Proverbs

Our Conduct

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Have you ever known someone who calls themselves a Christian, but their actions would seem to prove otherwise? They want to be known as pure and right, but don’t seem to conduct themselves in a way that the Bible would affirm as “pure and right”. The Bible tells us that we will know the heart of a person by their fruit, not necessarily by their words. Proverbs 20 verse 11 puts it this way: 

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”

If you claim to be a Christian; if you claim to be a follower of Christ, then your actions should reflect that claim. Are your motives pure? Are your actions pure? Would your friends be surprised to hear your claim of being a Christian? Yes, we are human and subject to fall through sin on occasion, but where is our heart? If we are only pretending, or flat out falsely claiming that we are believers, then our actions will prove us a liar. And over time, our words will also. Because the Bible reminds us that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”. So whatever your true motives, whatever your true intentions, your heart will reveal who you really are - certainly to God, but also to man. So I encourage you to be true to your claim of being a believer, because Proverbs reminds us that even a child is known by his actions.

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We need to be true to our testimony, or our claim that we are believers in Christ. Yes we are subject to sin, but our heart and our intentions should be towards purity and righteousness in Christ. To say that we follow him, but live in a way that is unbecoming a believer only proves us false and can be a stumbling block to those who God is calling to himself. So I encourage you to take seriously your conduct before God and also before men. Because who you truly are will be revealed whether you want it to or not.

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Consequences

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Have you ever heard the saying, “if you lay down with dogs, you’ll wake up with flees”? How about, “if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned”? Both of these sayings allude to the idea that if we sin, or dabble in something that we know is wrong or evil, then it will bite us in the end and we’ll have to pay a price for our actions. In the Bible there are more than a few proverbs that support this principle as well. One such example appears in Proverbs chapter 6, verses 27 through 29 which says: 

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.”

The sin that is highlighted here is adultery. When we sin in a manner like this, and are not found out right away, we may believe that we’ve gotten away with the sin. But in fact, not only are there spiritual consequences, there are physical consequences as well. When we sin, there is a separation from God. The Bible teaches us that sin and God’s holiness do not mix. We grieve the Spirit and God turns his face from us. So when we sin and think we’ve gotten away with something we are only fooling ourselves. Though there may not be immediate earthly consequences, there certainly are immediate spiritual consequences. But also, as this proverb explains, there are earthly consequences as well. It says that “no one who touches, or sleeps with, another man’s wife will go unpunished.” So when you play with sin, you’re sure to get burned both spiritually and often times physically as well.

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Proverbs asks, ”Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” In these verses we learn that sin leaves its mark; not only spiritually, but often times physically as well. We may not be aware of it immediately, but this proverb suggests that no one will go unpunished. And even though we can be forgiven by our Heavenly Father, often times we still have to pay a price for our transgression here on earth. That price can come in the form of a prison sentence, extreme guilt, divorce, broken trust, broken relationships, some form of restitution and in some cases even death. So I encourage you to heed this proverb. We can’t expect to sin and walk away unscathed. We can’t expect to walk on hot coals without our feet being scorched.

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Flawless Words

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Have you ever met individuals who call themselves “believers”, but in fact, they only want to believe the parts of the Bible that they are comfortable with or agree with their moral or spiritual code? And as our culture changes, their idea of “truth” changes as well. True believers know that God never changes. His word is perfect, it is flawless, and we should never presume to try and change the literal words or the intent of what God laid out in his holy scriptures. Proverbs warns us against this. It says in chapter 30 verses 5 and 6:

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

Why does it seem that so many times God’s creation thinks it knows better than God? God created us. He made the rules and he inspired the Bible. The Bible is God’s word, and Proverbs reminds us that every word in the Bible is flawless. When we decide to change, water down, or ignore what is written we are only deceiving ourselves. Proverbs says that God will rebuke us and prove us a liar. So I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Bible. Let the Holy Spirit teach you its meaning and its intent. Accept it as holy objective truth that will always be true no matter what the world says or what we ourselves experience, because no one wants to be rebuked and proven a liar.

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God’s words are flawless. The Bible will never require updating or correction. It was true when it was written, it is true today, and it will remain true until Jesus returns and life as we know it comes to a end. If our pride or our culture leads us to believe that we know better than God, then Proverbs tells us that God will rebuke us and prove us a liar. I pray that you and I take these words to heart.

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Patience to Overlook

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I believe it is human nature to want to see those who do wrong get their just punishment. Even as believers, we may want to chime in on what each wrongdoer’s punishment should look like. I watch a lot of true crime shows and I feel really good when I hear that a murderer is caught and even better when I hear that the sentence fits the crime. At times, we can let that mentality translate to those who have in some way offended us. We may want them to get what’s coming to them, so to speak. It is true that we worship a just God, but the Bible reminds us that it is not for us to judge and it is not for us to avenge. Those things are in God’s hands. Proverbs goes so far as to tell us that it is wisdom to overlook an offense. It says in Proverbs 19:11:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

If we examine the life of Jesus, it is easy to see that he was extremely patient and able to overlook several offenses. He was patient with the woman who was about to be stoned for her adulterous acts when he didn’t have to be. And he forgave those who mocked him, even while he was on the cross! In as much as possible, we are to be like Jesus. Proverbs tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be patient with others even to the point of overlooking an offense.

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Proverbs tells us that, “a man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” If you stop and think about what has been forgiven us by our Lord and Savior, any offense by any human pales in comparison to how far we fall short of the glory of God. Though knowing this, it still may not be easy to forgive an offense. But that is what we are called to do. I don’t think we are being told that we are to be treated like a door mat, but we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated. And I would venture to guess that when you offend someone, either by mistake or knowing full well what you’re doing, you’d want that person to overlook it. So, I encourage you to do what Proverbs says. In as much as possible, overlook an offense.

Cry of the Poor

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Have you ever heard the saying, “forewarned is forearmed”? The basic principle behind the saying is that if we are warned about something, it is almost as if we are armed to defend ourselves because we will be prepared and not taken by surprise. Proverbs 21:13 sends us a warning that should help us become forearmed. It says:

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

God cares about the poor. In this verse, we are warned not to shut our ears to them. In another place, the Bible highlights how much God cares about the orphans and widows by calling believers to specifically care for them as well. God doesn’t take on the responsibility of caring for the poor and less fortunate by himself. He leaves much of that to his believers; those of us who call ourselves Christians and bow our knee to our Lord Jesus. It is our job to answer the cries of the poor. If we don’t do it, who will? I believe that God will figure a way to accomplish his goal if we fail, but who of us doesn’t want our cries answered? The scripture clearly says, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be heard.” Do you want to be heard when you cry out? I know that I do. So, I encourage you to open your ears to the cry of the poor.

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Proverbs warns us that “if a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be heard.” You don’t have to be rich to help those who are poor. Just reach out in some way. Volunteer at an organization that ministers to the less fortunate. Pray for those who are in need. When the opportunity arises, or God lays someone on your heart who is in need, be quick to respond. Make no mistake, when we help the poor, God notices – especially when they are crying out for help. And when we shut our ears to their cry, well, he notices that too.

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