Saturday, August 12, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 75, The Biblical Principle Of Shunning According To Jesus

Today we look at several principles, the last of which involves when and how to shun a person who is causing trouble in the home or in the church. This principle is intended to help the person to repent and change. If it does not work, at least harmony will be restored in the home and in the church.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) In our modern society it's almost impossible to own houses or cars without taking loans out for them, but this verse is still a reminder to us not to borrow more than we are able to pay. Just because the bank will lend us a certain amount doesn't necessarily mean we should borrow the maximum. A few years back, when the housing market crashed and the shady practices of the banking industry came to light, a lot of people ended up owing more on their homes than they were actually worth. They ended up owing more than they could pay. It's best to make big decisions prayerfully, because only the Lord knows what the economy will be like down the road and whether we will still be gainfully employed.

"Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken." (Proverbs 22:8) It may seem like wicked people are getting away with their injustice and cruelty, but that is impossible, for the word of God says a man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7) Some crops take longer to mature than others, but sooner or later that seed will sprout and yield a harvest, so Solomon reminds us that the one who sows seeds of injustice will reap a harvest of calamity.

"The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9) As my pastor likes to say, "You can't outgive God." Those who donate money and time in order to help others do not go unnoticed by God. He remembers the deeds of the righteous as well as He remembers the deeds of the unrighteous. The one who plants the seeds of generosity will reap a harvest of plenty. As King David observed, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely, their children will be a blessing." (Psalm 37:25-26) David says, "The Lord sees the compassion you have on the poor and needy. Because you have helped the one who was hungry, the Lord will not allow you to go hungry. There will always be bread in your house. Your children will learn this principle and will be a blessing to the community, just as you have been."

"Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended." (Proverbs 22:10) The Bible provides examples for shunning a person who persists in causing trouble in the family or in the church family. One of the best examples is found in Matthew 18:15-17 where the Lord Jesus tells us how to deal with the person who is doing wrong. After three attempts at trying to work things out with them, He gives us permission to "treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector". In other words, we are free to cut off contact with them in the hopes that they will see the error of their ways and repent. If they do not, at least we will have achieved some peace and quiet.

We find it difficult to shun someone who treats us poorly because as Christians we naturally want to be loving and forgiving. Jesus gives us permission to offer three chances in Matthew 18:17 because sometimes a person is stubborn and doesn't learn from mistakes very quickly. But after that it's up to us if we want to continue to try and work things out. If we've given someone their three chances to shape up and they don't, Jesus will not judge us for saying, "I've had enough!" Please note that this does not apply to physical abuse. The first time a person puts your life or health in danger, you need to get out of their physical reach. You can continue to work on the relationship from a distance, but don't put yourself in a position to be harmed. You can continue loving that person, praying for that person, and trying to get help for that person. This is still offering them second and third chances. But don't risk your life or the lives of your children. Sometimes all we can do is take a hands off approach and leave everything up to God. We've done all we can do. We can't risk our safety, so we have to wait for God to change a person's heart.

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