Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Proverbs 11: 1-11

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.
When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.
When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of strong men perishes.
The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.
With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.
By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

Today's Thought Questions:
  1. Why might disgrace follow pride? God says that He hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). Read Philippians 2: 1-11. Reflect on that passage and explain why God might detest pride.
  2. Reread verse 3. What is integrity and why do you think it guides the upright? This verse also talks about the duplicity of the unfaithful. Read Matthew 27: 3-5 and Acts 1: 15-20. Do you think Judas was unfaithful? Wicked? Explain the relevance of Proverbs 11:3 to Judas' demise.
  3. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?
So much to look at today, as we pick up where we left off yesterday, with the wicked and the wise.

Pride. I struggle with the word and I struggle with it! I find myself in a bind when I use the word, as in "I'm proud of you." When I use the expression, it's because I wish to encourage someone in their good efforts. I don't find that really terrible. I usually try to couple that expression with something concrete about what the person has done--again, to encourage.

The problem with pride is that you can take in too much of a good thing and end up with a swelled head. When I was looking at the Hebrew, the word presumptuous popped up. When we have so much pride in ourselves and in our works, we can start to take things for granted and forget Whom we serve. We forget Who blesses us with wisdom and understanding. Who provides for us. When "Who" gets left out of our lives and our being, He does not take kindly to that. It breaks Commandment #1: You shall have no other gods before Me!

Why do we look at Philippians 2? In my opinion, the most revealing passage of Scripture about humility (aka, the absence of pride). What brings God joy? The same thing that brings Paul joy--"being like-minded [with Christ], having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (Philippians 2: 2 & 3, NIV) Love is not proud (I Corinthians 13), and Jesus was not proud. Pride keeps us from fellowship with God, and thereby the receiving of His wisdom.

"The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them." (vs 3)

To me, integrity implies a sense of value and trustworthiness. In this passage, I think it also implies that our integrity does not come from ourselves. What's really interesting is--can you guess?--the Hebrew. At the root of 'integrity' we find 'innocence.' Hmmmm..... Innocence--free of sin. Yes, this makes good sense!

And what do we read of Judas? "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." (Matthew 27: 4) Does that not say "crookedness of the treacherous"? Betrayed innocence!! Acts continues, explaining that Judas was a "guide" to those who arrested Jesus. Following "the adulteress", Judas leads others to follow the path to death, as surely Judas would find himself--"destroyed."

Judas was in the extraordinary position of walking with our Savior. He knew who He was. But Judas was a sinner, not convicted in His heart that Jesus was Lord--swayed by the enticement of sin. Thirty pieces of silver was more valuable than wisdom. And "the price of his wickedness" bought him his death place.

If Judas had recognized Jesus as his Lord, he might have had the wisdom to have not taken his life, but to have sought his Savior. He knew he had sinned. He felt remorse. He returned the silver. Yet He continued to work under his own power and way, and could not come before the Lord. Was Judas himself wicked or unfaithful? There is no denying that he sinned, but as surely as our Lord forgave the prisoner who hung on the cross next to Him, He could have forgiven Judas in the flesh, saving him from earthly death for a time.

"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight." (vs 1)

This is my pick-to-click because balance is one of those ideas that is often talked about today. There is so much concern about balance--balance in activities; balance in food choices; balance among relationships. When we're not in balance, we don't feel well.

"You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity."
--Leviticus 19: 35 (Amplified Bible)

We can read this passage quite literally tampering with the scale or its weights--and God would not be pleased with that. But, when we think about these terms more broadly--judging others by weighing certain factors as being more important than others--then we can really understand why the NASB uses 'abomination.'

As an example, we talked about the non-believer yesterday and some of the troubles Christians have in our judgment of them and their non-belief. Do we weigh the statements and opinions of Christians more strongly than those of non-believers, just because they're Christians? When God can speak through a non-believer, does our judgment of them cover our ears to hearing the call of wisdom?

This certainly gives me pause to consider how the scales in my days might be out of balance--and how it might be my doing, and my undoing. May we always see the balance scale through God's eyes!


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Questions:

Proverbs 11: 12-22
  1. Reread verse 18. What are you "sowing" in your life? Read Galatians 6: 7-10. What things do you think please the Spirit?
  2. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).

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