The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully. Proverbs 14:35
Anyone who has ever worked knows the difference between receiving the favor of your boss versus receiving an angry rebuke or tirade. Today's proverb reminds us that when we serve others - especially a king or person in high authority - it is good to be prudent in how we perform our duties.
The king will show favor to a servant who acts wisely. The word for "wisely" here is the Hebrew word, "sakal" which has as its root meaning to act with prudence. One who acts wisely takes time to consider his actions. He ponders what the consequences are for a word that he speaks or an action that he takes. He wants to understand and have insight into what he does. Any leader loves having such a servant or employee. They are not quick to rush into things and as a result make fewer mistakes. They are good employees because they honestly think of the good of the company - and are prone to being selfless toward others.
The king or boss in a situation will react with angrer though toward someone who acts shamefully. The idea behind this word is to cause shame or disgrace. Leaders know that when someone is not thinking and not pondering their choices - they will inevitably walk into a lot of problems. These particular problems are enough to shame a boss - or disgrace a king. It should not shock us therefore to learn that the king or boss reacts with wrath against this one. They are not only falling down on the job - but they are failing in a way that is bringing shame and disgrace on the business.
The foolish man acts without taking time to think about what is about to do. He has even less knowledge of the potential consequences for what he is doing. He does not want any restraint upon himself. The wise man looks things over and is careful to make a decision consistent with what is best for his authorities. That is why the king shows him such favor.
Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Today we look at how a nation is blessed or disgraced. According to our proverb righteousness or doing what is right exalts a nation. Therefore, if we want to be exalted and blessed, we must choose consistently what is right. But our nation faces a serious problem when it comes to this proverb. We no longer believe in a right and a wrong. Having bought the post-modern mindset hook, line, and sinker, we now believe that there is nothing more to believe in except what we want to believe in. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore we no longer hold to an absolute right and wrong. We no longer have a moral code that governs the hearts of men.
Our courts have decided that what is truly dangerous in our nation is to publicly display the 10 commandments so that school children can see them and read them. Never mind that one of the writers of our Constitution said that we have placed our hope in our ability to obey these Laws of God. Never mind that though we openly persecute the Christian moral code, we openly teach other religions in our classrooms under the guise of multiculturalism. It is dangerous to tell children not to murder, not to steal, not to lie or commit adultery. Thus we have our current modern dilemma. A society that decries the lack of civility as new acts of violence shock us worse that the previous ones that maudelinly decorated our newpapers and newcasts just weeks earlier. We wonder why kids would go into schools and wantonly kill each other. We are shocked at the debauchery of the generation that is coming up - astonished at their lack of conscience as they commit crimes with an ever-increasing display of horror.
We don't get it. Righteousness exalts a nation! We must return to an absolute truth that lays down absolute morals by which we are to live. What is astounding to me though is that such a righteousness will degenerate in one generation if all we rely upon is the rule of law to do it. We are incapable of righteousness in our own strength. Righteousness will only come by grace through faith. It comes to us as we turn from our own sinful and selfish ways and turn to Jesus Christ - the One Who came to die for our sins. It comes to us only as God's grace reaches out to us and grants us life. Thus we find that the righteousness that will exalt our nation will only come with a return to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we are saved - we are redeemed - we are regenerated so that we desire to do God's will. Without the gospel law will break down into moralistic teachings taught by hypocrites who do not even do the things they teach others. The sad reality though is that we as a nation have legislated the gospel out of our society.
There is a false teaching that exists in the legislative world called the separation of church and state. This supposed wall exists in the interpretation that some pseudo-scholars have invented about the First Ammendment to the Constitution. That ammendment was put there to keep the state out of the churches' buisness. It was put there so that we would not have a state run church. Unfortunately it has been misinterpretted to mean that any open expression of Christianity within any state run or funded activity is prohibited. Thus our legislators have inadvertently chosen a state religion for all of us. It is the lack of God in our nation - at least the God of the Bible. So . . . our national religion is now either atheism and its more ignoranty companion, agnosticism - or it is any other religion than Christianity. What our founders sought to protect has been used in such a way as to openly persecute and wantonly disintegrate the faith that most of them held when they wrote it.
It should not shock us that we are a nation that has shunned righteousness. The churches did not hold fast the truth and spread the gospel. The corresponding lack of believers in the land, or worse, the proliferation of false believers who misuse and abuse the Scriptures, has led to a dearth of them in office. The lack of a Christian presence among the governing elite of our land has lead to a lack of respect for our founders' faith. Thus we have become a people who more and more legislate sin as the new righteousness of our land. We have decided to say that it is open season on unwanted babies and call it abortion - or a woman's right to choose. We have decided to destroy the black community and the poor by saying that we will allow a welfare state that rewards sexual promiscuity and having babies out of wedlock. We also have decided that work is no longer a sacred duty - but act like it is mercy to provide a living without requiring labor. We no longer call heterosexual immorality what God calls it - fornication - but feel that sleeping together or living together is a more genteel way of designating it. Rather than encourage faithfulness in marriage, we have advocated easy divorce and speak of blended families rather than broken ones. We have decided that homosexuality is not an abomination - no! - it is an alternate lifestyle. It even needs to be taught to the youngest of our children as a wonderful alternative to the straight people who are so hateful as to hold a biblical viewpoint. Our banks and businesses fail because we have reared a generation of crooks who no longer think that, "Thou shalt not steal" applies to them. Scandal after scandal rocks our statehouses and churchhouses as the concept of integrity in leadership fades as a mere memory of the past.
Does all this kind of shock and depress you? It should because sin is a disgrace to any people. To live like we have lived is to be disgraceful. To reject the living God for the idols of our current generation is an act of foolishness. It is foolish becuse we have rejected the Fountain of Living Waters to hew cisterns, broken ones, that can hold no water. Even history mocks our choices as we ignore the civilizations that have fallen before us. We turn a blind eye to the same sins that portended their demise and characterized the rot from within that toppled them.
We need to turn to God in prayer - humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways. We need a national revival first in our churches. They need to return to the faith of our fathers - seeing Christianity as the truth - and Jesus as the only way of salvation from a selfish and self-gratifying lifestyle. Even more than this we must remember that we will stand in God's judgment - which has already begun. We need to fear God which is the beginning of wisdom for us - and for our nation. Then we need a nation-shaking spiritual awakening that sees millions come to Christ. If we do not see such a thing - we are doomed to the ash heap of societies. Written over us in the end will be the same words written over Babylon - "Mene, Mene, Teckel, Upharsin." America has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. We will fall to another rising power with another statement written as our postscript. "Here lies the United States of America in ruins for she turned from righteousness and chose sin . . . which is a disgrace for any people."
The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Proverbs 14:32
God is going to deck the wicked. That is the basic idea that is being communicated here in today's proverb. The word wicked describes those who are law-breakers. The Law spoken of by this word is God's Law. The wicked have no regard for God's law - and honestly for any other law as well. They are rebellious and find themselves resisting and standing against any law that tries to restrict their freedom to do whatever they want. This is what will deck them in the end.
The second half of this proverb points us in a very interesting direction. We are told that the righteous has a refuge when he dies. Thus the proverb is not just dealing with things here and now - it is pointing us to when we die. What is going to happen to the wicked and the righteous when death comes? The righteous man will have a refuge in that day. His hope is in God's remedy for sin - the Lord Jesus Christ. His refuge is Jesus. He looks to Jesus Christ to give Him a righteousness that will stand on that day - and he rests in that as His salvation. The wicked will find that all they have on that fateful day is their own wickedness. What they will learn too late is that that evil will deck them on jugdment day. They will be accountable for their choices and their actions - which were wicked. What a horrifying day that will be for all those who trusted in themselves and their own righteousness. They will not have a refuge, but their very own doctrines will cast them to the ground.
In what are you trusting to stand on that day? Are you trusting that there won't be one - because that is a vain and empty choice. Are you thinking your good works will be weighed against your bad ones - and if there is more good you will make it? That is a foolish choice for it is not by our works that we are saved. Are you trusting that God is mercy and good and will overlook all your evil? That is unwise for it ignores the righteousness and justice of God. The righteous man knows the way - because he knows first and foremost of all that the righteousness upon which he stands is not his own. He gains that righteousness by faith, not by works. He looks to the Lord Jesus Christ to be his righteousness. Therefore he will stand and will have Christ's gifted righteousness as his refuge on the jugdment day. Again I ask, "In what will you be trusting on the great day of God's judgment. Trusting in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead will not stand. Take refuge in Jesus - in the One Who makes you righteous by grace.
He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Proverbs 14:31
God is very serious how He views the poor - especially when people choose to oppress them and take advantage of them because of their poverty. The warning that we are given here is about oppressing the poor. The poor by their lack of money and influence are people who have a difficult time finding a way to deal with people who trample their rights. They have no money with which to address the legal system. They have no power among elected officials to influence them outside of their one vote. History has proven that there are a couple of groups who oppress the poor. These two groups are the rich and those who want to maintain political power. The rich do so most often by not offering the poor a living wage when it is within their power to do so. In an interest in getting richer, they take the wages that the poor should receive and keep them for themselves. God offers dire warnings to those who do this. The second group are those who use political power to oppress the poor. Even within our government it is advantageous to prevent the poor from bettering themselves by setting up a welfare state that encourages dependence. This is often not recognized as oppressing the poor because it maintains the illusion that the person in political power is helping them. But any system which traps people in poverty is oppressive, even if it oppresses by handing out what at first looks like free money.
Those who oppress the poor are taunting God. Taunting is such an ugly thing. When those who have an upper hand mock those less fortunate, it is disgusting. The Hebrew word indicates a mocking and open reproach of someone else. This is done in a way that deliberately desires to agitate or humiliate someone. The truly frightening thing about this kind of taunting is that the one doing it is infinitely less powerful than God. Usually the stronger one taunts the weaker. Here although the person is stronger in what is openly seen (i.e. the powerful oppressing the poor) they are probably unaware that their actions are taunting the living God. This is the most foolish thing anyone could possibly do. I get a picture of a bully taunting a small child, unaware that their incredibly strong and huge brother is standing behind them watching the whole thing. In that situation, as well as the one mentioned here in Proverbs 14
, someone is about to get a serious beat-down.
The wise man has mercy on the poor. He uses his position of strength and wealth to help them. The word mercy has the idea of being treated in a way we do not deserve. Therefore the wise and godly man remembers how God has treated him - and uses that as a barometer of how he should treat the poor. Maybe someone has become poor due to their own sinfulness. Even in this case we should show mercy and seek to help. This honors God because it reflects His own character in our actions. Whereas the fool taunts God by oppressing and taking advantage of the poor - the wise man wants a reward larger than the riches or power he can get on the backs of the unfortunate. He knows that in the end it will go well with the one who honors God.
He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
We see throughout the book of Proverbs that a quick temper is a negative thing in a person's life. It can get us into a world of trouble. Here we read that the man who is quick-tempered exalts folly. Giving in to anger, resentment, and bitterness in our lives only exalts folly. The idea here expressed is that it is the "unthinking" and "unreasoning" way to live our lives. Anyone can become frustrated or angry and then give in to having a blowout that involves a temper flaring up and expressing itself in hurtful words or actions. That exalts stupidity and living foolishly. What then, can keep us from exalting folly by being quick-tempered?
The Bible says that someone who is slow to anger has great understanding. The word for understanding here is "tebunah" and it means to have both understanding and insight. It is taking both knowledge and wisdom and applying it in a way that helps us look into our anger and examine it before reacting. That indeed is wisdom. We need to ask ourselves the question, "Why am I so angry about this?" Looking into our reaction often will make us ask deeper questions and deal on a deeper level than just saying, "I'm so angry about this!"
When we probe our anger we need to be ready to run into personal issues that exist on the inside of our lives. I will never forget the shock it was to me when an older, wiser man told me the reason I got so angry with my children was because of my pride. On the inside I wanted to snap back that it was their disobedience that was making me mad - not something wrong with me. In no way was this man saying I should not have disciplined them for being disobedient and rebellious - he was only saying that I needed to see why at times I felt out of control while doing it. His wise counsel was that my pride and anger came from a desire to control my children - so they would never disobey. My reason behind this thought was that my kids made me look bad as a parent when they disobeyed - and that made me angry. A wise parent would know that children are GOING to be disobedient because they are sons of Adam.
The fall of man will ensure that every child will be disobedient and rebellious in some way. Therefore having a disobedient child does not mean you are a bad parent. A parent who is failing in their role is one who does not discipline his or her child for their disobedience. I was failing not because I was disciplining my child - but becasue at times I was doing so in anger. My anger was foolish because I was expecting my child never to disobey - so I would look good in other people's eyes. Therefore my anger - when disected with understanding - was due to a couple of foolish things. First, I was not grasping the true nature of a child. Second, I was wanting my child to be good so I would not be bothered with having to interrupt MY DAY with things I did not want to do. Third, the reason I wanted a "good child" was so that my glory could be advanced. When looking at my quick-tempered responses suddenly I was a little horrified (understatement of the year) at their root. It was pride! Therefore wisdom applied - understanding deepened - and a willingness to have the Holy Spirit probe deeper into my motivations yielded repentance . . . and it yielded an ability over time to be much slower to anger.
Let me encourage any of you who are struggling with being quick-tempered. Take the time to submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to take you deeper into your angry responses in order to look at them and see them at the level of your heart motivations. He will walk you through this process and will help you to understand why you have a quick-temper at times. I will not say that this is pleasant - but God will do it with a view to repentance and restoration. He will do so with great grace and comfort - as well as a little heart surgery that will help you to become someone who is far more slow to anger. You will find that His grace and His gospel will be enough to turn from quick-tempered foolishness to patient love and understanding.
In a multitude of people is a king's glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin. Proverbs 14:28
A king is not a king unless he has a kingdom over which to rule. A kingdom will not exist where the people are not fruitful and multiply. Therefore it is wise for kings to encourage their people to grow in number. Today's proverb handles this situation - but the implications of this proverb are fascinating, especially when applied to what is happening in both the United States and Europe.
The simple meaning of this proverb is obvious - a king needs people to have his kingdom flourish. When there is a multitude of people under his rule - he is blessed, but when there is a declining population within the kingdom - it points to the ruin of his son. The son will have a far smaller kingdom over which to rule - or possibly none at all.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, this has amazing ramifications for both our nation and the nations of Europe. Both places have declining populations when it comes to the original population of the countries. As a result of this both of these regions are trying their best to maintain population growth by immigration. The problem is that as the numbers of immigrants grow, they are having more and more influence in the policies and direction of the nation. Give this direction a few more years - and soon Europe will be different - completely different than their forefathers. The United States is not that far from this development either. Why is this happening to these once great nations?
For a king to continue to rule over his own people, he has to encourge his own people to multiply in their families. If they do not, the indigenous people of the land will begin to dwindle in numbers. The result of this will be that a different group of people will begin to rise up and rule the land. All this happens because the people do not have children. Or, in our case, they only want 2.4 children or less. That is what has happened in our nation. We have become a people who do not believe that having multiple children is a blessing. This all began with people espousing a worldview that did not value children. We became a people so interested in our own comforot and our own pleasure that we decidd that children were no longer a blessing of the Lord. We came to the conclusion that the man whose quiver if full of children is not blessed at all. In fact, we decided children were a burden - an unnecessary burden - and within a couple of generations - an unwanted burden.
According to the humanistic worldview - this was a wonderful development. We were supposedly choking the world to death with our overpopulation - our poluting - and our urban sprawl. So when people bought this unbiblical view, they stopped having childen, or they did what was necessary to reduce the number of children they have. Everything seemed wonderful and the planet would be saved. But over time, the dearth of children began to weigh heavy on our society. Now we face problems as our system is imploding. It is doing so because we no longer have far more families coming up, because we do not like or enjoy the thought of having multiple children. Programs like Social Security require a larger generation of younger people than in the older generation. Even our national character - is shifting from being European and western to being either Mexican or Islamic.
A wise set of leaders would have had a biblical worldview. That worldview remembers that God said to be fruitful and multiply. The whole concept of overpopulation is foreign to God. He promises to supply our needs if we will live for His glory and obey His Word. But since those things have been jettisoned just as we have done with His view of children and family - we are facing the "dearth of a people."
An interesting thing about this passage is that it says that the prince is ruined by this. The king is to rule not just with an eye toward himself - but toward his sons - and his grandsons. That is a fascinating thing to see here. It is fascinating because one of the curses of our current political fabric is that we only see the immediate future as important. Most of our elected officials actually only see the next election cycle as important - therefore they plan only to keep people fat and happy til past the next election. All the while as we are doing this - the princes of our future (our children) are having their future ruined by the selfishness of the current generation.
Wisdom means that rulers think ahead - they think long-term - and honestly, they should think biblically. To do otherwise is to think in a way that God will not bless. This, more than the economy or any other factor, is what will bring about the blessing or the dearth of our society and its people. We should always remember the verse, "Blessed are the people who are so situated. Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord."
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
Ours is a society that craves safety. Some think that carrying a gun at all times or having a top notch security system will provide them safety. But for the man of God these things, although providing some measure of safety are nothing compared to the fear of the Lord. According to today's proverb that is the most effective security system known to mankind.
The fear of the Lord is described here as a fountain of life. The Hebrew words used for the phrase, "fountain of life" are "mekor chaiyim." This phrase literally means, "the vein of lives" and referred to the aorta which is the artery which carries the blood from the heart as it seeks to pump it throughout the entire body. Without our aorta we would be dead. I remember a very terrifying moment when my own father was found to have a seven inch long annuerism on his aorta. It was a life threatening condition of the worst kind. If my father's aorta burst - the very fountain of life in him would be cut off - and he would have died within seconds. The medical staff were able to do surgery and repair his aorta. But it was a reminder to me that without the "vein of lives" functioning, we will not live long. I am not saying that without the fear of the Lord we will die in mere seconds, but I am saying that the fear of the Lord is essential to us having the life that God provides. Here in today's proverb we read that the fear of the Lord is what helps us to avoid the snares of death. What are these "snares" that are mentioned here?
The Hebrew word for "snares" is very telling. The word is "moqesh" and it refers not so much to the snare itself, but to the bait which is placed in the snare. The word literally means the bait placed within a snare or trap - without which the animal would never come near it. It is the bait that makes the trap effective. The bait tempts the animal to come near even when his own instincts tell him the situation is dangerous. Unable to quell his own lusts for the free food, the animal draws near. The end is a trapped or dead animal. This parallels our problem with sin. Our desires draw us toward things that will eventually damage and destroy us. But we cannot seem to shake the lusts of our flesh, eyes, and prideful love of the world enough to turn away. We are bllind due to our sin. But this is where the fear of the Lord becomes a life-giving fountain to us.
The fear of the Lord is the respect and honor that we have of Him and of His Word. It is the willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit when He warns us about something we are about to do. We listen and obey when we fear the Lord - but we ignore Him when we have no repect or honor toward the God who made us. For those who do this, there is only death in the end. They may have an initial experience of pleasure in their sinful choice - but be warned that they will stand in the judgment for their actions. Any sinful action will be eternally regretted on that day. But know also that sinful choices, although their poison may not be felt immediately - also have consequences here and now as well.
Today's society, and unfortunately many in the church, think that the fear of the Lord is a thing of the past. They ignorantly say that we are a people of grace in the New Testament. The Old Testament idea of fearing God is out of step with who we are supposed to be. What I find interesting is that the book of Acts tells us that the church benefited greatly from the fear of the Lord. In Acts 9:31
we read the following, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. " The fear of God is a New Testament truth that will bless God's church. In fact the fear of the Lord is linked here with the "comfort of the Holy Spirit." It was the combination of these two that worked together by God's grace to cause the church to increase. But there is one more thing that will bless us as we look at the proverb for today.
The fear of the Lord is said to be a "fountain of life." There is another parallel that is such a blessing to see here. In John chapter 7 Jesus spoke of the way that the Holy Spirit would come to those who believed in Him. He used the picture of fountains of living water that would flow from the innermost being of those who experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is what we have learned today in Proverbs. It is another way that the Holy Spirit is linked directly to the fear of the Lord. We need to realize that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives is to bring us the fear of the Lord. We have a respect for God - a desire to honor Him and not to displease Him. This makes us very receptive to His Word which tells us what He wants us to know. Both are the same fountain. As we fear God the Holy Spirit works in us to teach us God's Word - and then to urge us to listen and respond to what God has said. All this comes together to turn us from the snare - from the bait of Satan which seeks to lure us into His traps and his snares of death. May God give us grace to fear Him - to experience the Holy Spirit's teaching and warning - and to avoid sin as a result.
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. Proverbs 14:26
It is in the book of Proverbs that we learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Only when we have a proper respect and fear of God will we understand things as we ought to in life. It is a lack of fearing God that leads to sin and to ungodly behavior and choices. Thus it should be no shock to us that the fear of the Lord brings us a strong confidence in how we live, what we say, and in how we look to the future. The fool has no such confidence in life. Their brief forays into confidence are mere moments of braggadoccio that fade into insignificance when suffering and death make their appearance.
Confidence comes to the man or woman of God because they fear the Lord. They truly know the end of the story - which is that man will stand in the judgment before a holy God. That seems a little odd at first because we read in the book of Hebrews that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. But for the one who fears the Lord, that day will not involve falling into the hands of a yet angry and wrathful God. Wisdom has told him to run to God's provision of forgiveness and grace which is in Jesus Christ. When we do this we know that the wrath of God fell upon His own Son, so that we might be forgiven and granted great grace by our loving Father.
When we choose to fear God now - we will not have to cower in terror later. We fear God now - looking in absolute terror at the cross and what God truly requires in His holiness to pay for the debt of sin. It is in seeing what had to be done to Christ Jesus to pay for sin that we cringe in horror at what our wickedness truly costs. But when we embrace Jesus Christ, receiving the gift of repentance and faith, our sins are gone. Thus there is no longer the "terror of the Lord" at the thought of judgment, but rather a strong confidence that our anchor will hold. Jesus Christ has paid all that there is to pay - and we are forgiven and free.
The second part of this proverb is vital for us to see as well. We are told that the children of the man who fears the Lord will have a a refuge. This points to the fact that if a man truly knows the Lord, his greatest desire is for his children to know his Savior as well. The refuge that his children have is first seen in how he rears them and teaches them the Scriptures. What a wonderful refuge is provided by a set of godly parents to their children as they grow up in the Lord. The parents may not be perfect, but they provide an example of two who walk with the Lord - and who look to Him for their hope and their salvation. They also do their very best to teach their children the things of the Lord and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They pray for their children and do all that they can to see that they follow them in their pursuit of Jesus Christ in life.
God desires for men to be saved. That is a given when you read the Scriptures. But there is more. He also desires that there be many godly generations descending from a family who have come to Christ. This is the legacy that comes to children and grandchildren - and even great grandchildren of those whose parents fear the Lord. Oh that we would see this and live in the fear of God. Oh that we would provide a lasting refuge - a lasting legacy of godliness and gospel-led lives to our children - and even to many generations of our families.
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!
Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to
those who devise good. Proverbs 14:22
Today's proverb has to do with the payoff for both evil and good. There is a pay day for living in a way that is morally wrong. God uses quite an interesting picture of the one who is planning and devising evil. The word used here is "haras" which means to plow or to till the soil. The kind of plowing that is being done is plowing and planting evil. The evil is both moral and ethical in its reach. The fool spends his time plowing this way - and planting a very morally perverse crop into the ground of his life. The proverb tells us that the ones who live this way - will err. They will wander about and go astray. They will be intoxicated with their sin and as a result wander off not really realizing the danger of their actions. In the end they go the wrong way and wander into a moral wasteland.
Unfortunately I've watched this kind of moral wandering many times. They begin to plow the fields of their life with questionable morals and ethics. As they do this they speak of their freedom to do what they want - and usually disparage the Word of God for its straight-laced moral views. But in the end they wind up wanding off into things they did not intend to do. They only realize this when they've gone much father than they expected - or when something devastating happens to them because of their moral blindness. It is a sad thing to watch - because as those counselled by Scripture, we see where they are going. That is why this is voiced to us in a rhetorical way. The rhetorical question is that they are going to wander and err who plan and plow evil in their lifestyle.
To counter this erring way, we are also given a strong statement about what awaits those who plow what is good in their lives. This good (Hebrew word "tobah") is something that is well-pleasing, fruitful, proper, and morally correct. Of course all these things are referring to how God's Word affirms the moral direction that they are taking. What is promised to those plowing in this way is mercy and truth. Let's take a closer look at these two words.
Kindness is the Hebrew word "chesed." That word means to receive mercy and lovingkindness. The word is used of God's love constantly in the Old Testament. It is the closest kin to the Greek word agape in the New Testatment. It refers to God's covenant love with His people. When we choose to plow in a way that is morally in agreement with God's Word, God loves us - and will shower us with His grace, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness. That is what awaits right moral choices. The second word is "truth" which is the Hebrew word "emet." It refers to faithfulness - and is often combined with ideas like God's righteousness and peace. When we plow our lives with godliness and moral rectitiude, there will be a harvest of peace and righteousness that will come to us. Rather than the wandering destructive ways that come to those who plow evil, there is a blessing that showers on those who seek a crop of good things. That blessing is a righteous life - a peaceful existance where we know where we are going. There will be the smile of God and the light of His presence upon this person's path. He sows to godliness and reaps an abundance of joy, light, and life as a result.
When I consider this proverb I cannot but come away from it without remembering the promise of God that we will reap what we sow. To the one who is plowing and sowing evil this comes as a warning that his ways are not good. He will eventually be led to wander and even be destroyed by his ungodly moral choices. To the one plowing and sowing good there is the confident expectation that a good crop will grow - yielding 30, 60, and 100 fold fruit to the glory of God - and to his own blessing and welfare. So the question to ask is simply this, "How are you plowing the fields of your life and future?"