Vs. 6, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.” King Solomon goes on to give us some practical advice on avoiding foolish ways. In this verse, we are reminded that even a small ant can teach us the value of not being lazy (vs. 6-11). In the earlier verses, Solomon gives us some insight about making wise financial choices (vs. 1-5). Just like today, there were troublemaker’s who would cause grief in the lives of others (vs. 12-15). We also see the word “hate” used in this passage as we see things God definitely does not approve of (vs. 16-19). And lastly, we are reminded of the severity of sexual sins (vs. 20-35).
Regarding application…Things God Hates. Vs. 16, “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him.” Yikes…this is kind of scary to ponder about. Yet, God Himself tell us to love what is good and hate what is evil. While God is a God of love, He also is a God of wrath. As long as we live in a sin-filled world, there are things we should justifiably hate. These list of seven things can be like a mirror that we are looking into. Question: Do you see yourself? While it will take too long to expound on all seven, the one I just wanted to elaborate on is “Haughty eyes”. It’s basically thinking you are better than others. It’s having pride and prejudice…and that was the downfall of even satan himself. God literally hates when we are prideful with haughty eyes. It’s time to humble ourselves as we remember that the gift of Christmas is offered to everyone, not just people who we want to reach out to.
Vs. 20, “Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” Yesterday, God’s word reminded us about guarding our hearts…today we see what one of things can happen if we don’t. In a world that has commercialized sex and turned adultery into entertainment, this warning is most desperately needed. Unfortunately, few people believe that there are tragic consequences to sexual sin. What begins like the taste of honey ends on the road to death (vs. 4-5). Question: What can happen to a person who commits adultery? You lose your honor & integrity, you lose years of your life, you can lose your wealth & your joy (vs. 7-14). And to top all of that off, what you think is the freedom to choose is really the bondage of sin (vs. 21-23). Rather, your spouse should be the object of your affection.
Regarding application…Consequences! Vs. 11, “At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.” The fact that physcial consequences should be motiviation enough! Don’t ever think STD’s and AIDS are a coincidence! Sexual diseases are a consequence of the sexual immoral. Cheating and being sexually immoral can literally lead you to death! Yet, the consequences of hurting your spouse, hurting your family, hurting yourself, basically hurting everyone’s future is enormous. I remember one afternoon when I was taking a break at work, Oprah was on on the T.V. Her topic was on the very thing we are discussing adultery. But it wasn’t stories of hurting husbands or wives. It was stories about spouses liberating themselves and sharing themselves with other people. In fact, Oprah’s study showed that 17% of married couples actually have no problem if their spouse cheats on them (as long as they can cheat too). Brothers & Sisters in Christ….THIS SHOULD NOT BE! Just look at King David’s life…adultery led one of David’s own son’s to kill his brother….because his brother raped his sister!!! There are consequences for being sexually immoral. And if you think that consequences come only to those who are married…you have it wrong! Choosing to have sex with other partners before marriage can cause just as much grief! I know of a married couple with four children…the picture of a Christian family. Yet, the husband had premarital sex with another woman when he was a teenager. When he married his wife, he failed to tell her until after they married. It devasted her so much and even to this day it saddens her. She committed herself for her future husband…but her future husband chose not to. Though many of you are young, take this message of wisdom to heart!
Vs., 1, “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.” Solomon was remembering his youth and instruction by his own father David. Now the tables have turned and He is the father. Wisdom is something that must be sought after (vs. 7) and cherished (vs. 8). We are also reminded that while we live in this world, we must not be like the world (Vs. 14-19). And lastly, we are instructed to protect and guard our hearts, lips and thoughts (vs. 20-27).
Regarding application…Guard Your Heart. Vs. 23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Most of us do not equate wisdom with protecting our hearts, but that is exactly what King Solomon is telling us. A wise person protects their heart. The heart both physically and emotionally is such an important part of our life. When policeman go out for duty, many will wear a bullet-proof vest to protect their heart. If the heart is injured, the body dies. If our hearts are emotionally injured, we can spiritually die. Be careful dear brothers and sisters in Christ to protect your hearts! Don’t let the attractiveness of this world lure you into replacing your attention from the Lord. Be wise and turn your heart first to Jesus this Christmas season.
Vs. 5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” One of the best known passages in all of the Bible! A very important reminder with ensuring we protect the condition of our hearts (vs. 1-8). But we are also reminded during this very commercialism season, how our possessions and money are not our own (vs. 9-20). We must ensure that our actions are backing up our testimonies of faith in the Lord (vs. 21-26). And lastly, we must are reminded to reach out to those who are our neighbors (vs. 27-35).
Regarding application…God Disciplines Us. Vs. 11, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke.” When we think discipline, it’s not a word that illicit’s good thoughts. I don’t think any of us like to be disciplined nor like to remember the times of discipline, yet we are reminded God shows His love through this! When I was freshman in high school, I went to a wrestling competition and didn’t make my weight at the weigh in. I was 3/4 of a pound overweight. I had not disciplined myself enough to make weight and now I put my team in jeopardy by forfeiting my match and losing my team some points. My coach immediately disciplined me and I was forced to throw on as many clothes as possible and run around the gym and make it back in 15 minutes to try to make weight before the weigh in was officially closed. Thankfully, I lost the 3/4 pounds and I never again showed up overweight for a wresting match. I almost let my team and coach down, but that mistake made me a stronger person. Likewise, when God disciplines us…we become stronger because of it!
Vs. 1, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you.” King Solomon gives us us some insight on the journey with wisdom. If you journey this path…bear in mind the key word, “if”. Not everyone will seek out wisdom and walk down the path that is much harder to traverse. But that path will guard us (vs. 8), lead us (vs. 19) and bring righteousness to our life (vs. 20). But the short easy road will only lead to darkness (vs. 13) and death (vs. 18).
Regarding application…Wisdom Saves Us. Vs. 12, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.” We don’t really think of wisdom as a protection, but we are vividly reminded that it can literally save us! Wisdom is not just deciding to be faithful and read a chapter a day and that’s good enough. Wisdom is not just something we pray for once and expect God to faithfully give it to us. Think about it…You don’t ask to be a Doctor and just one day become one. It takes years of schooling, knowledge and continual growth to be a Doctor of medicine. Likewise, wisdom takes years of QT’s, prayer and continual growth to be a Christian who walks the path of righteousness! Let’s be wise this week as we need to remember to a shining light to the world who is dark this Christmas season.
Vs. 5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves...” The Corinthians had spent a great deal of time examining Paul…now it is their turn to examine themselves! If any were guilty of such sins, Paul would deal with them harshly! If they listened and obeyed the Word of God, then they would spare themselves a great deal of agony along with Paul. It was as if Paul was almost asking them to make sure they were truly saved! Christians must live out their faith…for no one can tell on the outside if a person is saved. If they examined themselves, Paul would not have to come harshly to them. But the disciplines of people in the church is to never show the power of the leader, but rather help the sinner repent!
Regarding application…Giving 100%. Vs. 11, “Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Paul is telling them to not be satisfied with where they are at! We tend to justify our lives and lifestyles and compare them to the ungodly. We are satisfed with the status quo, rather than striving for a A+!!! Though we may be satisfed with a passing grade in school, we should never be satisfied with a “B” effort in our Christian lives. God doesn’t want part of us…HE wants ALL of us! God is a jealous God and he desires the very best for our lives and the will He has preordained for us! Let us stop using the crutch of sin as an excuse to not live up to our potential. While we all might fall short of God’s glory, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to aim for perfection! It is this attitude that will bring the love & peace that only God can bring in our lives…even in the midst of the storms in our lives. Let’s be a light to the dark world this Christmas season!
Vs. 7, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” In the context of his chapter, Paul is once again defending his ministry and rights as an apostle. But he is also trying to convey to the Corinthians that he not trying to boast. We are reminded of Paul’s thorn in his side. We are not sure what it was, but it was bad that Paul would pray three times to have it taken from him. God would give him this thorn to keep Paul from getting proud in anyway.
Regarding application…Weakness. Vs. 10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul was accused by the Corinthians of being weak…but Paul would use that as his proof that he indeed was an apostle. The world will always look down on the weak…the widows of this world, the orphans of this world, the oppressed & poor, etc. The world respects “Power” “Strength” “Chrisma” “Money” “Intelligence” “Success”….these were things that Paul did not possess (at least from the world’s perspetive). Only when we strip ourselves down…then and only then can Jesus help us to be strong. For if we try to do it on our own power, we were fail. That is why we must weaken who we are so Jesus can give us His power. It is like the attitude of John the Baptist, when he realized that He must become less and Jesus must become greater!
Vs. 2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy…” We sometimes seem to think jealousy is a bad thing, but there is a difference between jealousy & envy. It is right for a husband or wife to be jealous over each other. It is right for a Pastor or Youth Director to have some jealousy over his church. Question: Why was Paul jealous? Because the Corinthians were following others and those others were false teachers! Just as Satan deceived Adam & Eve, so do false prophets deceive the church back then & today. Paul conveys to them how much he loved them by showing them all that he did for them. Paul went on to share of his sufferings…he was not bragging, for he was sharing with them his failings…not his victories.
Regarding application…Giving vs. Taking. Vs. 28, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” The world is like a parasitite, feeding till it gets its fill. Unfortunately, so many Christians have that same attitude when they attend church. “How much can I get?”, and when they don’t get what they want, they go to another church that will give them what they want. Rather, we must ask, “How much can I give?” Sacrifice means giving up something you normally cannot seem to live without. Paul obviously sacrificed so much of himself as we were reminded in this chapter. The more we learn to give, the more we are able to follow Jesus where HE takes us…not where WE want him to go with us. True sacrifice is going where you do not want to go, and often doing what you do not want to do. It’s realizing that you may not receive from what you are giving, but giving anyway. That was the heart of Paul, and that was the heart of Christ, and that must be the heart for each of us!
Vs. 5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Arguments? Remember, Paul was also defending his authority as an apostle. I’m assuming you’ve all heard of people talking “Smack” (Trash Talking, Boasting, Poking fun, etc.). Paul had some people in the Corinthian church talking “smack”. In my own words, they were saying things like, “Paul is a timid little girly boy in person, but when he writes he talks big cause he is scared to do it in person.” (Vs.1,10) (hehehe)…Okay that was a stretch =) But you kind of see what Paul had to contend with. So many people are amazed and turned to the wrong things of this world…and the Corinthians were finding their motivation in false charismatic speakers rather than the simple truth of the Gospel (vs. 7)
Regarding application…Weapons. Vs. 4, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Weapons? As Christians we don’t normally think of weapons in the Christian faith. Paul would not strike back with swords or fists…but rather the Sword of the Spirit (Bible)! Jesus used God’s Word against Satan in the desert. A solider would be a fool to go into battle with a gun without bullets. Likewise, A Christian would be a fool to go into the word without God’s Word!!! Paul would not let the world intimidate him. In this case, the influence of the world was not from the worldly…but from the supposed Godly!!! It is naive & foolish to think our enemy is only on the outside!!! We will always have wolves disguised in sheep’s clothing. Don’t forget of our own sin nature too. That is why it is so very advantageous to read God’s word each day and to memorize God’s word so we are sufficiently loaded with the weapon we need most!