What You See Is Not What You Get
Introduction: Computers interested me from the time they were available to the public. I recall purchasing a Timex Sinclair which had 2K of memory. After I bought it, I decided that its best use was as a door stop. (It had sort of a wedge shape.) Early on, I had a hard time getting the "vision" of what computers could do to make life better. Bible-based wisdom is like that. We don't realize how much following God's way improves our life. This week our study of Proverbs helps us to better understand what it means to live a good life in accord with God's will. Let's jump into our study!
- How to Judge Ideas
- Read Proverbs 14:1. What does this say about being wise? (Wise people build things.)
- What do foolish people do? (They tear things down.)
- Is this a general principle of life? If you are not sure whether an idea is Biblically wise or foolish, would it be helpful to ask whether it builds or tears apart? (I think this is true.)
- My daughter and I were just discussing atheists and why they evangelize for non-belief by tearing apart religion. My daughter asked, "If you accept their views, and they are right, how is that a benefit?" On the other hand, if you accept Christianity, what is the benefit if we are right?
- Read Proverbs 14:2. What is the difference in attitude between the upright and the devious? (One fears God and the other despises God.)
- Is this another general principle of life? (I think so. You can judge a person and his ideas by checking his attitude toward God.)
- Read Proverbs 14:3. Is the Bible against free speech? (No. This points to the practical result of being wise versus being a fool.)
- Is this another general principle of life? If you want to determine whether a person is giving you good advice, should you look at how that person's life is working out? (Yes! You don't need to know a lot about the substance of the advice to get a good grasp on whether it is good. Just look at how it works for the person giving the advice! We now have three rules for judging advice: a)does it build up; b)does the person trust God; and, c)is life working out well for person giving the advice?)
- Read Proverbs 14:6-7. When the Proverbs say "stay away" from a foolish man, does it mean to avoid associating with a foolish person? (At a minimum it means don't take advice from a foolish person.)
- When verse 6 says knowledge comes easily to the "discerning," what is being discerned? What distinctions can the wise see that others cannot? (For one, paying attention to whether the advice comes from a foolish person or not.)
- Read Proverbs 14:8. Have you heard someone say, "Pay no attention to the past because there is nothing you can do about it?" Is that true? (Only in part. You can learn from the past. A prudent and discerning person gives thought to how he has lived, and this gives him direction for the future.)
- Read Proverbs 14:11. Why is it the wicked have a "house" while the upright have only a "tent?" Is it not supposed to be just the opposite? (The point is that the upright might not start out with much. But, God blesses and builds on what they have if they are wise. This shows that the Biblically wise person builds on what he has.)
- Wisdom and Wealth
- Read Proverbs 14:20-21. Do you dislike "needy" people? What do these two verses say about your attitude towards the rich and the needy? (The natural heart likes the rich because you might get something from them - perhaps even getting to use their stuff. But, the poor threaten your stuff. They might want something.)
- What attitude does Proverbs say we should have about this? (We will be blessed by being kind to those who are needy.)
- Read Proverbs 14:31. What is the reason for receiving a blessing when we help the needy? (God identifies with them because He is their Maker.)
- Read Proverbs 14:23-24 and Proverbs 14:26. Having wealth is a sign that you are (or have been) wise. Not having wealth suggests that you have been a foolish person who does more talking than doing. How do you reconcile this with the instruction that we should be kind to the needy?
- The "cure" for being needy, according to our study, is to fear God, stop being foolish and talking too much, and to start working. What should we do if we are to follow the instructions to be kind to the needy?
- This week I was sitting at a stop light in my shiny new car. I had the top down, and was grateful for God's kindness to me. A middle-age beggar was sitting by the side of the road, with a little sign which I assume was asking for money. I decided that I would give him money - just because of the enormous contrast in our situations. But, I never did because he never stood up. What do you think? Was I right to decide that if he was not working, and was unwilling to even make the effort to stand up, I would not give?
- Read Proverbs 15:3. What important factor does this add to my question about the beggar? (Not only is God making a judgment about me, but God is also aware of the beggar's situation.)
- Read Proverbs 15:19. Who puts the thorns in the path of the sluggard (the lazy)? (God's laws for life. It seems to me that we should not remove the "thorns" that result from being lazy, but we should be kind to the needy in a way consistent with the Proverbs - teaching them a better way of life.)
- How would you apply this to my situation with the beggar at the stop light? (The best thing we can do for beggars is to get to know them. That will help us to apply Biblical principles to their lives. If I just hand a beggar some money, I cannot be sure whether I'm harming or helping him.)
- Read Proverbs 15:6 and Proverbs 15:16-17. Why is wealth not always a good thing? (You need to be able to handle it. Perhaps, if we trust God, He gives us the amount of money we can handle. If wealth brings turmoil and hatred, then it is better not to have wealth.)
- Read Proverbs 15:1-2. Have you developed the habit of carefully considering your words when you are having a difficult conversation?
- How can the way we choose our words make a difference in the outcome of the situation? (Being gentle turns down the temperature of the anger. Being harsh, makes things worse.)
- Read Proverbs 15:4. Can our words affect the health of others? (Yes. We can improve or harm a person's health by the way we speak to them.)
- Read Proverbs 15:7. What other positive thing can your words bring? (Knowledge to others!)
- Read Proverbs 15:18. What does this have to do with the tongue? (This is related to our prior discussion about taking a moment to carefully consider your words. A "hot-tempered" man gets mad and blurts out words he will later regret. A patient man takes the time to carefully select his words.)
- Read Proverbs 15:22. If we are wise, why would we need the advice of others? (This probably has a great deal to do with pride. You think you are right and you are determined to push ahead. The Bible says that obtaining the views of other wise people will help your plans in life to succeed.)
- Read Proverbs 16:7. How does this work: you please God and He grabs your enemies by the scruff of the neck and makes them behave? (I don't think this is referring to divine intervention, although that is possible. Rather, I think God has already "intervened" by giving us these proverbs. If we follow them, especially those about the tongue, we will live at peace with our enemies.)
- Read John 15:18-19. How can we reconcile this with living at peace with our enemies? (The world will not like our ideas because they stand as a rebuke to their way of life. But, on a personal level, if we follow the advice of Proverbs we will live in peace with our enemies.)
- Friend, would you like less conflict in your life? Would you like to live a more enjoyable life? Wisely select the advice you will follow, and then follow it. Why not decide to make a change right now?
- Next Week: Dealing With Fights.