Trust In the Lord.
“Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.” – Proverbs 23:17-18 NLT
Proverbs 23 contains a portion of the 30 wise sayings begun by Solomon in Proverbs 22. He prefaced his list with this explanation: “I am teaching you today – yes, you – so you will trust in the Lord. I have written thirty sayings for you, filled with advice and knowledge. In this way, you may know the truth…” (Proverbs 22:19-21 NLT). The majority of what follows are warnings of what NOT to do. Don’t rob the poor, don’t befriend angry peo9ple, don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt, etc. Solomon calls all these sayings “the words of the wise.” He encourages us to “keep them in your heart and always ready on your lips.” At first glance, they simply seem to be common sense sayings that are based on good moral judgment and proper ethics. But in reality, they express the heart of God and the life of the man who knows and fears God. There are warnings against taking advantage of the poor who God cares for and will defend. There are warnings about allowing anything other than God to become your source of provision or pleasure. That is why he brings up eating with the wealthy, powerful and influential. Are we doing so in order to gain favor, to be part of the in-crowd, or pave our way to success? He warns against becoming so obsessed with wealth that you wear yourself in the pursuit of it. You run the risk of making money your god, expecting it to do for you what only God Himself can do. Throughout Proverbs 23, Solomon warns us about our relationships. He talks about dining with rulers, eating with the stingy, cheating our neighbors, counseling fools, disciplining children, envying sinners, partying with drunks, and soliciting prostitutes. Our earthly relationships are a very clear indicator of the kind of relationship we have with God. The godly discipline their children; are content rather than envious of others; turn to God for assistance rather than the wealthy, powerful and influential of this earth; practice self-control and use discernment in living their lives.
Solomon began his list with the statement, “I am teaching you today – yes, you – so you will trust in the Lord.” Many, if not all, of his warnings have to do with taking advantage of others in order to get ahead. They paint the picture of an individual who is obsessed with the people and things of this earth to satisfy his needs and desires. Solomon tells us to choose our relationships carefully – in the fear of the Lord. He tells us to control our physical appetites for food, wine and sex – in the fear of the Lord. He tells us to discipline our children – in the fear of the Lord. He tells us to commit ourselves to godly wisdom – in the fear of the Lord. At the heart of all our behavior should be a healthy fear of and respect for God. NOT doing these things will NOT produce godliness. We don’t do these things because we are godly. We belong to God. We are His children. We represent Him on this earth. We don’t live like the world. Over in the book of Titus, Paul writes, “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:11-13 NLT). We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God. That is exactly what Solomon is talking about. Our fear of, love for, and devotion to God should determine our behavior on this planet, and reflect that we are His children.
Father, continue to teach me to live my life for You and not me. I want my life to be devoted to You in such a way that everyone around me can see it. I don’t want the things of this world to ever replace You in my life. Forgive me when I allow them to do so. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men