Scripture, Thought and a Prayer on True Friendship

Scripture: “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

Thought: The wise man isn’t talking about hiding sin from God. That idea is far from behavior that is considered wise (Proverbs 28:13). What the wise man is talking about is the idea that keeps friends close – an understanding that seeks to privately help instead of publicly embarrass when an error happens. To insist on repeating a matter instead of settling it, and allowing it to stay settled, is a course that breaks the friendship. It’s a course that gives life to the mistake much longer than it deserves, and in a much more severe way it gives life to a memory of betrayal to the other party involved. Repeating the matter is the opposite of love as the book of wisdom says. It is the opposite of godliness, as a man acquainted with sin would say (Psalm 32:1). And it is a guaranteed way to transfer guilt from the original offender to the speaker of the offense (James 4:11). Finally, it ignores the golden rule of true friendship – treat your friends the way you want your friends to treat you (Matthew 7:12).

Prayer: Father help us to see sin in the lives of our friends as you see it. Help it to be acknowledged and then covered; and give us the wisdom and the heart to keep it covered by keeping private matters away from the public. Help us to be friends that can be trusted. We know in many ways that we can offend those to whom we should be close, and that our tongue often leads the way, but help us to remember the truth that your word has spoken so that we may be a friend in a way that lives up to the standard of love and mercy and faithfulness that you have given to us.

#friendship, #gossip, #scripture-thought-prayer, #trustworthy

(#180) The Proverbs of Solomon 26:6-7, 9-10-Misplaced Trust

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 26:6-7, 9-10: “He who sends a message by the hand of a fool Cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. Like the legs of the lame that hang limp Is a proverb in the mouth of fools…Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard Is a proverb in the mouth of fools. The great God who formed all things Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.

“Fools” are people who live worldly lives and ignore God’s Laws: “A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident” (Proverbs 14:16); “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them” (Proverbs 27:3); “A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back” (Proverbs 29:11); “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, But a fool’s heart at his left” (Ecclesiastes 10:2). Therefore they cannot be trusted like someone who is obedient to God: “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:8-10).

Verse 6: After reading about “fools” in the Book of Proverbs, knowing they do not respect God, truth, responsibility, or concern about others, depending upon “a fool” to accurately pass along “a message” makes the sender seem as lame as the message! Such is the stuff of gossip, slander, and libel: “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (Proverbs 20:19). People who refuse to work are usually guilty of “gossip” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

Verse 7: “A proverb” is designed to parallel an earthly truth with heavenly understanding. Solomon said: “And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright-words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10). Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12). “Lame legs” cannot bear their user, neither can a “proverb” convey truth to “a fool.” Jesus used “parables” for that reason (Matthew 13:10-13).

Verse 9: “A drunkard” has lost sensitivity to pain (Proverbs 23:35), so would not consciously understand a parable that he/she taught!

Verse 10: ALL of this inequity, uncertainty, and lack of dependability will be paid back, for God will judge and punish “fools” by giving them their “hire” and pay them back what they have earned, for “he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:25).

“Fools” can be saved, but only if they repent of being foolish. Christians were “once foolish,” but saved by the “kindness and love of God our Savior” when they repented and were baptized “for the remission of sins” (Titus 3:3-7; Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Don’t trust in foolishness!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #christian-living, #drunkard, #fools, #gossip, #judgment, #lame, #proverbs

(#139) The Proverbs of Solomon 19:9-To Tell The Truth About Lies

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 19:9: “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies shall perish.”

Bearing “false witness” is the same as a “lie.” This is not the same as someone who misunderstands, isn’t sure, or otherwise is innocently ignorant of the facts. A “false witness” (liar) is stating as fact that which is intended to avoid the truth about someone or something. Since it is “Satan who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), God hates “a false witness who speaks lies” (Proverbs 6:19), and so should every righteous person (Psalm 119:104-“Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way;” Psalm 119:163-“I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law”). Since we cannot know everything, as God does, we must rely upon witnesses to give us facts upon which to make our decisions. As we sift through human statements, God’s witness is always right, best, and objective. Other proverbs uphold this: “A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape” (Proverbs 19:5); “A disreputable witness scorns justice, And the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity” (Proverbs 19:28); “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow” (Proverbs 25:18).

“A false witness shall perish, But the man who hears him will speak endlessly” (Proverbs 21:28). And the tragedy is many will hear the man who speaks endlessly on a subject about which he has been sorely misinformed. “Evolution” is one of these subjects based entirely upon “false witness,” as there is no scientific fact, no passage of Scripture, and no common sense known to mankind that establishes any, or all, of the “lie.” “Global Warming” (now, “Climate Change”) is another subject about which only “false witnesses” are sure, while weather scientists and observers demonstrate that, for many decades, there is no “global warming” directly caused by humans (or occurring at all!). And God’s decree in Scripture (Genesis 8:22) continues to be obeyed throughout His Earth, regardless of media propaganda contrariwise. Since Satan is “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10), then “gossip” about fellow humans is bearing “false witness” not based upon fact or our personal knowledge.

Jesus Christ was crucified by “false witnesses.” “Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.”’ But not even then did their testimony agree” (Mark 14:55-59). Jesus never said that of the “temple made with hands” but spoke “of the temple of His body” (John 2:19-22).

There is so much “false witness” being passed around, established truth centers around Jesus Christ, Who said, “for this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Everyone who follows Jesus Christ will be truthful with him/herself, and with others, because “no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #evolution, #false-witness, #global-warming, #gossip, #jesus-christ, #lies, #obedience, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #truth

Job’s Friends, Labeling, and Us

We label items to help us account for them and use them efficiently. Both leaders and office workers use carefully named folders (computer and traditional) to organize their material. Labels help to find and also help us to understand. The packaging for food and other commercial items will inform us what is inside, whether it has been inspected, what risks it poses to us (proper use, calories, fat grams, etc.), and how to dispose of it after use. Labels sometimes confuse or misdirect. Signs on dumpsters that state, “This is not a dumpster,” clearly misinform. A dumpster (a large container for item disposal) is a specifically designed piece of equipment. The sign-maker perhaps should have written, “This dumpster is for recycling only. Do not place trash in it.”
We also label people. Soldiers wear uniforms that often have their names and ranks affixed. Soldiers who have trained in special skills may wear badges that identify those skills. Workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries wear uniforms that identify their employer, their name, and their place within the organization. Prisoners today often wear brightly colored uniforms that identify them as such. We may also describe people according their height, weight, skin pigmentation, religious preference, and a variety of other variables. During Jesus’ ministry, a disciple tried to label someone by asking, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born…? We sometimes label people verbally with derogatory descriptions.
Friends of the biblical character Job also labeled him. They said, “Wicked man (Job 15:20),” “blustering wind (8:2),”deceitful (11:11).” We ourselves find it easy to criticize those friends even when, if we reflected, we might have done the same as they. Job rebuked them for their labeling of him. To reinforce the righteousness of such rebuke, God himself berated the frustrated advisors of Job. We spot some of their mistakes easily. They misjudged Job’s character, despite having known him for years. Job reminded them in the twenty-ninth chapter of Job how his words had commanded the respect of community leaders. Job had rescued the poor and championed the cause of strangers. He had clothed himself in righteousness and justice. Job’s friends no longer remembered those days. The Job they saw before them deserved rebuke, or so they thought. His loss of family, his financial devastation and physical suffering compelled them to conclude that Job must have sinned greatly to warrant such severe punishment from God.
Job’s friends struggled because their worldview did not allow for a series of catastrophes devastating a righteous person. We too struggle today when we encounter new situations or meet people who challenge the categories we use to label people, events, and religious doctrines. Job’s friends, despite their faults, actually did a few things right. Before they castigated him, they wept with him, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads to show their grief over his situation. They sat silently with him for several days. They failed, however, to listen; they failed to consider that the origins of Job’s suffering might be more complex than they imagined. They spoke from ignorance.
Some labels accurately define what they describe. Poison warnings on bottles save lives. Jesus sometimes labeled people, calling some religious leaders “hypocrites” and a devoted disciple who didn’t quite understand his master’s mission “Satan.”
Labels can destroy lives. People sometimes harm themselves after being labeled wrongly by people who did not know them, or envied them, or just had wrong information. Labels can destroy ministry. Judaizing teachers labeled Paul. I observed on on-line discussion in which a preacher asked if a church fit a one-word (label) description. An intriguing aspect of the ensuing discussion was that subsequent contributors had different definitions for the label or even admitted their confusion as to what the questioner meant by the term. Ignorance makes labels dangerous. We may not know what another believes.
Job’s friends started well. They grieved with him. They sat silently with him. Still they did not truly understand Job. If only they had listened. Will we?

#church-of-christ, #discipline, #gossip, #jesus, #job, #labeling, #listening, #slander, #wisdom

Tidbits and Prayer Requests

Hello! I hope all of our readers are doing well. I wanted to share a potpourri of thoughts with you this Friday morning. We appreciate you very much.

  • It is a beautiful sunny day in Southeast Georgia. We ask your prayers that we can get some rain. Our drought is nothing like the Southwest has suffered, but we are double digits below normal for three years. It is sad to see so many ponds dry. Also, continue to pray for rain in the Southwest, they desperately need it.
  • I also ask your prayers for me as I continue battling a neurological condition. The pain has been especially bad, lately. I see a new neurologist in two weeks.
  • I read that the Baptists in Kentucky are having a symposium on Calvinism. They say that only one of the speakers is a Five-Point Calvinist. I wish they would figure out that the Baptist doctrine of salvation is Calvinist-Lite and return to the truth of Scripture on how to be saved.

BTW, here is a shameless plug for my book on how to be saved.

  • On a lighter note, the 17 year-old son of one of my cousins didn’t know who John Wayne was. Moments like these seriously make you feel old. Likewise, I recently realized that in 2014 it will have been 20 years since I finished graduate school at Freed-Hardeman University. Time flies much too quickly.
  • I am listening to the Bible on digital audio. As I write, I am listening to Acts 11.
  • I am privileged to develop a manuscript on John 21 for the Southeast Georgia Lectureship at Richmond Hill. The lectureship is October 27-28. The last chapter of John is a fascinating study and I look forward to taking it apart and finding the treasures there.

This Sunday morning I will be speaking on James 3:1, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Of this passage, Burton Coffman writes:

“James did not seek to discourage any who might have been qualified for such work. As Harper suggested, ‘His words were meant to remind us of our responsibilities, rather than to deter us from our duties.'”

We must not allow this passage to be a path of rationalization to avoid evangelism. We must all become more knowledgeable about Scripture. What thoughts do you have on this verse?

For your reading:

#books, #forthright, #gossip, #prayers, #rain, #reading, #salvation, #writing

Eating Our Own Words

In reference to the words we use, James asks his readers a rhetorical question – “Does the fountain send from the same outlet sweet and bitter water?” (James 3:11 BBE)

When James used the word “bitter” he was describing words that are harsh and used with ill intent. Bitter words destroy unity, morale and trust. One of the quickest ways to destroy unity, morale and trust in the church is with the bitter words of gossip.

How can we keep from using the bitter words of gossip?

1)      When you hear about gossip address it.  When you hear someone spreading gossip about someone else ask them if they ever talked to the person that they’re talking about. If not, there’s a very good chance that what they’re saying is wrong! If you hear about someone gossiping about you, especially if it’s a brother or sister in Christ, go ask them about it (Matthew 18:15-17).

2)      Think about the way it would make you feel if someone were spreading whatever you’re saying about you or your loved ones. Some people have no problem with gossip unless it’s about them…and if that’s the problem we’ve got, then we need to keep the shoe on the other foot.

3)      If someone tells you something personal, keep it personal! Don’t go around acting like the church “TMZ.”

4)      Live in a way so when someone says something negative about you, nobody will believe it (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Some Christians love to give “impressions” and then get mad when the “impression” makes its mark.

5)      Get busy rowing the boat and you won’t have time to rock it! I will always be convinced that if a person is truly interested in making the church a better place to grow, to learn and to help others, then they won’t make messes that they’ll have to clean up.

When James used the word “sweet” he was talking about using words that bless (vs. 9) and benefit the hearers. The word sweet is translated from the Greek word Glukus pronounced gloo-koos (can you hear glucose in there?). The basic idea is that sweet words are words that refresh and give energy.

How can we remember to use words that are sweet?

1)      By being merciful with the way we talk. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV) Paul isn’t talking about the kind of salt that goes on wounds and burns. He’s talking about the kind of salt that’s let people know you care.

2)      By strengthening others with the way we talk. “The lips of the righteous feed many,…” (Proverbs 10:21 NKJV) What would our words do to us if we had to listen to them all of the time? Would they pull the life right out of us, or put the life right in us?

3)      By complimenting others with the way we talk. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11 NKJV) Do you know what it feels like to be genuinely complemented? Why wouldn’t we want to share a feeling like that?

We have all made mistakes with the words we use (James 3:8), but the question is are we learning from those mistakes and striving to do better? If we had to eat our words – or rather, when we have to eat them, how are they going to taste? (Matthew 12:36,37) James says we’re going to have to decide what kind of spring we’re going to have, so which will it be?

If you would like to check out more thoughts on James 3:7-12 (particularly verse 11) then continue reading here at

#gossip, #james, #kindness

I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Sometimes the source of the news from “the grapevine” is sour grapes!

Let’s be careful in understanding the difference between passing along information and passing along gossip after it reaches our ears.

Gossip can be such a tempting thing, but if we know it’s gossip, then we should let it die on the vine. Let’s strive today to pass along the Good News instead of the sour stuff.

He who goes about talking of others makes secrets public, but the true-hearted man keeps things covered.” (Proverbs 11:13 BEV)

#gossip, #proverbs, #temptation