Proverbs: Prescription for Social Responsibility 1499

Dan Lightfoot

Feb. 17, 2002 PM

Proverbs, at least with this topic, doesn’t have a lot of sizzle! Note a couple of things about Proverbs.

I. They are about the utterly mundane.

A. The good thing is: the mundane takes up about 95% of our lives. Proverbs gets down where we live.

1. We want to think about the big & exciting, but usually we need to focus on the mundane, because that’s where we live.
2. For those who major in the NT, Paul wrote 2 letters that do just that.

a. Philemon—the nothing issue of a master & a slave.
b. Philippians— to straighten out a disagreement between 2 sisters who can’t get along: Euodia & Syntyche, two who have blessed Paul & worked in the ministry to the church.

[1] One problem: they can’t get along.
[2] Know how Paul handled it? Killed a flea with a bazooka. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself & took on the form of a servant…”
[3] Tells the gospel story to handle this utterly mundane problem.

B. Christianity has to do with the Mundane:

1. With being polite, ...kind, … caring about people that no one else cares about. Things you get no Olympic medals for, etc.
2. Randy Harris tells of his honor students in Bible (At ACU) coming into class all worked up. “What’s the deal?” he asked.
3. The ice cream lady in the student center. Problem? …she’s mean!

4. Example? She won’t give you what you want because it’s too hard to dip! ...Service with a snarl!
5. What are you going to do about it? What do you mean?
6. You’ve been studying the gospels. Either it has something to say to this issue, or it has no practical worth.
7. You mean the gospel has something to say about how you treat the ice cream lady? Absolutely!
8. So he gave them the assignment of finding out how God wants them to treat the ice cream lady. How do you redeem her?

C. That’s what Proverbs does. Talks about all the mundane stuff that you have to take seriously if you want to be a Christian.


II. 2nd thing Proverbs does is relate everything to the peace of the community.(Shalom)

A. 3:1-2 — “My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my command- ments; ” Why? “Length of days & years of life & peace they will add to you.”

3:13 — “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom...” Why?
v. 17 — “Her ways are pleasant ways And all her paths are peace.”
16:7 — “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He (God) makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

B. Each proverb is written to deepen the peace & well-being of the community. Read the proverbs this way & they make sense.

1. Anything that is bad disrupts the peace of the community.
2. What is good contributes to the peace of the community.

C. Illustrations:

1. 25:16 — “Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it.” (sacred scripture!)

a. Nothing disrupts the peace of a household like vomit!
b. Moderation helps maintain the peace.

2. 25:17 — “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Or he will become weary of you and hate you.”

a. Nothing upsets the peace of a neighborhood like one who does not know when his welcome has worn out.

3. This is why Proverbs, on the one hand, forbids us being a freeloader, & being dependent of the community. It disrupts shalom.

19:7 — “A poor man is shunned by all his relatives — how much more do his friends avoid him! Though he pursues them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.”

4. On the other hand it forbids greediness that preys on the community.
22:16 — “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.”
a. He talks about both sides of the question because both disrupt the peace of the community.


III. God’s Will (gospel) Is Never About ME and God.

It is about US and God.

A. This is really serious because we have increasing #’s of people who don’t understand that. Think they can pursue their relationship with God & that it has nothing to do with a community of people.

1. Surveys indicate majority believe one can be faithful to God without
being a member of any religious community at all. Never mind whether it’s church of Christ. They just don’t believe in church!

B. God’s word has always been communal.

1. God is communal. He’s Trinitarian! Before the first human was created, God was living in community.

a. Augustine (d. AD 430)— was asked what God did before He created human beings. (Atheist was trying to make him look stu- pid.) “He was making hell for people who ask such questions.”
b. I’ll tell you. He was living in perfect & holy harmony with the godhead. Relationship is the basic fact of God. & of the world.

C. That’s why Proverbs is so important. It tells us how to live with one another. & the NT is full of “one another” passages.

D. Have you ever wondered what happened after Abraham & Isaac came off the mountain? That’s the part I’d like to hear about.

1. It’s the most dramatic story in scripture. God rescues Isaac…
2. What happened the next day?

a. I’ll tell you. Breakfast. Herd flocks; work together. Live life together. Back to the mundane. Back to the community.
b. Proverbs is about the day after.

IV. Responding to the Community Around Us.

A. The point is: Always consider the others, instead of self.

1. cf. 27:14 — “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.” (try it!) (“God loves you & so do I,” at 5:00 in the morning is not a blessing!) (Kind of like vomit!)

2. Proverbs is about basic consideration of others.

3. 4:24 — “Never say anything that isn’t true. Have nothing to do with lies & misleading words.”

a. Why? It spoils the peace. It hurts others.
b. You manipulate people with lies, deceptions, half-truths. But God’s people are people of the truth. Truth heals. Sets us free.
Creates trust.

B. Dare we apply this?

1. Mike led us in 3 songs about the same topic. Let’s vote. Which one did you like best?
2. “Love Divine” (#140) is a high church classic (1747 & 1855).
“The Love of God” (#122) is a pre-Stamps-Baxter type (1916).
“The Steadfast Love of the Lord” (#123) is a contemporary song.
3. We’re split 3 ways. How would you like to be the song leader, knowing that, no matter what you select, 2/3’s would rather be singing something else!
4. I don’t care which ones we sing! What I do care about is that we’re a church that lives under the gospel.

a. Can’t I think, as I watch another sing: “This isn’t my favorite type of song. I don’t want to sing anything over 100 years old, or that takes 15 minutes to sing, but will you look at how she is worship- ping! I want us to sing that song for her.”
b. Or, “I don’t want to sing a song that repeats the same line 38 times. I got it the second time. But did you see how the young ones lit up when we were singing it? Let’s sing it for them.”
c. It’s not about liking what we sing. It’s about whether we are Christians or not. Nobody gets their way all the time.

C. We’re too different for me to like everything!

1. Morning people / Night people. Giddy talkers / 20 words-a-day people. (Illus. the “How ya doin’” commercial)
2. If we get along, we’ve got to try to see the world thru their eyes.
3. ...willing to make concessions on our own….

D. Be willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

1. 15:1 — “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
B. Each proverb is written to deepen the peace & well-being of the community. Read the proverbs this way & they make sense.

1. Anything that is bad disrupts the peace of the community

2. What is good contributes to the peace of the community.


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