Proverbs 24 – August 24

CC Image courtesy of Jan Jesperson on Flickr.

Proverbs 24
Author: Bob Terhune

I don’t know about you but sometimes I find myself wondering about how people whose actions most of us would consider “bad” actually end up winning.   We all see it in sports, politics and very often in business. Even though I retired several years ago and don’t have to deal with those types of business people anymore, I still wonder occasionally about the influence they are having.

Proverbs 24 has a lot to say about evildoers; folks who do those things not in accordance with God’s will.   The first thing is that we should resist the temptation to model their behavior.   “Don’t envy evil people or desire their company. For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.” (24.1-2) For most of us, this admonition is fairly straightforward and makes a lot of sense and is something that we see as the right thing to do.

Furthermore we will readily agree with verse 8 that talks about those who plan evil: “A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker. The schemes of a fool are sinful; everyone detests a mocker.” (24.8-9)

We also are solidly behind the thoughts of verse 19 as we try not to let their actions cause us grief: “Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.”    In fact a lot of the passages in Proverbs note that the wicked will suffer the consequences of their actions. (24.19-20)

But how do we handle verses 17 and 18.   Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.” (24.17-18)

I am probably not alone in saying that it is challenging not to take some comfort when someone who has done wrong “gets what they deserve.”   I think the point being made in verses 17 and 18 is that we should work to make sure that our hearts are in the right place and leave judgement to God.   “Fear God” is one of the recurring themes in Proverbs and is repeated at the end of this section in conjunction with the admonition to let God deal with those who do evil.

So what’s the bottom line about how to deal with people who do bad things; don’t envy their success, don’t worry about their impact on you and finally don’t rejoice when things go bad for them.   Trust that God has it under control.

Proverbs 24 – July 24

CC Image courtesy of slgckgc on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of slgckgc on Flickr.

Proverbs 24
Author: Rob Anderson

I used to coach t-ball. For the most part, it was an enjoyable experience. Most of the coaches tried to help the players learn to play more than they tried to “win” the league. The league had a very tight policy against arguing—one could be tossed for even the slightest hint of disagreement with an umpire—and as a result, most of the games went off without a hitch. There was, however, as there always is, THAT coach. In fact, THAT coach was so despised, I overheard the umpire telling the scorekeeper before the game something to the effect of “I cannot stand THAT coach.”

Our team was up to bat first. Our lead off hitter lay down an incredible bunt. That is, if you could bunt in t-ball. He had actually swung with all his might and managed to barely move the ball off the tee. The thing he did have going for him was that although he was small, he was slow. Their pitcher picked up the ball and easily threw it to first, beating the runner by a step or two. THAT coach, who was at first immediately began high-fiving his player, only to hear the umpire yell:

Safe!

THAT coach whipped around to look at the umpire.

THAT coach opened his mouth to argue.

And that umpire looked at him, arched her eyebrow ever so slightly, and although it was not audible, I would swear I heard her comment: Say something. PLEASE, say something!

Here’s what I did and did not learn that day. I did not learn that that umpire calls a fair ballgame. I did not learn there is no such thing as partiality in baseball. I did not learn to trust that umpire.

No, I learned that if you will be nice to the umpire, she will be nice to you.

I learned that the writer of proverbs was right:

To show partiality in judging is not good:
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
Will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. (Proverbs 24.23-24, NIV)

Although I tried to be nice to that umpire for the rest of my time in the league, I knew her judgment rested not on the performance of my players, but on my respect. And to be honest, it was hard to have any.

Proverbs 24 – June 24

Image generated by wordle.net.

Image generated by wordle.net.

Proverbs 24
Author: April Stephenson

Many of you may be familiar with the website wordle.net.  It is a sight that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide.  There is greater prominence given to words that appear more frequently in the source text.  Out of curiosity, I entered Proverbs 24 into wordle and you can see the results of the word cloud generated. What speaks to you, what do you see? …the larger words? …the positive words? … the white words?  Look closely. Put on those reading glasses to see those little bitty words because they are important too.  When studying scripture I am prone to notice the text that I am familiar with, perhaps the ‘large’ ‘positive’ ‘white’ words. Lately I have been challenged to seek the Spirit’s guidance to identify the part of the passage that God desires me to see.  That happened recently while reading Proverbs 24.

Look with me at verse 10:

“If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” (NKJV)

“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength.” (NIV)

“If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” (MSG)

Did you notice?  Did you hear it? “you, your, you, your, you, you”

There it was for me – in black and white: ME, ME, ME — I faint, my strength is small, I falter, I fall to pieces…then I heard the whisper “April, MY strength.” It is about relying on HIM.  HE does not faint, HE does not falter in a time of trouble, HE does not fall to pieces in a crisis.  It is HIS strength I need, HIS strength I claim, HIS strength HE offers all day everyday.  I’m so thankful to see/hear/have God’s wisdom, instruction and strength.

I would like to encourage you to ask for the Spirit to speak to you. Go ahead, reread Proverbs 24.  What does God desire for you to see/hear/have today?