Reid Ferguson

Proverbs 12:16-26

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 12 ESV”]

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.
2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
but a man of evil devices he condemns.
3 No one is established by wickedness,
but the root of the righteous will never be moved.
4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
5 The thoughts of the righteous are just;
the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the mouth of the upright delivers them.
7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous will stand.
8 A man is commended according to his good sense,
but one of twisted mind is despised.
9 Better to be lowly and have a servant
than to play the great man and lack bread.
10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
11 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.
12 Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
13 An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
but the righteous escapes from trouble.
14 From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.
15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.
16 The vexation of a fool is known at once,
but the prudent ignores an insult.
17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
but those who plan peace have joy.
21 No ill befalls the righteous,
but the wicked are filled with trouble.
22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge,
but the heart of fools proclaims folly.
24 The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 Whoever is slothful will not roast his game,
but the diligent man will get precious wealth.
28 In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death.
[/learn_more]

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Solomon: Good Sense

 

Proverbs 12:16 The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.

Many a person reacts instantly and negatively to slights and then justifies it under the guise of being “honest” or “transparent.” But honesty and transparency do not require wearing our every feeling on our sleeve, nor subjecting others to our every discomfort. This is a fool’s errand. Knee jerk reactions are the reactions of a jerk – or more properly, a fool. The one who is easily provoked, is the slave of the provocateur. The only buttons someone else can push, are the ones you give them access to. And if you cannot set the provocative aspects aside to stay focused upon the real issues at hand, you will be forever barred from arriving at solutions to problems. I know. I’ve been there. I have played the fool. Heaven help me to be more like my King, Jesus. He responded to all situations, but never just reacted.

Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Do you tend to use your words as weapons – to wound others? Chances are, they were uttered rashly – like the knee-jerk responses of verse 16. But even if not – even if well considered, what a poor use of such a powerful tool – this tongue of ours. Even in reproof, our aim ought to be healing and never simple denunciation or hurting someone back. If someone needs correction, may we truly bring correction, for their good, and not merely give vent to our personal vitriol. Our job is not to punish others with our words. Ultimately, that is never more than our own desire to hurt the other. Even “when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 9). Neither should we.

Proverbs 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.

This is a right heart – one whose plan it is to bring peace – especially where it is threatened. For the lost, we seek their peace with God in Jesus. For the Redeemed, we seek their peace with one another. If that is not our goal, we are self-deceived and are devising evil instead.

Proverbs 12:21 No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.

It isn’t that the righteous are trial-less, but rather that God is not chastening, and every woe is redeemed for blessing.

Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Spilling everything we know about everything to everybody is foolish. When we shut up and listen, we remain prudent.

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

This is as true in spiritual matters as it is in natural ones.

The “farmer” who is not diligent to plow thoroughly, plant liberally, water carefully, pull weeds ruthlessly, protect from ravaging pests watchfully and harvest punctually – will not survive. The “Christian” who does not feed their soul on the Word daily, attack indwelling sin viciously, drink in worship thirstily, breathe in prayer repeatedly, seek holiness intentionally and pour grace into others as providence allows – will not survive either. I believe it was A. W. Tozer who said that most of us are not as holy as we wish were, but all of us are as holy as we are willing to be. If your spiritual progress has been stalled, or has taken a back seat – is it not time to see if you are being diligent about the things which make for true growth in the likeness of Christ? We will not rule over ourselves and indwelling sin, if we are not diligent to pursue those things which make for it. Nor should we be surprised then that spiritual matters have become more like forced labor than joyful privileges. It was in Christ’s diligence to pursue all the Father had put before Him, rather than shrinking at the struggles and labor, that purchased our salvation.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Anxiety is a complex issue. There are right and proper anxieties, in terms of genuine concerns over very real difficulties. And then there are anxieties which are unrealistic, and/or occupy an improper place within us.

When we are controlled by our anxieties, we’ve let them run away with us. They become the dictators of life decisions, rather than the great realities of our God on His throne and His ever present and unfailing promises. They occupy the “throne” of our hearts, rather than serving to bring us to prayer and to seek to rest in God’s love and care. One way to know if our anxieties have crossed over from legitimate and reasonable concerns – even abiding ones – to sinful and destructive is by how we respond to God’s Word on the subject. If we cannot be calmed by reminders of God’s goodness, His providential care, an underlying trust that He holds us and knows what is best, and we slip over into despair, we need not only to fight the anxiety itself, we need to repent. If a “good word”, a right and correct and properly fitting word from the Lord’s counsel does not ease our anxiety, then perhaps our problem isn’t anxiety – but something else. Maybe, it is unbelief.

Does this mean all of our cares and concerns will simply evaporate? Not at all. In such seasons, we might find the need to battle this attack on our trust in the Lord a thousand times a day. A thousand times an hour! But we seek to regain the control our anxiety tries to rob from us. We treat it not like a condition to be accepted or merely treated or anesthetized, but an enemy to be defeated.

Little is so debilitating as a heart weighed down with anxiety. And notice the focus here – the heart. In other words, the love and trust we ordinarily have in Christ, is displaced in this condition. It seeks to reign within us, to be what occupies us most. But it is a usurper of the peace and joy that is meant to be ours in Him – and we fight it like the interloper and assassin of faith it really is.

Fight beloved. Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t surrender the throne of your affections to this pretender to the crown of your life. Guard the door of your heart – and continually crown Christ the king of kings and Lord of Lords in your own heart and mind.

Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Today, many would title this idea: “Lifestyle Evangelism”. The truth is BOTH, what we say AND what we do matters. We can never safely have one without the other.

When it comes to evangelism, some would lay more or all of the stress in our efforts of proclamation. And proclamation is absolutely essential. People must hear, understand and believe – the Gospel – the message.

Others would place the bulk of the stress upon lifestyle and the “what” of our lives.

But good actions are not the Gospel by themselves, the “message” of Christ’s atoning death is; and the Message negated by graceless lives is an exercise in futility. We are to be men and women of integrity – of life and message so wrapped around one another that they cannot be separated.

The bottom line is – if Jesus hadn’t lived in perfect holiness, He could not have been fit to be our Savior. And if the message of the meaning of His death were not proclaimed, there is no faith by which one is justified.

Neither one could be omitted without salvation being a myth. We are not meant to be mere signposts, we are guides. Guides go themselves, where they want others to go.

~ Reid

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

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