Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 65, Mistakes That Are Avoidable

Today Solomon provides us with a miscellaneous list of foolish mistakes to avoid.

"Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider." (Proverbs 20:16) Solomon has warned us before to be very careful about who we put up security (or co-sign) for. Now he says, "If a person is foolish enough to co-sign for someone who owes you a debt, make sure you get some collateral. If he's foolish enough to be security for someone he doesn't know, he's foolish enough to make other poor decisions, and this means he could default on what he owes you. Make sure you take something of his to hold as collateral. Not doing so is unwise."

"Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouthful of gravel." (Proverbs 20:17) There are some folks who simply delight in their wickedness. They will take more enjoyment in something they gained dishonestly than by anything they gained honestly. But Solomon says beware, for the food that once tasted so sweet on the tongue will end up being as useless as a mouthful of gravel. It won't nourish the one who gained it by dishonesty. The adulteress in Chapter 9 entices foolish men by saying, "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" (Proverbs 9:17) The "stolen water" and "secret bread" of adultery may seem exciting for the moment, but Solomon says, "her guests are deep in the realm of the dead". (Proverbs 9:18b) The things we gain dishonestly will turn around and bite us like a snake, but the things we gain honestly will continue to be a blessing to us.

"Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance." (Proverbs 20:18) Jesus said something similar, "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?" (Luke 14:31) What both Jesus and Solomon are telling us is not to make poor and hasty decisions. We must seek the advice of experts who know more about the subject than we do. We must carefully consider all the possible outcomes before we take action.

"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much." (Proverbs 20:19) We've noted time and again how much Solomon dislikes overly chatty people. He says, "Stay away from blabbermouths! Avoid those who are always repeating gossip to you. As soon as they leave your presence they will be talking to someone else about you. Don't ever trust a person like this with confidential matters."

"If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness." (Proverbs 20:20) The law of Moses stated, "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." (Exodus 21:17) The Lord Jesus quoted this verse when He accused the religious leaders of being hypocrites. They were using the law to their own advantage, for if they didn't want to support their elderly parents they would just say, "I've devoted this money to God. I put it in the offering plate at the temple and now I don't have any left over to help my parents. They will just have to get by the best way they can." (Matthew 15:3-7) God included the order to honor our mothers and fathers in the ten commandments, so He's pretty serious about it. Solomon is saying something like, "If you refuse to honor one of these most basic and important commandments, you are unlikely to honor the rest of them. You are walking in darkness and will end up spending eternity in darkness."

"An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end." (Proverbs 20:21) The prodigal son is a good example of this. He wanted his inheritance while his father was still living. He wanted to enjoy his inheritance while he was still young enough to live it up and party all night. But he ended up losing everything he had, working for a Gentile pig farmer and being so hungry he coveted the scraps the hogs ate. The prodigal was too immature and too worldly to manage his inheritance. He claimed it too soon and he lost it. We sometimes see this happening in modern times to those who inherit money at a young age or to those who become famous at a young age. They use the money to live it up, to throw parties with $1000 bottles of champagne, to accumulate jewelry and cars, to impress the world with their wealth and extravagance. But fame is fleeting, and so is money when it's used unwisely. The next thing you know we're seeing something in the tabloids about the once-famous music legend or movie star filing for bankruptcy.

If any of the proverbs today are joined together by a single theme, it might be to always stop and think before we speak or before we act. Many a decision has turned out to be foolish because it was made in haste. We have to stop and ask ourselves, "Does this go against God's word? Will it be a sin? What are the possible consequences of this decision? How will it affect me? How will it affect my family? How will it affect my relationship with the Lord?"

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