Lesson 10

Like Father, Like Son

(Proverbs 10, 12, 14, 15, 27, 30)
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Introduction: You may have heard the Carribean song that goes, "If you want to be happy for the rest of your life...." The song continues with the solution, "Don't make a pretty woman your wife." I'm too smart to take a vote in class about whether husbands think this is true - I certainly know it is not true in my case. Worse, it might start a discussion of whether wives are happier with ugly husbands! King Solomon was inspired to answer the question about how we can find happiness in Proverbs. Let's jump in and find out if his path to happiness has anything to do with the looks of our spouse!

  1. HAPPINESS


    1. How many of you want to be happy and cheerful? How many want heartache, turmoil or oppression?


    2. Read Proverbs 15:13-17. Do you notice the contrasts in these verses? "Happy" and "cheerful" versus "heartache," "oppression" and "turmoil." Are these attitudes a choice or the result of events outside our control?


      1. Are these verses just a statement that happy is better than sad? Or do they tell us how to get to "happy?" (Some of these verses are descriptive, but some give instruction. The "instruction verses" are 14, 16 and 17.)


        1. If you agree that verses 14, 16 and 17 are intended to teach us the path to happiness, what is that path? What do we need to learn to be happy? (Verse 14 teaches us to seek to know God better. Verse 16 tells us that respect and obedience towards God is better than money. Verse 17 tells us that love is better than fancy food. Put together, these three verses say that knowing and obeying God, and loving those around us is the path to joy.)


    3. Read Proverbs 14:27. How will the attitude of obedience towards God improve your life?


    4. Read Proverbs 10:28. When the text says our "prospect" brings joy, what does that mean? (A Christian has happiness in the hope for the future.)


    5. Read Proverbs 12:20. What is another way to have joy in our life? (To try to promote peace among those we know.)


    6. Is happiness something that comes only from the heart? Read Proverbs 27:9. How do you explain that perfume and incense bring joy? How can a friend bring joy?


  2. STRIFE


    1. Just as Proverbs teaches us the way to happiness and joy, it also teaches that a number of attitudes create problems. Let's look at some of these. Read Proverbs 30:32-33. What will create strife in our life as opposed to happiness?


      1. Are we told how not to stir up anger in verse 33?


      2. Does verse 32 tell us how not to stir up anger?


        1. Have you observed this verse 32 behavior in others? Have you witnessed the predicted result? (Exalting yourself, planning evil for others, these create anger in others.)


    2. Read Proverbs 29:11. I thought people say it is good for our mental health to "vent" from time to time. What does King Solomon say about this? (If we put this text together with Proverbs 12:20 (that we just reviewed) we find that keeping our own anger under control, along with promoting peace among those around us, promotes happiness.)


    3. Read Proverbs 26:20-22. What is "gossip" - especially in the context of verse 20?


      1. What effect does gossiping have on strife in your life?


      2. Why does verse 22 tell us that gossiping is so harmful to our mental health? (To use a common expression: "it sticks in our craw!")


    4. Read Proverbs 13:10. How does pride breed strife?


      1. Is King Solomon saying that the proud do not take advice?


      2. Is Solomon saying that the proud are not wise?


      3. What difference do you see between this text ( Proverbs 13:10) and the advice in Proverbs 30:33 that you are a fool if you exalt yourself? (Proverbs 30:33 tells us not to act on our attitude of pride. Proverbs 13:10 suggests even the attitude itself is a problem because we will not listen to others. I recently heard someone say something like this: "Those of us who know we are right are tired of hearing from those who think they are right." There is an attitude!)


    5. Do you see a relationship between pride and gossip?


    6. Read Proverbs 14:29-30. What does envy do to us? (Rots the bones.)


      1. What do you understand "rot the bones" to mean?


      2. How does a quick-temper, as opposed to patience, create problems in our life? (If we get quickly angry we will not sufficiently understand the problem. That will make us appear foolish. Our lesson (Monday) says "Bad temper is a return to immature ways of reacting.")


      1. How is your patience when it comes to driving your car?


    1. Read Proverbs 20:22 and 24:29. We sometimes think that Jesus changed the rule of the Old Testament that said "an eye for an eye." (See Matthew 5:38-39.) What does King Solomon suggest we should do when it is "pay back time?"


      1. If sin is an attitude instead of mere actions, how do you explain Proverbs 20:22? Doesn't this person still have the "pay back" attitude? To what degree is it "OK" to cheer someone else on to the pay back our enemies? (For discussion, read King David's approach to this recorded in 1 Kings 2:1, 5-6, 8-10. Then contrast God's approach in Exodus 34:5-7.)


        1. Is there a difference between "payback" and judgment?


        2. Is God alone empowered to judge? Was David's deathbed wish sinful? Or was it an appropriate judgment of the king?


        3. Does God have a moral obligation to execute judgment on the wicked?


        4. How would it affect, as a practical matter, your happiness to leave judgment and "payback" to God? (This involves many of the texts we have studied this morning. If we harbor anger, if we plan evil for others, it just creates strife in our life. On the other hand, if we resolve the issue of unfairness to us by letting God judge the other person, we can put the matter to rest in our minds.)


    2. Friend, God wants us to be happy. (And you don't have to marry an ugly spouse to be happy.) He invites us to enter into His joy by following His practical rules. Will you make a decision for happiness?


  1. Next week: A Friend for All Seasons

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