Morning Light – October 18th, 2016

ml_2016Today: [Proverbs 11] The Lord Loves Just Weights and Measures. Chapter 11 of Proverbs opens with an exhortation regarding just weights and measures. This applies to more than just being honest in a business transaction. We make judgments every day according to standards that are chosen by us for various reasons and motivation. By what standard are we to judge ourselves? Do we judge others by the same and equal standard that we judge ourselves? Do we excuse in those close to us that which we condemn in strangers? In this chapter of Proverbs we find what God’s just measure is.
[Pro 11:1-31 KJV] 1 A false balance [is] abomination to the LORD: but a just weight [is] his delight. 2 [When] pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. 4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. 5 The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in [their own] naughtiness. 7 When a wicked man dieth, [his] expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust [men] perisheth. 8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. 9 An hypocrite with [his] mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. 10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, [there is] shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Verse 1 of Proverbs 11 speaks of justice and equity in judgement. The phrase “a just weight” is also rendered “a perfect stone” reflecting the ancient practice of using stones for weights. The stones used were of a standard weight intended to assure in commercial transactions that honest and equal amounts were being exchanged. Leviticus 19:35 instructs “you shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.”
When measuring the matters concerning our own lives how must we measure? The question might first be asked how might we identify an unjust measure? The apostle Paul spoke of this in 2 Corinthians 10:12
[2Co 10:12 KJV] 12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
When we are confronted regarding some inequity in our character many times the temptation is to point to others who have done likewise or perhaps more so in our estimation. This is the sliding scale of median human behavior. We might say “well I am no worse than this other fellow here who conducts himself with equal measure as I do…” By this we are holding a comparative assessment of those around us in order to establish a standard of normalcy in our own character or behavior. Paul’s contention is that this logic while appealing to our common logic is not reflective of the wisdom of God.
By what standard do we measure then? Lev. 11:45 says “be you holy for I am holy…” Some would object saying “that is Old Testament… we aren’t judged by the same standard today…” To which the answer comes out of 1 Peter 1:16 that reiterates for the New Testament believer the command “…be ye holy for I am holy…” The standard of holiness in an Old Testament saint was based on strict adherence to the law of Moses. What does that look like in the life of a believer? Paul made the following statement:
[Eph 4:13 KJV] 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
In this passage above we see the “perfect stone” by which all other lives are to be measured – the measure of the stature of Christ. Furthermore this verse suggests to us that the fullness of Christ in our lives is an attainable maturity for us and not an unreachable, irrational goal. 1 Cor. 11:13 speaks of having judgment in ourselves – not to condemnation but toward the goal of growing up into Him, into the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. Jesus is the Father’s demonstration of human normalcy. Any other standard based on comparative analysis (being no better or worse that our fellow man) is an imperfect and unjust weight.
12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. 13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. 14 Where no counsel [is], the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors [there is] safety. 15 He that is surety for a stranger shall smart [for it]: and he that hateth suretiship is sure. 16 A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong [men] retain riches. 17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but [he that is] cruel troubleth his own flesh. 18 The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness [shall be] a sure reward. 19 As righteousness [tendeth] to life: so he that pursueth evil [pursueth it] to his own death. 20 They that are of a froward heart [are] abomination to the LORD: but [such as are] upright in [their] way [are] his delight. 21 [Though] hand [join] in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
Verse 12 speaks of our good relations with those around us. We are called upon not to despise our neighbor. What sort of relations do you have with your neighbors and fellow citizens in your community? Do they moan when they see you coming or do their faces light up with expectation of a pleasant and positive exchange? I know as a businessman many times I would brace myself when I saw certain Christians come in my door to do business. They would haggle and weedle for themselves the very lowest prices and then add to that a brazen demand for a “believer’s discount” since they were “of the faith”. Verse 12 tells us not to despise our neighbors and those around us in our community. We are to hold our peace and not repeat gossip or as verse 13 says tell secrets that we know simply because we live in proximity to others and delight to expose them in order to demonstrate that we are in the know.
22 [As] a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, [so is] a fair woman which is without discretion. 23 The desire of the righteous [is] only good: [but] the expectation of the wicked [is] wrath. 24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and [there is] that withholdeth more than is meet, but [it tendeth] to poverty. 25 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. 26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing [shall be] upon the head of him that selleth [it]. 27 He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. 28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. 29 He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool [shall be] servant to the wise of heart. 30 The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise. 31 Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
If ever a verse held wisdom apropos to our day we can see it in verse 22. We place great value on outward appearance and beauty but how many examples do we have of attractive men and women who upon opening their mouths demonstrate inward ugliness and corruption? This is not only applicable to women but to men also. Peter in speaking of outward beauty put it in context, emphasizing inward qualities as being more important that outward appearance:
[1Pe 3:3-4 KJV] 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Verse 24 exhorts us to liberality and generosity. There is a level of generosity that to a frugal soul might be judged as unwise. We may look at big-hearted men and women and say they are generous “to a fault”. Is this possible? Perhaps but this verse tells us that holding back and not seeing the needs of others can lead to impoverishment itself. We must be discerning and open hearted. Many times people say “I cannot afford to give”. That is understandable. The very attitude they have of not giving has impoverished them and become a self-engendering condition. 2 Cor. 9:6 tells us that he that sows sparingly shall reap sparingly. He that sows bountifully shall reap bountifully. It is a truth that giving beyond your own estimation of your means is at times the only way to break a poverty spirit and the penury and deprivation of life and resources that comes with it, as verse 25 and 26 attest. The liberal soul shall be made fat. The generous person will have not only the blessing of God on Him but the blessing of the people upon His head.
Verse 29 continues the discussion of liberality. The person troubles his own house experiences greater trouble. Financial troubles are the common experience of us all at one time or another. In the context Solomon is saying that the absence of a giving heart creates in our life a vortex of difficulty and vexation that can affect our whole lives. Verse 31 concludes with the observation that both the wicked and the righteous will be recompensed in the earth. What this tells us is that our reward or recompense whether good or evil is not held back only for eternity. There is reward and recompense here in our earthly lives as well – and by our heart attitudes and corresponding actions we bring calamity or blessing upon ourselves on a daily basis.

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