Complaining or Content? (Proverbs 30:10-16)

Contentment is the joy of being satisfied with what God has given you. It should be the goal of every Christian. Contentment is what the Apostle Paul was really talking about in Philippians 4:13 – “I can do [endure, handle, accept, deal with] all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul had learned to be content with what God was doing in his life whether things were going well or getting rough. But as fallen creatures, our sin natures are prone to being dissatisfied and bitter and complaining. We tend to look at our lives and always think about how they could be better. We want what we don’t have and are not happy with what we do have. This sinful attitude and mindset is what today’s passage in Proverbs is warning us about.

Complaining comes in many forms. Adults complain about the quality of other people’s work – waiters, sales associates, contractors, and yes, teachers – to the workers’ bosses (Proverbs 30:10) as well as their own family and friends. Parents also complain about how other parents are doing or not doing their jobs of raising their children well. As students, you complain about your own parents (v. 11), teachers, coaches, and classmates, while being blind to your own sins and shortcomings (v. 12-13). You see, adults and students alike all struggle with discontented hearts that pour forth ugly, proud, and mean comments and gossip (v. 14). But the fault in our attitudes and speech is not the result of other people. The real problem is our own inability to be satisfied with how God has seen fit to bless us. The bitter complainer is never happy no matter how great things are going for them. Such people are like leeches with mouths on each end of their bodies, constantly wanting more blood (v. 15). They are like graveyards that always want more bodies, like women without children always wanting a baby, like dry earth craving rain, and like fires that always want more fuel (v. 16). They just cannot be made happy.

But as Christians, we can choose to be happy. We can choose to stop complaining and instead give thanks for all of the good things that God has given to us. Even when our circumstances really are pretty bad, we can always celebrate our salvation. The fact that we have been loved and accepted by God, adopted into His family, and given an eternal home in heaven can give us joy even in the middle of great trials like illnesses, family conflicts, and money troubles. Let’s choose to rejoice today and be content instead of complaining.

The Text (Proverbs 30:10-16)

10 Do not malign a servant to his master, Lest he curse you, and you be found guilty.

11 There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother.

12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.

13 There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, And whose fangs are like knives, To devour the poor from off the earth, And the needy from among men.

15 The leech has two daughters— Give and Give!

There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”:

16 The grave, The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water—And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you include thanksgiving as part of your daily prayer life? Why not start your prayer time each day this week by thanking God for at least three specific blessings? If you have trouble coming up with stuff to be thankful for, then ask God to help you!
  2. When are you most likely to struggle with a complaining attitude? What tends to trigger complaints in your life? How can you start handling those temptations to complain better than you have in the past?
  3. Have you thanked God recently for your own salvation? Take some time this week to reflect on how much worse your life would be without Jesus and how much better it has been with Him. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself more content along the way!

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

More on Friendship (Proverbs 27:7-10)

Good friends are hard to find, but the Bible says that we really need them. Proverbs 27:7-10 continues the theme of friendship that began in the first six verses of the chapter (my post on it was called “Godly Friends”). We see in verse 8 that our home should be our first and greatest source of companionship and love. People without good home lives are like birds without nests; alone and distressed. God created the family as the foundation of society. When families are strong in Christian love and behavior, churches, communities, and states and nations are strong. We also need friends outside the home who can bring us “delight” in our daily living (v. 9). One of my friends back in Florida was often told by his parents that there are three types of people we meet in life: people who like us, people who don’t like us, and people who don’t care. They said to build friendships with the first kind and not worry about the other two groups. That is sound advice! Verse 10 emphasizes that we need friends who are physically near to us. We will be lonely if all of our “friends” are people that we rarely get to see, so we need to reach out to our neighbors and classmates and teammates whom we encounter often and look for solid friends among them. Finally, verse 7 seems to be an unrelated observation about the appeal of food for the full vs. the hungry. But since all the verses before and after it are about friendship, there is probably a connection. It may be that “the honeycomb” is talking about friends who are pleasant and fun. They are great to have around to cheer us up at times but cannot help us when we are really hurting. We need deeper friendships with deep people who can stick with us in hard times of spiritual and emotional “hunger.”

So how are you doing with your friendships today? Do you need to spend more time enjoying the fellowship and love of your parents, siblings, or other close family members? Do you need to work on strengthening your relationships with your current friends? Do you need to reach out this coming school year to look for more quality friends among those you see a lot? Do you need more friends who will stick close when things are tough? May God give all us of the joy of stronger friendships today, this week, and in the near future and years to come.

The Text (Proverbs 27:7-10)

7 A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

8 Like a bird that wanders from its nest Is a man who wanders from his place.

9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

Questions to Think About

  1. Do you ever have deep, important conversations with your parents? How about your siblings, grandparents, or cousins? Why or why not?
  2. Who are your top 3 closest friends right now? Are they people who can really help you in hard times, or are they more just “good times” kind of friends? Explain
  3. Are there some new friendships that you should consider pursuing at NRCA this school year? Can you think of 3 new friends who would be good people to start spending time with?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

The Sluggard (Proverbs 26:13-16)

Some names really are as bad as they sound. I don’t think any one of us would like to be called “the sluggard.” The NKJV, the translation we use at NRCA and that I use in this blog, softens the term by translating it as “the lazy man.” It is a person who is always trying to avoid work. The sluggard makes up excuses to not do stuff that needs to be done. The sluggard might say that a job is too dangerous or risky to do (Proverbs 26:13). Or the sluggard is always too tired to work. Sluggards sleep too much (v. 14) and are usually too lazy to cook a meal or even get out of the bed to go the kitchen (v. 15). Yet amazingly, sluggards think that they know everything and are smart for being so epically lazy (v. 16)!

Surely we do not want to be sluggards. But all of us must battle laziness every day. We live in a culture that worships comfort and convenience. To work hard and get off your bottom takes effort and determination. In the summer, with relaxed schedules and no school, you might really be struggling to accomplish things. But we’ve got to try. Remember the challenge from Pastor Brian in the last chapel before the break: “Don’t waste your summer!” Wasted summers can turn into wasted years and eventually wasted decades if we allow laziness to become our way of life. So get up and get some stuff done today!

The Text (Proverbs 26:13-16)

13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!”

14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed.

15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.

16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

Questions to Think About

  1. Have you ever avoided doing something that needed to be done because you were afraid of what might happen? Are you avoiding any important work right now because of fear?
  2. Do you sleep too much? Why or why not?
  3. What plans for the summer have you not yet accomplished? What can you do today to make progress towards your goals?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Wise Words, Wise Deeds, Wise Witness (Proverbs 25:11-15)

Speaking wisely and then backing up our words with faithful living is a powerful witness for Jesus Christ. As believers, we want to learn to control our tongues and choose the right words at the right times to help others (Proverbs 25:11). Sometimes this means offering a rebuke or corrective advice that a friend may not want to hear but needs to hear anyways (v. 12). This is certainly true if another Christian we care about is making sinful or foolish decisions. But more often, the right word is a message of love and encouragement to build someone up in their faith. This world is a rough and tough place that can really beat people down. One of the most important ministries of the local church is providing God’s people with a family who will lift them up each week. When we gather regularly with other Christians who really know us, we get to continually remind each other of the kindness and care of our God. Finally, sometimes the right word is to say nothing at all, but simply to listen and be available for people to share with us what is going on in their lives. Good listeners are rare and we all need them more of them in our lives.

We also want to live faithfully so that our deeds will support our words. Just working hard week in and week out and being reliable to finish jobs well will make more of an impact than we realize. People who consistently do what bosses, customers, and friends and family members ask them to do become sources of joy in their lives (v. 13). But people who promise to do things and then repeatedly fail to follow through with their actions become great disappointments to others (v. 14). As Christians, we want to be known as “promise keepers,” not “promise breakers”!

The end result of wise words and faithful living is a strong testimony for Jesus Christ. Over time, we may persuade even the most powerful and hard to reach people to change their minds about God, the Bible, and how they should live (v. 15). We often overestimate what we can accomplish in people’s spiritual lives in the short term, like with a week at summer camp or a powerful evangelistic event. Yet we usually underestimate the spiritual impact of an everyday walk with Christ. What might happen, for example, if you started every day this school year with time reading your Bible and praying to be a good witness with your words and actions? Why not start a daily devotion time this summer and then keep it going when we come back from the break? Let’s see what God will do in our lives if we slow down to hear from Him each day and then do what He says!

The Text (Proverbs 25:11-15)

11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

13 Like the cold of snow in time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters.

14 Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain.

15 By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.

Questions to Think About

  1. Who are some of the most encouraging people in your life? How have their words helped you in the past year?
  2. Are you getting better at saying the right words at the right time to help others? Why or why not?
  3. Are you known more as a “promise keeper” or a “promise breaker”? How can you become more faithful in keeping your word this coming school year?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Rescue the Fools (Proverbs 24:7-12)

The plight of the fool is tragic. He or she never has anything valuable and uplifting to say (Proverbs 24:7). They are known only for saying and planning evil things against others (v. 8). The fool’s sinful words and deeds come from a heart that scoffs or mocks biblical truth and is therefore wickedly set against God (v. 9). He or she is spiritually weak, unable to stand strong when facing the trials of life (v. 10). Indeed, the picture of the fool that emerges from today’s reading in Proverbs is consistent with what the whole book has been saying. To reject God’s wisdom is to be a fool, and fools will suffer for their foolishness. God’s message to the fool throughout the entire Bible has always been: “Turn from your sin and come to Me for life. Repent before it is too late!”

But today’s passage has a word for the wise, too. What are we to do about the fools in our lives? How do committed Christians handle friends and family who are walking the path of the fool? Give it all you’ve got to turn them back, God says. They are prisoners of sin being dumbly led down a journey towards their own destruction (v. 11). We who know and love the Lord are their best chance of finding redemption. We are sinners once just like them but now saved by God’s amazing grace. People like your parents and teachers and friends have worked hard to turn your heart toward God. God used those people to break your pride and foolishness and show you your need for salvation in Christ. They taught and showed you the fear of the Lord. Now as a believer on the road of wisdom, your mission is to help others join you. God is the One who saves people, yes, but He uses Christians as His instruments. We are His messengers and ambassadors. If we don’t work to turn sinners back to God, who will?

Make no mistake – rescuing fools is hard work! If evangelism were easy, every Christian would be doing it all the time. Turning lost people to Christ is tough for many reasons. For one thing, it takes time, energy, and commitment. You need to build a relationship with the person, to listen to them and get to know them. You need to start praying for them and really caring about them as a person. You need to let God show you how He sees the person – as a lost and distressed sheep without their Shepherd. You need God to give you His holy compassion. But secondly, evangelism is difficult because you must do this hard work with no guarantee that the person will be saved. As I’ve written before, the Bible presents the salvation of a human soul as serious and mysterious business. It is a big deal that we must never take lightly! The Lord must change the person’s heart for them to want to repent and believe in Him. Without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the lost person remains enslaved and blinded by their sinful nature. Yet lost people continue in unbelief and foolishness, they will still be totally responsible for their sin and rejection of the gospel on the Day of Judgment. It is not our place to understand this. Our place is to do what God says in Proverbs 24:11 and many other similar verses in Scripture: Work hard to “deliver those who are drawn toward death.” If we ignore the call to labor in love to rescue the fools that God has put in our lives, if we let them die in their sins without trying to bring them to Christ, then their blood will be on our hands (v. 12). I don’t want that and neither do you. Let’s pray this summer for our lost friends and family like people once prayed for us before we were saved.

The Text (Proverbs 24:7-12)

7 Wisdom is too lofty for a fool; He does not open his mouth in the gate.

8 He who plots to do evil Will be called a schemer.

9 The devising of foolishness is sin, And the scoffer is an abomination to men.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.

11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,” Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

Questions to Think About

  1. Who has labored to help you to abandon the path of sin and follow Christ? What did these people do to help you turn to Jesus?
  2. Who are are you laboring to bring to faith in Christ this summer? What have you been doing to help them find Jesus?
  3. Who will you labor to rescue from sin (either lost people or backslidden Christians) this coming school year? What is your plan to help these friends or family members to follow Jesus?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel