“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Pearls From Proverbs (Irven Himmel)
2) Correct Me, O Lord (Grady Huggins)
Pearls from Proverbs
A Rough Road
“Good understanding giveth favor: but the way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15).
Things are not always what they seem. The course which looks good may offer more misery than happiness, more heartaches than comfort, and more disappointments than satisfaction.
The Hebrew word sekel denotes intelligence, sound judgment, good sense, or prudence. It is translated “wisdom” in Proverbs 12:8; in 19:11 it is “prudence.”
Abigail, Nabal’s wife, was a woman of good understanding (1 Sam. 25:3). In contrast, her husband was churlish and evil in his deeds.
We show sound judgment and prudence in yielding to the will of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments” (Psa. 111:10).
“Obedience to God proves that our judgment is sound. Why should he not be obeyed? Does not reason itself claim obedience for the Lord of all? Only a man void of understanding will ever justify rebellion against the holy God. Practical godliness is the test of wisdom. Men may know and be very orthodox, they may talk and be very eloquent, they may speculate and be very profound; but the best proof of their intelligence must be found in their actually doing the will of the Lord” (C.H. Spurgeon).
Giving of Favor
It is a fact that good understanding gives favor. “A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised” (Prov. 12:8). Favor and good understanding are connected in Proverbs 3:4.
Joseph gained favor with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, through sound judgment and prudence. Pharaoh remarked concerning Joseph, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?” He said to Joseph, “There is none so discreet and wise as thou art” (Gen. 41:38,39).
Daniel gained favor with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, through wisdom and good understanding. In all matters of wisdom and understanding, the king found Daniel and his three companions ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in his realm (Dan. 1:19,20).
The youthful years of Jesus are summed up in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Wise judgment is appreciated by right-thinking people. Good understanding brings esteem, honor, admiration, and respect.
The Hebrew word for “transgressors” in our text is bagad. It is a term pointing to such as deal deceitfully or treacherously. It appears in Psalm 119:158, which says, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.” It is used in Isaiah 21:2 where the prophet said, “the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously.”
Our text refers especially to the unfaithful, the offensive, the treacherous. The New American Standard Bible renders it, “Good understanding produces favor, But the way of the treacherous is hard.”
A Hard Way
The course of transgressors is rugged and rough. Often there is violence. “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence” (Prov. 13:2).
Many transgressors have no compassion. “. . . The manner in which they transact with men, is stiff, as hard as stone, and repulsive; they follow selfish views, never placing themselves in sympathy with the condition of their neighbour; they are without the tenderness which is connected with fine culture; they remain destitute of feeling in things which, as we say, would soften a stone” (F. Delitzsch).
The way of transgressors is hard because the pleasures of sin are for limited duration and are deceitful. How dreadful to reach the end of life and realize that one has taken the road to perdition.
Transgression brings suffering, not only to the transgressor, but even to his family and friends in many cases. Some have plunged headlong into some wicked act without stopping to think of the consequences. Innocent people are hurt. Although the sin may be forgiven, some of its effects may never be erased during the lifetime of the offender.
No relief is in sight for one who continues in transgression. Sometimes one treacherous act leads to another, and then another. Deeper and deeper into evil plunges the unfaithful person. He heaps misery on top of misery. Guilt weighs heavily until his conscience becomes as hardened as the stones along a rugged path.
The narrow way that leads to life requires sacrifice, self-denial, and discipline. But there is no road as rough as that which the transgressor travels.
— Via the Guardian of Truth XXX: 13, p. 393, July 3, 1986
Correct Me, O Lord
“I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23).
We are simply not capable of navigating our own way through life. God is the potter, we are the clay, and we desperately need Him to mold us (Jer 18:1-6). Trying to take control of our own lives has just ruined the original beauty that God had envisioned for us. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isa 53:6). God had a safe path plotted out for us, but we refused to listen to His guidance. We have rejected the narrow way for an easier road of our own devising. With the world cheering us on all around, we rush headlong toward destruction (Matt 7:13-14).
Yet, trusting our own instincts we are often blissfully unaware of the danger we are in. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death!” (Prov 14:12). We convince ourselves that we have it all under control. Stop and ask for directions? Never! In our certainty we forget the warning of Jeremiah. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). Is it possible that our heart is deceiving us? Is it possible that we are mistaken? Maybe we don’t have it all figured out and under control. Maybe we need help.
Recognizing we cannot direct our own steps, we must cry out with the prayer of Jeremiah: “Correct me, O LORD, but with justice; not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing” (Jer 10:24). Yes, we need correction. We need God to show us where we are deceiving ourselves. With His help we can stop covering up and minimizing our faults. We can rather expose and address them.
This process is not quick and painless. It is very difficult to see ourselves the way God sees us and constantly grapple with our insufficiencies. Yet, this struggle is exactly what we should expect traveling along the narrow way. And we can find comfort in God’s grace. He does not correct us in anger, but in love. He is always there to pick us up when we fall and strengthen us to press on to higher ground. Though we continually fall short of His perfect character, He has made a way for us to bridge the gap through Jesus (Rom 3:23-24).
The important thing is that we never harden our heart to His correction. It’s when we are most at ease in our faith that we are most at danger (1 Cor 10:13). We must allow God’s word to function as a mirror, showing us what corrections need to be made (James 1:23-25). We must allow it to function as a scalpel, opening up the innermost thoughts of our hearts (Heb 4:12). Like Jeremiah, we must pray for and welcome God’s correction at all times, because there is no doubt we need it.
— Via the Kirkwood church of Christ, July 10, 2017
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)