Proverbs 23:10-18

Spiritual application: A friend of mine spoke about the pastor of a thriving church. When asked about the ‘secret’ of his success, this Christian leader replied, ‘I am a serious reader of the Bible.’ It was the only answer he felt he could come up with. God mightily uses people who take His Word seriously. There is much about our culture that is trite, and many Christians have a superficial relationship with the Bible. They are by no means ‘serious’ readers. They skim-read it, if they look at it all. There will come a point where the Bible will read you, if you will allow it. But it is less likely to happen if you’re just skating across the surface. Application is required for best results (12). But application is what we feel (and what we say) we don’t have time for in these busy, busy lives of ours. The poet, Davies, wrote, ‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?’ The people who get the most out of the Bible take the time to ‘stand and stare’. Or, they sit and stare. Maybe, even, kneel and stare. Whatever their physical position, they give God’s Book the space to work deeply on them and change them. This is not just about gaining head knowledge; like cramming for exams. It is about opening your ‘’heart’’ as well as your ‘’ears’’. What is said in this twelfth verse about proverbs/wisdom literature, can (and I believe, must) be extended to include the entire Bible. But in this sound-bite culture, that fosters short attention spans, application does not come easily.

If we take God’s Word seriously, here are some things that will ensue:

  • We will take justice seriously (10, 11): This proverb is about respecting the property rights of others; not unjustly taking their land. We have regard for those rights out of fear of God. He is the God of justice. ‘’For they have a powerful Advocate who will go to bat for them.’’ The Message. God cares for the vulnerable, and you don’t want to Have Him for an opponent.
  • We will take discipline seriously (13, 14): A clear sign that our society has moved the ‘’ancient boundary stone’’ of God’s Word is seen in the erosion of proper, loving discipline in the home and the classroom. In too many ways and at too many times children are allowed to rule. Things have been turned on their heads. It’s madness! Furthermore, the consequences are immeasurably bad. The Bible does not advocate cruelty, but there is a right application of discipline that brings wisdom (15, 16). The word ‘’withhold’’ (13) causes me to think that it is a form of robbery if we fail to discipline our children. We owe it to them to bring correction. ‘’Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.’’ The Message.
  • We will not envy the people around us who close God out of their lives (17, 18). Through God’s Word we are given perspective and insight. We are enabled to see life clearly; to see through to the true nature of things. Why be jealous of people who are going to end up in Hell? Why would anyone want to change places with them? People who are going to ‘’be left with an armload of nothing.’’ The Message.
  • Our lives will be saturated in reverence for God. We will be ‘’zealous’’ in fearing Him – wanting His honour and glory above all else.

Prayer: Lord God, people have given their lives to make it possible for me to read the Bible. Help me, then, to read it with the utmost seriousness.