Leadership Matters (Proverbs 28:12,28; 29:1-2)

As the leaders go, so go the people. When a government is righteous and honors God and His commands, then the nation will enjoy peace and prosperity (Proverbs 28:12a, 29:2a). We think of the early years of our own nation, the United States of America, when many of our elected officials were either Christians or sympathetic to Christianity. Our society was more moral and religious and virtues like hard work, freedom, and sacrifice were common among the American people. Then we contrast that era with modern America, where laziness, dependence, and selfishness afflict every generation from young to old. We are living in a time with many wicked leaders who do not know the Lord or respect His laws. Christians are being forced to be careful and clever with how they display their faith in public, so that good men and women do “hide themselves” from an increasingly evil government (Proverbs 28:12b). And the whole nation suffers from the bitter economic and social effects of our sins that have trickled from the top down to the common people (Proverbs 28:2). The gap between rich and poor grows wider and wider in our country, for example, while depression and suicide rates are at all time highs.

How does this passage apply to us average people today? First, we should pray for our government and its leaders. God tells Christians that we should pray for everyone, especially for “kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Rather than just complain, we should take our burdens about our government’s condition to the Lord. Even today, for example, we can pray for the President and Senate to receive wisdom from God in appointing a new Supreme Court Justice this fall. Secondly, we should vote for candidates who are most likely to support biblical principles and protect Christian freedoms. We want to vote and advocate for a government that allows churches and Christian organizations to be salt and light in our nation. As middle and high school students, you are not yet old enough to vote, but you will be in just a few years. Now is the time to begin following current events and studying government and the important issues that our leaders face today. Finally, we should seek to be the best American citizens that we can be. Christians ought to be the best kind of citizens. We ought to model the virtues of our forefathers, working hard, being honest, and giving to those in need. We should obey the laws of our land to the best of our ability. As students, you are learning right now to submit to your parents and teachers so that you will submit to God, the government, and your bosses once you reach full adulthood. Let us not be like the wicked leaders who never listen to correction and truth and eventually fall (Proverbs 29:1). Instead, let us accept the authorities that God has placed over us and submit to their rule as unto the Lord.

The Text (Proverbs 28:12,28; 29:1-2)

28:12 When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves…

28:28 When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.

29:1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

Questions to Think About

  1. Does your family ever spend time praying for our government leaders? How about for your school and church leaders? Maybe you could suggest including these prayers at your next family meal or devotion time.
  2. How might praying for your leaders strengthen your own walk with Christ?
  3. Can you think of an example from school, church, a team, or somewhere else where you saw godly leaders help other people to be godly and enjoy God’s blessings?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Courageous in Christ (Proverbs 28:1)

There is no substitute for a clear conscience. Sin burdens our hearts and makes us guilty and afraid of being caught. In the midst of sin, we are constantly looking over our shoulders (Proverbs 28:1a). People who don’t have Christ in them are strangers to God. Fear and guilt build up over the years as the day of their death and final judgment approaches. God wants that fear and guilt to drive the unsaved to Jesus. He wants the lost to repent or turn from their sin and selfishness and come to Jesus for forgiveness, mercy, and grace. If you have not accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, today’s verse gives you a strong reason to do so. Jesus has the power to take away the burden of your sin. He can replace your fear and guilt with love and peace and assurance that you are God’s friend and child instead of His enemy. If you honestly turn to Him in faith, Jesus will not turn you away. He stands ready to receive all who will love and follow Him.

For Christians, today’s passage reminds us that in Christ, we can be courageous and confident. We no longer have to fear eternal judgment for our sins. We can be “bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1b) because Jesus has saved us and is now on our side forever. Romans 8:1 tells us plainly: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” In Christ, all of our sins that we have ever committed and ever will commit have been forgiven forever. The slate has been wiped clean by the precious blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross. Now, in practice our sin is still a very real problem that we must wrestle with every day. We want to strive to avoid sin so that we will not hurt our fellowship with our Father. Whenever we realize that we have sinned, we want to confess it to God quickly to restore our clear consciences before Him. When we sin, God has the right as our Father to discipline us as He see fit. He may use tough consequences to get our attention and get us back on the path of righteousness. But we never lose our status as His adopted sons and daughters. We can remain courageous in Christ in today and everyday. Lift you chin up and look to Jesus today!

The Text (Proverbs 28:1)

28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues,

But the righteous are bold as a lion.

Questions to Think About

  1. After you accepted Christ, did you experience a change from fear and guilt to acceptance and love in your relationship with God? Did any Christian mentors and/or Bible passages help you understand this important change? What happened?
  2. Do you struggle sometimes to be courageous and confident as a Christian? Why or why not? Why do you think that God wants His people to be “bold as a lion”?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Godly Friends (Proverbs 27:1-6)

Do you want to make wise choices in your friends? Better still, do you want to be a wise and godly friend to others? Today’s reading in Proverbs gives us a picture of what makes a truly godly friend.

Godly friends are humble before the Lord. Their pride and self-righteousness have been broken by the power of the gospel. They put Jesus and others before themselves. That humility can seen in their lives by their quiet trust in God. They don’t brag about their plans (Proverbs 27:1), and they don’t talk about themselves a lot (27:2). They are not easily angered and they aren’t jealous of others (27:3-4). Instead, godly friends exhibit fruits of the Spirit like patience, self-control, joy, peace, and above all love. Finally, godly friends speak truth to their friends even when it means saying things that they don’t want to hear, like confronting them about their sin (27:5-6). Real friends are more interested in honoring God and doing what’s best for others than in what people might think about them.

Humility, gentle love, and honesty – these are the qualities of a godly friend. Are you asking God to develop these character traits in your life as you live for Him? Are you seeking godly friends to share fellowship and encourage you in your walk with Christ? Read the passage below and think about the importance of wise friendship for your life today.

The Text (Proverbs 27:1-6)

1 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them.

4 Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy?

5 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed.

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you want to be more humble, kind, and honest? Is God building those qualities in you right now? How can you tell?
  2. Jesus told us not to condemn others, but He also said that we should evaluate others by the spiritual fruit we see or don’t see in their lives. We know trees by the fruit they bear. So we can tell who people are by observing how they act and talk over time. How are you doing with choosing wise and godly friends right now?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

A Spiritual Selfie (Proverbs 25:28-26:12)

Much of the wisdom of Proverbs comes to us in the form of warnings. The path of sin and self-destruction is the broad road that many take. To steer us along the narrow road of righteousness and life, the Bible often shows us the dangers of foolishness and its bad results. A lot of wisdom comes by recognizing foolishness in our lives as God’s Word reveals it to us and then repenting of it. So it is with today’s longer passage, which paints a biblical picture of what a fool looks likes. We are supposed to consider the attitudes and actions of the fool as they are described and ask God to show us if any of them are true of us.

Fools have no control over their emotions and words and then experience defeat by their wiser enemies (Proverbs 25:28). Fools cannot handle honor and fame; it goes right to their heads (26:1). Fools are ignored when they try to correct others because no one respects their authority (26:2). Fools do not respond to kind words of advice; they must be punished to obey (26:3-5). Fools cannot be trusted to deliver messages or wisdom to others because again, they will not be respected by the listeners (26:6-9). The character and conduct of fools is dishonorable and unstable, so people choose not to hear what fools have to say. Even if the fool’s words are true and good on occasion, his or her life speaks so loudly of sin and foolishness the rest of the time that people cannot hear whatever wisdom the fool might have to offer. Fools cannot be trusted as workers, either; assigning a task or job to a fool practically guarantees problems and failure (26:10). Fools never learn from their mistakes, but keep doing the same foolish things over and over (26:11). Finally, the worst of all fools, the kings and queens of fools, are those who never once realize that they are fools! They think that they already know everything and so are totally unteachable (26:12).

Wow…what a punch in the stomach! If you are like me, as you read these verses and thought about them, you realized that you have often been a fool in several ways. The portrait of the fool is a spiritual “selfie” for each of us. And that is a good thing. The Bible includes passages like these to show us our sin so that we might turn from it and look to Jesus and be healed. That’s part of the process of spiritual growth and sanctification (being made more holy) that we experience as Christians. As the branches of the Vine (Jesus), we are pruned by God so that we might bear more fruit for Him (check out John 15:1-8 for the full analogy). Having our sin revealed to us hurts, but it is a major tool for our growth and it shows that we do indeed belong to Christ. Fools aren’t growing in Christ because they cannot admit their sin to God and themselves. Wise people, however, acknowledge their sins and confess them to God. They then experience God’s forgiveness and grace as they grow to be more like Jesus from the inside out. Decide today to be wise in God’s eyes, not your own, and let God paint a portrait of your life that is like His own Son.

The Text (Proverbs 25:28-26:12)

25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

26:1 As snow in summer and rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a fool.

2 Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight.

3 A whip for the horse, A bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the fool’s back.

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

6 He who sends a message by the hand of a fool Cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.

7 Like the legs of the lame that hang limp Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

8 Like one who binds a stone in a sling Is he who gives honor to a fool.

9 Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

10 The great God who formed everything Gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.

11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.

12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Questions to Think About

  1. Which parts of this “portrait of a fool” most resemble you today? In other words, how is today’s passage a spiritual “selfie” for you right now?
  2. As Christians, why is it important to remember the love and mercy and grace of Christ toward us whenever we read Bible passages like today’s text from Proverbs?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Peace and Privacy (Proverbs 25:8-10)

Wise people seek to make peace with others and to protect people’s privacy. Christians should not love to argue and start drama. Today’s reading from Proverbs describes the wise way to solve conflicts with others. First, we should not rush into fights and disputes with others (Proverbs 25:8). Some offenses against us are small enough that they can just be ignored, especially if they are not going to become ongoing problems and the only real injury has been to our pride. It is your glory to overlook an offense and turn the other cheek as Jesus taught. You will be the better person.

If an issue is serious enough that we must bring it before an authority for help in resolving it (which in your case, might mean a parent, teacher, or camp or church leader), we should be careful that we are really the ones who are in the right. Also, we should only involve the necessary parties, not other friends who have nothing to do with the problem (25:9). Usually, this might mean just you and the offender. It could mean witnesses, but be sure that they are only involved to share what they know and not to try to take your side in the argument. Beyond that, don’t talk about the conflict with other people who have nothing to do with it. They can’t help you with the problem and you will hurt your own reputation as much as that of the offender. You do not want to be known as someone who spreads drama and reveals people’s secrets to the world; that is a bad reputation that you will not easily get rid of (25:10).

Wouldn’t you rather be known as a peacemaker and trustworthy friend than a fighter and gossip? Then hear and do what God’s Word advises today. Seek peace and protect people’s privacy.

The Text (Proverbs 25:8-10)

8 Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?

9 Debate your case with your neighbor, And do not disclose the secret to another;

10 Lest he who hears it expose your shame, And your reputation be ruined.

Questions to Think About

  1. Are you someone who likes to fight and argue? Do you think that God wants you to change how you approach conflict? Why or why not?
  2. Are you known as a trustworthy friend or someone who spreads secrets and gossip? How can you do better at protecting other people’s privacy?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel