Think Clearly and Act Justly (Proverbs 31:1-9)

Proverbs 31 is most famous for its description of the ideal biblical woman. But the first nine verses of this well-known chapter are actually focused on the behavior of godly male leaders. The unknown king, Lemuel, is told by his royal mother to beware of two common temptations of youth: immorality (v. 3) and drunkenness (vv. 4-5). Godly men will be men of one woman, not guys with lots of girlfriends. They will also not let their thinking be clouded by alcohol. Instead, they will focus their thoughts and actions on leading people wisely and using their authority to do justice for all. Godly male leaders will especially seek to defend and help the weak, poor, and needy (vv. 8-9).

Today’s passage is similar to the pastoral requirement passages of the New Testament like 1 Timothy 3:1-7. While the emphasis in such passages is on describing a godly leader, the character traits given are traits that all Christians should seek to attain. As middle school students, you do not need girlfriends or boyfriends right now. The best case scenario for middle school dating is lots of stress and drama, while the worst case is getting into trouble that you don’t want to be in. Please be wise and wait until late high school or college. When you are older, you will have a better understanding of who you are as a person and a follower of Jesus Christ. You will be stronger in your convictions and character and know better what to look for in a godly girlfriend or boyfriend. As far as alcohol, you are years away from it even being legal for you, so just stay away from it. Once you are 21, then you can make an informed biblical decision either to still leave it alone (the wisest and safest course, in NRCA’s opinion) or to use it only in moderation; drunkenness should never be an option for Christians (Ephesians 5:18).

In avoiding the common sins of youth, you will be freed up to enjoy the abundant life in Christ that God wants you to have. You can learn how to seek and do God’s will. You can use your middle and high school years as a great time to mature in your faith, develop your interests and skills, and build healthy relationships with friends and adults. What a better way to live!

The Text (Proverbs 31:1-9)

1 The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:

2 What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows?

3 Do not give your strength to women, Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink;

5 Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.

6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart.

7 Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more.

8 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.

9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Questions to Think About

  1. Assuming that they want what is best for you, why do think that your teachers and parents keep telling you to wait until late high school or college to begin dating? What do they know that you don’t?
  2. Why do you think that so many young people are tempted to drink alcohol? How can you protect yourself from that temptation?

Note: Verses 6-7 are not encouraging alcohol as a good solution to depression and poverty. Instead, the author is simply observing that some people will foolishly turn to alcohol in an attempt to drown out their sorrows. The godly person, however, will find joy in obeying God’s Holy Spirit within them, not in abusing alcohol (Ephesians 5:19).

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Accept Discipline and Live (Proverbs 29:1, 15, 17)

Wise people accept God’s discipline in their lives. As Christians, we want to keep soft hearts that are sensitive to correction and instruction. For you now, that primarily means obeying your parents. When they tell you do something, you do it. When they tell you not to do something, then you don’t do it. When your mom or dad is explaining something to you, then you listen. And when they punish you as they see best, you accept the consequences and do your best to learn from your mistakes. The command “Children obey your parents in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1) is not hard to understand, but it is hard to do. Obedience is especially tough in your teenage years, as you are entering young adulthood and wanting more responsibility and freedom. Yet there is no statute of limitations (time limit) on the fifth commandment, the call to “Honor your father and mother…that it may be well with you, and your days may be long upon this earth” (originally from Exodus 20 and quoted in Ephesians 6:2-3). To obey your parents is to enjoy God’s blessing and favor, and to disobey is to suffer the consequences of your sin.

More than three different verses in Proverbs 29 remind young readers that discipline is God’s tool for teaching us to live rightly. Failure to accept discipline can lead to many sorrows, hardships, and even total disasters in our lives. As adults, you will be accountable to bosses and/or customers. You will likely have a spouse, and you should be part of a church where you are under the leadership of pastors. By learning now how to accept counsel and correction with a humble, teachable spirit, you are being trained to be a successful adult. Even as a grown man with a career and my own children, I am still reminded by today’s verses that I need to stay humble and teachable at work, in my home, and in my church. Ultimately, I have realized that learning how to listen to other people can be one of God’s best ways of teaching me to listen to Him. That is a lesson that will not end until I reach heaven.

God is always teaching you. But are you learning?

The Text (Proverbs 29:1, 15, 17)

1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,

Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom,

But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;

Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you have a humble and teachable spirit as encouraged in today’s verses? How can you tell?
  2. When your parents discipline or correct you, how do you respond? Are you learning when they are trying to teach you life lessons?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Godly Leaders (Proverbs 25:1-7)

Do you hope to be a godly leader some day? Maybe among your classmates or friends. Maybe on your team or in your future career. Certainly you want to be able to lead your children when you are a parent. Or maybe you just want to know what kind of people you should follow. Today’s passage in Proverbs paints a picture of righteous leadership based on the ideal king of ancient times. Godly leaders recognize that their authority comes from God and that as humble servants of Christ, they don’t know everything (v. 2a). Such leaders seek wisdom and knowledge and persevere until they find answers (2b-3). They desire to know what is right and do it. Christ-like leaders hate evil and work to help others join them in turning away from sin (vv. 4-5). Finally, they value humility in themselves and others; they are aware of the constant dangers of pride and ask God to keep it far from them and those who they serve (vv. 6-7).

Take these words of truth today and let them sink into your soul. God wants more godly leaders in our school, and you could become one of them!

The Text (Proverbs 25:1-7)

1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, So the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4 Take away the dross from silver,

And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.

5 Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.

6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of the great;

7 For it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,”

Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you consider yourself a leader? If so, would others see you as a godly leader or a bad leader?
  2. What can you do this summer to start preparing yourself to be a godly leader among your classmates next school year?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Win With Wisdom, Not Violence (Proverbs 24:1-6)

Violence is not the way to go. Proverbs repeatedly warns young men not to join in with those who physically hurt others. Neither should young men or young women bully others with their words. Instead, wise Christians focus on knowing and doing God’s will. Our real war should be against sin and foolishness, both from the world without and our own evil hearts within us. The person who gets knowledge from God’s Word and other wise Christians and then lives by that knowledge – this is the victorious warrior of the Lord’s army. By wisdom, not violence, you will become strong and enjoy God’s blessings and favor. You will be kept safe from the bitter consequences that fall on others because of their troublemaking. The harsh results of sin might start small now, like getting pink slips or having a phone taken away. But the penalties of sin will get way more serious as you get older (think relationships ruined by angry outbursts, jobs lost because of being unable to get along with others, etc.) if you do not wise up and turn from the path of physical and verbal violence. Hear the words of wisdom today and pursue God’s fights by God’s methods. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and you will find abundant life and the peace of Christ.

The Text (Proverbs 24:1-6)

24 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them;

2 For their heart devises violence, And their lips talk of troublemaking.

3 Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;

4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.

5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you ever struggle with hurting or wanting to hurt others? Why or why not?
  2. When you have a difficult decision to make, do you seek advice from older and wise Christians? Can you think of a recent time when a more mature Christian tried to counsel you from God’s Word about your life? How did you receive this advice?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Beware the Love of Money (Proverbs 23:1-8)

Riches can be a great tool to use for God’s glory. Working hard and prospering in our labors are fulfilling ways to glorify God and help others. Wanting a career where you can earn good money to provide for your family and be able to give abundantly to your church and other ministries – this is a noble goal for all young people. But Proverbs warn us that wanting money just to have a lots of stuff for ourselves is a dangerous waste of our lives. It’s a pointless effort because when you die, all of your stuff will stay behind; you cannot take your material wealth with you to the next life. But it’s also dangerous because the love of money can ruin your soul. Jesus constantly warned people not to make a god out of riches because your heart only has room for one Lord – either God or stuff. Greed will cause us to lose concern for both God and our neighbors. For some, their greed even keeps them from seeing their need for eternal salvation (remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16?).

The main idea of today’s passage is found in verses 4-5. But verses 1-3 and 6-8 show us what happens to people who have devoted their whole lives to earning and worshiping riches. They become selfish, cruel misers (think Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”). We must be careful around such people because they don’t really care about you or anyone else; they only care about themselves and their money. Do you really want to become that kind of person? Then be on guard against every form of greed, for your life does not consist of the abundance of your possessions. Focus on loving God and people, and you will store up riches in heaven that will last for all eternity.

The Text (Proverbs 23:1-8)

1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you;

2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite.

3 Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.

4 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!

5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies;

7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.

8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you struggle with greed and a love of stuff? Do you ever find yourself thinking more about your stuff than about Jesus and others? Would your friends describe you as generous or selfish?
  2. Do you know what kind of career you want to pursue? Is your choice based mainly on how much money you hope to make, or do you have other reasons for wanting to do that type of work? Have you thought about seeking God’s will for your future career?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel