Do not envy evil people,
do not desire to be with them;
for their hearts contemplate violence,
and their lips speak harm.
There were some rough kids in our neighborhood growing up. Not rough like some of you might know, but they weren’t the best influences. To be honest, I have no idea where they are now. I have no idea what happened to them, if they’re still alive, in jail, married, divorced. I have no idea.
I remember thinking they had it pretty good though. Yeah, I recognized that they didn’t have some of the things that I did, like a dad for instance. But I also noticed that they did have a lot of things that I didn’t have – like Nintendos, remote control cars, bb guns and dogs. They got to do pretty much whatever they wanted because their moms worked during the day. And they even got an allowance for the day (not the week, the day) that they could go and spend on whatever they wanted. They could go anywhere they wanted in town, use their allowance to buy whatever they wanted and pretty much get away with anything under the sun.
As a kid, you think that stuff is kind of cool. You think it would be cool to have all the fun gadgets and get to do all the fun things. But, as an adult I can see how detrimental that kind of life can be. I have been able to see who kids who are raised this way become as adults. It’s not pretty. It’s usually a disaster of some kind. Even those that aren’t glaring can be pretty bad.
Kids that are raised that way grow into adults that are always looking for the next thing to fill the void of meaningful relationships. And it’s a self-feeding pattern. Because the more they want the relationships, the more the look to find fulfillment in things. And the more things they have, the less relationship they have time for.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the cycle goes. It goes to the person who has to keep taking things to the next level. Even when those things are bad, dangerous, illegal and harmful. Because they are missing relationships, they fill their lives with violence and contempt.
Learn a lesson from my childhood, and from this proverb. Don’t envy evil people. Because in the end, you have no idea what happened to them.
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause? Who has dullness of the eyes?
Those who linger over wine,
those who go looking for mixed wine.
Do not look on the wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly.
Afterward it bites like a snake,
and stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind will speak perverse things.
And you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
and like one who lies down on the top of the rigging.
You will say, “They have struck me, but I am not harmed!
They beat me, but I did not know it!
When will I awake? I will look for another drink.”
Do you know any successful alcoholics? Do you know any successful addicts of any kind? I don’t. I’m guessing that there could be. I’m sure there are those who are alcoholics that are successful. But, the chances of that are pretty small. The chances aren’t real high that there is an addict who is successful.
I’m sure there are some reading this who think they are the exception. They think that they will be the one that proves everyone wrong. They think they are stronger. But, they’re not.
Now, I’m not saying that alcohol and wine are bad things. If they were bad, Paul wouldn’t have recommended it to Timothy. However, while he recommends wine for Timothy’s stomach, he is also very clear about being controlled by wine.
Which is what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the one that drinks so much that they lose control of themselves. Their eyesight gets blurry. They start to see things. Their minds will tell them very perverse things. They will feel like they are sleeping in the ocean. They will get into fights, take a beating and not remember any of it.
That’s what happens when you give control of your body away to something else. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to be controlled by wine.
You may think you’re strong. You may think you’re strong enough to control yourself while you’re under the influence. But you’re not.
Do you want to have sorrow and woe? Do you want to have people complain about you and be contentious toward you? Do you want to lose everything you’ve worked hard for? If so, then allow yourself to be controlled by wine.
However, if you don’t want that and you see yourself going there, then stop. Do whatever it takes to stop now before it gets worse. Find help. Find a treatment plan. Get a sponsor. Talk to friends who are recovering addicts. I’ve seen the results of someone being controlled by a substance, and it’s not good. It can totally destroy your life and the lives of those around you.
This is the one time you should not surrender control. The only thing that you should allow to have complete control of you and your mind and body is the Holy Spirit. That’s it. Don’t surrender control of your life to anything less than that.
May your father and your mother have joy; may she who bore you rejoice. Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes observe my ways; for a prostitute is like a deep pit; a harlot is like a narrow well. Indeed, she lies in wait like a robber, and increases the unfaithful among men.
When I was 8 or 10 years old, my dad decided we were going to get some apple trees. It was a big deal for our family. At least I remember it being a big deal. We were going to grow our own apples and be able to make apple pie, apple sauce, apple cider, apple juice, apple butter – pretty much all the awesome stuff that comes from apples. Our town was known for the Apple Festival, so having apples was a pretty good idea.
I remember it being a big deal because we didn’t necessarily have a ton of money. So I’m guessing the cost of buying the trees wasn’t easy. And the hope of having apples for free was great. So, my dad gave me the task of digging the holes that the tree would be planted in. I’m pretty sure he told me to dig them 3 feet deep. So, one day, I got to the task of digging the holes for our soon to be orchard. In my memory, I remember working on it all day, in the blazing hot sun, nearly dying from heat exhaustion.
It wasn’t easy digging either. We had clay soil, and it was hard to dig up. But I dug the holes. I dug them deep enough that it wasn’t easy for me to climb out of them. If I had dug them much deeper, I’d be coming up in a Chinaman’s basement. That, or I was digging my own grave from which there was no escape. I was sure I would have done what my dad had wanted.
Of course, when Dad got home, the huge holes that I had nearly exchanged my life to dig weren’t quite as big as he had anticipated. So, he dug them even bigger. Wider and deeper. Deeper and wider. And I remember him standing deep in the hole and having to climb out. There was no way I would have been able to dig a hole that deep. And even if it was possible, I wouldn’t have been able to get out.
But, when you’re messing with sin. It’s really easy to dig yourself into a really deep hole. Especially when you’re messing with sin on par with prostitutes and harlots. That’s a deep, deep pit my friend. It’s deep and narrow. When you get down in that pit, it’s nearly impossible to climb out. You will find yourself in need of someone to come and pull you out.
In this case, make your Dad proud by staying away from the pit all together. This is not a tree whose fruit you want to bear. Because the hole you’re digging might just in fact turn out to be your final resting place.
The father of a righteous person will rejoice greatly;
whoever fathers a wise child will have joy in him.
I have a dream. (I know, that’s not real creative. I wonder how many posts have been written with that starting line. Anyway…) I have a dream that when my kids are all grown up, they will be much wiser than I was at their age. When they’re 18, I’m hoping they’ll be as wise as 25 year olds. When they’re 25, I’m hoping they’ll be as wise as other 35 year olds. That would make me proud.
And if that happens, I will rejoice greatly. I will have great joy in my kids. I’m sure I will anyway, no matter the outcome. But I have high hopes for them.
But, the thing is, that doesn’t happen by accident. This isn’t a proverb of hopes and dreams. It’s not a prayer, that we memorize in the hope that our kids will turn out this way.
The word in the second verse brings great clarity. Whoever ‘fathers’ a wise child. With focus on the word, ‘fathers.’ As in the who does the responsibility of being a father. And yes I meant to use the word does. The one who fathers, the one who does this fathering, the one who fathers a wise child will have joy in him.
This is not something we hope for. This is a decision we make and then work toward. We decide on the vision and do the hard work of fathering towards it. We decide that we want our kids to be wise when they grow up, and then we do the work of fathering them in that direction.
Wise children (as in offspring, not age) don’t happen by accident. They happen on purpose. They happen because you’ve decided as a parent that you want your child to be wise. They happen because you’ve decided and started doing the work of raising them that way.
Listen to your father who begot you,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Acquire truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, and discipline, and understanding.
We pursue a lot of things in life. We pursue wealth and comfort. Family and friends. And some of those are good things. And those are things we intentionally pursue. There are things we pursue unintentionally as well. Such as Facebook, TV, coffee, laziness and the Walking Dead. We get on Facebook and talk about things like coffee and The Walking Dead and then wonder why we live such unfulfilled lives.
What if we pursued truth, wisdom, discipline and understanding with the same intensity that we pursue these other things? What if we were as intentional about acquiring truth as we were about informing all of our friends about how our coffee tastes this morning.? What if we were as intentional about acquiring wisdom as we were about staying up to date with The Walking Dead? What if we tried to be as disciplined in all of our lives as we are disciplined in our TV time? What if we pursued understanding as much as we pursued money?
I think if we did, our lives would look much different. For some reason we have been deceived into thinking that pursuing all these things are the things that will bring us the most rewards with our friends and current social status. For some reason, we’ve bought into a lie that things like Facebook and TV will pay dividends in other areas of our lives. But, in case you didn’t know this, they won’t.
Don’t be confused, there can be good things that come from Facebook and TV, Coffee and money. It’s good to stay in contact with your friends and family. There are some lessons that we are able to learn from watching TV. Coffee tastes good and money is a good thing to have around. But, if those are the things we spend our time pursuing, we’ll come to a point in life when everything seems to fall apart.
That’s because Facebook, TV, Coffee and Money don’t have the ability to hold your life together. They were never intended to. And still, so many of us try to find our meaning in these things. No wonder there are so many who feel unfulfilled.
If you want to have a truly fulfilling life, start with truth. Start with wisdom. Start with discipline. Start with understanding. You do the other things too, but make sure you are pursuing things of real worth. Make those the foundation that your life is built on.
Otherwise, your life will fall apart every time Facebook changes it’s layout. And we all know how that goes.
Do not spend time among drunkards,
among those who eat too much meat,
because drunkards and gluttons become impoverished,
and drowsiness clothes them with rags.
You become like those you spend time with. If you didn’t know that, consider yourself in the know! It’s just the nature of who we are. When we spend a lot of time around the same people, you start to pick up some of their personality. You pick up some of their habits. You pick up some of the phrases that they use.
It’s like how old couples start to look alike. They wear the same kinds of clothes. Their body styles often start to look like the other. Their language sounds the same. Their mannerisms are the same. That’s because you become like those you spend time with.
This is why you need to be careful who you choose to invest your time with. When you don’t think through the kind of people you allow to influence you, you’ll end up becoming a completely different person and never knowing why. You don’t want that to happen. You want to live intentionally. You want to live with a purpose and vision for your life.
When you have a purpose and vision for your life, it guides everything. Including the friends you spend time with. You may notice that there are friends who bring you down. There may be some who don’t bring you down or lift you up, but they just waste your time. There may be others who bring you up and raise you to a higher level.
The first category of friends is pretty easy to cut out. Most of us are able to see which people bring us down and then stop seeing them. That’s pretty natural for us.
Not quite as easy, but still not too difficult is finding the friends who raise you up. They’re easy to find, but usually hard to get time with. They’re hard to get time with because everyone else has realized that they are lifters.
However, today’s proverb is warning against that middle group of people. These are the subtle friends who steal our time without us knowing about. These are the ones who don’t work hard. They don’t like to work hard, so they are predisposed to look for every opportunity to get out of work. Often times, getting out of work also means stopping others from doing work. They might not be bad people to hang out with. They are fun, they like to have a good time. After all, it’s fun to eat food with friends. But we must be very wary of those friends like this who weasel their way into our lives.
These are the ones who will become impoverished. They will eat all their food, your food, the governments food, and then go looking for more. They weasel their way into your life, siphon off what they can, and then move on. They’re like locusts. But instead of using force and volume, they use flattery and friendship. Just because they’re being your friend now, doesn’t mean you want them as a friend. And since you become like those you spend time with, you too may find yourself washing over the plains.
Be careful of the locusts. If I know my history, when locusts appear, it doesn’t usually end well.