A tranquil spirit revives the body,
but envy is rottenness to the bones.
The one who oppresses the poor insults his Creator,
but whoever shows favor to the needy honors him.
Have you ever been somewhere, but been somewhere else in your head? I’ve done that. It particularly happens to me when I’m worried about something. If I’m stressed out about a situation at work, it’s not that hard to be somewhere and yet find myself back in the other situation. I’ll be trying to figure out how to respond or how I should have responded. I’ll be trying to figure out a solution to a problem or a hundred other things. It’s usually not because something good is going on and I’m so excited about what’s happening. It’s usually something stressful or negative that is occupying my mind.
If you’ve been there, you know that it can do far more than take you out of a situation. It can stress your body out. It can keep you from getting a good night’s rest. It can make you sick. It can even do things like cause a heart attack. When your spirit is troubled, your body is going to feel it too.
But a tranquil spirit, a spirit at ease and peace actually restores and revives the body. But, envy is rottenness to the bones. If you want a life that someone else has, and it brings unrest to your soul you will find yourself sick with envy. But, if you can find peace in your soul, you will find peace in your body.
Think of the contrast. When you are envious of another life, all your pursuits become about getting that life. But, when your pursuits are fueled by what’s coming out of your spirit as opposed to what you’re trying to force into it – it makes a difference on everything. If you’re seeking the right things in life you will also have the strength to serve the needy around you. And when you serve the needy, you’re serving from the outpouring of your spirit. When you serve the needy, you are exalting and honoring your creator.
A king’s glory is the abundance of people,
but the lack of subjects is the ruin of a ruler.
The one who is slow to anger has great understanding,
but the one who has a quick temper exalts folly.
As a parent, I can admit to you that there are times when I’m a bit quick tempered. I do no justify my temper in any way. I know why I get upset, because in my mind, I’ve corrected our kids about this particular issue a couple million times, and they keep doing the same thing. What that would indicate, however, is that I probably need to get a little more creative in my parenting and teaching our kids how to behave and not that I should get more angry with them.
What I see here, however, is that having a quick temper isn’t just a folly in and of itself, but it can also exalt the folly I am getting angry about. By getting upset at the issue, I could actually be doing more harm than good. Instead, what I ought to be doing is be patient with my kids in teaching them the right way to act and react as opposed to reacting negatively to their wrong actions. By being slow to anger, I’m giving them room to make mistakes while giving myself an opportunity to teach them they way they should be acting.
The same is true in leadership. If we want people to follow us, we have to be able to teach them along the way. We can’t just react negatively to whatever the situation may be. By reacting, we’re just exalting folly. But, in taking the time and courage to have course correction conversations along the way, we not only gain understanding for ourselves, but we lead our people in understanding.
The way that we lead people will determine not only the quantity of our followers but the quality. If we want to be leading an outstanding group of leaders, we don’t necessarily have to go out and recruit the best leaders on the face of the planet. In fact, that might be a bad idea. Instead, we should look for people who are willing to be taught and shaped into the kind of leader they could be. Recruiting the best leaders out there could be bad because they will come in thinking they already know all they need to know to lead. Working with someone who’s teachable gives you the chance to create the kind of leader you really need instead of having to work around someone’s ego.
As you teach in this way, through being slow to anger and continually teaching along the way, you will find yourself with more and more followers. And that will be something you can glorify God about!
In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and it will be a refuge for his children.
The fear of the Lord is like a life-giving fountain,
to turn people from deadly snares.
We’ve talked about what it means to fear the Lord in the past, so I won’t get into too much detail about that today. But, we do see a very interesting contrast in today’s proverb that I think is worth highlighting. Fear vs. confidence.
In fact, that is usually how we think of them. We think of fear as being the opposite of confidence. If you are afraid of something, you don’t have the confidence to do it. If you’re afraid of the dark, you don’t have the confidence to step into a dark room. If you’re afraid of heights, you don’t have the confidence to go to the top of a sky-scraper. Fear is never associated with confidence. Except with God.
With God, it is in fear that we find confidence. What? With God, it is in fear that we find life? Seriously? “Dude must be on something good, can I get some?”
Think about how we normally view fear. Why are we afraid of something? Typically because we aren’t sure of our own ability to do whatever it is we are afraid of doing. We don’t walk across the tight rope because we’re afraid of falling. We know that it’s possible, because we’ve seen others do it, but we aren’t confident in our own ability to do it. So we get afraid.
Human fear is born out of our own insecurities and inabilities. That’s just how we are. We aren’t immortal. We aren’t sovereign. We aren’t all the things God is.
And that is why the fear of the Lord is the life-giving fountain to turn us from deadly snares. That’s why the fear of the Lord is a refuge for us, His children. That’s why we can be confident, because God is all the things we are not. And when our fear is in Him, we know that we are not God and He is. When our fear is in His ways, we know that He knows how to get us where we need to go better than we do.
The Lord is all those things that we aren’t. We may not be sure of our own ability, but we can be 100% sure of God’s ability. We know something is impossible to us, but with God, all things are possible. We are insecure, but God is completely secure and we find our security in Him. We are inept, but God is completely capable and we find our capacity to perform in Him. We are mortal and know that one fall, one blow to the head could be the end of us, but God is immortal – there is nothing that can Kill God. We barely have control over ourselves, if that, but God has control over the entire universe.
But God. Just take all your insufficiencies and put that phrase at the end of them, But God. And there you will find life.
A truthful witness rescues lives,
but the one who breathes lies brings deception.
The Lie-breathing dragon.
Have you ever known someone whom you could just never trust? The one who opens his mouth, and you have no idea if it’s true or not. It sounds like it might be true, but so much of what you’ve heard from this person in the past hasn’t been true that you now no longer know if they are speaking the truth or lying.
They’re the – Lie Breathing Dragon. They’re so accustomed to telling lies that it comes as natural to them as breathing in and out. They breathe lies.
It reminds me of an audition I once held as a Worship Pastor. I’ve done quite a few auditions in my time, but this one sticks in my head. There was a young man who had been coming to our church for several months and really wanted to join the worship band. I asked him if was any good, and he assured me that he was pretty good. He was playing in a band. He would go hang out with some mormon guys and play music with them for hours on end.
So, we had an audition. He didn’t have a guitar, so I got out a guitar for him to try. What came next was not music. I knew from the first “chord” he played that he didn’t know a thing about playing guitar. He was moving his fingers up and down the fret-board, in all kinds of crazy positions. Not a single one of them made a chord or music. So, I asked him to just play a G chord for me. He had no idea what I was talking about. I asked him to play a C – again, nothing. D – nope. A – absolutely not.
He didn’t know a single chord. I don’t know a ton about playing guitar, but I could fake it way better than this guy!
It turns out, he was a compulsive liar. He’d told others that he could do other things and they had the same experience I had.
I don’t know what it is in people that dives them to the place where they just can’t speak the truth anymore. Do they think they will be able to lie and lie and never be found out? Did this guy think he’d be able to get up on stage and start playing music and no one would ever know? I guess the mormon guys he was playing with were way more desperate for a guitarist or for just getting someone into their religion than I was.
Don’t be that guy. Be the truthful witness. Even if it’s hard. “No, I don’t know how to play guitar.” “Yes, I did see that man running from the Seven Eleven just before the cops showed up.” “Yes, I did see that he was stealing money.” The truth is way better.
Don’t be the Lie-breathing Dragon.
Do not those who devise evil go astray?
But those who plan good exhibit faithful covenant love.
In all hard work there is profit,
but merely talking about it only brings poverty.
The crown of the wise is their riches,
but the folly of fools is folly.
All talk and no play make David a dull boy.
I’ll admit to you, that I enjoy my time on the couch. I do. It will probably be the end of me. But, I’m guessing you do too. I’d venture a guess that you like to just sit on the couch and watch a good show now and then. If not, just know that you’re better than me when it comes to this. While, I enjoy this, I also enjoy accomplishing things. More so, finishing them than anything else. I like when a project is done.
What I don’t like, it talking and talking and talking about doing something, but never, ever doing anything. That makes me want to break something so I have something to fix.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for talking. We need to be patient and talk things through so that we can do things as best we can. I absolutely believe that is true. But, just as much as that is true, so is this – we need to get something done.
I’ve been part of churches who talk and talk and talk about doing things. We need to do this, we need to do that. We spend whole staff meetings talking about something. Even week after week, month after month – talking about it. But then, we just keep talking. And talking. And talking.
At some point you’ve got to shut up and roll your sleeves up. Get something done! I’d venture a guess that our biggest problem isn’t that we haven’t talked enough about what we want to do. Our biggest problem is that we never do anything. So, today – find something you’ve been talking about doing and get it done. There is profit in that. Merely talking about it only brings poverty. No wonder…
A poor person is disliked even by his neighbors,
but those who love the rich are many.
The one who despises his neighbor sins,
but whoever is kind to the needy is blessed.
What is it about money? For some reason, as soon as people figure out someone has money, they get all weird around them. I don’t get it. When someone has good with money, people start treating them like they’re some sort of genius. I don’t know why. I’ve actually lost respect for several people because they lost all ability to be fair and balanced about judging a person’s character as soon as they discovered they had money.
Have you ever observed that? Someone meets someone with money, and they start talking about them a lot more than they would any other normal person. They start doing things for them that they wouldn’t do for others. They are nicer, happier, suckupier and just down-right annoying.
I guess that could be in part because we’ve never had a ton of it. But, to my recollection, I’ve never been that enamored with affluence. The principles for making money aren’t that hard. The hard part is just sticking to the plan. So, when people make a lot of money, yes they might be disciplined. But, they might have just gotten a lot of money from their parents or somewhere else.
The thing is, we’re all just people. Just because someone is rich doesn’t make them better than me or you. And the fact that we tend to worship those who have a lot of money says more about us and our view of money than it does about the person with the money. They may have a thousand other character flaws that we’ve chosen to overlook because they have money.
The point is, we’re all people. There’s no justification for liking someone more than someone else. There’s no justification for showing favoritism, except – it seems – to those who are in need. Pretty much the opposite of what we tend to do. Those who are kind to the needy are blessed. We shouldn’t despise our neighbor because they’re poor or rich. We should treat them all equally. And we should use the blessing God has given us to bless those who have a harder time of it than we do.