Lesson 10

Behind the Mask

(Proverbs 25-27)
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Introduction: This week I read a saying that goes something like this: "A person with a difficult past gives good advice." The proverbs we have studied so far suggest that those who have been wise in the past are the best source of wisdom. But, this saying highlights an important point: the rebukes and challenges of life add to our wisdom. Our study this week considers the issue of how we can acquire more wisdom. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Secrets and Kings


    1. Read Proverbs 25:2. My first reaction to this text was that I'm glad God does not reveal all of my sins! But, read Mark 4:11. What does this suggest about what God conceals? (God reveals important matters to His followers, but conceals them from others.)


      1. Read Mark 4:12. I thought Jesus spoke in parables so that His lessons were easier to understand! How do you explain this?


    2. Look again at Proverbs 25:2. What is the glory of kings? (To search out a matter.)


      1. Let's apply this to parables. Why would Jesus' followers understand His parables and the world would not? (Because they searched out the meaning of the parables.)


      2. What do you think is the point being made in Proverbs 25:2? (God is so great and glorious that we cannot understand all of His ways. But, it is to our glory to try to "search out" the nature of God and His lessons for us.)


    3. Read Proverbs 25:3. Kings are a lot less complex than God. Why can we search out God but not kings? (God operates out of a consistent principle of love, while humans are driven by all sorts of conflicting emotions.)


    4. Read Proverbs 25:4-5. Does this also apply to you? Do you need to remove what is wicked from your presence? (If we want to live righteous lives, we need to remove that which is wicked.)


    5. Read Proverbs 25:6-7 and Luke 14:7-11. How many times are you faced with issues about where to sit when you eat?


      1. If not many, how would you apply this today? (I apply it to relationships at work and in other organizations, such as church.)


      2. Why would a person claim the first place at work or church? (Pride, most likely.)


        1. How does this work out for your pride? (You are humiliated if you are told to step down. On the other hand, if you are told to step up, that exalts you.)


    6. Read Proverbs 25:7 (last part) and Proverbs 25:8. What is meant by "court?" (I think it means before the person in charge.)


      1. What would be the application today? (It could mean a judicial court, but the more common application is when you bring a charge against someone else at work or church.)


      2. Why would you be risking shame? (You did not investigate thoroughly, you do not know all of the facts, and the neighbor will make you look foolish.)


      3. Consider a slightly different context. You suggest a new idea at work. You bring it forward quickly so that you can beat everyone else with the suggestion. Would this proverb apply? (Yes. This is a lesson I keep reminding myself. Carefully think things through before you submit a new idea or new plan.)


    7. Read Proverbs 26:27. What other common work tactic should we avoid? (Retribution. If someone harms us, we should not "dig a pit" for them. It will just end up harming us.)


  2. Words


    1. Read Proverbs 25:11. Is this good or is this useless? You cannot eat gold apples! (Close your eyes and imagine gold apples in silver bowls. It is beautiful, right? Your words can be beautiful like that - and lift the spirits of others.)


    2. Read Proverbs 25:12. Do you like to be rebuked? Do you like to be corrected? (No one likes to be corrected.)


      1. Although we don't like rebuke, what should we do? (If it comes from a wise person, we should listen to it.)


      2. Will paying attention to correction make us better-looking? (That is the point. A beautiful earring makes the ear more attractive. Paying attention to correction from those who are wise makes us a more beautiful person.)


    3. Read Proverbs 27:5-6. Will a true and wise friend always give you the advice you want to hear? (No. Your "enemy" always agrees with you. Rebukes are good for us if they come from wise friends.)


    4. Read Proverbs 26:23-26. Will your enemy give you encouraging words? (Yes.)


      1. What is the lesson to be learned from this? (We should not judge people by whether they agree with us or rebuke us. Some agreeable words are intended to harm us, while a wise rebuke is a blessing.)


    5. Read Proverbs 27:17. What is "iron" in a relationship? (Iron is tough. Thus difficult challenges, hard rebukes, make us better - if we are wise.)


    6. Read Proverbs 25:15. When you want to change the mind of someone else, how do you approach that task? Do you argue? Command? Raise your voice? What does this text suggest? (That gentleness and patience result in powerful results - bone breaking results!)


      1. Whose mind is being changed? (The mind of the ruler. This is significant, because the person being persuaded has authority over you.)


    7. Read Proverbs 25:20. What does this teach us about giving advice? (Whenever my wife would feel poorly, I would put a big grin on my face and say, "Think well!")


      1. What do people who are feeling poorly want to hear? (Compassion. Singing (happy?) songs to someone who is sad or feeling bad is not helpful. It actually does harm.)


    8. Read Proverbs 25:24. When you look for a spouse, how important is it to really know that person? (This says a great deal about the power of the tongue. No one wants to live on the roof, much less the corner of the roof. Yet that is preferable to living with a quarrelsome spouse.)


    9. Read Proverbs 25:28. Why are walls around a city? (To protect it from invaders.)


      1. How does self-control protect you - as opposed to protecting others? (When you lack self-control, you open yourself up to all sorts of problems. Your protection is gone.)


  3. Dealing with Fools


    1. Read Proverbs 26:4-5. Those of you who say the Bible does not contradict itself, how do you explain this? (Clearly the writer of this proverb realized the apparent contradiction. Verse four tells us not to descend to the fool's methods in a debate with a fool. Verse five suggests, on the other hand, that just leaving a fool without giving a response makes the fool think he is right. This seems to suggest a wise response should be given to fools.)


      1. Read Proverbs 23:9. Now, how should we respond to fools? Can you find a truth that is consistent with all of these verses? (Don't privately debate a fool. Your answer is for those who are listening to the debate.)


    2. Read Proverbs 26:7 and Proverbs 26:9. Will everyone benefit from this study of Proverbs? (No.)


      1. What is the problem? (Proverbs are more than useless to fools, they can be dangerous.)


    3. Read Proverbs 26:10. Should you hire a fool? (No. You cannot predict what damage a fool will do.)


    4. Read Proverbs 26:12. Could there possibly be anything worse than being a fool? (Yes! Being wise in your own eyes.)


      1. Why do fools have more hope? (The fool may realize his foolishness, but pride blinds you from seeing yourself in your true light.)


    5. Friend, if you are a diligent student of the Proverbs, and not a fool, you will enjoy a better life. Why not resolve, right now, to live by the counsel in Proverbs?


  4. Next week: Living By Faith.

Discussion

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