Thursday, August 24, 2006

Proverbs for the Present

While reading in the 24th chapter of Proverbs today, I ran across some interesting ones that I thought would be good to share. This might develop into a series.

[Tags like "BIBLE" are going to be more commonplace here. Some will be "Bible," others "Theology," others "News" so the discerning reader can see and know what they are getting themselves into.]

Proverbs 24:11-12
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, "But we knew nothing about this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

I though this was especially fitting for its resonances not only with evangelism but also service to the community. Make an effort, it says, to go after those who are perishing and to help those in danger. Whether it be personal salvation or the fact that both their brake lights are out, it would be good to go out of our way to be a help to those in peril.

Proverbs 24:17-18
17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the LORD will see and disapprove
and turn his wrath away from him.

Lesslie Newbigin once wrote that to ever glory in the fact that a person has gone to Hell is to show that one has never understood grace. While I certainly agree with Lesslie's sentiment, the wise saying here says, "Don't gloat, or God will stop punishing them!" So, one way or the other, don't gloat when an enemy falls, especially the really bad ones. It either shows that you don't understand the grace that saved you or shows that you really don't want them punished in the first place. If we can't be happy that our enemy stumbles, what can we do? "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter..."

But this doesn't mean that we should withhold our judgement of evil:

23 These also are sayings of the wise:
To show partiality in judging is not good:
24 Whoever says to the guilty, "You are innocent"—
peoples will curse him and nations denounce him.
25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
and rich blessing will come upon them.

Don't show partiality to enemies and don't gloat over their demise. The wise know that vengeance belongs to the Lord and that God's justice is still just the other side of God's love. It is only because God is constant love that He hates that which is evil, that which is not love. When we gloat over our enemies, or withhold judgement of them as wicked, or don't run after them to help them avoid death and slaughter, we leave the path of God's loving wisdom to make another of our own.

And here's my favorite for the day, one that needs no comment:

26 An honest answer
is like a kiss on the lips.

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