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A Way that Seems Right - The Study of the Book of Proverbs (Chapter 14)
Along any road or series of highways, are various streets that branch off and go in different directions. How do we know which road is the correct one that will get us to our desired destination? Perhaps we have looked up the route on Google Maps, we may use the GPS on our smart phone, or have one of those old fashioned paper fold out maps. Regardless of what resource is used, some kind of guidance is needed to get to our destination without getting lost.
Have you ever traveled without a map or some way to know where you are going? Maybe you wrote down directions someone gave you and those directions were just not very clear. Pulling onto a road that seemed right, it didn’t take long to realize that you were lost, and suddenly, there was that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Life is a lot like that. We travel along the road of life with many opportunities to turn down various roads. Roads that lead to prosperity and blessings and roads that lead to foolishness and folly. But, how do we tell which road to turn on and which one to avoid? Just like driving down any road we need a map and thank God that He has given us just the right one.
The Bible is our map, our GPS through life. Having a map or GPS at our disposal is great but we have to use it to stay on the right road. The book of Proverbs is a fantastic map. If we learn what it says and apply it to our lives many wrong turns will be avoided and our journey will end in blessings. Turn our backs on the directions it gives and go a way that seems right will lead us down a dark and lonely road of despair.
The wise build up, the foolish tear down.
“Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him. In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.” (Proverbs 14: 1-3 NKJV)
“Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home; Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick. An honest life shows respect for God; a degenerate life is a slap in His face. Frivolous talk provokes a derisive smile; wise speech evokes nothing but respect." (Proverbs 14: 1-3 TMB)
A person, man or woman, who lives in search of wisdom is always building. They are building their lives, their homes, their families, their children, and the inheritance and legacy they will leave to future generations. The bricks that they use to build with are wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
A wise person builds their house by growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. As they grow they build their house through words and deeds, through faithful living, and constant care of family members. But foolish people live a self-indulgent and decadent life that does nothing more than destroy their family and leave their children lost and confused.
Pride gives birth to foolishness and living foolishly is a slap in God’s face. He has given us all the tools, and the road map to living a blessed and prosperous life, when we choose to ignore Him and his ways, we are showing Him the utmost disrespect.
What has happened to our work ethic?
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” (Proverbs 14: 4 NKJV)
“No cattle, no crops; a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow." (Proverbs 14:4 TMB)
In this day and age of mass numbers of people receiving government help in one way or another, the question begs to be asked. What has happened to our work ethic?
As we read this verse in Proverbs 14 we clearly see that if there is no work, there is no food. Granted the economy is pretty tough right now and I know many people who are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet; but there are many folks who refuse to work because they think it’s demeaning to work for minim wage, or they don’t want to start at the ground floor and work their way up. So they are subsidized by the tax paying people who are working, one, two, and three jobs. How is this fair?
A society cannot continue to take care of those who are able, but not willing, for long. There will come a day when the money runs out, and everyone will be left wanting and needing. There is no one who is too good to get dirty, or work at any job offered them.
Our Idle Talk and Lies are out of control
“A faithful witness does not lie, But a false witness will utter lies.A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, But knowledge is easy to him who understands. Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit. Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is favor. The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy. The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above” (Proverbs 14: 5-14 NKJV)
“A true witness never lies; a false witness makes a business of it.Cynics look high and low for wisdom-and never find it; the open-minded find it right on their doorstep! Escape quickly from the company of fools; they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words. The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track; the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch. The stupid ridicule right and wrong, but a moral life is a favored life. The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends will be an outsider at their celebrations. Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks; holy living builds soaring cathedrals. There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak. A mean person gets paid back in meanness, a gracious person in grace.” (Proverbs 14: 5-14 TMB)
These verses read straight out of the news, right from the wire, and mirror the social media today. Everything is upside down and inside out; lies are counted as truth and twisted so badly that it’s hard to find anything of value in what is said. Godliness is mocked and considered wrong while sinfulness is exalted and called good.
This is the road society is on today, they think it looks harmless, that it seems right, but it’s a straight path to hell; and all the laughter and good times they are having at the expense of those who are staying on the road of wisdom will turn to sorrow and heartbreak.
Sift and Weigh Every Word
“The simple believes every word, But the prudent man considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident. He who is quick-tempered acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated. The simple inherit folly, But the prudent are crowned with knowledge. The evil will bow before the good, And the wicked at the gates of the righteous.” (Proverbs 14: 15-19 NKJV)
"The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word. The wise watch their steps and avoid evil; fools are headstrong and reckless. The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret; the cold hearted get the cold shoulder. Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion; wise realists plant their feet on the ground. Eventually, evil will pay tribute to good; the wicked will respect God-loyal people.” (Proverbs 14: 15-19 TMB)
It’s easy to get caught up in the conversation that goes on around the water cooler, or the political banter on social media, but a wise person sifts and weighs every word they hear, as well as, what they say. And old saying goes, “It’s better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
There are always people who think they know the scoop better than anyone else, but it is wiser to listen to the conversation and then research the truth before making a statement or taking a stand on any topic. Make sure what you believe about something lines up with the Bible. Even Jesus warned His disciples not to be deceived. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, ‘and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24: 5)
The Wise Man Shows Mercy to those in Need
“The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, But the rich has many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good." (Proverbs 14:20-22 NKJV)
“An unlucky looser is shunned by all, but everyone loves a winner. It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor – what a Blessing” Isn't it obvious that conspirators lose out, while the thoughtful win love and trust?" (Proverbs 14: 20-22 TMB)
Poverty is like a sickness, and although many are in poverty because of the poor decisions they have made, it is our place, as those on the path of wisdom, to show them compassion. Showing compassion to one who is in great need will bring happiness to the needy and to those showing compassion. Proverbs says it is a “sin” not to show compassion. Why is that? Because as those who have been given the blessings associated with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, we are charged to share what we have been blessed with. Not only will it help those in need, it may open the door for them to begin their journey on the road to wisdom.
Institutions of higher learning encourage their alumni to give back in the form of contributions to a scholarship fund. This is used to give to someone, who may not have the chance otherwise, to attend and receive wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. It is a form of reciprocal blessings, and as Christians we are called to give to those who are in need.
It Takes Hard Work to Succeed.
“In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty. The crown of the wise is their riches, But the foolishness of fools is folly. A true witness delivers souls, But a deceitful witness speaks lies.” (Proverbs 14: 23-25 NKJV)
“Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table. The wise accumulate wisdom; fools get stupider by the day. Souls are saved by truthful witness and betrayed by the spread of lies.” (Proverbs 14: 23-25 TMB)
Regardless of what we are doing, working as a laborer, going to school, sitting at a desk, there is a paycheck at the end of the week. There are many who stand around and talk about getting a job, or going back to school, but that’s all they do is talk; and talk is cheap, it won’t get you a paycheck or buy your groceries. A wise person doesn’t just stand around talking, a wise person gets to work and supports themselves and provides for their family. A deceitful person tries to con others into paying their bills and taking care of their family.
Godliness Builds Confidence
“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, To avoid the snares of death. In a multitude of people is a king’s honor, But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince.” (Proverbs 14: 26-28 NKJV)
“The Fear-0f-God builds up confidence, and makes a world safe for your children. The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells. The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following.” (Proverbs 14: 26-28 TMB)
A godly life is one built on the truths found in the Word of God. The Fear-of-God is not fear as in being afraid, as we learned early in our study, but a healthy and deep reverence for God. A knowing that the Word is true, alive, active, and lighting our way as we travel along life’s path. It is in this knowledge of the Word of God that we have courage and confidence. It is how we measure the choices that we are faced with, and the standard by which those choices are made. Because of our knowledge, and trust in the Word, we know our journey is on a straight and safe path; for ourselves and for our family.
Nuggets of Gold
These last few verses are like nuggets of gold. Each one is worth its weight; filled with tidbits of knowledge and understanding that will challenge, encourage, and give those who work toward accomplishing them blessings above and beyond what can be imagined.
“He who is low to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly.” (Proverbs 14:29 NKJV)
“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.” (Proverbs 14:29 TMB)
“A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones."(Proverbs 14:30 NKJV)
“A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the ones. (Proverbs 14:30 TMB)
“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” (Proverbs 14:31 NKJV)
“You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless; when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.” (Proverbs 14:31 TMB)
“The wicked is banished in his wickedness, But the righteous has a refuge in his death.” (Proverbs 14:32 NKJV)
“The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold; the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living.” (Proverbs 14:32 TMB)
“Wisdom rests quietly in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known.” (Proverbs 14:33 NKJV)
“Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart – fools never even get to say hello.” (Proverbs 14:33 TMB)
“Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV)
“God – Devotion makes a country strong; God – Avoidance leaves people weak." (Proverbs 14:34 TMB)
“The King’s favor is toward a wise servant, But his wrath is against him who causes shame.” (Proverbs 14:35 NKJV)
“Diligent works gets a warm commendation; shiftless work earns an angry rebuke.” (Proverbs 14:35 TMB)
In a nutshell we can see that foolishness and understanding, oppression and kindness, righteousness and unrighteousness, evil and goodness are not only opposites, but cannot exist together. We must strive to be wise, good, kind, righteous, and godly; and the more we search for wisdom and study the map of wisdom in Proverbs, the easier our way will become.
© 2014 miss_jkim