other - they should. But . . . it is usually the men that resemble iron sharpening iron in these relationships.
Men want manly relationships. This is why you do not see guys lined up with other guys going to see a romantic comedy - but you do see them getting ready to see a war movie or a sports movie. Guys don't mind encouraging each other towards spiritual maturity - but they want to do it iron to iron! They want someone to challenge them to be a man of God. They do not want to polish each other - they want iron to iron, spark-throwing, metal-grinding imput into their lives. Too often we want to take the manliness out of such relationships - and we err in doing so.
Over the years I've had a number of accountability relationships with other men. We meet beforehand to talk about what we want to address in these times. The ones that have been the most helpful are the ones where we don't mind being pretty blunt with each other. We are willing to look the other guy in the eye and tell him he is blowing it - and that he needs to suck it up and be a man in regard to some things. These are the kinds of relationships where we call each other higher - and we are not afraid to confront each other about sin in our lives. At times there is even a fox-hole mentality that we are fighting together for the things of the Lord - and we will stand shoulder to shoulder against the enemy. We will go out and chase down a brother who is going out into sin. We'll hunt our brothers down and ask them honest questions. "What are you doing!?" or "Where are you going, man!?" are often the kind of things we ask. We speak brutal truth - letting our brother know where his actions are taking him - and that we do not want to see him messed up as a result.
These are relationships that have sparks fly - not in some kind of physical confrontation where someone gets beat up in the process. But there are sparks flying as we go to battle for each other. Sparks fly as we say what might seem as offensive things - but to a brother who needs to hear them - they are like music to our ears. Consider Nathan the prophet who shares a story of gross injustice. He shares with David, who is a former shepherd, about a man who takes a man's lamb and kills it for supper - rather than take one of his own flock to feed a visitor. David, in manly fashion, rises incensed by the injustice! He flashes with anger and rage calling for this man to be punished for his actions. Nathan has just stoked the manly vigor of David - and watched his eyes filled with fire! Then comes the sparks as iron touches iron. "David, YOU are the man!" David is the one who took another man's wife and committed adultery. Pretty strong stuff - a truly manly confrontation! Yet it is one that saved David's life - and led him back through repentance and confession of sin to God.
Such relationships are rare - but they are wonderful. Men who have them are truly blessed by the fact that a brother will confront them in sin. They will be protected - and sharpened by such relationships. They will also be protected from their own tendencies toward sinfulness. If you have an iron sharpening iron relationship - be grateful to God for it. If you do not have one - cry out to God for one. Then go and look for brothers who will stand with you - and who even have the strength to confront your sin to your face. Sparks may fly - but in the end you will both wind up much sharper instruments in the hands of God!
Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, And do not deceive with your lips. Do not say, "Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." Proverbs 24:28-29
How important is it for a soceity to value telling the truth? One might argue that without this the ability of that soceity to function with any sort of justice is completely comprommised. There has to be a basic level of trustworthiness and honesty for a soceity to function. That is why our proverb for today is so important. It urges us to tell the truth - and not to be a witness against our neighbor without cause. Don't lie about your neighbor is what we are being told. This is especially the case when any kind of bitterness of thought of revenge comes into our minds.
There is a basic level of honesty that must be prevelent for a soceity to function. Think for a moment about the number of transactions that take place every day that are based on the premise that we are being told the truth. Now consider the number of ponzie schemes that have been exposed recently in our financial system. This undermines everyone's confidence in the system itself. It is only when honesty and truth prevail that one can feel even remotely safe in a society. When that breaks down, the soceity itself breaks down. Unless there is the rule of law - and the most basic levels of truth in what we do - our society will wind up looking like a banana republic where almost everything you do will have to be accompanied by a bribe to be done. There will be no justice - and security will have to be maintained by how well you are armed.
All this starts with the breakdown of honesty and truth between neighbors. This is why God tells us NEVER to be a false witness against our neighbor. We are not to give deceitful testimony - but rather to speak the truth. The breakdown of decency is not the fault of Washington. Decency broke down because we abandoned it toward our neighbors. What we have in Washington is what happens when a society in general leaves honesty and accepts growing levels of dishonesty in itself and in its leaders. We would not have the pack of dishonest, money-hungry, power-hungry fools leading us in our capitol accept for the fact that we ourselves did not DEMAND that our leaders be better than that. When faced with dishonesty in office, we should have DEMANDED RESIGNATIONS - and if that did not happen - they should have been told plainly that this is the last term they would ever serve as our representatives in government. Instead we traded truth for government hand-outs in the form of projects, grants, and every other way one can say government bribery without using the word bribe. Without honesty, truth, and integrity - we are doomed as a nation.
Our proverb warns us in verse 29 that the worst way that dishonesty raises its ugly head is as a means of revenge. We are presented with a situation in which someone has been a false witness. We are warned not to decide that we will do to them what they have done to us. When we choose to fight fire with fire - everything and everyone gets burned. Scripture teaches us to turn the other cheek. We are informed to allow the proper government authorities to deal with these matters. We are also told that we are to treat others as we would have wanted to be treated ourselves. Know this . . . God is keeping track of all wrongs and His justice will prevail in the end. In the meantime - use every opportunity to show forth grace and mercy - so that you will also have opportunity to share the gospel - even with your enemies. Avoid revenge. It may give you a brief moment of pleasure at their pain - but in the end it will rot your soul. Give your offendedness to God for Him to heal - then embrace the very Spirit of Christ - Who will enable you to be gracioius to those who mistreat you, and will strengthen you to pray for those who abuse you. Then all will see that you are a son of your Father in heaven. Speak truth - be an honest witness - and leave judgment to God.
Men of bloodshed hate the blameless, But the upright are concerned for his life. Proverbs 29:10
In a sinful and fallen world there is something that provokes the wicked when they see a man of true integrity. Today's proverb tells us about "men of bloodshed," and how they hate men of integrity.
Men of bloodshed are those who have shed the blood of humans - they are either very violent men - or most often men who have murdered. When we think of murderers though, we need to see them in two ways. There are those who have crossed the line of literally taking someone's life by murdering them. But there is a second type of which the Scriptures speak that encompasses far more people than one would think. In Matthew 5
Jesus said these words, "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go
into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22
This statement of Jesus shows us that pretty much everyone in the world is guilty of murder. If we've been angry with a brother or sister - called someone a derogatory name - we are guilty of murder before God. We are guilty enough to go into the fiery hell itself. This is where murder begins, in the mind. It is what God told Cain before he murdered Abel. God said to him, "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7
) Cain's murder of his brother Abel began as a thought - an angry, evil thought - which soon hatched into a heinous, murderous action. Sin always begins in the mind - and if we do not master it there - it will yield its wicked fruit in our actions.
Murderous men hate men of character and godliness. The word hate here is the Hebrew word "sane" which means to hate, to consider another an enemy - to dislike, be hostile to, or to loathe another. It is the direct antonym of the Hebrew word "anab" which means to love. John wrote of this very incident between Cain and Abel. He said, "For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who
was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous." (1 John 3:11-12)
This passage in 1 John tells us exactly what our proverb today is trying to tell us. The murderer hates the godly man. It should be noted that the word "blameless" does not mean without sin. It speaks of a person of integrity who desires to live a godly, moral life according to God's Word and God's precepts. This world does not love such a man - and the more ungodly they are - the more they hate him. We see this growing every day in our society. Just look at how Christians are portrayed in our world today - especially in the media. The hatred of the media elite and the ungodly in positions of power there drips off our television and movie screens. It is difficult, unless you are watching a movie produced by a Christian, to find positive Christian characters. This is because when a man's deeds are evil - he hates the people who pursue righteousness.
Just an aside . . . we see this proverb lived out daily in the moral and cultural battle that is raging in our own nation today. This is especially true when we see the actions and words of the radical homosexual movement. The more the homosexual movement gains ascendency in our laws and in the movie and television industry - the more you will see this hatred grow. The radical homosexual movement absolutely despises biblical Christianity because the Bible is clear that homosexuality is sin. That will pit them against us - if we choose to remain true to the Word of God and preach the true gospel. But, our place is not to hate the homosexual - or for that matter anyone who hates us because we hold to biblical truth and morality. Our place is to love them even if they hate us and do violence to us in their cause to legitimatize what God calls sin. Remember what this world system did to our Lord - the ultimate blameless man of absolute integrity. He Himself told us if they hated Him, they would hate us as well. But we are NEVER to turn to violence to defend ourselves from such attacks. We must remain true to the gospel and win them by the love of God - and by the grace of His eternal gospel.
The remainder of our proverb today states that the upright are concerned for the lives of the moral and those who walk in integrity. The literal translation of this would say, "But the upright seek his soul." We stand with the godly man of integrity - because we see that life is more than just the 70 or so years we spend on this planet. There is an eternal soul in each man - and that is what we should be most concerned with in life. There will come a day when the wicked will be loosed in a way that we have not seen before in our nation. Regardless of our most recent elections, there is not a moral, godly ascendency going on in our nation. If there was, such moral issues such as abortion, homosexual and heterosexual immorality, decency, and the moral debauchery of our nation would be put on the front burner as the real problems we face as a nation. As it is - we continue to worship the dollar - and when it finally crashes to the ground, which it will, we will face a country that will rip itself apart because we lack basic morality. In that day it will be difficult to stand with the "blameless man" in our nation. In some ways it already is. Franklin Graham has taken several biblical stands for righteousness and he is more and more being ripped apart in the public square. We should stand with him and with other men who stand for biblical righteousness. Even if it becomes increasingly difficult to do so - we need to be concerned with the souls and lives of such men. For according to this proverb . . . that is wisdom.
He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out. Proverbs 10:9Those who walk in integrity in their ways do not have to look over their sholders as they live their lives. That is becasue a walk of integrity doesn't have anything to hide. That is the lesson that we can learn from today's proverb.The one who walks in integrity is very secure. The word integrity means to walk in a completeness. It has the idea of a clear conscience - or doing what you do with no hidden motives. Abimelech stated that it was with a clear conscience that he took Sarah as a wife. The problem in that relationship arose because of Abraham's lie that she was his sister. Abraham would have argued that this was a half truth - but since it landed his wife in a foreign king's harem - it was nothing more than a cowardly lie. But Abimelech was an honest man in this situation - and God warned him so he would not sin. That is the protection offered to us by walking in integrity. It guards us and protects us from willful rebellion against God. We are told that integrity is not only a way to walk secure - but the psalmist says in Psalm 25:21 that it is a way to be protected as well. Truth is always an ally to whoever walks in it. That is the peace that integrity provides.The man who walks in perversity has no such promise. This man perverts his ways. Note the emphasis here on personal responsibility. He perverts his own ways - it is due to his own choice to do so. There is no way to blame everyone else for his own choices to pervert his ways. The word pervert means to twist or to make uneven. It refers to a moral and ethical choice to pervert and twist what is right - and once again what is right is what is laid out in Scripture. The sentence for such actions is that they will not remain secret. He will be found out. We can try to hide our sin - but the problem with this is that we will be found out in the end. For many they are found out before they die - which honestly is the more merciful choice. That is because when this is the case the man has a chance to repent and turn from his sin - finding mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Some use a passage like this to make it seem that God wants to humiliate them. The fact is that God knows our sin the moment we commit it - and honestly - even before with his knowledge of all things past, present, and future. But God would prefer that we be found out by the convicting work of His Holy Spirit. When we respond to that conviction, we can come to Him and find grace and forgiveness. We choose to reveal our sin ourselves. It is only the man who consistently tries to hide his sin that faces being found out in the more embarassing ways. The Psalmist tells us that the man who hides his transgressions will not prosper - but the one who confesses and forsakes them will receive compassion. So, if you read this proverb and were convicted - but the devil and your own flesh is seeking to convince you to continue to hide your sin - don't! Turn to the Lord and confess and forsake it! That is the wise thing to do. Expose it yourself to the Lord - and if it is a persistant, besetting sin, turn to a brother or sister who can help hold you accountable as you deal with it over time. You don't have to face complete humiliation before men. Admit your sins to the Lord - and follow James' advice to confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed! That is the way to turn from walking in perversity to a life of integrity once again.
A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern. Proverbs 16:11
When it comes to how we live - and how we do business - God is concerned with how we proceed in integrity. Thus we find today's proverb. It deals with the call for a just balance and scales. Since this was an agricultural society, most if not everything was sold by weight. Thus the scales that a person used was the most important part of the transaction, since a false weight and scales would be a deceptive business owner who was trying to cheat his customers.
God desires a just balance and scales. The Lord wants us to be honest in business - to be fair and equitable. The "weights" mentioned later were actually rocks that were a standard of measure. These rocks needed to be a certain weight. The way that they maintained measurements was by having the temple regulating them. This is why the statement is made about all the weights of the bag being God's concern. There was the shekel of the sanctuary - as well as the various weights that were used there. These weights were considered the official weights of the society. If someone thought that a weight was being skewed in its true weight - the official sanctuary weights would be the place where they would be checked. If there was cheating going on, they would be punished for their unjust and ungodly standards.
What we are told here though goes beyond that. We are told that all the weights of the bag are not just kept at the temple - they are kept in the thoughts of God Almighty. They are his concern. That takes the whole idea of integrity in the workplace to another level. The Lord is keeping track of our weights and measurements. He knows the work ethic that we seek to maintain - and He knows every time that we use an unjust weight or measure. Surely in our society as well as in theirs, there were men who sought to bend the rules to their adantage. And, like in our society, we cannot catch everyone who seeks to be unjust in their business dealings. But we do have a God who can see eery transaction - every time we weigh out our time, our efforts, and our produce. He sees and knows what we are doing - and He also realizes that in the end - the place of judgment will be His throne. Oh that we might learn this - and walk through this world with the appropriate fear of God - and respect for His commandments. Yes there will be those who think they can "get away" with it as they cheat others. But the reality is that those who do such things never get away with it. The Lord holds all the weights of the bag - and the judgment for not just religious works - but for how we operate in business as well - will be before Him.
A righteous man who walks in his integrity— How blessed are his sons after him. Proverbs 20:7
What is it that will bless our sons while we are live - and more importantly after we die? Some thing that leaving them a huge inheritance of money, stock, and real estate would be the best thing. Actually, Proverbs says that an inheritance quickly gained will be lost in the end. So what is it that will bless our sons now and far into the future?
Solomon tells us that the best thing we can do for our sons is to be a righteous man who walks in integrity. The first thing we see here is that this father is a "righteous man." This means that he does what is right in the sight of the Lord. He lives in a way that honors and glorifies God. It also means that this father has looked to Jesus Christ for salvation - since that is the only way we can truly be a righteous man - by grace through faith. But this father also is one who lives in integrity. The word integrity here is the Hebrew word, "tamam" which means to walk in a completeness and moral innocence. This man walks through life in complete obedience to God as well as complete submission to what God's Word instructs him to do. He also walks in a moral innocence that comes from desiring holiness and spiritual maturity in his life. The last way that this word is used is to speak of someone who walks in simplicity. When I read this I am reminded of Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians that he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He desired for them to walk, "in simplicity and devotion to Jesus." This would wonderfully describe the kind of integrity that the righteous father would want his children (especially his sons) to see in his life - an integrity of devotion to Jesus Christ - simple devotion to Him.
When a father walks in this way - how blessed are his sons after him. They may not have riches. They may not have huge estates and vacation homes. They may not have all the things that this world says a man shoul have to be successful. But what they do have is something very rare. Possibly more rare that diamonds and rubies. They will have a godly upbringing and a godly example from their father. This will bless them long after the toys and trinkets of this life are gone. They will be blessed in having the kind of rearing that will help them through the minefields of the world system. These minefields include the devil's traps in the areas of sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, and greed. It will help them navigate through the shoals and hidden reefs of youth and the dangerous coastal rocky shorelines of mid-life crisis. They will have watched a godly father navigate these dangers successfully - thus leaving them a legacy of godliness. They will have mapped out for their sons the course that will lead them safely to the harbors of heaven. They will know to close their ears to the siren songs of their flesh and the world - and to sail with their eyes fixed on the Word of God. They will run their race with their eyes fixed on Jesus - and on the example their fathers were of a life centered in Him.
You can spend your life working to leave your sons a fortune. You can make sure that they are set for life when you die - at least in financial realms. The problem with such an inheritance is that without a godly compass these things can actually be more of a danger than a help. A son needs the blessing of a godly man who walks in his integrity. We say often that the things of God are more often caught than taught. How true this is in regard to teaching our sons how to walk with God. I do not discount teaching because it is absolutely necessary. But without a corresponding walk in integrity before the eyes of our boys, they may not get all they need to succeed at life. And regardless of how they fare in the business world - in the end they will need life, life eternal more than anything else. May we be wise fathers who not only teach them the things of God - but also walk in out as they look to see if we are only offering them precepts - rather than living principles.
Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice. Proverbs 16:8
One of the things that personally grieves me as a pastor and as a believer is the focus of the health, wealth, and prosperity movement. Their focus is too often on how God wants us to be rich and wealthy - and too little on how God wants to make us holy and His above all things. This particular proverb let us know that a little with righteousness is something to be desired.
It is better to have just a little if we have God's righteousness. This statement is not glorifying being poor. It is saying that if the choice is between having a little and God's ways - or having a lot and injustice and ungodliness - the choice for little is far better. The "little" mentioned here is just that - a small amount. But the righteousness speaks of doing righteous acts and deeds. It refers to the possibility that doing the right thing might even cost us. But if it does - it is better to embrace God's ways and doing right than to have the wealth and prosperity that might come if we set God's ways aside.
To have great income, yet to have injustice, is a mistake of monumental proportions. There are too many who sell their souls to make a buck. There are even more who do this if a large amount of money is involved. But there is no amount of money on earth that merits selling your integrity and your godliness. Some would not even think of selling themselves if it is a little money - but would seriously consider it if the amount would make them rich. But think of this before you consider doing this. A prostitute is a prostitute whether she sells herself for a little or for a million dollars. The fact that she would sell her purity and be a prostitute is the key fact - all else is just a matter of setting the price. When we sell our integrity for any amount, we simply prove that we are not people of integrity and honor. After that fact has been established everything afterward is simply negotiating the price.
Hold fast to the Lord - and to your integrity as a believer. There is nothing worth selling out that one wonderful thing. Realize that there is no asking price for who you truly are. To do so would be to infinitely cheapen something that cannot be regained once you give it up for something. Therefore - even if you have to be poor as a result - keep your integrity and a righteous direction in life. There is a wealth that consists of integrity and honor that no amount of moeny on earth will ever restore or merit.
The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it. Proverbs 29:4 What makes a nation stable? According to this proverb, the thing that makes any nation stable is when that nation has a king who enforces justice. This is not exactly an easy thing to understand because in our day justice is not measured in biblical terms. We have a disturbing thing in our day called, "social justice." This term sounds wonderful, until one examines the fruit of those seeking social justice and realize that they are little more than communists and socialists who think that true justice means everyone gets an equal share of everything. The way this "equal share" is distributed and enforced is through government intrusion into people's lives. In other words, the government decides what is fair and what is justice - even in economic terms - and then takes from the rich and gives to the poor. At least this is the way this kind of justice is represented. In the end - whatever the government says is just - that is what is just. It doesn't matter if the one with the wealth earned it through hard work - and the one receiving it is unwilling to do that kind of labor. It doesn't matter if one squanders their wealth or mismanages things - and then takes from one who labors and sacrifices to manage things well so that they have the excess to afford better things. The all-knowing government decides who are the haves and who are the have nots. Then the government equalizes all things by their standard of judgment. True justice deals with just laws and justice meted out on the basis of truth and evidence. When one has proven to have acted unjustly, they are given the appropriate punishment for their actions. This works very well until the situation arises where a man within the system of justice is willing to receive a bribe. The money blinds them to justice. In a moment of time - the bribe overthrows the entire system of justice and righteousness - and soon "so-called justice" goes to the highest bidder. The king could change all this - if he is the kind of man who desires justice first. He can give a wonderful stability to his kingdom if he stands for righteousness in all that he does. He will not take a bribe, because he fears God and realizes that even his own position is a trust from God. Knowing these things - he dispenses justice and righteousness to those in his kingdom - and does so with no respect to persons. Oh, the stability this gives to his kingdom and to the subjects within it. If money cannot change a man's mind - if it cannot blind a man to the laws which are written - that is a blessed land indeed. The people - the commerce - the homes will enjoy great peace and prosperity because of the honesty and integrity with which the king administers all things within its borders. We would be wise to learn this lesson in our current situation. Too often legislation is made due to the influence of "special interest groups." This is a fancy name for those who offer bribes of various kinds to our legislators so that they will influence legislation, not for the common good - not for righteousness sake - but for the good of the one offering the bribe. It overthrows the entire system - because the system is no longer based upon truth - but it becomes based upon who can produce the biggest bribe. In the end, the real problem becomes the total lack of integrity in those who lead - which in turn awards leadership, not to those whose character and integrity will give light to the people - but rather to the one who is the biggest crook with the biggest wallet. God help us and God bless America with leaders who give us stability with true justice and righteousness. May He give us leaders who cannot be bought and paid for - but who seek to rule justly according to the wisdom of God.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. Proverbs 11:3Integrity is always a good choice - especially when it it biblical integrity. That is what we learn from today's proverb. It is the integrity of the upright that will guide them. The word integrity here in the Hebrew has a strong emphasis on moral integrity. As always, when we read of morals we need to remember the moral law of God as the path that is set before us. These godly morals will "guide" us. The word used here is "nahah" and it means to be led or guided in the right direction or the proper path.
Think about the moral law of God. If we were to follow the 10 commandments in our everyday lives - not just the outward sins involved - but even the inward thinking Jesus exposes in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) - how often would we be guided into the very decision that was right and best. Not all of these decisions would be easy. Some would be painfully difficult at first - but all of them would be right - and would take us in the right direction in life.
The treacherous have no such guarantee. These are the peopl who act as traitors, they are unfaithful and betray others. The key relationships where this word is used is in regard to God's covenant (which includes the moral law) and in regard to marriage. These are people who make promises - but do not keep them. They enter into contracts but look for the loophole. We are warned that it is the crookedness of these people that will destroy them. Crookedness refers to the perversions and deceitfulness that governs their actions. They are distorted and perverse in their character and thinking - and that is why they are treacherous in their dealings. What is so dangerous for us in this is that the treacherous seem to do well for themselves initially. They seem to prosper and have pleasure and fun at the start of their crooked choices. But wait and be patient. The best friend of truth is time. Eventually you will watch the house of cards the treacherous build come crashing to the ground. They are caught in their adultery. They are exposed in their perverse dealings. Their ponzi schemes implode. Their crooked financial dealings come to light. Then you see the wisdom of this proverb. Indeed the crookedness of these people destroy them - and all the while the upright, guided by their integrity and moral uprightness - are guided safely through.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:3-4How can a person maintain a good reputation as well as the favor of those around him or her? Even more important to us as believers is the thought of how we can have these things in the sight of God. The answer may be different than you think.Two things you must have to enjoy favor and a good reputation among men and with God are kindness and truth. These two things are a perfect team. Some people are geared toward kindness more than anything else. They are very merciful people who can commiserate with anyone around them. They are a perfect shoulder to cry on - and they will always join with you in feeling your pain. When going through difficulties they will listen and love you no matter what. It is a blessing to be geared toward kindness - but there a liabilities as well. When you are geared toward kindness at all times, you will find it very difficult to share tough truths with people who really need to hear them. One of the pitfalls of being filled with kindness alone is that you can become someone who enables people to stay where they are when they desperately need change in their lives. For someone with a deep problem this can lead to an enabling relationship that allows them to continue with lifestyle choices like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sexual problems. There are also those who are geared toward truth. They will speak the truth to you in all situations. In fact they have a difficult time with those who won't take a stand on an issue. These people are wonderful to have around when you need to have a confrontation in regard to sin - or s situation where only truth can remedy things. These people are people of integrity and honor. But, a problem can develop when only truth is spoken. The problem is not the truth verbalized, but the spirit in which is it spoken. Those given to truth sometimes lack the personal touch - the ability to speak the truth in love and with kindness. They can offend - not because of the truth they speak - but because of the way that they speak it. This is why Proverbs tells us that we need to have both kindness and truth. There is a balance here. Both are needed to truly be a person who knows the blessing of having a good reputation and favor of both God and man. When these things are combined you have someone who speaks the truth in love. You have the person, who according to Proverbs, can speak the truth gently, and who can with a gentle word break a bone. These two things need to be bound around our neck and written uon our hearts. What you have when you have this is the character of Jesus Himself working and speaking through you. He had the ability to speak the truth in incredibly difficult situations. He did not back away from truth - but spoke the truth with kindness. One of the most amazing examples of this was in John 8 when Jesus was tested by hypocritical men who brought a woman caught in adultery to Him. These men did not truly want justice - because they did not bring the man as well. They only wanted to have something with which to trap Jesus and give rise to criticism and the ability to destroy Him. The humiliated adultress was thrown right in front of Him, along with the question of whether He was going to agree with the Law that such a woman should be stoned for her offense. Jesus stated anyone without sin could cast the first stone. Here He spoke truth dealing with the hypocrisy of His accusers. Eventually they all left, knowing as they did their own sinfulness and hypocrisy. Jesus made His comments gently and graciously, the bent over to draw with a stick in the sand. Then after they all had left - He dealt with the woman. Offering her His love - and no condemnation for her sin - He spoke with great kindness to her. He asked where her accusers were - where those who sought to condemn here. She stated that none of them were left to condemn her. He then revealed that He was not going to condemn her either. But He did not stop with kindness only, there was the issue of her adultery. To this issue He spoke truth when He told her to go her way and sin no more. There it is perfectly demonstrated - kindness and truth bound together in one difficult situation. When we do this - we won't be popular with everyone. But will will have favor and a good reputation with men because they know we will be fair and gracious with them. We will also know God's favor because we show both His love and His justice. It is a difficult balance to maintain. This is especially true with those bent in one direction or another - toward far more kindness or far more truth. We can thank God that in His Son He showed us what the perfect balance of the two looks like when walking among men. So if you want to have these two things, kindness and truth bound perfectly together, there is only one real source where you can have them. They only exist in perfect balance in Jesus Christ. Embrace Him and you will find that they are yours as well.