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Passage: Proverbs 22-23

On Monday, July 29, 2013 (Last Updated on 7/27/2020), Yujin wrote,

Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens (Proverbs 23:4-5).

Friends, what are your aspirations? Do you want a bigger house? Do you want a nicer car? Do you want to take more luxurious vacations? This Proverb teaches that money is fleeting, and what money can buy does not last. 

Solomon writes clearly here. He teaches his son not to "weary" himself to gain wealth. He is saying that the pursuit of greater weath is not a wise way to expend his time and energy. In fact, Solomon tells him to stop thinking about it altogether.

Now, he does not say for his son to stop thinking about his financial responsibilities, for he also writes, 

Do not be among those who give pledges,
Among those who become guarantors for debts (Proverbs 22:26).

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children (Proverbs 13:22).

Thus, a distinction is made between the responsible acquisition of money required for basic needs and the vain pursuit of more and more. Now, the Bible does not clearly define what the limits are; however, consider this counsel from Paul:

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that (1 Timothy 6:8).

Paul says that he is only concerned with basic sustenance, namely, "food and clothing". He does not even include a house or money for transportation in his assessment of his needs. How could he write this? It is so extreme! But then, consider what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33).

This sounds even more extreme. Yet here we have a remarkable promise from the Lord. He says that if believers simply seek God, God Himself will supply their basic sustenance. I believe it is on this basis that Paul writes, "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." Paul is simply claiming the promises of God. He is writing that he is content with what God has promised to give him to sustain him. So he also writes, "Godliness with contentment is geat gain (1 Timothy 6:6). 

In contrast to this contentment with God's sustaining grace, consider the dangers of pursuing wealth:

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Paul says that the pursuit of riches is accompanied by "many foolish and harmful desires" that lead to "ruin and destruction." He warns that some have even "wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." He certainly does not present the pursuit of wealth in a very flattering light at all. His reasoning is the same as that of Solomon in this Proverb:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7). 

When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens (Proverbs 23:5).

The contrast is between what is temporal, and, therefore, temporary, and what is eternal. Jesus also made this point even clearer in the Sermon on the Mount:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

So, Solomon, Paul, and Jesus all extol the wisdom that leads us into putting our time, energy, and attention toward things that will endure into eternity, namely, the things that pertain to the will of God. 

Friends, here is my counsel for us all. Let us simplify our lives as much as we can, so that the greater proportion of our time, energy and attention can be given to eternal matters. In other words, labor in such a way that you can work less for money and have more time for the Lord's work. Simplify your life and possessions and pursuits so that these will not be distractions in your pursuit of God's will. Thus, your focus will not be on getting more for yourself and your family but finding more time and resources to devote to the Lord's calling on your life. 

I have been trying to do this for our family. I have gotten rid of my iPhone. As useful as it was, it added little value to my life. It posed a greater distraction and cost than a true benefit. We recently got rid of Cable TV, opting instead for a simple indoor antenna. Though our channel lineup went from 109 to about 10 (basic network channels), we still get HD TV and less worldly junk to entice us. Plus, we went from paying $66/month to free. I scaled back from my Infiniti G-35 to a Nissan Altima. I save a bundle on the cost of the car, have less car issues, and have cheaper maintenance costs. 

By reducing distractions and costs, there is less competition for my child's attention, and she really seems to enjoy our daily time together singing praise songs, studying the Bible, and memorizing Scripture. Also, rather than mindless television, she learns to find enjoyment in drawing and doing crafts on her own, learning how to read with daddy, and learning math with mommy. Also, I do not have to worry as much about questionable commercials that come out even on the kids cable channels. And with free TV, we still have PBS and Qubo for that occasional TV time for her. Plus, with less television, I have found more occasion to read good books. 

Friends, these things are working for us, as we seek to obey God's Word. I have asked before, but please share your stories with me as well. In this way, we can really support one another in ensuring our generation and the next remain faithful to the Lord. 

Passage: Proverbs 22-23

On Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Fernando wrote,
Proverbs 22
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

The rod of discipline here is the device for driving folly away. This verse is correctly cited as well as chapter 13 verse 24, for corporal punishment but to keep 'discipline' in such a small box overlooks several references in scripture to include lessons, training,and household lifestyles.

12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Just this passage says a lot, 'Love discipline.' If it is loved it is cherished, it is sought, nourished, shared, explored; discipline should be a broad system of building up one in knowledge. Leading one to wisdom, humility, and righteousness.

This requires persistence, it is required to be in the heart of the teacher (parent in this case); wisdom is required.

The cited passages in chapter 12 and 13 speak of loving and hating with discipline and the lack of it. There has to be a passion for it to be effective, that begins with the teacher/parent.

Passage: Proverbs 22-23

On Sunday, July 29, 2012 (Last Updated on 7/29/2013), Yujin wrote,

A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful. (Proverbs 23:27, 28 NLT)

Friends, according to Scripture, in terms of things that cause men to stumble, the most dangerous weakness of men is not drugs, alcohol or money. It is women and sex.

Do you remember how the whole earth became corrupt and was destroyed by the flood? It was when the "sons of God" corrupted their pure line with the "daughters of men," when godly Sethites intermarried with women from Cain's line (Genesis 6:1-2). Remember also, twenty-four thousand of Israel died because the men were seduced into having sexual relations with the idolatrous women of Moab (Numbers 25:1-9). Remember when Israel came into the Promised Land? It was not long before they became morally detestable, and the primary cause of this was their violating God's command to destroy everyone in the land and His command not to intermarry with the Canaanite women (Judges 3:5-7). Furthermore, when the monarchy was established under King David, David's worst experiences were precipitated by his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Solomon fell and the kingdom was divided as a result of his marriage to the forbidden women of Canaan (1 Kings 11:1-11). Some of the most tragic devastations experienced on earth and by the people of God were precipitated by men succumbing to immorality. Women are already a strong influence on men. Combine that with illicit sex, and you have a most potent combination.

A disproportionate amount of attention is given in the Book of Proverbs to this issue. Right from the beginning, the young man is encouraged to pursue wisdom in order to escape the pitfall of immorality with women:

Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16-19 NLT)

These are very strong words: "The man who visits her is doomed" and "He will never reach the paths of life." Notice also that while men are usually portrayed as the strong ones, even willful in the way they sin against God, here they are portrayed as victims, helpless before the seductive influence of the immoral woman. 

The entire chapter five of Proverbs is devoted to this matter:

For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor. In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body. You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.” Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness. (Proverbs 5:3-14, 20-23 NLT)

There is no counsel in this proverb to resist or fight. The danger is so great that to retreat is no shame. The counsel is simply to "stay away from her! Don't go near the door of her house!" In the New Testament, the counsel is simply to "flee." Run away. Run as fast as you can. Don't even go anywhere near. For according to the Proverbs, if you go near, like a strong gravitational pull, you will be drawn into her trap without escape. Once there, you will eventually lose your honor, your wealth, your health, and your life. 

In case the reader still does not perceive the magnitude of the matter, Solomon returns to the topic again in chapter six:

It (i.e. counsel of father and mother) will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman. Don’t lust for her beauty. Don’t let her coy glances seduce you. For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life. Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished. But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased. For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation, nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size. (Proverbs 6:24-29, 32-35 NLT)

Here the emphasis is on the specific case of promiscuity in the context of adultery with another man's wife. Prostitution as a "profession" was forbidden in Israel, but that did not prevent its practice, since married women could prostitute themselves in secret. Again, the lure was strong ("smooth tongue," "her beauty," "her coy glances") but so were the consequences, as it would cost the man his wealth, health, honor, and life.

Solomon returns again to the topic in the very next chapter. Remember, anything in three's in Hebrew brings the matter to chief importance:

Let them (i.e. father's counsel) protect you from an affair with an immoral woman, from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman. While I was at the window of my house, looking through the curtain, I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense. He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house. It was at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell. The woman approached him, seductively dressed and sly of heart. She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home. She is often in the streets and markets, soliciting at every corner. She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, “I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows. You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are! My bed is spread with beautiful blankets, with colored sheets of Egyptian linen. I’ve perfumed my bedwith myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning. Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses, for my husband is not home. He’s away on a long trip. He has taken a wallet full of money with him and won’t return until later this month.” So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery. He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life. So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path. For she has been the ruin of many; many men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death. (Proverbs 7:5-27 NLT)

The Proverbs uses repetition, allegory, and graphic illustration to make the dangers of immorality absolutely clear. In Proverbs seven, the example given is not of an evil person but a "naive young man," "who lacked common sense." Once again, the man is not a willfull sinner, but a helpless victim. Such is the magnitude of the danger. Before sexual sin, even the most vile and willful sinner is but a helpless victim.

What is interesting here is that Solomon presents a scenario that removes the things that men might use as crutches to let down their guard. The event happens "at twilight, in the evening, as deep darkness fell." So no one would see what took place. The guy only goes near to the area, where he must have heard there lived a promiscuous woman. So he's only inquiring out of curiosity. What is more, the woman comes to him and not he to her. What is more, she's offering free sex. So It will not cost him anything. What is more, she says that her husband will be away for a long time, so there's no concern about being "caught." 

Solomon creates a scenario that most men today would think is a fantasy, a dream come true. But Solomon gives such a scenario so that the reader will understand that even in such an "ideal" scenario, the ends he has described are the same. Solomon says that even in such a scenario, the man would be "like an ox going to the slaughter," "like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce his heart," "like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life." 

Solomon returns to his strong counsel to "Stay away!" He adds that "she has been the ruin of many; many (mighty) men have been her victims." I mentioned above King David, the man after God's own heart, and King Solomon, the wisest man in the world. If such are her victims, what makes us think that we can resist and prevail? 

The New Testament is not silent about this danger either:

You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:13-20 NLT)

Some people think that because men were born with such strong sexual desires, it is only natural for them to fulfill them, even in immorality. Paul says, "Absolutely not!" He clearly says that God gave us our bodies not for sexual immorality but to honor the Lord. He says that when we commit immorality with a prostitute, we defile not only our bodies but also our union with Christ, so that even if one thinks immorality is "natural,' it is clearly not spiritual. Furthermore, in keeping with the counsel in the Old Testament, the New Testament counsel is the same: "Run from sexual sin!" This is very strong, for even against Satan, believers are commanded to "Resist the devil, and he will flee" (James 4:7), but here believers are the one commanded to "flee from sexual sin." That is to say that such sin is more dangerous than Satan, who is described as "a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 

Again we read this:

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NLT)

Friends, especially my male friends, today's sharing is particularly for you. This is a weakness shared by all of us. There is not one man among those I know well, whether laymen, pastor, seminarian, teacher, or otherwise, that have not failed in one way or another with respect to women and sex. When I was looking into this matter with earnest during my seminary years, when those that I respected the most were suddenly en masse being found to be caught up in these sins, I asked a Christian counselor/teacher at the seminary just how pervasive was this kind of sin among men. He said that he thought it touched about 95% of all men in the United States, including Christian men. I was astonished. But then he added, the number is probably greater, because a good proportion of the remaining men in the survey were likely lying. 

As pervasive as this danger is among men, there are very few ministries to address it. It is probably because it is such a secretive and shameful matter. What men probably fear more than the sin itself is exposure. What is more, because pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders are among those caught up in these sins, their even greater fear of exposure probably inhibit such ministries as well.

Some of you know that I have been praying for God to raise up someone to lead such a ministry. Just among those that have confided in me tells me that there is a great need at Global Harvest Church. Please pray with me in this matter. Remember how God answered our prayers with respect to a leader for the women's discipleship ministry. I believe He will raise up a leader for a men's sexual accountability ministry as well. 

Just a word to the women, I encourage all of you to be undertsanding, patient, and not express shock or over-dissappointment with your men, if somehow or other you discover they are in one way or another trapped in such sins. If you are supportive, it is more likely that GHC can be among the first to make significant progress in this area. Just as we are among very few churches to have such a large percentage of our members reading the Bible on a regular basis (last year survey showed 40% reading daily and 60% reading at least twice a week), I believe we can also be an example in this area as well. 

Passage: Proverbs 22-23

On Tuesday, August 2, 2011, Unmi wrote,
Saying 13
Do not withhold discipline from a child; 
if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 
Punish them with the rod 
and save them from death.
 (Proverbs 23:13-14)
This subject came up recently during dinner one night with a New Song Church member.  She was surprised that any "second generation" Korean-American would endorse "physical" discipline in raising young children. She asssumed that the more "American" we were, the less we would practice corporal punishment as a means to discipline our children.
The opinions regarding this subject matter run the entire spectrum from those who beat their children for any reason to those who don't practice any form of discipline at all whether physical or non-physical in the name of love. I believe that both ends of the spectrum is non-biblical.
In talking about the LORD's discipline, the writer of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3:11-12
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, 
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, 
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)
The writer says that we should endure hardship as discipline from the LORD and that this discipline comes because of His love for us. God's discipline shows us that He accepts us as His legitimate children. If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  (Hebrews 12:8) 

The purpose of discipline? To produce righteousness and a life of peace.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
We need to model this kind of Godly discipline with regards to our own children. We discipline our children because we love them and want them to live lives of righteousness that give glory to God. This kind of godly disciple will result in a life of peace for those who have been trained by it. 
Discipline without love produces resentment, hatred and rebellion.  Love without discipline actually produces the same result.  Just like the Bible endorses speaking Truth in Love, it also endorses Discipline in Love.