Proverbs 16:2-4

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 16 ESV”]
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
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Solomon: God’s Sovereignty

 

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Such is our sinful self-deception, that our own motives are often hidden from us. Especially when we contemplate sin. Our capacity to justify it seems endlessly creative.
But we must not imagine our ignorance is God’s – He DOES know our motivations. And our ignorance will not excuse us in the end – for our true motivations are known – and they are, our own.
This is both jarring – in that our wickedness cannot be hidden, and comforting, in that even the slightest hint of righteous desires are known and noted by a gracious God.
 

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

Bad eyes? Constant struggle with weight? Abandoned? Hurt? Poor? Wealthy? Too short? Bald? Too attractive to be taken seriously? No pedigree? Wrong ethnicity? Birth defect? Challenged? Poor hearing? Diabetic? Lack ambition? Lonely? Only liked for your money or influence? Dumped at the altar? Bullied? Abused? Betrayed? Uneducated? Handicapped?
God has graciously & wisely given us each and every circumstance – from our physical strengths and weaknesses, to our positive and negative circumstantial environments – that we might be brought face to face with the conditions best suited to maximize the exposure of the sin within us that needs dealt with, as it hinders Christ’s likeness within us.
Does this mean we simply look at everything and declare it good? No! May it never be! Some of these things considered in and of themselves are in fact bad. Very bad. But their being bad is no hindrance to God’s gracious purposes toward His own through them. Evil exists. But God’s goodness redeems even the most heinous of all things that touch us on behalf of His loved ones – so that we need not live as perpetual victims, but rather as prized trophies of grace.
On one side, it takes very penetrating hurts to go deep enough to uncover and expose the most buried and protected sins. On the other side, it takes very great privileges and pleasures to expose other of the deepest sins buried in our hearts. These are means He uses in sanctification – no matter how the Enemy may have designed it, or the evil in any other perpetrator’s heart may have meant it.
How then, will we respond? Will we use His “gifts” to grow? Or will they serve as our chief excuses to remain as we are? Praise God for His great redeeming grace!
His redemptive glory transcends anything we’ve begun to uncover yet. Oh how eternity alone will be able to declare it to us! Though we cannot see it now, the day will come when we will. His righteousness will be fully vindicated; evil and sin will be fully revealed and judged – and we will stand in awe of how He blessed us through the worst machinations the Enemy of our souls was able to concoct and execute through the agency of his fallen minions and fallen men. What a great God we serve.

~ 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.

Proverbs 15:24

 

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: Being Intentional

 

Proverbs 15:24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.

A concept revisited over and over in Proverbs is that of seeing life as going somewhere, not just being lived. The Bible never sees mere existence as legitimate for human beings. We are meant to be people of purpose.

The naturalistic worldview posits that all of human life – indeed all of life period is nothing more than a cosmic accident. That there is no rhyme or reason to anything existing, let alone human life as distinct not only from other organic life – but any other substance. We are simply an animated substance and that, by chance.

It was Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays – 1849) who wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” And if the naturalistic worldview is correct, there is no other way to live life. It began without purpose, prattles along without purpose, and ends without purpose. Even Thoreau’s “song” has no purpose, other than meaningless self-expression. Little more than the belch from a well fed stomach.

How far from this is the Biblical worldview.

The “prudent” live a life that is leading “upward.” It is the picture of one on a journey with a deliberate termination point – and that, beyond “Sheol” or the grave. The one who has had their eyes opened to the reality of the living God and our relationship to Him first in creation and then redemption in Jesus Christ – has set their sights on arriving in His presence as their goal.

Nothing ought to be quietly desperate about us – but every moment infused with hope and the knowledge that having been created in God’s image, and for those in Christ, in the process of being re-created in that image – this is but one stage of the journey. Determinative certainly, but final – never.

There was an old poem later put into song which carried the refrain:

There’s a Heaven to gain, and a Hell to shun;
The way is still straight, there’s a race to be run.
You can live as you please, but you must pay the cost;
And the highway to Heaven still goes by the cross.

That’s true. And the Prudent live their lives knowing it.

Let me ask you, are you deliberately going to Heaven? Living your life on purpose, or just existing?

~ Reid

Leave comments at Responsive Reiding
_______________
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.