INTRO: One characteristic of many of the proverbs found in the Old Testament book by that name is comparison. The contrasts between those things which are wise and those things which are foolish usually leave no gray areas. Perhaps this is one of reasons the book of Proverbs has meant so much to me over the many years I have been reading it. It does not require a supreme intelligence to get the point! Some of these contrasts include the word better. As I have looked at these better passages, I have realized that there is much that is so instructive and practical for life in the 21st Century. Consider some of these passages with me.
1. Prov 3:13-18 - Wisdom is better than silver, gold and rubies
a. wisdom here, of course, is that wisdom which is from above
b. James writes of it at Jas 3:17
c. and, of course, the theme/content of Proverbs is wisdom
d. note at v. 15 how the writer stresses the incomparability of this wisdom
e. but a very human problem is noted at 3:7 - ...wise in thine own eyes...
f. Gods word reveals wisdom - a knowledge and use of that which God reveals to us leads to the happy noted at v. 13
2. Prov 15:16 - Fear of the Lord is better than great treasure
a. notice that the writer mentions little with the fear of the Lord
b. so, the question for consideration is this: who is really rich?
c. further, the writer also makes the observation that with material wealth often comes trouble - 1 Tim 6:9 gives confirmation to this truth
d. bottom line? a person who truly fears the Lord is the wealthy person
e. 2 Cor 8:14 - poor saints had an abundance to share - spiritual wealth
f. Prov 16:18 - provides us with valuable commentary!
3. Prov 15:17 - Poverty with love is better than wealth without it
a. here is a fact demonstrated over and again in todays families
b. affluence? yes - family love and harmony? often, not
c. is it the fault of affluence? not necessarily ... but, perhaps
d. affluence makes demands and presents problems which can, indeed, create strife in a family
e. but if we have to choose between affluence and love, the only reasonable choice to make in a family is love
f. Prov 17:1 - is this a lesson we can learn? and act upon it?
4. Prov 16:19 - Humility is better than pride
a. a humble spirit permits one to be comfortable even with the lowly
b. a humble spirit simply does not regard rich or poor - it sees people
c. this was so very evident if the life of Jesus - indeed, it may have been one of those things for which He was criticized (Mt 11:19)
d. Col 3:12 - put on ... humbleness of mind
e. it is only with a humble spirit that we can truly become servants
f. lets face the truth ... most of had rather be served than to serve
5. Prov 16:32 - Ruling ones spirit is better than physical, military might
a. this verse has become one of my own golden text verses
b. there are too many times when our spirits are out of control!
c. anger and harshness are too near the surface in many, many people
d. and Im sure when anger boils to the surface we feel we were provoked - I just could not help myself
e. but the word of God says, Oh, yes, you could have controlled your spirit
f. Col 3:8 - ...put of all these: anger, wrath, malice... - it seems that the Lord does not give us much wiggle room here!
6. Prov 21:9,19 - All sorts of things are better than an unhappy marriage
a. men can be as much a problem in a marriage as women!
b. a family can have all of the material success imaginable, look like the ideal family, etc. ... and be miserable, miserable because the marriage is unhappy
c. I am well aware that in a marriage relationship there are no guarantees
d. but two people need to know each other as well as possible prior to the I dos if they are to find happiness
e. commitment to the marriage certainly gives a great assist to success
f. but it takes a great deal more than commitment to make a happy marriage
CLOSE: As wise as the book of Proverbs is, until we are willing to learn from and act upon its wisdom it will be of little real value to us. These contrasts are so easy to see. And they are so accurate. I hope that you will give careful thought and consideration to these six points. They will make a difference in your life.
Cecil A. Hutson
05 September 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)