Friday, June 2, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 9, Wisdom Encourages Good Decisions

Solomon cautions his son not to make poor decisions. He will need wisdom to keep him from doing unwise things.

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you'---when you already have it with you." (Proverbs 3:27-28) Solomon is telling his son to love his neighbor, and especially to be kind to the neighbor who is in need. He says, "If your neighbor comes to you for help, and if it's in your power to help him, do so."

"Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you." (Proverbs 3:29) Would we want to live beside a neighbor who plots harm against us? Of course not. So we shouldn't plot harm against our neighbor. This goes along with the principle of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.

"Do not accuse anyone for no reason---when they have done you no harm." (Proverbs 3:30) One of the ten commandments orders us not to bear false witness. We are not to go around lying about people or accusing them of things they haven't done. The Apostle Paul preached on the value of being at peace with our fellow man, saying, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18) Paul knew there would be people who would refuse to get along with us, or with anyone for that matter, but he says, "Don't be the one who stirs up strife! I know there are people who can't get along with anyone, and I know you may not be able to change their attitude, but don't sink down to their level. Avoid them if you have to, but don't become like them."

Solomon continues, "Don't envy the violent or choose any of their ways." (Proverbs 3:31) It might be easy for a young man to envy the power and wealth of unscrupulous people. It might appear easier to obtain wealth by force than by performing honest hard work. But that path leads to nothing but ruin. "For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into His confidence. The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame." (Proverbs 3:32-35)

Solomon now uses the plural "sons" in the NIV, which is translated "children" in other versions of the Bible. We don't know whether he is addressing more than one of his own sons (the Bible only mentions one son by name; it's not known whether he had others), or whether he is teaching a group of young men in a religious training class. "Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1-2)

He now passes along instructions that his own father David gave to him. "For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, 'Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.'" (Proverbs 4:3-9)

The king says, "From the time I was a very small child, my father King David taught me the value of wisdom. I'm not speaking to you only through my own authority and experience, but I'm passing along to you the wisdom of the man God said had a heart like His. My father wasn't a perfect man, but he was quick to repent of his mistakes and to learn from them. This is why he told me to cling to godly wisdom at all times. It was only when my father cast wisdom aside and gave in to his carnal nature that he fell into sin. But if we hold onto the wisdom of the Lord with all our might we can avoid a lot of poor decisions. If we keep the Lord's commands in our hearts day and night we will not stray from His precepts. Then when we get to the end of our lives we can look back on them and not be ashamed. Godly wisdom helps us live lives of honor and beauty. Being faithful to the Lord earns us a crown of righteousness."

The Apostle Paul looked forward to receiving the crown of righteousness. He was a man who made some terrible mistakes in his youth. He zealously persecuted the church of Christ through ignorance and unbelief. Paul was a man with blood on his hands. But when he came to Christ he became a new man who could walk in the godly wisdom of the Holy Spirit who instructed him. From then on Christ was everything to him and he spent the rest of his life telling others about Him. This is why, as he faced imminent death as a martyr, Paul could say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

I want that crown of righteousness, don't you? The wisdom of the Lord is able to guide our lives in such a way that when we come to the end of them we can say, "I lived for Christ! He's everything to me. Sometimes I stumbled and fell but He held out His hand and helped me back to my feet. I kept on following Him, putting one foot in front of the other, and I never looked back and longed for my previous life of sin. I fought the good fight. I fought against my own carnal nature and against the wiles of the devil. Christ has given me the victory. I am nearing the end of the race and I may not have been the fastest or most graceful runner but the Lord is going to get me across the finish line. I have kept the faith. One day I made the decision to follow Jesus and I never regretted it. He is going to place on my head the crown of righteousness, the crown He earned, and in turn I'm going to cast it at His feet because I owe it all to Him."

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