The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him, v1
The proverb shows that God is deeply interested in business and how business is run. He cares when people are swindled. There is nothing about whether this is the Christian or non-Christian being deceived, that’s not important to Him. Wherever and whoever carries out deception God hates it. The feeling of coming away from a deal and being ripped off is the same emotion that God is having.
Think of what Jesus told us. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our good deeds and doing what is right will cause others to look to God.
As Christians our actions can indeed speak better than words.
We live in a world where the norm is to:
Cut corners. Cover up. Lie about sick days. Put inappropriate pressure on others.
Businesses are spending much time and finance on teaching integrity in the workplace. Why? Because for years we have felt that we can get by without it.
It is important that the world sees that we have no part to play in the compromise, the dodgy deals, the lying and cheating that may go on as normal practice. We are different workers or we should be!
What the church needs in our nation are not more talented worship leaders, preachers or management leaders. The importance is not our gifting and abilities but the demonstration of who we are and how we do our work. Do we go the extra mile at work? Do we work for more than we are paid for? Or do we just do enough or less if we can?
Let us all keep finding favour with God. Let us all be honest.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …v10.
Why do I care so much? Why so concerned with people? I am constantly trying to read the signs, thinking through the words, observing behaviour, monitoring the faces of people. I must not offend, I must please, I must be clever, funny, sound intelligent. I must be tidy, I must be articulate. Why do I want people to like me, accept me, be pleased with me? I sleep, eat, work, breathe on a stage, dancing to the tunes of those who want more, who want to applaud or jeer. Please clap me. I can do better. I can do more, just watch me. You haven’t seen anything yet. Sometimes I look up and catch a glimpse of this imaginary audience, perplexed that their voice is so much louder than anything I have heard in the reality of life. Yet the imagination is the reality. And I am in fear.
Am I alone? The answer can be seen on Facebook right now.
And into this milieu of mess I make my wise decisions. But no more, it ends today.
God is bigger than people and the audience in my head.
God I am really concerned about what you think. I watch my words and my behaviour because you watch me. I do not want to offend you. I want to please you, I want to sleep, eat, work, breathe You. I want to dance to your tune. I look up and gaze on you mighty God. You are an immoveable, all-encompassing foundation for my past, present and future life. You are mighty to save and mighty to keep. You rule over heaven and earth and over me. You are deliverer, protector, Saviour, one who moves, one who sees, a fortress, loving, a shield, mighty, ruler, a strength, a refuge, You are!
And into this milieu of delight I begin to make new decisions. And I realise that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
v1 Wisdom is calling out. But who is Wisdom?
v 11 Wisdom is more valuable than anything else. But who is Wisdom?
v 13 Wisdom hates pride, arrogance, bad works and bad words. But who is Wisdom?
v 17 Wisdom can be loved and sought after. But who is Wisdom?
v 23 Wisdom was there before the beginning. But who is Wisdom?
v 27 Wisdom was there when the universe was created. But who is Wisdom?
v 30 Wisdom was at the side of the Creator of mankind. But who is Wisdom?
v 32 Wisdom says blessing is in keeping his ways, watching at his doors, waiting at his doorway and finding him. But who is Wisdom?
Apostle Paul and the early Christians identified this Wisdom: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God” 1 Corinthians 1:30.
Are you blown away yet with the fact that Jesus is all over the Bible not just the New Testament? He is here in Proverbs 8! And if that is not marvellous enough for you then slow down and look at this …
v 33 Wisdom (Christ) says listen to my instruction and …. be wise (be Christ)!!
Today let us all be Christ-like for Christ is calling us to do so.
v6: At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice.
v19,20:My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon
v16,17 I have covered my bed with coloured linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
I speak mainly to male leaders today. What will keep you from doing something you will later regret?
Three things will help you:
1. Know and respect your position, v6
He was looking down.
What is below you?
How often do we read and hear of sexual immorality taking place from positions of seniority and those lower down?
Be careful of your high position for it can be there where you meet the great tempter. When Christ was tempted He was taken to a higher point.
2. Flee from opportunity, v19,20
Her husband was not at home.
You need to know where those opportunities are in order to either stay away or be simply able to say NO.
3. Avoid fantasy, v16,17
She had covered her bed and made it smell beautiful. She was painting a picture of perfection for him and it captured his attention.
Because churches have not talked about sex many young people have grown up into adults and entered married life and taken with them their fantasy world, a distortion of what God’s wonderful gift of sex should be.
Sex in the real world is not glossy and perfect and self-controlling in the sense that it can be simply turned on like a tap. It is filled with tenderness, love and excitement, yes, but also very much filled with tiredness, disappointment and imperfect bodies. The balance is the reality.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise, v6.
Now, forgive me for suggesting you may be a sluggard. I am sure you are not a lazybones, slacker, loafer, a slug.
Yesterday I was in a conversation with someone who I hadn’t seen for several weeks. Back then I had started a keep fit DVD course and she was on a diet of some sort of drinks formula. We both asked each other how we were doing and we both gave the same response: we had given up!
So what does the ant teach us?
• It is possible to do what looks impossible.
Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight.
• You are stronger in a group.
An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells. A human brain has 10,000 million so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human.
• Everyone has to adapt in some way to make it through life.
Adult ants cannot chew and swallow solid food. Instead they swallow the juice which they squeeze from pieces of food. They throw away the dry part that is left over.
• Defend yourself from the negatives that will try and crowd out your purpose.
Ants are clean and tidy insects. Some worker ants are given the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish tip!
• Keep moving.
At night the worker ants move the eggs into the nest to protect them from the cold. Army Ants are nomadic and they are always moving. They carry their larvae and their eggs with them in a long column.
• Encourage others.
If a worker ant has found a good source for food, it leaves a trail of scent so that the other ants in the colony can find the food.
One Sunday morning, the vicar announced, “Today, I am going to say a single word and you are going to help me preach. Whatever single word I say, I want you to sing whatever hymn that comes to your mind.”
So he shouted out CROSS. Immediately, the congregation started singing in unison THE OLD RUGGED CROSS.
He shouted out GRACE. They began to sing AMAZING GRACE.
He said POWER. They sang THERE IS POWER ,POWER WONDER WORKING POWER.
The vicar finally said SEX. The congregation fell in total silence. Everyone was in shock. They all nervously began to look around at each other.
Then all of a sudden, from way back in the church, a little 88 year old grandmother stood up and began to sing MEMORIES LIKE THE CORNERS OF MY MIND.
How do we get through this life and be sexually pure as this chapter commands?
Maybe you sinned sexually years ago or even last night. Maybe you have sinned whether behaviourally or in your thought life and maybe any mention of sexual immorality brings condemnation to the surface and you wonder if you will ever be free from guilt.
You may be reading this today and you are a victim of a sexual scandal.
Then again you may be a person who hasn’t sinned sexually and you are not a victim of a scandal and now the danger of it ever happening is extremely limited compared to many years ago!
Then there will be those who haven’t sinned sexually as yet but they have many years in front of them and the chances are high that they will, or become a victim of someone’s actions.
However you would describe yourself, all of us have been tainted in some way by sexual immorality at some point in our lives.
It is impossible to live in such a sexually immoral saturated world and not need the cleansing that Jesus Christ alone can bring! We get through because of Jesus!
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. v25.
We need to be people who know why we are here. Living with a purpose focuses our life, it gives a sense of direction in a confused world and it makes us realise that we can make a difference.
Many have become side tracked, wandering and drifting and as a result accomplishing very little. With purpose only the important issue remains important.
Purpose is not subject to the approval of men but is who God has made you and as a result He becomes more important than popularity.
Although your purpose will be attacked for not everyone will be excited by it, yet it will breed confidence in you as you finally do what you love to do, do what you’re good at and accomplish what is important to you.
So lift up your eyes today, look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Fix your eyes and be focused from wherever you have landed in life, even if you have lost everything, even if you are so far away from Him, even if your heart is hardened, even if you have gained so many enemies, even if you have no happiness in your life.
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Jesus came with a purpose that was clear and he lived his life according to that purpose.
The dust of the feet of Jesus is still being kicked up. He is still ahead of you asking you to follow Him. Are you looking ahead?
He is leading you to the cross of submission and surrender. Are you fixing your gaze on Him?
It is the place where Jesus is absolutely everything.
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
If you can help then help.….v27,28.
In 1901 a seven-year-old Indian girl named Preena escaped from a Hindu temple and sought refuge with a Christian named Amy Carmichael, a young woman who had come from Ireland to share the gospel in India. According to Preena’s story, her widowed mother had dedicated her as a child to be “married to the gods,” which ultimately meant a life of prostitution. The traumatised child, whose hands had been branded with hot irons as punishment for a previous escape, had heard Carmichael talking about a God who loves everyone. After checking into the details behind Preena’s story of alleged abused, Amy Carmichael concluded, “Investigations not only confirmed [the child’s story], but unveiled an evil greater in its extent and more grievously unholy in its character than ever imagined.”
On the spot, Amy Carmichael made up her mind. “Since these things are so,” she said, “I must do something about it!” Later she wrote, “I mean it with an intensity I know not how to express, that … such unutterable wrongs … in the name of all that is just and all that is merciful should be swept out of the land without a day’s delay.”
For Carmichael, Preena’s escape launched a 50-year career in intercepting and retrieving girls and babies from a “life” worse than death and giving them a home. (Adapted from Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church)
The heart of the missionary is for a better now. When the missionary becomes incarnate they not only see and hear the pain of others, they feel it. Tomorrow is never quick enough. People need God now. The field is white unto harvest. The needs are endless, the cries are constant and if there is anything we can do then we must, we just have to. If there is money we can give we must give. If there are hands to hold we must reach out. If there are invitations to respond to we must go. So the missionaries ask us today: can you help, now?
Discretion will protect you, v11
I am not sure if pretending to be dead on the battlefield makes for a good soldier. But this is what cowardly Falstaff does in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Prince Hal assumes Falstaff is dead and leaves the stage. If only Shakespeare had written that Falstaff turned to the audience and winked then it would have helped us seen what he said as surely a joke: “The better part of Valour, is Discretion …” He was saying for him, the best part of courage is caution.
However, I am also not sure throwing caution to the wind is the best policy either. Though every Saturday I try and watch the football highlights and invariably some pundit is encouraging a team to do just that if they are going to win the game. What I do remember is 1995 when Frank Bruno was battered and bruised by Mike Tyson in his last ever boxing fight. What went wrong? Afterwards Bruno said this, “I just threw caution to the wind, I just wanted to throw punches, to knock him out.” Not the best of policies! As our famous English poet, John Milton wrote in 1667: On my experience, Adam, freely taste; And fear of death deliver to the winds. Milton refers to the temptation of Adam and Eve in that they acted with such carelessness that fear of the consequence was not present. Still today, all around our cities and towns we see the lack of fear causing trouble and heartache.
Maybe today we should do both?
Improve our discretion. Be careful with our words, decisions and plans. To try and understand what is right, just and fair in a situation. To slow down for a moment before we jump.
But also, to throw our discretion on to the wind of God, to what the Holy Spirit is doing. Looking to Him for the guidance over our decisions. To let Him live through us.
Discretion within the Spirit is your defence. Let Wisdom/God “enter your heart.” v10.
Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. v19
Chun Doo-hwan, South Korea’s last dictator now lives in a mansion protected by 15 foot stone walls and a plainclothes security team. Having being convicted in the 1990s for mutiny, insurrection and bribery he is now living out his days trapped and his family are still being pursued for the $200million their father took in bribes whilst in office.
Jorge Rafael Videla, Argentina’s former dictator who once said, “I am above everyone,” died May 2013 unrepentant behind bars.
Charles Taylor, ruler of Liberia from 1997 to 2003 was tried at The Hague for aiding and abetting war crimes against humanity. In 2012 he began his 50 year prison sentence.
You may know all these 3 leaders from the media or none. However, you do know people who have gone after ill-gotten gain. You also know what the Message translates of these people, “the more you get, the less you are.”
In the end it is the dictator that will suffer and their family. It is the erroneous leader who will face an end to their life they had never wanted. Those who grab at things that are not theirs will have it taken from them. Those who cut corners to advance themselves will face the longest journey. Those who cause others to suffer will embrace suffering into their own family.
Just because someone appears to have it all doesn’t make them the person of value. Just because someone appears untouchable doesn’t mean they are not already imprisoned. Just because someone has the public respect of many doesn’t mean they will be standing with them in the end.
Friends, the end will sort it. Life is about what glitters and shines in the end. The journey of life polishes your heart for the end verdict. The decisions you have made, the paths you have taken, how you gained and what you did with that gain. These are what make you.