Reid Ferguson

Proverbs 15:1-19

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 15 ESV”]

1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge;
not so the hearts of fools.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but he loves him who pursues righteousness.
10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.
11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord;
how much more the hearts of the children of man!
12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved;
he will not go to the wise.
13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
18 A hot- tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the upright is a level highway.
20 A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
22 Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed.
23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!
24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent,
that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.
25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
but gracious words are pure.
27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
and good news refreshes the bones.
31 The ear that listens to life- giving reproof
will dwell among the wise.
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.
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Solomon: Our Seeing God

 

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Christian, never forget that your Heavenly Father knows where you are and what is happening to you and around you. He knows! Let no one ever imagine God is unaware of their plight. He sees. He knows. He cares. What a loving, faithful God we serve.

Unbeliever, never forget that your Creator knows where you are and is happening to you and around you. He knows! Let no one ever imagine God is unaware of their plight – nor of their sin and rebellion against Him. Would you gain a sense of how patient and kind He is toward you? He knows all this, and yet He calls to you with the Gospel of grace, to come and be reconciled to Him. To have your sins forgiven. To obtain the gift of eternal life in Jesus. To become His child. What a loving and faithful God He is. How long will you wait?

Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

It takes gentleness to minister to weak, weary and bruised souls – but sometimes in trying to be gentle, we can massage the truth so as to communicate falsehood. When this happens, when truth suffers in our attempt to be gentle, we end up not only failing to truly minster, we do positive harm – we break the spirit of the one we are trying to encourage. Eventually, the truth WILL come to them, and they will be disheartened and resentful at how we failed to be courageously loving in dealing truthfully and straightforwardly. They will see why our counsel failed to give them real aid. We will be seen to have put mere band-aids on their cancer and led them to believe all will be well. We must speak the truth in love. And neither aspect, the truth nor the love can be safely neglected. It is never a question of “would you rather have the truth, or the love?” That is a false dichotomy. Scripture demands both.

Proverbs 15:19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.

To a lazy person, every step forward is painful and full of trial and danger. Not that it is really so – but this is how they imagine it, so as to keep themselves from having to move forward. They have convinced themselves of every possible objection. The road is too steep, or plunges too quickly. The smiles of others make me suspicious, the frowns of others discourage me. If I do this – that will happen, and if I do that, this will happen – every path is a no-win. Everything is too hard, too dangerous, too painful. So it only makes sense to do nothing, and lament then about not making any progress.

And how this slips over in the Christian life in terms of spiritual progress. Many a Believer seems to make precious little progress because they have erected all kinds of real, exaggerated and even imaginary barriers to how difficult it is. We need to see this as sluggardliness at its root and repent of it. It was the Victorian preacher J. C. Ryle who coined the phrase “no pain, no gain.” And he did so in the context of growing in sanctification, of maturing in Christ. Eternal glories have been freely won for us by Christ – but we must go into the fields He has planted them in, and gather them up for ourselves. Manna falls each morning, but it must be sought out and harvested. Grace is dropping all around us, but we must put our hands out to cup the sweet elixir, and bring it to our own mouths to drink.

~ 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.