Thursday, June 15, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 22, Honesty Is The Best Policy

In today's passage Solomon contrasts the results of wise and honest living with the results of unwise and deceitful living.

"The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin." (Proverbs 10:8) If we are wise we will accept correction and instruction. We will grow and improve. But if we talk all the time and never listen we will learn nothing. Some scholars think the "chattering" mentioned here may indicate talking back disrespectfully or scornfully.

"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out." (Proverbs 10:9) When we live honest lives we don't have to fear our sins being discovered. We can go about our business without anxiety. But the one who lives dishonestly must always be on the alert. Time is taken up with concealing sins, and there is the constant feeling of anxiety that these sins will be found out.

"Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin." (Proverbs 10:10) Solomon says its equally bad to be a deceitful person or to be a person who refuses to listen to the truth. A deceiver causes grief to everyone around him, and eventually to himself as well. The chattering fool keeps on going down a path where the bridge is out because he ignored the warnings. Disaster will soon come upon him.

"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence." (Proverbs 10:11) Wisdom and instruction pour from the mouth of the one who knows God. That person is able to speak words of comfort and encouragement. But lies pour from the mouth of the wicked. This person says one thing but means another.

"Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs." (Proverbs 10:12) Have you ever known anyone who seemed to thrive on conflict? Have you ever met a person who enjoyed stirring things up and making people angry at each other? Have you ever known someone who remembers every little thing people have ever said or done to him and refuses to forgive anything at all? Solomon says this attitude comes from a lack of love in the heart. The Apostle Peter backs him up by telling us that love helps us overlook and forgive the mistakes of others, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) Love tells us that we aren't perfect ourselves, yet Christ forgave us because He loves us. How then can we refuse to love and forgive our fellow man?

"Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense." (Proverbs 10:13) The wise person will not say or do anything that will cause him to end up before a judge and be sentenced to a public beating. In ancient times there were various crimes for which a person might be sentenced to a beating before being released back into society. This was both humiliating and painful, so Solomon says, "If you are a sensible person you won't end up in this position. You won't do anything dishonest. Then you won't be found out and humiliated."

"The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin." (Proverbs 10:14) The author of Psalm 119, who is believed by many scholars to have been King David, has something to say about storing up knowledge, "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11) It's hard to obey God's commands if we don't know them. It's hard to take comfort from the Scriptures if we haven't memorized any of them. Solomon is saying, "Spend more time listening than talking. Take your religious instruction to heart. Memorize God's word. It will be there to help you when you need it. But the fool who chatters all the time will learn nothing. He only wants to hear the sound of his own voice. He doesn't want to hear the word of God. This will cause him to make many foolish mistakes." The Lord's brother James takes us a step further by saying, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22) The wise person will hear the word of God and put it into practice. It doesn't sanctify us simply to sit in church for an hour and hear the Bible recited. We must accept and believe the word and then go and live it out. God's word is living and active. (Hebrews 4:12) It will guide us wherever we go.

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