Today: [Proverbs 18] Shakespeare or Solomon? In this chapter Solomon speaks about the folly of self-interest. Shakespeare said no less than 3 times in his body of work “to thine own self be true”. Solomon declares in this verse that it is follow to live a life of self-absorption. Are you capable of thinking of someone other than yourself? We are taught in secular culture that we are the center of our own universe. The kingdom mentality on the other hand espouses GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS more highly than SELF-AWARENESS. Which burns more brightly in your day to day life?
[Pro 18:1-24 KJV] 1 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh [and] intermeddleth with all wisdom. 2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. 3 When the wicked cometh, [then] cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach. 4 The words of a man’s mouth [are as] deep waters, [and] the wellspring of wisdom [as] a flowing brook. 5 [It is] not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment. 6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 7 A fool’s mouth [is] his destruction, and his lips [are] the snare of his soul. 8 The words of a talebearer [are] as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
In verse 1 we see an encouragement to seek wisdom by separating yourself from your surroundings. Many times the Father has called upon me to sequester myself from my everyday activities in order to focus on his word and to spend time in prayer. In a day when we are plugged in through the internet and social media this becomes increasingly difficult. As the verse says desire for wisdom motivates us to do whatever is necessary to get alone with God, including shutting down all the avenues of diversion that we might more clearly hear His voice.
Verse 2 tells us that a fool’s highest delight is to discover himself. It is a common saying among us to insist on knowing one’s self, getting your head together, focusing on our own needs, etc., however this verse gives us a contrasting perspective. Knowing yourself or as the bard declares “to thine own self be true…” is foolishness through the lens of a biblical worldview. This and in many other instances some of the highest expressions of worldly wisdom fly directly in the face of a kingdom mentality. To be true to yourself is to be true to one whose heart is so deceitfully wicked no man can know it. Our goal is not self-focus but God focus. The first instance of self-realization was Adam realizing that he was naked. Sin did not make him naked, sin made him more aware of himself than he was of God. Before the fall self-consciousness was eclipsed by God consciousness. After the fall the light of God consciousness was extinguished in the heart of man. In our growth as believers knowing ourselves is not our highest goal or even a worthy goal. Our desire is as Paul stated “that I might KNOW HIM in the power of His resurrection…”
Verse 6 tells us that the lips of one who enters into contention call for strokes. Proverbs 13:10 says that contention only comes by pride. We know that pride comes before a fall. The verse doesn’t say that one party or the other is always right in a dispute or argument. It simply says that contention ONLY comes (for either combatant) by pride. Learn to avoid contention not by compromising with wrong or ungodliness but by obeying God and seeking first the kingdom.
9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. 10 The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 11 The rich man’s wealth [is] his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. 12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour [is] humility. 13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth [it], it [is] folly and shame unto him. 14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? 15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. 16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
Verse 9 speaks of slothfulness comparing it to plague and a wasting disease. We are not saved by works but works – good works represent something that every one of us is called to. The scripture does exhort us to enter into rest –but the rest of God is not inactivity. In fact the deeper your rest in God the more active and productive you may become. Eph. 4:1 tells us to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called. Every believer is called. Every believe has a calling and spiritual vocation not just the preacher or pastor. The minsters in the church are not our surrogates in spiritual work. You have to make a concerted choice to become OTHERS-ORIENTED. What is your calling? 2 Peter 1:10 says to make your calling and election sure. If you are not sure then that is not a license to be an observer in spiritual things or to sit passively by. 2 Tim. 4:5 says to make FULL PROOF of your ministry. If you don’t know what your ministry is then go out and make yourself an asset in the life of someone who IS sure of their calling until your calling is made manifest.
17 [He that is] first in his own cause [seemeth] just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. 18 The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty. 19 A brother offended [is harder to be won] than a strong city: and [their] contentions [are] like the bars of a castle. 20 A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; [and] with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. 21 Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. 22 [Whoso] findeth a wife findeth a good [thing], and obtaineth favour of the LORD. 23 The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly. 24 A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.
Verse 17 tells us that the first person to speak up in a dispute often seems to be in the right. However those close to the circumstance will know better and be in a better position to judge rightly if they will. Those who are close to you know you best. The loudest and most strident voice is not necessarily the voice of justice. Many adopt the mentality of a victim who are in reality perpetrators of the greater crime. Learn to identify what one of my mentors calls “the sweet rebel”. This is the person weeping at the altar, a pathetic figure invoking our sympathy and pathos but who in fact is the originator of great strife, contention and injustice.
Verse 19 tells us that a brother offended is harder to win over than a defensed city. Remember this: Psalm 119:165 says “great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing shall offend them…” When I find myself offended I let the word of God discern me. Often when my feelings are hurt or I am insulted I quote that verse to myself and concluded that my love for God and His word is imperfect because offense and unforgiveness lies in my heart. The point is not that I should make peace with my fellow man the highest goal of life – rather that I should exercise myself not to be so prone to the opinions of men that they GET TO ME so deeply that my peace and spiritual composure is so disturbed. The maturity of a man or woman in Christ is measured by the deep and still waters that are found in their hearts in the midst of great upheaval.
Verse 21 is a verse that you could wright a whole book on. Whole movements in the body of Christ have been launched around this teaching on the power of the tongue. The words of your mouth according to James set on fire or activate the course of nature that manifests in your life. James contends that the fire of the tongue is the pilot light that ignites the furnaces of hell. If we are going through hell we can often trace its origin right back to the words of our mouth. Your life and your death originate not in chance or in some random set of circumstances in your environment. Life and death – if you choose to believe the scriptures flow out of the words of your mouth and constitute and greatly influencing what happens next in your life. Life and death are in the power of the tongue and out of the heart the mouth speaks. This is why the writer tells us elsewhere to guard your heart because what is in your heart in abundance gets into your mouth and determines what happens next in your life. Man says words are cheap but in fact words are the predictors of your destiny. Harness your words and you defeat the enemy before he gets to the field of battle to assault you.
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