Wisdom for today from Proverbs
Proverbs 24:17-34 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Or the Lord will see it and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.
19 Do not fret because of evildoers
Or be envious of the wicked;
20 For there will be no future for the evil man;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.
21 My son, fear the Lord and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change,
22 For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?
23 These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
25 But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.
26 He kisses the lips
Who gives a right answer.
your work outside
And make it ready for yourself in the field;
Afterwards, then, build your house.
28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause,
And do not deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me;
I will render to the man according to his work.”
30 I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31 And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, and received instruction.
33 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34 Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.
Today’s text begins: Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the Lord will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him. Indeed, God is sovereign and it is up to Him to deal with those who are evil. In Deuteronomy 32:35, God says: ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ But for those who are believers; followers of Christ our motive should be even more than to allow God to deal with evil. Romans 12:17-19 says: Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Those verses are centered in more instruction and exhortation of how we are to treat and respond to our enemies. Verse 14 says: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Verses 20-21 say: “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. It does not seem like heaping burning coals on the head of our enemy is doing good. If we look at Isaiah 6:5-7, when the prophet stood in the presence of God, we can perhaps get a better understanding of the coals we are to heap on the head of our enemies. It says: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” The coals are not articles of wrath, rather they are coals from the alter of sacrifice. They are for the cleansing of the sin of our enemies. In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Romans 2:4 says: Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? It is to bring about repentance and the cleansing from sin through the sacrifice of Christ that we are to show kindness even to our enemies. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Judge not, that you be not judged.For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged;and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Even the world, those who are enemies of Christ, will often quote or misquote these verses to dictate how believers should act toward them. I have though never heard them complete it with what Jesus says in verse 6: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” There comes a time, that if there is no repentance toward the kindness that is shown to people, that we no longer cast the pearls of kindness toward them. We are not to be trampled under their feet. We are not to allow ourselves to be torn to pieces. Having done all that is possible on our part, to be at peace with all men, we then turn them over to God.
Today’s text ends saying: I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man. Many people today say that if we are truly Christian, then there should be no poor and needy. They say that the rich should provide for the poor. In truth though everyone is to contribute what they can. Jesus did not promote financial equality. He came to bring spiritual equality, that whoever believes could be saved. In Matthew 26:11 Jesus says: “You always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” I am not judging or condemning anyone who is caught in the cycle of systemic poverty. Systemic poverty is caused by a system, not by people. When the incentive to work and contribute is taken away from people; when they live at a lower standard by working than by not working, the system creates poverty. The system creates a sense of entitlement. Social welfare programs are necessary, but they should include an incentive to participate and contribute. A system that encourages people to avoid work, creates poverty. Many today promote a Robin Hood form of social justice and equality. They say we should steal from the rich and give to the poor. The truth is, in this country we do have poor people, people who need help, but anyone who has just $10.00 a day, has more than 70% of the world’s population. As Jesus says, we will always have the poor with us, but if we create a system that is based on raising them up rather than holding them down, we can reduce systemic poverty. When Jesus was here He did not focus on trying to change the systems of the world. Instead he came to change the hearts of people. In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says: “ Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If we will seek to take care of the spiritual needs, God will also take care of the physical needs of His children.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; because of the love and grace You have given me, may I also show kindness to others and may that kindness lead to repentance; that they may know You. May I share the blessings You have given me with those who have a need. May I lift them up and not hold them down. May I encourage them to seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness, that You will give them all they need. In the name of Jesus, the name above every name, the only name by which anyone can be saved, I pray, with thanksgiving. Amen.