Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Proverbs 6:1-11

In Proverbs 6:1-11 Solomon shifts gears from adultery to money and work. “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor”. Solomon warned his son against guaranteeing the debts of others, whether they were a friend or a stranger. This was the promise to pay the debts of the friend or stranger if they failed to pay.

This wasn’t really like loaning someone money, nor exactly like cosigning a loan. In modern financial terms, it was more like guaranteeing someone’s open line of credit. It is a promise made with the words of your mouth but will affect and afflict your wallet or purse if things go bad. Solomons advice is pretty clear.  If you’ve committed to guarantee something for someone – go and get released.  Timing is everything.  Sooner than later. “Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler”. A gazelle would do anything to escape the hunter, and a bird would do anything to escape the fowler. Solomon tried to communicate the urgency his son should have in escaping responsibility for the debt of others.

Solomon changes his focus to explaining the importance of hard work. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest”. Solomon spoke wisdom to the sluggard – essentially, the lazy man or woman. That lazy person should learn from the ant, an insect we know for doing hard work. The ant is wise and worthy of imitation because she works hard without having to be told to work hard. The book of Proverbs speaks a lot about the value of hard work, and for good reason. The difference between success and failure, between potential disappointment or being fulfilled, is often hard work.

Solomon directly addresses those who are not hard workers. “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”. Solomon asked the lazy man to give account for his ways. The thought is, You want to sleep – how long? There is life to be lived and work to be done. Solomon is addressing the sluggard, but his teaching is targeted at his son and the rest of us who will be reading his words.  The sluggard loves to procrastinate and think things can always be done later. The hard worker can look forward to later because of accomplishments today!

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Proverbs 4:23-27

In Proverbs 4:23-27 Solomon gives us some important advice about guarding our heart. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”. This is a very important verse for us to ponder.  Our heart is our lifeblood.  We have to guard our heart.  Since wisdom belongs in the midst of the heart, it also is necessary to keep the heart safe in the sense of guarding it. In the sense Solomon meant here, the heart should be kept for wisdom, guarding it against the way of the wicked.  The heart contains the wellspring of life.  From it flows every good thing, or if not protected and guarded, from it will flow evil.

The heart is the reservoir, and change must begin there. If the reservoir is polluted, it does no good to fix the pipes and the valves.  We have to guard it before it becomes infiltrated with the wrong things. It isn’t easy to guard or keep our heart. There will be many opportunities to give our heart to a person or a path that wisdom would warn against.  The world is constantly trying to pull us off God’s path. If we guard our heart well, we enjoy life flowing from our heart, like a pleasant and bountiful water spring. But an unguarded heart sees a choking or restriction to the joy and pleasantness of life. We must be careful to guard our heart well.

Solomon goes on to exhort us to “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you”. To stay on the path of the just, we have to give attention to what we speak. Words matter, and what we say impacts those around us and ultimately ourselves.  But it is more than the mouth we need to consider.  He goes on to say “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you”. We often depart from the path of living God’s way out of distraction. The blinders used on horses do them a lot of good and would do many of us good as well. We have to guard our eyes, because evil can penetrate that way.

Solomon also challenges us to “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure”. If we consider the destination of our present path, it would lead to much more wise living. When we carefully ponder where we are headed, it helps to establish direction and help us to not turn to the right or the left. We can stay on the path. “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil”. We should not be distracted from the way of wisdom. We must never forget that sin is a choice.  It often happens when we swerve off Gods path – first just a little and with a quick return.  But over time, if we aren’t careful, those swerves go further and last longer.  We need to stay focused on gaining and living with God’s wisdom!

Proverbs 4:12-17

In Proverbs 4:12-17 Solomon reminds his son that he’s done his job of teaching him wisdom. And because of that, the outcome is pretty sweet. “When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble”. When we follow wisdom, we are walking on a road that has been well traveled by those ahead of us and is safe for us to follow.  We can move quickly down it, because it is free of the things that cause us to stumble in other places not guided by wisdom.  The power of living a life of obedience to God’s wisdom and direction is amazing.  We have to learn it, and then live it, but when we do we can go fast and know the path will be clear.

We do have to hang on and fight for what we learn.  The world is pumping all sorts of bad information and advice at us all day every day.  Fake news, false truth, bad examples – a fire hose of things that will pull us off the wisdom road. “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life”. Solomon emphasized the value we should have for wisdom. We should regard the love and pursuit of wisdom to be a life or death matter. We must take firm hold of wisdom because so much works to make us let go of her.  It is a struggle because everyone around us will be pulling us left or right.  The enemy doesn’t want us moving down the road of wisdom and will do whatever he can to derail us.

Solomon warns us to avoid getting off the wisdom trail. “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on”. How many ways can he say it?  We have to run from evil and run to God.  Solomon told his children to keep from starting on the path of the wicked. If a way is never entered, it never has to be remedied. The time to correct the direction we are taking is before we take the first step.  We have to make the choice before we take a wrong turn.  We have to choose obedience and doing life God’s way.  If we don’t, the pressures of the world will drag us to the wrong path.

Those on the path of wickedness are committed to their sin. They will sacrifice sleep and money and dignity and freedom to do their evil. They don’t rest comfortably unless they draw others to join them on the path of wickedness. Sin becomes their driver, and they want to bring you on their journey. “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence”. We have to flee those who continue to live in sin.  They will pull us away from the path of wisdom.  Who we hang out with matters.  If we want to be wise, and live a life pleasing to God, we have to be around others on that journey.  It’s not just perfect people – there are none of those – it is people who want to live victoriously for God we need to seek.

Proverbs 4:1-4

In Proverbs 4:1-4 Solomon gives instruction to his children.  Previously in Proverbs, Solomon spoke as a father to his son, perhaps as the principal heir to his fortune. Now the instruction is broadened to his children in general. This is the instruction of a father for the benefit of the children. “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching”. This appeal, and the appeal to hear in the first verse means there may be hesitancy or resistance on part of the children that must be over come by Solomon’s direct appeal. Parents are often discouraged by a child’s resistance to their wisdom and instruction, but it still must be spoken, and with heartfelt appeals.

Solomon had confidence in his instruction, no doubt because it was based in Scriptural wisdom. “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me”….. Solomon remembered the lessons his father taught him. This is likely special for any son with his father, but all the more when we consider that Solomon’s father was King David, the greatest of Israel’s earthly kings. David didn’t teach Solomon in private, but did so in sight of his mother and likely others as well. This makes Solomon’s fall even more disappointing – David poured wisdom into him but he didn’t hold those words fast for his own life.

“….and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live”. One of the ways that David attempted to capture Solomon’s heart was to communicate the importance of his instruction. Because the teaching faithfully communicated God’s truth, obedience to the commands of his father meant life or death for Solomon. David first encouraged the pursuit of wisdom in Solomon. We might say that this is even more important than any particular piece of wisdom, or it is one of the early lessons of wisdom.  We need to pursue God’s wisdom.  Scripture tells us if we seek it, we will find it.

But David had made it clear that gaining wisdom is not a once and done event.  Once wisdom is pursued and, in some sense, attained, it must be kept. It is possible to have wisdom for a time and then to turn away from it at a later time. King David taught his son well and Solomon received the lessons, valuing wisdom so much that he asked for it above all other things. That was his  Ironically and tragically, late in life Solomon did turn away from the path of wisdom. Even the best lessons can, eventually, be rejected. Solomon’s direction here is that it is vital for parents to teach their kids well.  Part of that teaching needs to be convincing them of the importance of the instruction.

Proverbs 3:27-34

In Proverbs 3:27-34 we see Solomon provide some direct lessons related to God’s wisdom.  “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it”. It’s not ours to keep. He tells us that we should do good when it is in the power of our hand to do so. Wisdom is not something for us to possess and control but rather to learn and then share.  It is our responsibility to pass it on and use it to do good. He continues with “Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it” – when you have it with you”. It’s not something we should play games with, or use as a lever or club over others.

The good we should do should be done promptly, while the opportunity still exists. If we leave it until tomorrow, it may never happen – and will certainly not happen as soon as it could and should. He goes further in telling us: “Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you”. God’s wisdom teaches us to treat others well. Since our own security and safety is connected to God’s wisdom and the good of our neighbor, then for safety’s sake we should not create issues with our neighbor when there is no cause.  We should be investing in the people in our patch and living in harmony with them.

He continues with “Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm”. God’s wisdom is not about stirring things up and creating conflict or discord.  Bridges wrote “We must beware of becoming involved in quarrels instead of pursuing peace. A spirit of strife is a great hindrance to holiness and is inconsistent for any of God’s servants.” We are to pay attention to how those around us live. “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence”. Evil may seem to win, but it never truly does.  We need to be careful who we associate with and choose those who follow God’s wisdom.

Solomon concludes with “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous”. God will judge based on how we live. “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor”. Solomon shows how pride sets God in opposition to us, but humility invites the grace of God. We want to be humble and receive God’s grace.  He will resist the proud.  Scripture tells us this truth over and over. “The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace”. Whatever success and positive result the wicked seem to have, it is only temporary. Their legacy will be shame, but God has a destiny of glory for His wise, humble ones.  Wisdom is the key to receiving that gift!

Proverbs 3:11-14

Proverbs 3:11-14 has Solomon teaching his son how to deal with God’s discipline. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof”.  This is an important lesson for all of us to learn.  In giving advice to his son, Solomon taught him how to regard correction or discipline from God.  Clarke described God’s teaching us this way: ‘The word ‘musar’ [translated in this version as discipline] signifies correction, discipline, and instruction. Teaching is essentially necessary to show man the way in which he is to go; discipline is necessary to render that teaching effectual; and, often, correction is requisite in order to bring the mind into submission, without which it cannot acquire knowledge’.

So God is all about ‘spanking’ us when we need it in order to prevent sin from becoming a habit.  We should not run from God’s discipline, but learn from it and be encouraged that He loves us enough to deal with it.  Guzik wrote that God may discipline us to:

  • Expose a sin or evil not previously seen.
  • Show the nature of the problem and the need to address it.
  • Discourage previous sin or evil.
  • Guide us to the rejection of sin to embrace God’s best.

Solomon goes on to tell us why God disciplines us….”for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights”.

God’s correction of His people is a wonderful sign of His love.  If He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t go to the trouble of correcting us.  Because He does, he will deal with our sins, weaknesses and areas we fall short.  Correction is a true sign of love.  It’s no difference for a human father than for our heavenly Father.  Wiersbe explained it this way: “Sometimes He chastens because we have rebelled and need to repent; other times He chastens to keep us from sinning and to prepare us for His special blessing. No matter how much the experience hurts us, it will never harm us, because God always chastens in love

There is blessing that comes from God’s wisdom.  “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold”.  Solomon longed for his son to find wisdom and understanding.  These things sometimes come through receiving God’s discipline, but no matter the source, they are of high value.  Scripture tells us that wisdom and understanding are better than silver and gold.  Wisdom creates the kind of character and training that brings contentment and quality of life that money can’t provide.  It is of high value, and when we find it the outcome is amazing!

Proverbs 2:1-8

In Proverbs 2:1-8 Solomon writes about the importance of listening and learning. “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”  He gives a couple of if / then statements that are worth paying close attention to:

  • If we receive, treasure, be attentive….
  • If we call out for insight, raise our voice for understanding…..
  • If we seek for wisdom like silver and a hidden treasure……

Three distinct “if” statements all together in a very long and run on sentence.

But then comes the “then” statement.  If we do the things listed, then we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. If we seek wisdom, we’ll find it.  But it isn’t merely saying the words, or wishing we had it.  We’re told here to listen, call out, and pursue it.  Solomon teaches us that without our personal effort to seek out wisdom, we will lack in our fear of the LORD and knowledge of God. We need to get after it and find it.  The ‘knowledge of God’ refers to personal intimacy with God through obedience to His word.  This isn’t a passive outcome.  It leads to action – obedience – and living a life based on God’s truth.

So what’s the point?  There are many benefits to God’s wisdom.  “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” God alone gives wisdom.  We don’t have any on our own.  True wisdom is found in Him, and He gives it. How?  Through the words of His mouth.  His word reveals knowledge and understanding.  That’s where God has recorded the things we need to know.  Wisdom is available.  We merely need to seek it, and heed it!

But there is more. God not only gives wisdom in His word; He actively works to defend, guard and preserve those who walk in His ways. The sense is that we need defense from God to gain proper understanding of His truth and wisdom. There are so many wrong ideas all over our world that we will never hold on to what is wise and true without being defended against the false and foolish. We are creatures of habit as humans. We will make tracks, ruts, paths for our life – wisdom helps us to make good and useful “ruts” or habits. That should be the outcome of wisdom.  We learn which way we are to go and we create a discipline that creates a habit leading us to walk in obedience to God’s truth every day!

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