Proverbs 3:5-8, 13-15; 15:1-5; 23:19-21
INTRODUCTION In the book of Proverbs we have a unique collection of holy wisdom on a practical plane, or what we might call sanctified common sense, which is an exceedingly uncommon thing. We are reminded here that the best life on earth is life lived in the light of heaven -- but with our feet on the ground.
Much of the loud talk we hear about spiritual power could profitably be replaced by real spiritual power in the application to real life of the spiritual instruction to be found in Proverbs and other Scripture. If some Christians have failed to grasp the great theological doctrines of the Bible, others failing to apply the simpler teachings of the Bible which ought to govern our everyday life.
Perhaps it is easier to generate enthusiasm and get excited about some great controversial doctrines and prophetic interpretations, but one of the greatest needs among orthodox Bible-believing Baptists is a revival of old-fashioned Biblical morality which we can all agree on in principle but so often fail to practice.
Certainly the greatest need and duty of Christians is to worship and serve Christ in anticipation of eternal glory in His presence. But when we really do this we find Him telling us how to behave ourselves here and now.
Proverbs selected for this lesson may be outlined as follows: 1. Attitudes, Proverbs 3:5-8. a. Total trust, 5. b. Divine direction, 6. c. Faithful fear, 7. d. Better blessings, 8. 2. Affluence, Proverbs 3:13-15. a. Holy happiness, 13. b. Godly gain, 14-15. 3. Answers, Proverbs 15:1-5 a. Careful counsel, 1-2. b. Eternal evidence, 3. c. Life's lessons, 4-5. 4. Appetites, Proverbs 23:19-21. a. Willing wisdom, 19. b. suitable separation, 20. c. Maudlin misery, 21. NOTES ON THE TEXT:
ATTITUDES, Proverbs 3:5-8. We are not creatures of circumstances; we are creatures of God who have fallen into sin; and how we act in given circumstances depends upon our own nature and attitudes. This truth is axiomatic, and yet it needs to be often repeated and emphasized because of the perverse and contrary propa- ganda of modern education. We cannot always change our circumstances, but by God's grace we can change our attitudes.
Total Trust, 5. Supposedly, if we profess to be Christians, we have put our trust in the Lord. How sincere is our profession? Do we trust Him partly or completely? Do we still to some extent lean to our own understanding? Are we willing to follow and obey our Lord wherever He leads and whatever He says, or only so far as we can understand?
Too often God's people act more like goats than like sheep: they "But" their own way instead of following the way of the good Shepherd. If Jesus has given us a clear com- mand, what difference does it make whether we can understand His reasons for it or not? We have no right to call Him Lord if we are not willing to do what He says. Let us trust Him completely in all things, without any ifs, ands, or buts.
Divine Direction, 6. Let us have no ways in which we might be hesitant or ashamed to acknowledge our Lord. If we can always rejoice in the assurance of His presence, we can be sure that He will direct our paths. Of course, if we insist on going our own way without Him, He is hot directing us there.
Faithfu1 Fear, 7. No man with a proper fear of the Lord can be wise in his own eyes. Somehow the reverence inspired by the consciousness of God's presence leaves no room for confidence in any strength or wisdom of our own. And when we learn to fear God as we ought, we learn also that "by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" [Proverbs 16:6].
Better Blessings, 8. "Health to thy navel and marrow to thy bones" may suggest spiritual blessings better than the blessings of physical health, but we can get those blessings elsewhere in the Scripture and we ought not to lose too much "spiritualizing" the promises of natural health.
This does not mean that devout Christians are insured against sickness and disease; these things and even physical death, are included in God's permissive will for us. Nevertheless, other things being equal, God's people will enjoy better health and longer life in this world if they are faithful and obedient that if they are unfaithful and disobedient.
AFFLUENT, Proverbs 3:13-15. Different men have different ideas about what constitutes affluence, wealth, or riches. Covetousness, the worship of material wealth, is a most common form of idolatry. The Bible points out and brings to us spiritual wealth of infinitely greater value than all the riches of this world.
Holy Happiness, 13. God's people are a happy people when they stop the vain pursuit of happiness in the things of this world and find their happiness in the wisdom and other blessings of God. Redeemed souls in every generation testify to the truth of God's Word that when we find the wisdom and understanding that come from God we find a holy happiness that money can- not but.
Godly Gain, 14-15. Acquisition of silver, gold, and precious stones in huge material fortunes is generally at the expense of other men; and sooner or later such wealth will be lost in life or left in death to pass again into the hands of other men; but the merchandise of wisdom enriches him who gains it without impoverishing anyone, and once gained it can never be lost.
ANSWERS, Proverbs 15:1-5. Repeating the axiom stated above, our answers to life's situations depend on our attitudes within. Laboring the obvious, the wise man and the fool act differently in the same situation.
Careful Counsel, 1-2. Often it does take two to make a quarrel, and even if one would start it the other can either turn it off or stir it up by this response. The tongue and mouth, the organs or speech, can express only the wisdom of foolishness of their owner.
Eternal Evidence, 3. Wisdom teaches us to guard our tongues and speak only truth, because the truth will eventually come out in the judgment of God. Our idle words may not be taped here on earth, but God has a record which we cannot erase [Matthew 12:36].
Life's Lessons, 4-5. Spoken words can heal or hurt: like the tree of life [Revelation 22:2] a wholesome tongue may have healing power; like the serpent in the garden [Genesis 3:1] a perverse tongue is "a breach in the spirit."
Verse 5 reminds us that the hearer is responsible, as well as the speaker: proper instruction and reproof value to the fool who will not listen.
APPETITES, Proverbs 23:19-21. Finally, our lesson includes three verses on the desires or appetites of the flesh. The wise man may have the same appetite as the fool, but he looks beyond the immediate gratification of appetite to the eventual result, and governs himself accordingly.
Willing Wisdom, 19. Exhortations and commands such as this assume the fact of individual personal responsibility. It is true that the unregenerate soul is in bondage to sin, and that even the reborn child of God has a natural disability toward spiritual things [Galatians 5:17]; nevertheless we are commanded to live miraculously in the same power of God by which we received life. We are told to "Hear . . . and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way." It will be a miracle if we do it, but we must do it.
Suitable Separation, 20. Jesus was and is the Friend of "publicans and sinners," including drunkards and gluttons, but He was never "among" them in the sense of partaking of their sins. There is such a thing as a suitable separation in conduct which is not pharisaical.
Maudlin Misery, 21. It would be bad enough to live in poverty and rags through no fault of our own; it would surely be no comfort to realize that we had brought ourselves into such a state of our own folly. Let us wisely prefer to curb our fleshly appetites rather than sell ourselves our to maudlin misery.
CONCLUSION [Proverbs 9:10] Men who have not learned to fear God have not begun to be wise. Men who have no knowledge of the holy God and of holy things have no understanding of ultimate reality. ===============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist weekly paper, October 18, 1974, p. 2. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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