I have thought a lot about the news lately. It seems wherever I turn for news I hear hatred and anger and yelling without much patience and comfort and kindness. How is a Christian to respond to times like we are seeing today? I mean it seems to me that listening to each other and learning from each other is a far better way to go forward then all of the yelling and displays of anger. Proverbs has some great advice for all Christians today on how to avoid trouble.
Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways. Proverbs 14:2, (New International Version or NIV).
First of all a Christian, a true believer in Jesus Christ, will have a healthy fear of God and of Jesus. This fear is not a fear of wrath or anger rather it is a fear that recognizes that God is all-powerful and has the first and last word in everything. This fear includes respect and awe and a willingness to praise God and acknowledge that God is in charge of this world and everything in it to include ourselves. It is this fear of our Lord that helps us to conduct our lives with discipline and grace and love and forgiveness and with no fear of the future and so much more. This healthy fear is what helps us to stay on the path of righteousness. However, the person who does not fear God and does not praise Him and does not acknowledge that God has the power to do anything will not love God. Notice how the non-Christian is described in this verse, they are devious. There is more to learn in how Christians can sidestep trouble but we must be certain that we have a healthy fear of God first.
A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. Proverbs 14:3, (NIV).
A Christian who wants to side-step trouble needs to watch what they say to others. How many times in the past have I debated and argued politics or religion with others and often I did so from a position of pride which made me want to destroy my opponent. This is not how we are to conduct our speech. James 1:26 tells us to keep a reign on our tongue which is another way to say we need to be careful what we say to others. We need to watch our speech but we also need to make certain that when we speak it isn’t a mouth full of prideful words. Pride is destructive and does not benefit a Christian’s life. Pride is a negative attitude and so we must watch out for pride in our hearts.
An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. Proverbs 14:5, (NIV).
Honesty is sorely lacking in so much of the world these days. Being honest is a requirement for Christians and so we must make certain that what we say and what we do is honest. When we are honest we will never deceive another but so many today are not honest. When we are honest God notices and approves. A false witness lies. God hates liars and they will not go unpunished. In 1 John 2:4 we are told that liars are those who do not follow the commands of Jesus yet say that they are Christians. So we must be careful to make certain that we follow Jesus and one command we can fall back on is to love others as God loves them.
The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning. Proverbs 14:6, (NIV).
Wisdom is something that we Christians all need and Proverbs is full of ways to be wise. But not all people are wise. Just because a person is older does not mean that they have grown wise in their old age either. Notice that a mocker, a person who makes fun of God or makes fun of you because you are a Christian will at some point in their life fall into difficulties and seek wisdom to get out of their trouble. Notice also that a mocker will not find wisdom. Notice also that a person who is living a life of righteousness will find wisdom and will find the knowledge to see a situation for what it really is. Discernment helps Christians to side-step trouble.
Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. Proverbs 14:7, (NIV).
Oh my, this is such good advice for how to side-step trouble. If you have ever had the displeasure to be entangled with a fool you see the wisdom in this verse. Stay away and run away from fools for they will cause you great harm and heartache. You may lose financially or you might lose sleep but for certain you will lose emotionally and be left brokenhearted. The advice from a fool will lead you to nothing good so stay away from foolish people who live foolish lives.
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Proverbs 14:8, (NIV).
Christians will seek wisdom and find it and will then be wise enough to side-step trouble. How great is that! But what happens to the fool? Well, folly leads to being deceived. We must be certain that what we say is good and honest and the truth and read our Bibles and study to keep seeking wisdom for this is wise. We need to make certain that we are not deceived by the folly of foolish and false teachings. Be wise and think before we say or do anything!
Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. Proverbs 14:9, (NIV).
It is not always easy for us to put our pride aside and admit that we have sinned. It is not easy to acknowledge our part in hurting someone else but we must do what we can to make things right again. I must admit that when I have done something to hurt someone’s feelings I feel so much turmoil until I can apologize and say that I am sorry for my actions. I believe that a Christian will want to take responsibility for our own sins and will want to apologize and ask for forgiveness. A true Christian will also be ready to accept another’s apology and forgive them for past sins that have harmed us. We are filled with love and compassion and kindness and goodwill because God is so loving and forgiving of us. Fools don’t understand the need for forgiveness and so they mock and make fun of us for expecting them to repent and ask for forgiveness from us. We do not want to be a fool for they are headed for trouble.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27, (NIV).
We started this study with the need to have a healthy fear of the Lord and so we will end with the same. Having a healthy fear of God and of Jesus will help us to live well not only on this earth but also on into eternal life. This fear is the very lifeline that we need to live a righteous life. We will have a good life, not free from difficulties or of problems but we will have wisdom to cope with trouble when it comes. To avoid so much trouble in this life we can learn to speak from love and not pride. We can make certain that the people we are friends with are not fools. We can follow the commands of Jesus to love others and to be kind and compassionate. We may not avoid every pitfall in life by following this guidance but I believe we will avoid many problems be watching what we say, staying away from fools, seeking wisdom, and curtailing pride in our lives.
Until next time…Katherine