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Bible Thought

Bold As a Lion

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

Volunteering

My brothers and I went to a private Christian school for most of our education. The school had all grades, kindergarten through 12th. We did not have traditional classes where the teacher lectured us. Instead we used individual workbooks where we read the material and got the teacher to explain things we didn’t understand.

Because of the structure of the curriculum, it was possible to finish your own work early each day by putting your head down and focusing on the material. If an older student completed their assignments for a particular day, they could work ahead into the next day’s material, or volunteer to help the teachers in classrooms with younger students.

I was always willing to volunteer in another class instead of working ahead. Any opportunity to get out of class was an opportunity I took; even if the volunteer opportunity was picking up the rocks that grew on our football field.

I was a likable kid (or at least I like to believe I was), which I used to get the teachers to let me get away with a little more than I probably should have. Sometimes I would get permission to leave the class for some legitimate sounding reason. When I’d get free, I would wander into other classrooms and tell the teacher that I was available to help them for a while.

After being the hero by helping out a teacher for a bit, I would leave that class and move into the next class.

As long as I stayed in a classroom, there was little chance of getting caught since the teachers thought I must be there legitimately. My own teachers knew that I liked to volunteer to help with anything that needed to be done around the school. If I didn’t come back at the expected time, they assumed that I was conscripted by another teacher to do a job.

I kept both parties in the dark about my skipping out on school work. Before you think I was a terrible student, I want to make it clear, I didn’t do this all the time. I only did it most days during my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years.

The Wicked Flee

I did fear one person at school: the school administrator, Bro. Hartsfield. I always tried to avoid him when playing my volunteer game. It wasn’t that he was unjustly mean. In fact, I feel he is one of the most level-headed and just disciplinarians I have ever known. My respect made me not want to disappoint him by letting him know I was being deceitful with the teachers.

I would carefully look both ways before crossing the parking lot that separated my class from the younger kids’ classrooms. This wasn’t because I was concerned about cars, but I was concerned that I might run into Bro. Hartsfield. He had a huge set of keys that was easy to hear when he walked. I would listen carefully for the keys to make sure he wasn’t near before leaving one class and dashing to another.

If I did meet him in the parking lot, he would ask where I was coming from, where I was going and why I was out of my own class. These were not questions that I ever wanted to have to answer. I felt guilty about skipping out of class and assumed he was roaming the school grounds looking for me because my teacher told him I was missing again.

What I later learned was that if I did meet him in the parking lot, his questions concerning my actions were often conversational and not accusatory. Yet I was scared to death to see him coming my way when I was ditching class. When you feel guilty, you try avoid those in authority.

Any time he came into a classroom where I was, I was certain he was there to lay my transgressions open for the world to see. I lived in guilt on the days I played hooky within the halls of school.

Guilty

This brings us to our verse about the wicked fleeing. When you have a guilty conscience, you want to avoid anyone who has authority over you. This is why people literally run away from the police even if the policeman is just seeking information. They have a guilty conscience about something they have done and they feel certain that the police are looking for them.

It is no fun living in a constant state of fear thinking that everyone in authority knows your sins and are ready to pronounce you guilty.

Bold As A Lion

Conversely, it is relieving to have a clear conscience. The world seems brighter and you aren’t having to constantly wonder if the person standing before you is judging all your past transgressions.

For the most part, I had a wonderful relationship with my school administrator. Bro. Hartsfield and I have grown close in the 30+ years since I was listening for the jingle of his keys in the parking lot. Even in school there were many days that I was glad to sit and chat with him because I hadn’t done anything stupid that particular day to feel guilty about. I looked for opportunities to spend time with him by volunteering to work side-by-side with him on projects. Those were the days that I felt as bold as a lion. I had no guilty conscience.

My favorite times in school were when we went on school trips and there were opportunities to volunteer and lend a hand. I had no class time to skip. There was no reason to feel guilty around authority. Our times camping as a group of high school boys was enjoyable and memorable. We had retreats where certain classes got to hang out together with Bro. and Mrs. Hartsfield. No guilt; only learning practical life lessons from those you loved and respected.

When you respect the law over you and the people around you, then you can experience this feeling of boldness. Boldness like a lion.

Misc.

I resisted the temptation to title this post “Wicked Fleas and Bold Lions.” Too bad we spell flee (to run) and flea (a pest) in two different ways. Otherwise that joke would work as well in print as it does when spoken.

I credit Bro. Hartsfield for instilling a love for the book of Proverbs in my life when I was young. The last 30 blog posts have been a direct result of his teaching on this wonderful book. When I finish with a post from Proverbs 31, I plan to tell you some of the ways Bro. Hartsfield taught Proverbs to us at school.

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Bible Thought

Be Prepared

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverbs 27:12

Or is that Proverbs 22:3?

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverbs 22:3

Until I was teaching a class on travel preparedness with a group of missionaries recently, I don’t think I had ever noticed that these two verses are identical (with the exception of one punctuation difference).

At least, they are identical in English. Looking at the Hebrew text, I can see some visual differences between the words, but I don’t know how those differences affect the meaning. If you know the underlying Hebrew distinctions, please feel free to leave a comment and explain it to us.

Either way, the English is clear enough for us to understand the meaning of this verse.

Always Ready

A prudent person is one who is crafty, sensible, cunning and shrewd. Certainly there can be negative connotations to some of those English words, but the positive side of those words means being ready and prepared for whatever comes around.

Another way to think about this prudent man is that he is paying attention to what is going on around him. Beyond being aware, you also need to prepare and practice what you are going to do when things get topsy-turvy. That is what a prudent man does.

The Simple

A quick word about the simple man. This word simple means foolish, seducible, silly, and easily enticed. A modern word we could put in here is naive (or naïve). This is someone who does not pay attention or who disregards the danger.

This is not necessarily someone who is incompetent. It is just one who is inexperienced and has not thought through the possibility of danger. Therefore, they are not prepared like the prudent man.

Illustration: Kicked Out

I want to carefully offer an illustration. I say “carefully” because it is easy to make judgments on what we think should have happened when God may have other plans.

I recently heard a story about a young missionary in a closed country who was kicked out when the officials found out he was working in the country as a missionary.

When he arrived at church one day, there were police outside. The missionary knew who they were. Yet, instead of walking on and alerting other church members to the situation, he boldly stepped by the police, opened the building and started setting up for the service.

Now the missionary is out of the country and not allowed to return. His direct ministry in that country is over. I have no knowledge of what may have happened to any church members who arrived that day. Did they get arrested and beaten? Were any targeted by other extremist groups who may have assassinated them because of their association with this bold missionary?

Here is where I want to be careful in my assessment of this story. Certainly none of this took God by surprise. This may have been exactly how God wanted these events to play out. However, from my human perspective, I have to wonder if this was a case of the simple walking right into danger because he was not prepared for what might have happened.

If this missionary had been a prudent man and took time to foresee the evil, then he might have spent the next 40 years of his ministry in that country.

Not Fear, But Vigilance

I don’t think missionaries should live in fear and spend all their energy trying not to get kicked out of a country; but, I also think they should be wise in their dealings with hostile governments.

We too need to be vigilant and not fearful. Be aware of the dangers present around you. This could be physical, philosophical or spiritual dangers. Know they exist and prepare so that when they do come, you will be ready.

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Bible Thought

Fools, Sluggards and Talebearers

There are three big topics that this chapter covers. Instead of a deep dive into a single thought, I want to show some verses about each topic and make a few comments.

Fools

1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.

As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouths of fools.

10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Proverbs 26:1-12

The word translated fool could also be translated as dullard, silly, arrogant one. However, in the King James Bible all 70 uses of this Hebrew word are translated as fool or foolish.

It is incongruous for a fool to receive honor (v. 1, 8) or have a bit of wisdom to share (v. 7, 9). Fools are not to be trusted (v. 6). They have more confidence in themselves than they should (v. 4, 5, 12). And, this passage about the actions of a fool gives us the one verse that was easiest for me to memorize as a grade-schooler (v. 11). What 12-year-old boy doesn’t love talking about puke?

Sluggards

13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

14 As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.

15 The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

Proverbs 26:13-16

Slothful can be translated as sluggish, lazy or sluggard (one who is sluggish). With one exception, this word is found exclusively in Proverbs and is always translated as sluggard and slothful. The only other time it is used is Judges 18:9 and is also translated slothful.

Verse 13 speaks of not wanting to do something because of a potential danger. Certainly, if there were an actual lion in the street outside the front of my house, I would not want to go out either. But, based this comment being viewed as a bad thing, I think Solomon is talking about a potential lion or danger that may not be actual. The sluggard is looking for an excuse to stay home and do nothing.

His laziness keeps him in bed. His tossing to and fro in the bed is like a revolving door (v. 14). He’s even so lazy that he doesn’t eat (v. 15). He can make up excuses so fast for why he’s not working that it will make your head spin (v. 16).

Possible Depression

This is being attributed to laziness, which I think is the primary point and needs to be addressed. But allow me to mention something else that this behavior might be a sign of: depression. There is help for depression. Let me encourage you to seek help for yourself or for others who may need it.

Don’t use depression as an excuse for laziness. On the other hand, don’t blame laziness for legitimate depression. The point is, you can get help for both. You might need external help to work through laziness or depression. I don’t mean to imply they are the same thing, they are not. But they often have the similar symptoms.

If you are needing help, talk with your pastor and get a recommendation for someone in your area who can help you with either or both.

Talebearers

The rest of the chapter deals with those who would stir up strife. The word here is talebearer, but it means a whisperer, murmurer or slanderer. Sometimes these talebearers pick a fight because of perceived conflict, but sometimes they do it for the fun of making others uncomfortable. Here are a few verses from the rest of the chapter.

Mind Your Own Business

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

Proverbs 26:17

If you yank on a dogs ears, he will likely retaliate. If this isn’t your fight, stay out of it. Don’t jump into conflict that isn’t yours.

I will grant, that sometimes it is worth having to fight the dog for the purpose of saving someone else from the fight. This verse doesn’t say you should never jump to the aid of someone who needs it, but you should probably size up the dog before you start yanking ears.

You Are the Only One Who Thinks It’s Fun

18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, 19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

Proverbs 26:18, 19

I know some people who like to create conflict for the entertainment value. Getting people riled up “for the fun of it” is only fun for the one causing the needless conflict. No one likes it except you. Please stop.

I was in a conversation recently where someone jumped in just to say a few words to try to make another person upset. The instigator was disappointed when the person they were attacking didn’t attack back. This time it was done in jest, but that can’t be an enjoyable environment to have to deal with all the time.

No Fuel = No Fire

20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Proverbs 26:20, 21

You can be the one to quench a flame. You don’t have to retaliate just because someone says something negative to you. They may have brought the fire, but if you don’t give them wood to work with, the fire dies pretty quickly. That’s what happened in my recent conversation that I mentioned above: the person did not play into the game of attacking back.

Sticks, Stones and Words That Hurt

22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Proverbs 26:22

It is not true that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Even as an adult—or maybe, especially as an adult—we find that damaging words can destroy relationships for a lifetime.

I have a couple of odd friendships (probably many of us do). I am friends with two people who hate each other. I can maintain a good relationship with both sides because neither one has offended me personally. Their words have not wounded me. As much as I may want them to be friends again, they have inflicted deep wounds on one another; wounds that neither side is willing to let heal on this side of eternity. All because of words.

Be careful of your words. Be diligent in your work. Be mindful of your self-centered foolishness.

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Bible Thought

Be Curious

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

Proverbs 25:2

My first understanding of the word curiosity came from a tailless monkey and a man with a yellow hat. You probably had a similar experience reading the Curious George books as a child. And, it was made clear to us children, that curiosity could only lead to trouble.

Then we hear the oft-used phrase, “curiosity killed the cat.” To which I like to reply, “yes, but satisfaction brought him back.”

Certainly there are times when a person can be inappropriately curious; a.k.a., nosy. But, for the most part, I think curiosity is something that we should be encouraged to develop.

Curiosity is Not Bad, It is Glorious

Solomon tells us here in Proverbs 25:2 that it is honorable to be curious. What I found interesting about this verse are the actual words used in Hebrew. English has translated the verse to be more poetic, but it is actually very symmetric in the original language (like much of Psalms and Proverbs are).

In the verse, the words glory and honor are the same word in Hebrew. And the words thing and matter are identical to one another.

It is glorious to God to hide or to conceal something and it is glorious to man to discover it. God takes pleasure and glory in hiding stuff in creation for us to find. And, it is a pleasure for people to discover what God has hidden.

Easter Egg Hunt

If you have taken part of an Easter Egg hunt, you know that it can be fun whether you are the one doing the hiding or the finding. There is pleasure in both aspects of the hunt.

The adult version of that game would be Geocaching. There are thousands of little boxes (caches) hidden around the world that people put out so that others can have the joy of finding them.

I think this is the meaning of what Solomon is teaching. God gets pleasure, enjoyment, even honor from His work of hiding things for us to discover. And, we can derive great joy from discovering God’s creation.

You Don’t Have to be First

Have you heard about the Wright brothers’ most well-funded competitor, Samuel Pierpont Langley? The name may be familiar, but that he was involved with trying to be first in powered flight might be unknown to you. He did do some great work in the realm of flight, but he also largely gave up once the Wright brothers accomplished powered flight.

But the joy of discovery or invention can be enjoyed by more than one person. Of course, most of us aren’t trying to accomplish the same type of work the Wright brothers did, but we can still enjoy the process of learning something new through the process of discovery.

Whether you understand the math in this video or not, the message of the joy of discovery is the main point.

Don’t Let the World Kill Your Curiosity

Albert Einstein was an insatiably curious man. He talked or wrote about it several times. In an essay called The World As I See It, Einstein talks of wonder and awe. He said, “Whoever does not [experience the mysterious] and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.” He wrote something similar for an anthology called Living Philosophies.

It baffles me to talk with people who seem to have no curiosity to learn new things. I have a vast domain of curiosity (maybe too much). Not everyone has to inspect every rabbit hole, or chase every squirrel they see like I seem to have to do, but I think everyone should have some sense of wonder and desire to discover new things. Otherwise, God’s glory and man’s honor never get put on display.

Another quote by Einstein (which is put more pithily in the following poster) is, “It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.”

Poster on Amazon

I like this quote because it takes a jab at one of my favorite institutions to poke fun at: school. I think that much of our curiosity is stifled in the classroom. We are told what to study and when to study it.

It seems ironic to me that a person is not allowed to get excited about a topic to study on their own until they finally get out of formal educational institutions. In school there is very little room for a person to go off script and become passionate about a topic because there are test schedules to keep.

Take pleasure in the joy of discovery. Be curious about the world around you; even if the man in the yellow hat tries to tell you otherwise.

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Bible Thought

Don’t Envy the Wicked

1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. 2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.

19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked: 20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Proverbs 24:1, 2, 19, 20

Advantage of Getting Older

As we get older I think there are some things that make a whole lot more sense than they did when we were younger. The idea we see in these verses is one of those things that gets clearer to me with age: the wicked do not prosper.

A few weeks ago I was thinking along the same lines as these verses but hadn’t remembered that Proverbs covered this topic so clearly. I was thinking about how, as a younger person, I wondered what certain activities would be like. How fun and satisfying certain sins must be. Thankfully, I was spared from too much experimentation. Though, I can’t say I avoided everything that could have brought on great tragedy in my life.

Solomon tells us that we should not be jealous of people who seem to be enjoying their sinful lifestyle. The result of their sin is destruction.

Temporal or Eternal?

I don’t know that Solomon was thinking in the realm of eternity when he wrote these verses. He may have been writing only about the mortal life of the sinner. This is certainly what I was thinking a few weeks ago: the consequences of sin and how they affect this life.

Even someone who has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior can fall into sin that results in tragedy and sadness. If you know, or suspect, that something is wrong, then just don’t do it. There is nothing good that can come from violating your own conscience and upbringing.

How Do I Know What is Right?

What Mom and Dad Taught

First, I would go back to what you were taught as a child. If your parents said you shouldn’t do it, then it is safe to assume that it is probably wrong. Certainly not all parents are correct in their morals nor do they all know what the Bible teaches, but they generally want to steer their children in the right way.

Of course, there are some things that are wrong for a 10 year old that is not wrong for a 25 year old. But generally, the good behavior and manners you were taught as a child is a good starting point for appropriate behavior.

Authority of the Bible

Secondly, I would go to the authority of the Bible. If the Bible touches on a topic in a clear way, then that should settle any questions for you.

“But, I don’t believe the Bible is the final authority.” Even if you don’t think the Bible is God’s authoritative Word, here are some results of living by the principles of the Bible: sober lifestyle that is out from under the control of external substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.), having a good relationship with your spouse, living in harmony with your neighbors, being honest with and forgiving to those around you. I think most people would be glad to look back on a life like that instead of bar fights, constant squabbling, loss of a child because of driving under the influence, prison time, or a host of other sad consequences to sin.

Biblical Principles

Thirdly, there are some activities that may not have any clear teaching in the Bible, and they are things your parents didn’t teach you about. There are some clear principles of decision making that can help in those instances.

Observing the Results

Finally, be observant of the wicked and the consequences of their choices. Solomon says not to be jealous of their lifestyle. If something is wrong, no matter how the world tries to dress it up and sell it on TV commercials, you should avoid getting involved with that sin.

17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.

Proverbs 23:17