Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, "Was I not joking?" Proverbs 26:18-19
I like to call this the, "Practical Jokes" proverb. That is because it describes what can happen when practical joking gets out of hand. Unfortunately, I've watched a few of these in my day and they can get ugly in a hurry.
The proverb speaks to us of a certain madman. This guy is out of control. He is throwing three things in his insanity. The first is firebrands - which are akin to something like a flaming arrow. This crazy guy is also shooting regular arrows. The third thing he is dealing in is death. The first two are easy to understand, but this last one is a little more cryptic. I see the final thing in light of what happens due to the deception. He is throwing around these things that hurt physically - but he is also throwing something that hurts emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. He is throwing "death" - he is killing relationships and injuring people so that they are dead to him emotionally. His actions are hurting things and killing someone's ability to be around him - interact with him - and receive anything from him. So we see three pretty rough things going on here. All three are destructive and can cause great harm. The interesting thing is that since he is a madman - his aim may not be the best. From how this is stated, it seems as if a rather random pattern is being followed in how these things are being shot and thrown. Thus he will not hit everyone, but when he does, it is going to hurt badly. It might even kill someone. What could this be describing? Let's look, because the answer is given in verse 19.
Verse 19 tells us that the comparison is to a man who deceives his neighbor - then tells him he was only joking. First of all we need to see that this man does these things to his neighbor. The term here implies more than just a casual relationship. Some passages imply a relationship as close as a close friend or even a lover. What he is doing to his neighbor is that he is "deceiving" him. The word here is "ramah" and it means to intentionally deal craftily with someone. Other ways it is used is to indicate lies, betrayal, crass jokes, and even pulling a trick on someone. That is definitely the case here in Proverbs 26:18-19. What is going on is that a trick or a crass joke is being played on a person by his neighbor, which is pretty much the definition of a practical joke.
If we did not know the nature of this proverb through the word "ramah" - things become much clearer as we see that after this man deceives his neighbor - he eventually lets him know about it by saying, "Was I not joking?" There it is - a practical joke, pure and simple. But why is this such a strong statement? Is God adamantly opposed to all practical jokes? From what I read here I cannot say one way or the other. This is just a warning about consequences.
A day is coming when the practical joker is going to play a joke on someone and it is going to blow up in his face. He is like that madman randomly shooting arrows. Most will fall relatively harmless to the ground. They won't hit any real target. But every once in a while he will strike something - actually someone. When that happens - problems are coming. In some cases real harm comes to someone in a practical joke. Somebody gets physically hurt - and at times it is a bad injury. In other situations the pain is much worse - because it is emotional and relational. I've actually watched relationships broken forever or for a long time because of a practical joke gone bad. These are very sad things to watch because the joke was meant to be funny (at least to the one doing it - and to everyone watching the person humiliated). But at times the humiliation breeds anger. That is why God warns us about it.
In all honesty - when I consider that most practical jokes are done to humiliate someone - or at least to laugh at their expense - I think that a wise man should probably avoid them. He knows that such an action may result in an offended brother. And from other proverbs he knows that if this happens that brother will be very hard to win back. That is why the wise man decides against such actions. But before you think I am a 'stick in the mud' on this issue - you should know that I have been the mark of many practical jokes. How do I respond them? I laugh with those who did them . . . sometimes threaten retaliation . . . and usually end up forgetting them and thinking, "You got me good!" It is good to have a sense of humor - and an ability to laugh at yourself. Just remember that some won't - and when that happens - it's going to be bad - very bad.
He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Proverbs 26:24-26
This proverb is about how people can hate you in their heart while all the time speaking what seem like pleasant words from their mouths. It has to do with deceitfulness, guile, and ultimately . . . wickedness. A wise man read these things and learns that just because someone is "for you" with their words does not mean that they are really with you in the end. There are some who speak wonderful words in public, but their feelings and their support in private is a wholly different matter.
Most people do not speak openly about their hate of another. To do such a thing would immediately characterize them in a very negative light. It would also expose them in such a way that they would have no more influence with that individual - or with anyone who thinks favorable of them. Therefore it is better for the ungodly man to disguise his hatred. This, according to God's wisdom, is done with his lips. He speaks graciously of the one he hates, All this is done for the sake of appearance only. The whole time he speaks graciously and kindly of this man - he has quite another thing going on inside his heart. We are told that he is laying up deceit in his heart. He is deceiving others - and in some ways even deceiving himself. He hates the man he speaks kindly of - and considers him an enemy.
We are warned that when we come to a man like this, we need to look into his heart. There is lying within his heart - and there are also abominations - 7 of them to be exact. What are these abominations? There are a couple of possibilities. Jesus spoike of seven woes in Matthew 23. These were curses on the Pharisees and Saducees for the hypocrisy that they practiced. Here we have a man who hates his friend or acquaintence, being the picture of hypocrisy by speaking well of him and yet hating him in his heart. The seven thing Jesus speaks of may be similar to the abominations in this man's heart. This also may be related to the seven things God says He hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. The list here is full of things God absolutely despises. The way I lean on this is that the number seven used here speaks more of perfection. There is a perfect hate - that leads to a perfectly abominable attitude and heart filled with evil and hypocritical actions and thoughts toward this one who is hated.
The warning here I think is twofold. First of all, don't be a man like this. Don't be someone who speaks hypocritically of another - saying positive, gracious things about them while all the while holding hatred and wicked, abominable thoughts and plans in your heart. To live this way is so harmful to our spirit. It is also to embrace attitudes that are completely foreign to Almighty God and those who are transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ daily. The second lesson for us is learned as we hear a warning from God. Such a man as this will be exposed in the end. His hypocrisy and his falsehood will be revealed. The assmbly will see the duplicity of this man - for God Himself will expose him in the end.
Consider this one example as we draw our thoughts about this proverb to a close. Judas was the ultimate example of this proverb. He was with Jesus for three years - and yet in the end sold him for a slave's price as he betrayed the Lord. During that time Judas never exposed himself publicly as an enemy of Christ. Even his betrayal was false as he betrayed the Son of God with a kiss. He was unwilling for his heart of hatred and greed to be exposed publically - and yet it was exposed. In the gospels we learn that Judas was a thief who stole money out of their money box. He was a man who criticized the beautiful expression of Mary's love when she anointed the Lord's feet with her perfumed oil worth a year's wages. Judas spoke only because he knew such a stash would have netted him so much more money he could embezzle later. God fully exposed Judas' hypocrisy - revealing in the gospels all the lies, deceit, and guile that he hid for three years. In the end he was exposed - showing both his hypocrisy and his horrific end - hanging from a tree dead and hopeless.
Do not be a betrayer - a liar - and a fraud in your friendships. Speak the truth - and if it is hard truth to hear - speak it in love. Don't hide things by sounding one way with your friend - and a wholly different way when you are not physically with him. This is a lifestyle that God calls an abomination. Be a true friend - an honest one - and one who is the same whether seen or unseen. Such a friend is like The Lord.
Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow Is a man who bears false witness against his neighbor. Proverbs 25:18
Here we have a proverb concerning those who are gossips and false witnesses against their own neighbors. This is clearly seen in the second half of the proverb. The things described at the beginning of the proverb - three in nuimber - are compared to this man who bears a false witness agianst his neighbor. He is a perjuror as he destroys the reputation of the one who lives near him. Let's take a look at the three things used to describe the lying witness.
Three things are used to describe this lying man. The first is a club. The actual word means a maul - which is something akin to our sledge hammer. The second two things are very easy to describe - the sword is actually a double-edged sword - and the final object is a sharp arrow. All three of these things are instruments of destruction and murder. Each though has its method and its pattern of destruction. The reason that we are looking at murder here is because of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus said there that if a man is angry with his brother he is guilty of murder. If he calls his brother an empty-head or moron, he is guilty before the highest court of Israel. But it if called his brother a fool, he is in danger of going into the firey hell itself. It is a murderous thing to assassinate the character of your neighbor with your words of false testimony.
The maul or sledge hammer would be used to bludgeon the reputation of one's neighbor. It is a slower, more grotesque death. The lies of this man are not exactly cutting - but they are used again and again to bludgeon the poor man to death. I've watched as these dark blows were struck toward someone. Again and again loose-lipped men would throw ungodly accusations against someone -like the blows of a sledge hammer upon them. The bruises inflicted by these false words would cause the poor man to be bowed down and unable to rise from the bruising of his life.
The sword refers to the words of the wicked man. We are warned elsewhere in the book of proverbs that rash, godless words piece like a sword. These cutting comments can be a tool of the devil to urge us to bitterness and resentment. A sword thrust can pierce our hearts and bring so much damage. When you consider that these sword-thrust-words are false and lying accusations - it is even worse.
The last of the three descriptive terms is a sharp arrow. This was used to shoot straight into the heart - and break and kill it. We are warned to lift up the shield of faith in Ephesians chapter 6 so that we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Since he is known as the Liar and the father of lies, we know that he often wants to shoot us with these lying accustaions and charges. His intent is to wound us or even more likely - kill us. He wants us dead - and will use whatever lies he can to destroy our hearts for God as well as our testimony for Him as well.
The wise man knows of these things and entrusts himself to God to defend and protect him. Jesus faced such things before He went to the cross. He faced those who spoke as with sledge hammer strokes. He faced those who sought to pierce His heart whether with a sword or an arrow. Yet He entrusted Himself to the Lord - knowing that in the end God would vindicate him from all the false charges and lies. Therefore, we know that if Jesus faced such things - we will face them too. It is for this reason that we should prepare our hearts to be falsely accused and falsely charged. A wise man knows this and prepares his heart for what inevitably will be the attacks of the spiritual realms - as well as those who do their bidding and act as their mouthpieces.
Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. Proverbs 25:14
Have you ever met someone who boasts of incredible abilities to do something, only to find out when you actually need those services that they were inflated beyond their actual size by the imagination of the person's mind? That is what today's proverb deals with. It warns us about the dangers of eggeration - especially when it comes to skils of abilities that we possess (or maybe don't possess).
I live in Arkansas - and that means that in the months of July and August there is a lot of excitement when any clouds show up to our west. That is because we are hoping that in those clouds there will be a little known commodity called rain. What is truly discouraging is when the sky grows cloudy - and even sometimes dark - and the result is . . . nothing. There is the promise of rain, but the actual wet stuff itself never falls. The clouds come - the winds come - and nothing else comes with it. Our hopes are raised and we become very excited about the propect of rain, only to see dust stirred up and trees bend in the wind, but the main act, rain, just is not going to show today.
This is the metaphor that God uses to describe a man who boasts of skill - who boasts of gift that would help others - only to learn that he is eggagerating and lying of these things. You believe and hope in this man - only to learn that he is full of hot air - and little else. Some folks put their whole hope in such people and are crushed by the truth that their only skill is being able to tell tall tales of their supposed exploits. In the end their promise has as much worth as a 3 dollar bill. It may look good on the outside - even holding promise for being useful - but when you take it to a store, it is worthless. Beware of men who are all talk and little or no action. They will take your for a ride - and then leave you on the curb heart broken. Do not entrust yourself to someone unless they have shown by their words and their actions that they can deliver on what they've promised.
A truthful witness saves lives, But he who utters lies is treacherous. Proverbs 14:25
Here is a proverb that at first glance deals with being truthful or a liar. But as we look at what God is truly saying in this proverb, we see that this goes farther into what we are sharing with others - and whether we are sharing a saving message or a treacherous one that will cost people everything when that day comes upon all the living and the dead.
I am going to comment on this proverb from the last phrase first. The one who utters lies is treacherous. There are those who share things that are not truth on a mere earthly level. This is called lying - and the Bible says that we are not to bear false witness to our neighbor. This simply means we are not to lie to others. So on a mere earthly level it is sinful to speak lies to others. It hurts relationships and betrays trust, which is so important to the very bedrock upon which they are built. But there is a greater sin - and that is being one who speaks lies about things that are beyond the earthly. They lie about heaven - about eternity - about God.
There are those who do this very blatently. Atheists like Richard Dawkins and his fellow mockers write quite voluminously about their opposition to God, His Word, and His salvation. They offer no honest alternative except a life lived for self as God. Thus they bring a very "treacherous" message. They mocking turns people from the things of God - as their flesh desires - and they put God and His gospel out of their minds. They see this as freeing because they no longer think themselves under His law - no longer bridled by His moral restraints. But truly their message is treacherous - because they still must stand at the judgment seat of the One whom they deny. Like the fool who stands in the street denying the existance of the bus barreling down the road toward them - they will find that denying God's existance does nothing to stop the inevitability of His sure and exactlng judgment. On that day how they will be ashamed at their false and damning beliefs - but that day will be too late. The treachery complete - they will join Dawkins and all his mates in hell where they will be tormented for their foolishness and unbelief.
This is not how it has to be though. God speaks a blessing on those who are truthful witnesses. We are told that a truthful witness saves lives. Here is where we see this proverb transcend the physical. True, speaking the truth to someone can save their life physically - as the one who confronts the drug user or alcoholic that there is a horrible demise awaiting them at the end of the road of their lifestyle. But what we are dealing with is a salvation dealing with more than just our physical lives. The truthful witness shares the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ with those who need to hear it. They speak the truth regardless of whether it makes them popular or not. They consider popularity with God infinitely superior to the familiarity of those on earth whose opinion of each other changes as often as the wind changes directions. They know that there is a God and that we must stand before Him on that fateful, yet glorious day. They know that there is nothing that will stand on that day but perfection - the absolute righteousness that God demands when He says, "Therefore be perfect, as God is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) There is no way we can achieve this standing for our righteousness is as filthy rags before the perfect God of this universe. Thus we must turn to His provision - which is the only way and the only hope for us for eternity. He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20) This is the answer - and it is the only answer acceptable in that day.
The world may hate this, but it is true nevertheless. We have a choice therefore as His children and His ambassadors. Are we going to be treacherous to our friends, neighbors, and associates - or truthful? Do not take this choice lightly - for the difference between obedience and rebellion on this point will often be the difference between others seeing you as a true friend or a treacherous one. It is the difference beteween life and death. Speak the truth saints - whether it is popular or not - whether it is socially acceptable or the word by which you are made a social outcast. There is nothing more important than being a truthful witness who saves lives!
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight. Proverbs 12:22
God does not like lips that lie. That might be because the ultimate adversary He has is called a liar and the father of lies. It also might be because God speaks truth without any mixture of error any time He speaks. God is absolutely opposed to lying, liars, and any form of deception. He says in this proverb that he sees lying as an abominable act. The devil believed and held to, and eventually stated a lie when he fell from heaven. Since that time the adversary of God and our souls has attempted to build his own kingdom, one based upon lies and deceit. These lies oppose God and all that He is. That is why God finds ALL lying abominable. Every lie is a damning thing, for it was the lie that brought our condemnation, and it is a lie that condemns anew every moment of every day. Embrace a lie and you are embracing the devil and his program to bring you into the judgment of God.
God delights in the faithful. It is because of God's faithfulness that we are saved. It is because of how God held to the truth, even when it meant having to condemn His own Son for becoming the sin-bearer for mankind. Being a faithful one means holding fast to God's truth, which is THE truth. God delights in those who deal faithfully, because they are embracing His own character. Think about it for a moment. The devil lies to us wanting to get us to believe his lies so that we turn from God and His Word. We trust the devil because he promises us happiness and pleasure. The problem is that in the end his promises don't include the "fine print" of the judgment that awaits - along with the heartbreak and death that always come with sin. Godly, wise men deal faithfully because they know God's truth and they carry within them God's character in the person of the Holy Spirit. Therefore they live for the truth as well as live it out daily.
Wisdom is living out the truth. It is being faithful to God. It is speaking faithful promises. And ultimately it is sharing the ultimate faithfulness of God shown to us in the gospel. This is the life in which God delights. Wisdom is loving that life, living that life, and being an example of His faithfulness.
Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20
What are you doing as you walk through life? Are you among those who are plotting evil or with the ones who are promoting peace. Today's proverb shows the contrast between these two things.
First we see those who are plotting evil. What is interesting about this is many who would fall into this category would not agree that they are plotting anything. Yet - because they choose to reject God's Word as truth - and instead make up an argument for their own truth - they are indeed plotting the demise of those with whom they speak. On the day of judgment they will learn the awful truth that their deceitful speaking misled many to where they now stand in the same judgment they do.
Our proverb describes the heart condition of those who devise evil. Their hearts are said to be filled with deceit. The word here is mirmah. It means to intentionally mislead someone by either distorting the truth or withholding the truth from them. The fact stands in all of history that God's Word IS truth. That eternal fact will never change. But there are those who do not acknowledge that God's Word is truth. They hold to another "truth" which is nothing more than error. Because they hold fast to their version of truth - they now hold fast to lies. This means that as they spread them - they are misleading others as to what is truth. They are also intentionally withholding from their students the truth of God's Word. This is deceitful - since truth is readily available to anyone who will read the Word of God with an open mind and heart. What is truly fascinating is the word used for the evil that these people devise. The word for "devise" used here means to plow or till the soil. Hosea uses this same metaphor when he speaks of how Israel was "plowing wickedness" and reaping God's justice as a reward for what they had sown (see Hosea 10:13
). The so-called truth of the ones who deny Scripture - is nothing more than a falsehood and lie that is deeply tilled into the hearts of those who are their students. This plowing with falsehood and evil will one day reap a harvest of judgment if God does not intervene. They are simply plowing evil into the hearts of men - and that plowing will one day reap the wrath of God.
The godly man or woman is one who is a "counsellor of peace." These are the ones who bring the truth from the Word of God and present it to men. They bring the gospel to those who realize that they are facing a dire future in their sins. To be a counsellor of peace is to be a man or woman who presents Christ to the lost. There is no peace for the wicked - but for those who humble themselves - there is great joy and peace. May God make each one of us a counsellor of peace - and an individual who works alonside the prince of peace so that the ultimate message of God's peace, the gospel, may be understood - received - and the cause of great joy to those who hear it with faith.
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!
He who conceals hatred has
lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool. Proverbs 10:18
One might think on the first reading of this proverb that God is encouraging those who have hatred to let their mouths voice it openly. But you need to remember that many of the proverbs start with a basic statement - and then that statement is explained with an added comment that further defines it. That is the way to understand the proverbs. If we do not read them this way - it is easy to grab a partial proverb and make it say something it was never meant to say.
What we have here is a proverb about hidden hatred later escaping through slander. The first part of this proverb speaks of one who is concealing their hatred by saying things they do not believe. An example of this is someone who says nice things or supportive things of someone when they are around that person. Inwardly they despise this person - but they do not allow their hatred to be expressed when around them. But do not be deceived by their lying lips - because deep within them they are churning with a hatred that will surface in time.
Their hatred surfaces in what is said in the second part of this proverb. They begin to spread slander. They will not speak openly about their hatred of a person, a viewpoint, a decision, etc. But later they will begin a slander campaign to express their hatred. Put very plainly - they won't tell someone openly they hate them - but in private and with others they will let their hatred fly by slandering them often.
The one who does this is a fool. The Scriptures says that it is better to openly rebuke someone than to secretly slander them. If there is a biblical issue that needs to be addressed, then address it privately with the person. If there is a view that needs to be opposed - then oppose it where a debate of ideas can be had. If there is a decision that is wrong - then openly state that it is wrong. To allow a hatred to build up in our hearts is not just foolish - it is dangerous. In time it will surface in slanderous gossip. We WILL eventually have our hatred come out - and when it does - it will not be pretty.
You may not like someone who openly confronts you - who rebukes and questions a view you have taken - or who disagrees with you publically. But one thing is for sure. You have far more respect for someone who does this, then for someone who speaks open words of support - but follows them up with slanderous gossip when you are no longer around. Such a man is a fool - and his actions will come back to roost eventually. Speak the truth in love - and if you disagree with someone and do not feel God wants you to speak out - then love them by interceding for them. Hatred, gossip, and slander has NEVER helped any situation where it was used. It has only made for fools and for deep hurt by those who have been injured by it.
Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. Proverbs 20:17
Imagine chewing on bread and having it slowly turn from a warm, soft, wonderful taste to cold, hard gravel in your mouth. This is the picture that the Lord wants to give us concerning the con-man's game - or any way that we seek financial gain through deceiving others. This proverb centers around the word "falsehood." This is the Hebrew word "sheqer" and it means a lie, a deception, or a treacherous statement. The word has the idea of a liar and his lying statements. Yet here there is an end that is sought - and that is obtaining bread. There is a financial gain sought in the lie - which is the sweet taste of bread obtained through the false dealing and lying of the con-man.
Once again though, the Bible points us to a long-term view of things. The fleshly view is that of getting the bread and enjoying it. This is the short-term, ends-justify-the-means mindset that prevails in too many parts of the world around us. Who cares how you got the bread - you've got it and it tastes wonderful. The problem comes in that there will be a price to pay - even if you cheated someone out of the bread for free. The price is a mouth filled with gravel. There is a slight Hebraism in this idea of a mouth filled with gravel. The idea is that though bread tastes sweet at first - the bread obtained by ungodly means will weigh down the one who deceived in the end. Though sweet at first, the bread will break the teeth of the deceiver - and the bread will weigh like stone in his stomach.
This takes into account God's moral law. That law teaches us two things we should consider when deceiving others. First, God's moral law says, "You shall not steal." When we deceive others about what we are offering to them, we are thieves - taking their goods without a fair exchange of goods or money in return. Second, we are told by God's moral law that we are not to bear false witness - which basically means, "do not lie." No matter how sweet the bread may taste initially - it will be like teeth-breaking rocks on the day that we answer to God for our deceit and con-game. The wisdom offered to us here is to make decisions based not on our immediate pleasure in the flesh. We should make decisions based on God's moral law and upon principles of righteousness. Though we may not gain as much quickly and unrighteously at the beginning, the blessing in the end is worth it.