Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Proverbs 27: 10-18

10Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend,
And do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity;
Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
11Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
That I may reply to him who reproaches me.
12A prudent man sees evil and hides himself,
The naive proceed and pay the penalty.
13Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger;
And for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge.
14He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning,
It will be reckoned a curse to him.
15A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
16He who would restrain her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
17Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another.
18He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Must mention the classic passage in Verse 17: "Iron sharpens iron...." It's what we do here. And I hope, when we conclude our time together on this study in a few short weeks, that we will continue to keep one another sharp, keep one another going in the Word.

"He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who cares for his master will be honored." (vs. 18)

Two lines, two points.

"He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit." I wonder if we don't believe that this is true. When we quote, "You'll reap what you sow," I think we understand that what we put our heart toward and into is what will emerge from us. But do we believe that if we take care of that which we are growing, as a fig tree, do we believe that we should also be partakers of its fruit?

Sometimes, I wonder if Christians think that all of their goodness needs to be given away in order for it to be valid. "Eat what I've so carefully tended? Oh, no! In my humility, I must give it away to others." We have a misshapen view of what it means to be good tenders of the land God has given us and the fruit that He produces for us.

Consider these cross-reference verses:

"Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?"
--I Corinthians 9:7

"The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops."
--II Timothy 2:6

God does not provide us the fertile ground for His choice fruit with the intention of us giving it all away. This doesn't mean He's not happy when we share. But He truly intends for us to enjoy the fruit of our labor--as we are dedicated in the proper tending of what He gives us. Proper tending or 'keeping,' as the King James' says, meaning to protect, to maintain and to obey.

Former Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) president, Elisa Morgan, wrote a short book that I devoured last night, The Orchard. She writes her own parable of God's working in our lives, God being the Orchard Keeper. Note the parallels:

"Yes. You don't have to be good enough to grow fruit. My job is to produce fruit. Your job is to cooperate with me as I grow fruit and to make room for it in your days. It's not about you. And it's not all up to you. I meant the harvest to be yours to enjoy and to use, not to worry and fret over or to weigh you down."
--(pg. 76, emphasis mine)

As we receive Godly wisdom, practice Godly ways and live fruitfully for Him, let us remember that God wishes to bless us with a life of abundance. In other words, it's OK to eat the figs!

Point two: "And he who cares for his master will be honored." The Amplified Bible elaborates on 'cares' to say "he who patiently and faithfully guards and heeds his master shall be honored."

We could spend another post talking about who our master is--the Bible says plenty about that! So, let's jump to what we know is right in that we serve one Master, and that is God. The NASB's choice of 'cares' doesn't sit as well with me as the Amplified Bible's take, though I think both are striving for the same idea. Do we care about God, basically? Do we care enough to guard and heed His Word in our hearts--faithfully and, when we fail and deal with consequences and discipline, patiently?

As point one contained the reward of fruit, point two also contains a reward--an honoring, God's provision of blessing and abundance for our obedience.

"And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.'"
--Luke 12: 42-44

The above passage Jesus shared as a parable, but He was truly speaking of Himself. God, Jesus' Master, was put in charge of His disciples, dispensing His Word upon them. He was a faithful and sensible steward until His earthly end, and God rewarded Him and will reward Him with everything.

Even though we aren't walking with the enormous mission that Christ had in coming here, God still calls us to be faithful and Christlike in what we are given. And we are given much! As Jesus shares with us yet again, may we realize that we, too, may know honoring from God as we, by our tending and good fruits, honor Him.

"And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.' ...I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away."
--Luke 19:17 & 26


* * *

Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 27: 19-27 (of the transcribed proverbs of Solomon)
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

* * *

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).


T. Anne said...

17. That reminds me of you and the other members of Christ's body who are impassioned to serve him!

Kelly Combs said...

v. 12 - If you play with fire, you will be burned.

v. 14 - don't wake up your friends to tell them how great you think they are...timing IS everything.

v. 15 - drip, drip.

Carmen said...

Great post today Sue!