Day 150 (May 30): The righteous will be rewarded, the wise accept correction, fools fail

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Proverbs 11-13

Questions & Observations

These proverbs are all so amazing.  I can apply most of them to my own life.  You?  We will highlight some, but many are self-explanatory or subjects we have covered in previous readings.

Q. (11:2): We have heard several times where it is great to be humble.  But, it seems that if you feel the need to get your — rather God’s — message to someone, that you should speak out, a time when you may not be so humble.  How can we proclaim Christ and still remain humble?

A. I think you might be confusing some concepts.  If as Christians we believe the truth of our message, and others ask us about it or we feel compelled to share (appropriately), then I think it is quite appropriate to speak about the gospel.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t humble in the process.  The best gospel messages I’ve ever heard have a simple focus: what God has done for us in Christ.  If you are bragging about all the things you are doing for God (not humble!) you are on the wrong track.  The truth is that a clear understanding of the gospel message should make us humble: it all comes down to God acting on our behalf and accepting what Christ has done in faith.  It surely takes great humility to share that message well.

Q. (11:12): Keeping this one little proverb could prevent so many rifts among neighborhoods and towns.  However, you have those who definitely fall out of favor with the rest by what color they paint their house, how many cars are left out in their driveway with flat tires, etc.  So, you could not talk about them, and let the HOA handle it.  Or, if there is abuse going on, let the authorities handle it instead of chatting about it amongst one another.  Is this the point of this proverb?

A. I would question what type of motivation is driving your desire to “share.”  Are you truly motivated by a desire to make your community look better, or is it to feel better about putting another person down.  The key word in the proverb is “belittle.”  It is good and appropriate to share the truth (in love!), because rarely when you are truly motivated by love will you end up intentionally belittling someone.  If you can’t speak to someone without knocking them down a few pegs in the process, then perhaps the HOA should do it.

Q. (11:14): I think Congress helps prevent our president, leader, from making foolish mistakes.  Also, the leaders of our church, after suffering a fall after the pastor who delivers sermons made a foolish mistake and resigned, are planning to build a teaching team, where several pastors rotate to deliver the message.  That way, they can work with one another, give each other a break from the stress of leading a huge congregation, and if one leaves for whatever reason, the fact that there are more to cover his spot can minimize the blow.

A. I think this verse is talking more about a President’s cabinet of advisors rather than Congress, though there is certain value in the checks and balances our government has built in.  But generally, the cabinet is the people who are advising the President.

Q. (11:15): When does God say it’s OK to help people out financially?

A.  God says it’s always OK, as long as you are being financially responsible for your own affairs as well, which should be your top priority.  If you can’t keep your own house in order, you won’t be able to help other people anyway.

O. (11:17): We have read about good and evil pretty much based on those traits being in two different types of people.  But, when I read this verse and think of both of them within myself, it has a different application.  If I let the goodness in me take over, I will be saved.  If I let the evil take over, I will be destroyed and have nothing to show for my life.

O. (11:18): I guess this is why God hasn’t given me the winning numbers to the lottery.

Q. (11:23): I thought we were all going to be judged.  Does this mean the godly don’t have to fear judgment? They can just look forward to the rewards?

A. Hebrews 9:27 makes it clear that everyone will die and face judgment, but if we are in Christ, we do not have to worry about being condemned for our sins (Romans 8:1).

Q. (11:24-25): My friend was taking the Dave Ramsey course to learn how to budget.  She said one of the lessons was on tithing.  He told his students to give freely, it will come back to you.  This is a hard concept to understand, but if you believe God will take care of you and by tithing, we help others and that pleases God, then it becomes a wonderful habit to get into.  I hope the “be stingy” part doesn’t include coupon clipping and bargaining to get a better price on things.  My father-in-law has told us that all prices are negotiable — he’s talking mostly of cars, houses, furniture and other big home purchases like carpeting, cabinets, etc.  Is bargaining not a godly practice?  I always find it a delight to see what I can save, but sometimes when I’m doing it, it does seem a bit like I’m hurting the person on the other side of the counter.

A. The only action forbidden in the market place is deceit (God desires honest scales as we saw in 11:1).  You don’t have to worry about bargaining or clipping coupons, unless you are doing so in order to rip someone off, including a company.

Q. (12:1): Several verses have addressed this “taking wisdom” topic.  I was always talking about others taking advice and didn’t apply it to myself.  I take some advice well, but other times, I consider the person giving the advice and roll my eyes.  I applied for an assistant editor position.  After I didn’t get it, I was told that I was going to get it until the lazy (he was a talented design editor, but was lost when he was promoted to a manager) managing editor called one of his buddies who was looking for a job.  I was told I did much better on the editing test than he did.  Anyway, as you can guess I didn’t get the job.  But, I had to work with him.  He made mistake after mistake.  And, I was not being bitter at all.  He was just not capable of doing the job.  He really got under my skin because we caught so many mistakes that he made.  Now, after I understand more of what I am as a Christian, I have a hard time thinking it would change my actions with this matter if it were to happen again today.  So, what I’m asking is how do you work with someone (he technically was not my boss, but I had to work a lot with him) if they are not fit for the work?

A. I’m not sure I would have good blanket advice for this situation.  Personally, I would do my best to be honest and helpful, but would be very concerned that working with such a person would make me bitter.  And if the people who supervised “us” couldn’t see this person’s incompetence, then I would say its not a good company to work for and find another job as soon as I could.

Q. (12:10): I grew up on a farm.  We were very good to our animals, except for the branding and the horn “trimming.”  In my second year of college, a very liberal professor showed us a film about the meat industry.  The next time I tried to eat a Hawaiian pizza, I couldn’t eat it.  Subconsciously, the film changed my diet to be a vegan.  Doesn’t this verse speak out to cruelty to animals that are raised for consumption? Another animal cruelty subject has come up at my daughter’s school.  In second grade, she dissected a snake.  This is our first year there and I have heard that they do that in the first grade too.  Anyway, she felt she HAD to do it, but it really grossed her out and she couldn’t eat dinner that night.  Most kids in the class were fine, but I heard that a couple others had to return to the classroom.  I went online and saw where something like 12 million animals a year are killed to use for dissection in school.  That doesn’t seem godly.  To me, a model does the same thing without the killing and the traumatization of the students.  Many would say I’m just a tree-hugger.  But, I feel it to the bone that animals lives should not be trivialized.

A. I think God would agree with you (Luke 12:6 is a great verse), and I think animal rights are worth pursuing.  My only concern is the need to weigh (greatly) the value of human life above animal life- there is no more clear teaching in the Law.  Yes the animals that were sacrificed (remember all those fun passages) were valued and the intent of the shedding of blood was clear, but it was clear that the animal died so that the people might live.  Now we no longer need to sacrifice animals to live (especially if we are vegan, which I am not), but I do have concerns about many would be animal advocates who seem to have little concern for the lives of people, especially the most vulnerable —the unborn, the abused, the ill, the elderly, and the imprisoned.  Given the simple math of a limited number of days and years here on earth, my understanding of the gospel compels me to value human life above animal life, because the loss of human life can have eternal consequences, and I am not convinced that the same is true of animals.  Be careful that a crusade to prevent some snake dissection does not keep you from focusing on the only being to be made in God’s image: humans.

Q. (12:11): Chasing fantasies?  Does Wisdom say that we should choose a practical profession?  The U.S. always boasts that it’s the place to take chances, myself included.  If everyone took the “safe” route, we wouldn’t have as many of the innovations that we enjoy today.

A. If you chased fantasies in ancient society rather than raising crops or working a trade, you starved.  It’s as simple as that.  We have reached the point where it is not required of us to do the same, so I feel that we can find more “creative” ways of honoring God’s calling on our lives.

O. (12:18): I struggle with this even with my own kids.  My girls are very sweet and thoughtful.  However, when they do something wrong, that almost outweighs their sweetness and I just want to blast the bad behavior away.  Some of the words and tone of voice — I know I’m not alone in this — are not the most gentle.  But, I feel that if you don’t show them my disapproval of their actions, they won’t take the matter seriously.

O. (12:23): I have seen this.  When something wise is said, it seems to be taken but not made a spectacle of.  Conversely, when someone — especially a leader — says something redonkulous (ha), it is broadcasted — or mocked in smaller circles —for days and days and days.

Q. (13:3): It’s sooooo hard to know when to speak out and when to hold it.  Is there some sort of mental check that the Bible can give us before we offer advice?

A. Nope.  You’ve got to be discerning and seek God’s wisdom on when to speak and when to be silent.  James 1:19 does tell us that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, so that might be a good starting point.

O. (13:9): What a rewarding verse!  It conjures that wonderful light, joyous feeling we have as Christians.

Q. (13:20): OK.  But in the NT, Jesus says to hang out with the wicked rather than the righteous, because the righteous don’t need to be saved.  So, does the NT overrule this verse?

A. There is nothing about wicked or righteous in the verse in question.  It warns against keeping foolish company and seeking wise company.  Besides, I think you have it backwards: while Jesus did sometimes seek out people, the reality is that they usually sought out HIM!  If anything that proves the value of the verse: people were amazed at how wise Jesus was, and were drawn to Him.  If His words had been foolish, He likely would not have garnered that much attention.  Also, we should be very careful about misapplying the verse you are thinking of (from Luke 5) in all circumstances.  Jesus was not saying that righteous did not need Him, only that He had come to call those who knew they were spiritually “sick” and desired to get well.

Q. (13:24): This is a popular verse among those who speak out about disciplining children.  Many say the “rod” is spanking.  A wise friend says that the rod is supposed to show the way and has nothing to do with spanking.

A. I could see either interpretation.  The problem with many parents today is that they move beyond “not spanking” into “not disciplining their children at all”!  The rod was (and is) used by shepherds to correct sheep; not merely to show the way, but also to CORRECT it when the sheep is wrong.  I am fine with the idea that you do not have to spank a child to correct them (and hitting in anger is wrong), but I reject the idea that this verse means we “show the way” and make the effort to ensure they follow it.  It is our job as parents to use whatever means necessary to ensure our kids are disciplined, responsible adults, but I fear that too many parents just “show” the path and never make sure the kids are on it!

Q. (13:25): Many of these verses, to me, have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning.  This one can be applied to food and being fulfilled with life.

A. Indeed.

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