Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. Proverbs 27:23-24
This verse in Proverbs kicks off a section that deals with diligence, as well as the fact of change in life. The wisdom offered here is to pay attention to things in your life because the one thing that will never change is that there is going to be change in your life. Time will march on whether you are paying attention to the parade or not. The danger posed to us by this is that life will change, either financially, politically, or spiritually and we will be caught off-guard by it.
One of the most effective ministries anywhere in the world is the ministry of neglect. This is an unintended ministry where we get busy in our lives - and neglect to watch over our finances, our marriage, our children, our business - even our own spiritual growth. Over time the ministry of neglect grows. Most people do not grasp what this ministry is doing until they are jolted as to its presence by a "suddenly-serious" problem. These are things that have been building up (or breaking down in many circumstances) and then make their appearance suddenly to us.
One of the best ways to describe this is to make reference to my very patient, very gracious wife. As a guy, I have a tendency to get over-focused in my life. As a result, I have had a pretty amazing track record of having the ministry of neglect in a number of areas of my life. What usually happens is that my precious bride wakes me out of my responbility slumber and alerts me to a way in which my life is in the process of falling apart. Whether it is in regard to my relationship with her - the rearing of our children - our finances - or any number of other things, I am usually shocked to see that there are problems. This rude awakening is a reminder that I truly do need to pay attention to things - many things - far better. The rude awakening is followed by - regret - conviction - repentance - and a flurry of action to put things right. Oh, and occasionally by being mad. The anger is experienced two ways - first I'm mad that someone is interrupting my stupidity (because at the time I don't see how stupid I'm being). Second, I am mad at myself for being so stupid - and letting things fall into disrepair through my ministry of neglect.
For the next couple of days, I want to look deeper into what is means to avoid having the ministry of neglect in your life. Before we are done, we'll look at several areas where this is important. We will examine the ministry of neglect and its affect on our personal lives, on our family, on our jobs or businesses, on our churches, and finally even on our nation and those who rule over us in the political structures under which we live. The ministry of neglect can be a very dangerous thing - if we continue in it. It is my hope that over the next several days we can strengthen the ministry of diligence - or said in a more eye-opening way - the ministry of true love.
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!
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches his way preserves his life. Proverbs 16:17
I live in a city where there are two ways to get around. The first is to get around the city by trying to navigate the maze of city streets that are in it. When you do this you also have the problem of constantly running into traffic lights and stop signs. What is far superior to this way of getting around town is what we call the bypass. It is a highway that goes around the city and provides a very quick way of covering large distances without having the problems of the normal city streets. The upright also have a highway that blesses them and makes sure that they have a clear path in walking with God. That is what today's proverb addresses and helps us to see.
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil. The best way to walk in God's will is to depart from evil. This is a pretty simple thing to understand. When we see evil - we go the other way. The difficulty in our society is determining what is and what is not evil. Our society would call good evil and evil good. They do not value God's Word and God's ways. They also in most cases even believe in truth - except as the individual views it. Therefore a lifestyle where we go to the Word of God to learn what truth is - is not the common thing. Most folks call what Christians call righteousness - judging - and intolerance. God calls it knowing the difference between good and evil.
God calls us to depart from evil. Because I don't want to have anyone misunderstand what God says here - I will fully define the word "depart." It is the Hebrew word, "sur" and it means to turn away, to go away, to desert, quit, keep far away. It is also translated to stop, to take away, to remove, and to turn aside from something. So when we realize what this word means - it is very easy to see that when God calls something evil - our response to it is to stay away from it - and if we are already doing it - to depart and go away from it - keeping as far away as possible.
The second thing we are told here is that the one who "watches his way preserves his life." Watching our lives means being very careful and cautious. Times when I have sinned against God are usually times when I have become careless about watching an area of my life. Sin is insidious in how it will seek to gain a foothold - and we must watch if we are going to avoid it and walk godly. The one who does watch is not being ultra-victorian as some would chide - rather he is doing what is necessary to preserve his life. This can be viewed two ways - first that he is preserving his life itself - because sin will bring death in many circumstances. Second, though is preserving the life of God that is given to us as we live by the Spirit of God who is in us. Either way - the man who watches what he says and does is wise to do it.
There is a highway that is before us every day - it is marked as well as the highways upon which we drive our cars. This highway is clearly marked out for us in the Word of God. It is revealed to us as the highway of the upright - but also as the way of righteousness and the way of the Lord. The wise man is the one who daily consults with the map (the Word) and who chooses to follow it.
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But
he who is careless of conduct will die. Proverbs 19:16
God's commandments are excellent keepers of our souls. God did not give us His commandments to make our lives miserable - or to keep us from ever having fun - as some would accuse. His commandments are boundaries that protect us from entering into areas where we would be harmed. He does not command us to honor and obey our parents because He desires for us to be miserable as children - not getting our own way and being dominated by an older generation forever. He does this so that children, who do not have good sense and whose sin nature would run rampant, would be protected from themselves. He does so because they must be guided and helped to know the right from the wrong in their lives. The Lord tells us to steer clear from adultery because God knows the damage and the destruction and misery caused by unfaithful partners in marriage. He knows that sexual immorality will lead to disease and to the destruction of our bodies. Thus the one who keeps the commandment indeed keeps his own soul.
God's commandments go even deeper than our physical beings. The one who keeps the commandment keeps his soul. The word for soul here is the Hebrew word "nephesh" which means our breath. This speaks of our inner being with its thoughts and emotions. This came to mean our whole person - both body and spirit. It spoke of the whole creature of man - both his outer health and his inner. When we keep the commandment - watching closely to obey and even kep the "spirit of the commandments," we are protected inside as well as out. Our mental health will be blessed by holding fast to God's commands and living by His ways. God blesses our thinking, our reasoning, our understanding, our discernment, our decision-making processes . . . He blesses so much when we learn to walk in obedience to His commands. But again I want to stress we obey the command - and we come to grasp the heart and love that is behind them.
The second part of the Proverb today reminds us that the one who is "careless of his conduct" will die. The word careless is "bazah" which means to hold in contempt or to despise. The reason one acts this way is because they have a basic disdain for something. They disrespect the idea of a code of conduct. They despise the idea that God would tell them how to live. Here is the sin nature exposed in all its ugliness. Mankind rebels against any master - and that is especially true of God as our Lord. Fallen man trumpets his own freedom of will to do as he pleases - yet is so blind not to see that his will is in bondage to his own sinful desires and the spirit of this world. He is careless of God's commands - and of his own ways. He walks where he wants - being led about by his own lusts and by the "ruler of this world" who has rebelled against God as well. He does not grasp that this rebellion - this contempt of God - this disrespect for His Word is a hellish thing.
The one who lays hold of such a lifestyle will perish. He will die in two ways. First he will die physically - the wages of sin is death. When God told Adam and Eve that in the day that they ate of the fruit they would surely die - He was not lying to them. This was no mere ploy of God to keep them away from something good. It was a loving warning that death lay in that decision to turn against Him and rebel. But there is a death that comes spiritually as well. The first pair knew sweet fellowship with God. They could actually walk with the Lord in the cool of the day in the garden. They could talk with Him, love Him, fellowship with Him in ways that we will only know in eternity. All that was gone after they despised their conduct - or at least the one commandment given to them. They died spiritually and passed down to all future generations a dead spirit at birth. They were dead in their transgressions and sins - and so was every child descended from them. In the first Adam we all died.
Oh such a warning is given to us by this proverb. How we should watch our ways - and watch God's commandments as our way. The one who does so watches not just over his physical existance in this world. He watches over the life that God gives him - both physically, but so much more importantly - spiritually. Watch dear saints - watch your life and keep it according to God's Word. See the positive call to life in every one of God's commandments. For though they are given with a thou shalt not - there is within every one of them a call to life and life abundantly. They is within them a freedom to walk in fellowship with God. Enjoy it and walk in it!
Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13
To read a face is easy - but to read someone's heart is far more difficult. In today's proverb we learn that lesson. Even when someone is laughing - their heart may still be in pain. Just because someone paints a smile on their face - it does not always serve as a guarantee of what is happening in their hearts. We are also counselled that the end of joy may be grief. This is why we need to not read every person by what they showing on their faces.
I remember a brother in Christ who used to ask me how I was doing. One time I answered him that I was doing fine, even thought I was not on the inside. Then he looked at me and said, "Really how are you doing - and this time tell me the truth." It was then that I opened up to him and told him that I was not doing so good. He took the time to really know what was going on in my heart - and then took the time to minister to me. He was such a blessing in this way. Where others would just take things at face value and move on - he really did what to know what is going on in someone's life. It opened up a great deal of ministry for him.
There are times when we will have to get past the facade that people put on for us. If we do not, they will not open up and we will not be able to minister to their true situation. So do not be deceived, even by laughter and supposed joy and mirth. These can be real - but they can also be camouflage to keep people at an arm's length - when in reality they truly need someone to push through so that their pain can be addressed by the love of someone who truly cares.
Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, Proverbs 2:11In our world a great number of people purchase a security system. They do so because they are wanting someone to watch over them and the things that they own so that they are safe. What we read in Proverbs today tells us that when we walk in wisdom, we are guarded and watched
over by God Himself. Now that is security!
As we open ourselves up to God for Him to do His work in our lives, we will begin to watch two very helpful things begin to happen in our thinking. The first is that we will begin to have biblical discernment. The word used here for discernment is "mezimmah." It means to have prudence and discretion. When God's wisdom comes into our lives - we begin to live with prudence. This means that we begin to look things over before doing them. We are prudent in that we think about the end of the matter before doing something. The ungodly just jump into an action because it is what they want to do. But when wisdom begins to guide our way - we think about what this is going to do in the end. We ask the question, "If I do this, what is the result going to be?" If we see a bad result or a costly one, we choose not to do it. This is how we are guarded by discretion. We are guarded from making a quick decision that is not thought out beforehand. This keeps us from many problems.
The second thing we begin to experience is understanding. This is the often used word "tebunah" which refers to someone with insight. They receive the information God gives them from the Word and from His Spirit and begin to understand all things from that perspective. Their understanding will watch over them - because as with discernment - they are loathe to do something just because it is what they want - or what others want for them. They see things from God's perspective - and having seen that - they avoid danger and stupidity like the plague.
A wise man listens to God through the Word of God. That Word speaks a myriad of things to him - and helps him begin to see the world as God sees it. When that happens - he will also begin to discern the best course of action - and takes it. This habit will help make that young man or worman - a person who is protected from evil - and will watch over them for good as they learn to follow God with all their heart and soul.
A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps. Proverbs 29:5When I was a kid growing up I heard a phrase that honestly did not make sense to me. The phrase was this, "Flattery will get you no where." When I heard this I was confused. When I heard someone flattering me, all I heard was someone giving me a compliment. Can receiving a compliment be all that bad? Honestly, the things that were said felt pretty good. So what exactly was I missing here? That sense of confusion was compounded when I first read this verse that says that when a man is flattering his neighbor - he is actually spreading a net for his steps. This makes flattery sound like something sinister. Whatever is being said is being used to set a trap. You don't "spreak out a net for someone's steps" for the purpose of blessing them. This was what was done to catch and capture an animal. Here the trap is words - and the prey . . . the prey is me!Most of confusion over flattery can be solved by understanding what flattery actually is. When that question is answered everything else falls into place. The word "flattery" here means to be smooth and slippery. The idea behind this word is that of being faithless, to flatter, or to be smooth. Flattery therefore is smooth and slippery speech - but speech that is meant to lull someone into a false sense of security. The compliment is not genuine. It is meant to disarm someone so that they don't see the trap. The words are subterfuge - like leaves and brush hiding the trap from view. Just as the animal sees the leaves and brush and thinks this is just a normal trail - so the compliment is there to have the one who hears it think all it well. Unfortunately, the animal doesn't see the trap until it is too late - until he is caught. Neither does the unwise one whose pride and ego receive the praise without question - and unwittingly step into the trap!Just about everywhere this word is used in the OT it is used negatively. Flattery is a compliment with an agenda. When someone is flattering you, their kind words do not have a kind or gracious intent behind them. They are smooth and slippery words outwardly - but the agenda behind them is not good. Your compliment is a set-up. There is something behind the glowing compliments - and that is what the person is after. They use the words and your good reaction to them to gain access to you and to your favor. This is the net for your steps. It is laid out for you to step into and be caught. Then the true intent behind their gracious and glowing comments is exposed. A wise man will learn to be gracious about compliments, but never let them be that which causes him to drop his guard. This is even more true when it comes to women who offer him compliments. If the compliment is from your wife, that is fine - but if it is from another woman - be very careful. You can be gracious and thank her for it - but never let it be used to trap you. If you remember a previous Proverb in the early chapters of this book, the immoral woman uses flattery to capture men. That is why you need to be unshakable in your commitment to God and your commitment to your bride. Compliments and flattery can be dangerous things when they are in the hands of those who are using them to disarm us to their real intent. That is why we need to always deflect praise and compliments to God. Were it not for Him and His grace, nothing really could be said of us. Thus we make it a habit to deflect priase unto Him. That is the safest thing to do - and the one way you can be wary of the net that often comes with flattery. Like I said at the beginning, our attitude needs to be, "Flattery will get you no where!"
Proverbs 23:6-8 (NASB)
6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments.
Proverbs lays out for us here three verses that warn us of selfish and greedy men. The term used to describe this men is a man of an 'evil eye.' This term is a Hebraism that refers to a man whose eye is set in a way that he is covetous and very selfish when it comes to his money. This guy has evidently made a promise of a sumptuous meal. To break bread with someone in this day was to offer them a meal. And from what we read here - this man is putting quite a the spread before us. It does not only involve putting food before us - but delicacies. Delicacies here is the Hebrew word "mat'am" and it means a very tasty, delicious food. It indicates soemthing like gourmet food or special tidbits and delicacies that were usually only served to the wealthy and influential person. This meal is provided to catch our eye - but dull our sensest. This is not just a Big Mac at Mickie-D's. This would be an entire meal at a fancy restaurant - including a top shelf dessert as well. Why would this man do this? What is even more important though is that God warns us to stay away - and not eat it - and not to be drawn in by the delicacies! We are warned against the desires that arise in us as we look at te delicacies set before us. Again, one might ask, "Why?" The answer lies with the character and the motives of the man who is providing the meal. He has a reason for what He is doing. And according to this passage - his motives are evil, selfish, and self-centered. Let's look a little further at all this as we seek to get all we can from this warning - as well as how all this applies to what we can face from men in THIS generation that use the same tactics. God now reveals to us this man's heart. The motives of his heart are hidden from us and the only way we know them is when God reveals them to us. This man thinks within himself differently than he is acting outwardly. His outward words say, "Eat and drink!" There is every indication that he is all about his hospitality. There is a problem though. His words do not match his heart. Who he is in his heart is who he really is and since his heart is not with us, we should question his true motives. Why would someone provide a great spread like this - and not have their heart in it? The answer to this question is that greed and selfishness are what motivate him. Ever been to a "free meal" or a "free weekend" at a time share? Yeah . . . that's what we're talking about here. We are provided what seems like an innocent and wonderful gift. Problem is the entire time we are enjoying it we are being set up for the real purpose. The gift is given to get something from us! Before the night is over - before the weekend is over - there is going to be a presentation. The reason for all the generosity is that you are supposed to buy something - commit to something. I've been to a free weekend at a resort - and the term "high pressure sales" is an understatement of what I eventually faced. When my "free" weekend was over, I honestly wished I had just paid for my so-called free vacation. That was one of the longest three hours of my entire life.When someone's heart is not with you in providing that great meal or that wonderful weekend; when someone's heart is not with you in giving you those "free tickets" or that gift card for a free meal, you need to know that a the heart is not set on giving, but greed. You are being lured into a way for Mr. Generous to make money in the end.
We are told that we will vomit up the morsel we thought we enjoyed. There will be a disgust in our hearts when we eat this man's food. That disgust will only be experienced after we find out the real agenda here. He didn't do this for us . . . He did it for himself. Covetousness and profiteering were the real reason this for Mr. Generosity's gift. In the end you feel like a fool for being tricked into doing something you "normally" would not do. You curse your desires that deadened you to the warnings of the Holy Spirit. Remember my time share story? Oh, how embarassingly this ended. I told myself that I would not buy anything! I was going to be strong - and say NO to everything. Then I'd enjoy the rest of my free vacation and go home. Remember the "high-pressure sales pitch?" Well, in the end, we didn't buy a time share. Instead we paid a ridiculous price for a promised "future" vacation - actually three were promised. I'm not stupid enough to fall for just one! Of course the promised triple play did not quite work out like it was mapped out for us. In fact the entire sitaution was a debacle. In the end - I vomited out the vacation we took - and wished I could take back my compliments about what a "great deal" I had just gotten! Remember this . . . when a selfish, greedy man "gives" you something, he has every intention to more than double or triple what he invested. At least that is my story - and my savings (or lack thereof) is sticking to it! In the end - you feel like a fool for complimenting the generosity of your host. You look at what was provided - and you think that it is wonderful. But the cost in the end - oh the cost in the end - makes you feel like a complete idiot for ever accepting his invitation. You kick yourself for ever getting involved. There are plenty of evil-eyed men out there in the world. They have their plans and their purpose for their pseudo-generosity. But remember that we've been warned by a wise God - and a wise man who walked with God - that there are subversive plans in this pseudo-generosity. The plans of these heartless givers are laid out like a trap for the unwary and the unsuspecting to step into. They want to catch your eye with their delicacies - and keep you from seeing the long-term plan in their ruse of free provision. Believe me when I say that their intention is to make far more than they have given. The truly wise man will see this ahead of time - and avoid even a meal provided by one whose eye is evil - and whose plans are selfish and filled with snares.
That they may keep you from an adulteress, From the foreigner who flatters with her words. Proverbs 7:5 We begin to grasp why wisdom and understanding need to be our sister and kinsman redeemer when we see the way that the adulteress seeks to capture men. The wise father here is offering very sage advice to his son - in an effort to rescue him from the snares of immoral women who would
capture him with their wiles.
Wisdom and understanding keep us from the adulteress. There is something we need to hear in our day - or any day for that matter. If a man does not walk in this world with his spirit open to the Holy Spirit - he will have the normal abnormalcy of walking in his flesh. I call this normal - because it is the state of all who come into this world. I call it abnormalcy because that was not how God originally made man - nor is it where God wants us to be. Too many men, young and old, walk blind to spiritual realities. This makes them sitting ducks for immorality and every other kind of vice common to mankind. It is only seeing things from God's perspective that will guard us from the adulteress. Thus we need to think in cooperation with the Holy Spirit who desires to give us wisdom and understanding - not with our desires and with our labido. We need to be guarded and protected . . . from ourselves.
This "strange woman," which is what the Hebrew literally says, is a foreigner. This term may surprise you, but it has more to do with a "spiritual" foreigner than any kind of nationality issues. God warned Israel about the nations that surrounded her because their daughters would intermarry with Israel's sons. God's concern was that this situation would result in Israel's sons worshipping the false god's that these women worshipped. As a result, these sons would turn from the Lord and follow the false gods of the nations instead of the one true God, Jehovah.
The adulteress has a secret weapon in her arsenal. It is one that God warns us of - and yet still hundreds and thousands of men fall for it every day. She "flatters" with her words. Men love for their egos to be stroked and pampered. They love it when a woman says nice things about them - compliments them - and tells them how wonderful they are. (As a man, I fear that this comes from the arrogant prideful thought within me that when they do - they are so right - because . . . well . . . because I just so incredibly awesome!) Oh, here is the danger, men! We want the ego strokes because of our pride. When a man has been married for a while - too often these ego-strokes begin to fade in the marriage due to men being doofusses and due to the natural progression of sin.
(Just a note to wives . . . ladies, you cannot ever grasp how important it is for your husband to know you appreciate him - and that you still consider him your hero - and a warning as well is needed here. If you don't do this - or think its just dumb to say things like this cause you've been married 5, 10, 20, 30 years. I can promise you that at some point, some other woman may begin complimenting and flattering your husband. He is still responsible to be godly, be pure, and be faithful. But that task becomes all the more difficult - when he receives no encouragement at home - no ego-strokes - no compliments. This makes it harder to resist when someone finally appreciates him. This is not meant to justify unfaithfulness - it just hopefully helps you see that your God-given task of being his helpmate (which includes encouragement and seeing him as your hero) will make it so much easier for him to see the smooth, flattery of the adulteress for what it is . . . a trap!)
The adulteress uses flattery to trap a man. She uses compliments and smooth statements as bait for another woman's husband. The word for flattery means words that are smooth and slippery. What a picture of the deception and the lies that are at work here. She worships herself and her own desires - and she is working hard through her slippery, smooth comments to get this poor sap to join her in her worship. He can worship himself and enter into her worship of herself through an illicit relationship. She catches her prey by luring him in through the baited compliments she places into her trap.
Wisdom and understanding are essential to delivering us from such things. God's viewpoint is simple men. Are you married? Do you presently have a wife? Then this is totally and completely out of bounds! If this is absolutely outside of God's will for you - then who could be behind such counsel and such temptation? We need to see these compliments for what they are. They are bait on a hook! If you nibble at the bait - a hook is going to tear through the flesh of your lip - possibly rip open your jaw - and no matter how hard you fight, you're going to be reeled in and mounted as a trophy on Satan's wall! My how that description just changed how we view the flattery and slippery speech of the adulteress! We went from being enamored with her beauty and the promise of ecstasy - to feeling sick at our stomachs at the thought of a hook tearing through our skin and the pain that it would yield. Good!! That is what wisdom and understanding are supposed to do. They are supposed to take the silly trappings off of the devil's lies - off of our flesh and its deceptive thoughts - and show us the horror of what truly lies ahead.
This is why wisdom is to be our sister - and understanding our kinsman redeemer. They can take the most sensual, inviting situation and show it for what it is. It is going to be horrible! It is going to be bondage! It is going to be regretted in the end! May God give us grace to see these things - to wake up out of the stupor of our fleshly sleep - and see the truth before it is too late.
Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Proverbs 2:8 Why is it so disheartening to see a judge or a police officer break the law and be guilty of criminal activity? The reason is that we look to these individuals to be ones who guard justice in our society. When they are guilty of injustice - it shakes our confidence in the system. It also leaves us without a guardian over issues of justice and righteousness. Here we are told something in Proverbs that should bless us greatly. The ultimate guardian of justice is not a man. The ultimate guardian of justice is God Himself. Don't worry too much about the paths or the way of justice - at least to the point of thinking it won't exist any longer. Such thoughts are false. God Himself is the One who guards the paths of justice. He watches over them and will one day bring every injustice to light - and each will receive the due penalty of their error. That should both comfort and terrify us. It should comfort us to know that this world is not spinning out of control. God has been watching over it - and will continue to do so until the end of the age. No one is going to "get away" with anything in the end. God will call all men to stand before Him and give account for the deeds which they have done in their bodies. Each will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Justice will be fine and will be swift in that day and hour. But what about that nefarious enemy of justice - nepotism? We've all watched as a relative or close friend is rescued from justice without any of the consequences of it being experienced. The only ones punished in that scenario are those who had the unfortunate providence of working with the relative or close friend. In the end justice is skewered and cooked on a spit - and all those watching have their faith in a truly just judge or official shaken. There is where we can be assured that God is the true guardian of justice. If there ever was a time when He would have decided to lapse into nepotism, it would have been with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When He became sin - the entire universe watched with their breath held at what the Father would do. True to His nature and His holiness - and the fact that He is the guardian of justice - God brought justice to bear on His Son, when He became sin for us. Thus, we see that God was just - but because of His actions and the sacrifice of His Son - He was also the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. God also is known as the One who preserves the way of His godly ones. This literally means He is watching, guarding, and protecting the course of their lives. The descriptive language used here with the words "way" and "paths" has the idea of where we are going. It also gives us the picture of a map of our lives laid out before us. That map is known by the Lord - and He is watching over it. When we choose to be one of His godly ones - and concern ourselves with justice as well - He watches over us. That is not a promise we will never have problems - but it is a promise that nothing will happen to us that does not first come through God's purposes and plans for our lives. So don't fret over justice. God, who watches over the paths of justice will deal with all matters on that great and glorious day when all men will have to stand and give an account for their lives and their choices. Know also that as you live a godly life - that He is watching over you as well. Your confidence in such things can be overwhelming - and hopefully your peace will be sufficient in every situation.