Reid Ferguson

Proverbs 14:8-23

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 14 ESV”]

The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7 Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
15 The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
22 Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.
23 In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
24 The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
28 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
35 A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully
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Solomon: Talk is cheap

 

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

The wise man is forever asking the question: Where will this take me? The fool doesn’t ask, because he doesn’t want to know. He wants to deceive himself into justifying falling into sin. But this is also the very place where the Christian finds great rejoicing. The Puritan Richard Baxter once said: “Once you have a God, a Christ, a heaven to rejoice in, you may rationally indulge a constant joy.” The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, and if that way is following Christ; if that way is the road to Heaven through the Gospel; if that way will result in being in the unveiled presence of our glorious Christ and Savior – our Savior and Lord, for ever – it is time to begin to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory! The only right word is – hallelujah!

Proverbs 14:9 Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.

Every young person knows the sting of being thought of as silly, for paying attention to spiritual truths. So be it. Better to be accepted by God, than by millions of adoring fans. Let others mock at the “guilt offering”. They will mock us for feeling guilt at all, or for thinking that the sacrifice of Christ can remove that guilt. Either way – the Scripture says they are the fools. Let fools say what they will about your dependence upon Christ’s blood to meet your need in satisfying God for your guilt, you have The Father’s full acceptance. Their rejection is worth it. Better to have His acceptance than theirs. And if you are accepted in the Beloved – you are accepted indeed.

Proverbs 14:14 (ESV) — 14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.

Throw off God’s yoke, and you will be full all right – full of filth and grime and all manner of sin and its effects.

Yield to His yoke, and in due time, an entire harvest of good things will be yours in the Spirit. Sin always begins with the neglect of what is ours in Christ, shrinking back (backsliding) from those holy habits that bring us repeatedly into His presence and into contact with the Gospel truths that transform our lives by the power of the Spirit. The heart desires to be filled. This is as we were designed. But what we pursue to fill it, makes the difference between Heaven and Hell.

Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

What do you believe, and why? These are questions that the Foolish never seem to put together. Many a man knows his “opinions.” He is acquainted with at least some of what he believes. But does he examine the reasons behind why he believes them to be true? The Wise are always about this business. They know that ideas have consequences. They examine and re-examine their own thoughts and views and take them back to the Word of God over and over for refinement and scrutiny. Even the Christian who never questions what he believes and why proves to be “simple.” And that is not a complimentary term. It comes from a word which implies someone who will believe anything – in other words – gullible. Christians are not to be gullible but discerning. Contrary to the World’s definition of faith – we don’t just “believe” as though believing anything makes it true or useful. Faith is the reasoned response of the one whose eyes have been opened to know that God has spoken to us in His Word and in His Son, and believing what God has said is true, orders their life accordingly. Be a thinking man or woman of God.

Proverbs 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Here is the bankruptcy of mere “talk therapy”. One needs to act, not talk only. One needs even less to endlessly rehearse their woes in the ears of others. If you are not doing something about your problems, but merely discussing them with your friends and complaining – do not expect any progress. DO something if you can. Otherwise, you do nothing else but aggravate your own soul, and drag others into it. You will foster doubt, unbelief and bitterness in your own heart, and run the risk of infecting others with the same. Even prayer by itself is only talk, where action is called for. We must never do less than pray, but often must do much more. One needs not to just pray for a job, they need to go look for work. Don’t just pray that your marriage improve, learn to love and bless your spouse. Don’t get together and talk with others or even just pray about your Church, dig in and help build up others in Christ.

In every conquest of Canaan in the Old Testament, though God had promised the land to His people and told them He would fight for them and drive out the inhabitants, they STILL needed to raise the sword and actually go into battle.

So it is with our sins too. We cannot just pray them away – we must take all Scripture informed means to prosecute a war against them and prevent them from holding sway over us. This, by the power of the Spirit, believing that He will give us the victory if we will pursue in obedience to His Word, will see us bring them one by one under His hand. Fight on Christ. Do not do less than pray – pray always. But don’t stop there – fight! God has promised victory to those who cross over and pursue.

~ 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.