Lesson 11

Living By Faith

(Proverbs 28 & 29)
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Introduction: Two topics we discuss this week are the law and transparency. You might guess this means, "Those who live behind glass windows should not throw stones." But, you would be wrong. Instead, "transparency," means letting people see all of what you do. No secrets. This helps you to live by your standards. If God's law is your standard, then if you believe that something should be secret, that is a clue that what you want to keep secret is something you should not be doing. Let's dive into our study of the Proverbs!

  1. Government and Law


    1. Read Proverbs 28:2. Would you like to live in a country with "many rulers?"


      1. If not, why? (It seems that with many rulers comes many rules - and they might well conflict.)


      2. What is the best way to govern a country? (To live by the rule of law. "A man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.")


        1. Does this principle also apply to our personal lives? (God's law should be the "rule" in our life.)


    2. Read Proverbs 29:4. How do bribes fit with the rule of law? (They don't. The king who takes a bribe subverts the rule of law for personal gain.)


      1. What is the result to the country?(It destroys stability and tears the country down.)


    3. Read Proverbs 28:3. Note that the NIV translates this differently than most other translations. The NIV says "A ruler who oppresses...." Other translations say, "A poor man who oppresses...." What is driving rain with no crops? (A missed opportunity! If a ruler is unfair to the poor, the result is terrible. If the poor are unfair to the poor, they, too, have squandered an opportunity.)


    4. Read Proverbs 28:4. What two classes of people do we find in this proverb? (Those who keep the law and those who do not.)


      1. What characterizes those who do not keep the law? (They praise the wicked.)


      2. What characterizes those who keep the law? (They resist the wicked.)


      3. There is a debate in the United States about the role of religious belief in politics. What does this text suggest? (The righteous are obligated to resist the wicked.)


        1. What law are we talking about here? God's law or the law of the state? (God's law, but there should be a relationship between God's law and human law. Read Romans 13:1-2.)


    5. Read Proverbs 28:5. We have seen that wicked people do not support the law. Why? (They do not understand justice.)


    6. Read Proverbs 28:15-16. How do you explain that God sometimes has wicked and tyrannical rulers in charge? (God is in charge, but He gives humans free will. Sometimes humans put wicked leaders and tyrants in power - or fail to resist them.)


    7. Read Proverbs 28:12. What does it mean to "go into hiding?" (Everyone wants to avoid dealing with a wicked ruler. But, it can also mean that wickedness is allowed to continue by those who are afraid to raise their voices. On this we must be careful. Recall in Romans 13:2 the warning against rebellion.)


  2. The Poor


    1. Read Proverbs 28:6-7. We have read many proverbs which tell us that there is a positive connection between being righteous and having success. What does this proverb say about that connection? (It is not always true. Sometimes the rich are perverse and the poor are blameless.)


      1. What does this suggest to us as a motive for obedience to God? Should we do it for the money? (Obedience is its own reward. Whether we have money or not, an obedient person lives a better life - a life that reflects well on his or her parents.)


    2. Read Proverbs 28:9. Does God hear the prayers of the wicked? (Read Matthew 9:10-12. When Jesus was on earth He made a point of spending time with sinners. It is hard to imagine that has changed.)


      1. If Jesus listens to the prayers of sinners, then what does it mean that those who do not pay attention to the law have detestable prayers? (What is the point of praying? To have God help you or others, right? The point of the law is to help us. Therefore, if we pay no attention to the law, why would God look kindly on our requests for help?)


    3. Read Proverbs 28:10. Have you seen good people mislead by bad people? If so, how does the Bible say that will work out? (The bad people will fall into the trap they have made, but the good people will come out alright in the end.)


    4. Read Proverbs 28:11. What does this teach us about wisdom and wealth? (This rich man does not have wisdom, but the poor man does.)


      1. Why do you think this is true? (The pride of the rich can blind them to truth.)


      2. Why does the poor man have discernment? (He is not blinded by pride. Plus, we often have a better ability to see the sins of others than we have of seeing our own sins.)


    5. Read Proverbs 28:27. Why is our relationship with the poor counterintuitive? (The rules are reversed because giving means we get more. Refusing to give means we end up losing.)


    6. Read Proverbs 29:7. Why are wicked people unconcerned about justice for the poor? (It does nothing to help them. On the other hand, the righteous understand God's love for all. Note that the poor require both justice and aid.)


    7. Read Proverbs 29:13. This seems to be an odd statement. What does it mean to "give sight to the eyes?" (Both the oppressed and the oppressor understand what is going on.)


      1. So what? (God's final judgment is justified. No one can claim ignorance.)


  3. Transparency


    1. Read Proverbs 28:13. Why would you want to conceal your sins? (Pride - you don't want others to know about your sins. It might also be a matter of trying to keep out of trouble.)


      1. What does confessing your sins do for you? (It gets them out in the open in the sense that you admit the sin.)


        1. How open are these sins? (We've discussed in the lessons before the idea that we confess sin to God, not to other humans, unless we have harmed them and the confession could make things better.)


        2. What about the idea of living a transparent life; how does that relate to confessing sins? (If you let others see how you live, and if you have shared with others your standards, it is unlikely that you will do something that is at odds with your standards.)


    2. Scan Romans 14 and read Romans 14:22-23. This suggests that some secrets are fine. How can you know what aspects of your life should be transparent and what is best left a secret? (The general rule should be transparency. However, if you are absolutely confident that what you are doing is not sin, and you know that others wrongly think it is a sin, then for the benefit of the others - not your benefit - you should keep it between you and God.)


    3. Read Proverbs 28:14. What does it mean to "harden" your heart? (To determine that you will do what you want, without regard to God's laws.)


    4. Read Proverbs 28:25. What is the source of the problem with a "greedy man?" (Selfishness. He wants more.)


      1. What is the logical link between being greedy and creating dissension? (You are kicking and shoving to get to the top. You want people to notice you.)


      2. What, in contrast, does the wise person do? (Trusts God.)


      3. What does this have to do with transparency? (We now know that those creating a commotion in life are not those who trust in God.)


    5. Friend, our study shows that integrity, transparency, obedience to established rules, and concern and justice for the poor are the path to a better life and a better country. Why not make these things your goal?


  4. Next week: The Humility of the Wise.

Discussion

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Lessons on Proverbs

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