Thursday, July 13, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 50, Love Covers Offenses

Solomon will tell us today that love covers over offenses. We have all committed offenses against our fellow man and against God. But thanks be to God, there is a love big enough to cover our every offense. Christ loved us enough to give Himself in our place and to pay our debt of sin in order to give us the free gift of salvation.

The king begins by pointing out some behaviors of the wicked. "A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 17:3-4) Have you ever known anyone who seemed to enjoy the misfortune of others? God isn't pleased with this attitude. Solomon says the Lord will discipline it. In fact, he will later warn us in Proverbs 24:17-18 not to even gloat when our enemy falls, lest the Lord disapprove of our attitude and turn His wrath away from our enemies. It's very unattractive to take pleasure in someone else's trouble and it's bad for the character.

"Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children." (Proverbs 17:6) It's natural for parents to brag about their children and grandchildren. It's natural for children to look up to their parents. It's a sad thing when this is not the case, when children are so wayward and so lost in sin that the parents are continually in despair, or when parents are so neglectful and irresponsible that when the children are grown they want nothing to do with their mother or father.

"Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool---how much worse lying lips to a ruler!" (Proverbs 17:7) The word translated as "eloquent" can also mean "persuasive". We studied earlier in the week that godly wisdom helps us speak persuasively. Such a gift would be wasted on the ungodly. It would only enable them to lead more people into sin. Solomon says, "The gift of the gab is a bad thing for a foolish person to have, but it's even worse when a ruler is a liar. A ruler is in a position to lead more people astray than the average person."

"A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn." (Proverbs 17:8) Money talks. Money is used for many sinful endeavors. A person can become so used to getting his way through the use of his wealth that he will depend wholly upon it, which is idolatry.

"Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (Proverbs 17:9) When someone we love hurts us or makes a mistake, it doesn't help the situation at all to go around talking about them. Some of our other friends may turn their backs on that person because they will feel offended when they hear of their behavior. Love will compel us to keep the matter quiet. Solomon says "love covers over an offense", and I don't know any better example of love covering offenses than the love of Christ which caused Him to shed the blood that is able to cover our every offense. The sins of those of us who are in Christ are under His blood, and He will never bring those things up to us again.

"A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool." (Proverbs 17:10) The king is an experienced ruler. He's probably judged thousands of court cases. He's seen people learn quickly from their mistakes and he's seen people make the same mistakes over and over again. He makes this observation, "When you tell a godly person he has messed up, he will see it and admit it. He will learn not to make the same mistake again. But words are wasted on the ungodly person. I bet if you were to strike him a hundred times you couldn't make an impression on him. He would just go right back out and do the same things over again."

"Evildoers foster rebellion against God; the messenger of death will be sent against them." (Proverbs 17:11) Sin is really rebellion against God, against His authority and against His right to rule over His creation. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a) But, as the Apostle Paul said, "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23b) We are freely offered the pardon of sin. Christ loves us and is willing to cover over our offenses with His blood. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15) Christ died and rose again to earn for us a salvation we were incapable of earning for ourselves. But if we reject Him, we are left with nothing but what we have earned. We are left to stand before our holy Judge with no defender by our side, with no one to say, "This one is Mine! She accepted by faith who I am and what I've done for her. Her sins are covered by My blood and can never be brought up again. I paid for them in her place."

Who doesn't enjoy a nice gift? A gift is a little something extra, not something we earned, but something another person wanted to give us out of the goodness of their heart. There is no greater gift than knowing Jesus Christ as Lord. It's the gift that keeps on giving throughout eternity. It's the gift that helps us in this world and brings us unspeakable joy in the next. The Apostle Paul asks a question that's intended to make everyone really stop and think about the enormity and the severity of leaving this world without Christ, "How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3a) Christ is our only escape. His gift of salvation is free to us because He paid for it Himself. How can we ignore that?

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