Proverbs – God’s practical guide to a joyful life
Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well.
This week, we bring together the words of Solomon, Jesus, and the 16th century church reformer, Martin Luther. Let’s top up our coffees and listen to what they have to say…
My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go—to the point of exhaustion— and give your neighbor no rest! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
This is a tricky one. Aren’t we told to help our neighbour? Yet, in these words of Solomon, he has implied that we have been foolish if we do. What is the difference? What are we to do? Well, in situations like this, I am reminded of the words of Jesus as he was sending out his disciples, and which apply to us living in this world. He said “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) These words help us to unfold the layers of Solomon’s words today.
Although we are to help others, we are not to enter pledges with or put our name nor ourselves in jeopardy for others without knowing their intentions. God does not call us to be ignorant fools that need to oblige every person or request that comes our way. We need to be discerning, as to not be fooled into the schemes of troublemakers or villians, as Solomon calls them. Don’t get involved with them and their ways. Have nothing to do with them.
So often, people, even some Christians themselves, have this impression that Christians are to be utterly obliging and passive when confronted with a request from another. However, that simply is not true. Christians aren’t ignorantly blinded wall flowers, but should be wise and discerning for their own physical and spiritual safety and the safety of their families. Yes, we can be loving towards others, and take time to get to know others and the reason behind their request but we are not to jump into or be guilt ridden into agreeing to give of ourselves on their behalf. Be wise, shrewd, and discerning, in a loving and innocent demeanor.
However, Solomon does goes on to tell us what to do in order to protect ourselves and our name if we have put ourselves in a questioning, foolish position for the sake of a troublemaker and their detrimental ways. He calls us to be hardworking, honest and build a good name for ourselves in the eyes of others; not to be passive, lazy, and sloth-like in such a situation. We are to be as diligent as the ant is in caring for ourselves and homes, and to display our good behaviour and name. For the troublemaker is devious. Just like Satan, he is cunning and winsome on the outside but filled with lies and deception on the inside. Their own destruction will come upon them without notice, without the opportunity to repent or “without remedy” (Proverbs 6:15b), as Solomon puts it. So, do not be tricked by their smooth and flattering tongue. Instead, from a distance let their deeds and actions display their intent and character. Be watchful, and pray for them. Pray that God would guide their ways and be in their hearts, and to seek the remedy that God so desires for us all in Christ Jesus!
Luther’s Morning Prayer: “I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.” (Taken from http://catechism.cph.org/en/daily-prayers.html)