Gangs are not a new problem. Groups of young adults, especially (but not only!) young men, have always been prone to mischief. There have always been some people in every generation who have no problem with using violence and stealing to get what they want. Within that category of people, there are even some who actually enjoy hurting and taking things from others. They start off as bullies in school and can become criminals as adults if something or someone doesn’t intervene to change their course. Examples of thugs like this are found throughout the Bible: the men who were committing violence all over the world right before the Flood, the evil sons of the judge Eli who abused their power as priests, and the young men who foolishly taunted the prophet Elisha immediately come to mind. Simply put, violence and stealing are not new sins of our modern world – they are problems that began with the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden (Remember how their first son killed their second son?).
It should come as no surprise to us, then, that King Solomon would warn his young listeners in the beginning of Proverbs to stay far away from groups of punks and avoid their wicked ways at all costs. Many good young men and women have fallen in with the wrong crowds in middle or high school and done permanent damage to their lives and faith. To stay off this path, the key is to admit that punks exist and be prepared to resist their arguments. They will encourage people to join them in wrongdoing (Proverbs 1:10). They will make violence and bullying (usually physical for guys and more psychological for girls) sound like fun (vv. 11-12). Punks will promise easy rewards for helping them steal (vv. 13-14). But you must not believe them, and you must not join them (v. 15). The sins of bullies and thugs will find them out; they will eventually reap what they sow and bring hard consequences upon themselves and those who followed them (vv. 16-18). Young people who continue with rule breaking and small crimes in school may move on to bigger, more serious crimes as adults and lose their lives, either literally at the hands of other punks or by figuratively by spending years in jail (v. 19).
Now to be honest (TBH), in my eight years at NRCA, I have not observed outright violence and theft as big time problems. They don’t even seem to be small problems. I have only broken up two fights in my long tenure there and I’ve hardly ever heard of people having stuff stolen. But smaller issues from the same evil motives do happen. Students are bullied, sometimes physically with stuff that looks like horseplay but is not really liked by the victims. If you are guilty of that, you need to stop; we are watching out for you! If you see someone continually putting hands on other people in the hallways, cafeteria, or elsewhere, you need to tell a teacher immediately. We will not let the bully go unpunished. Other bullying is mental, sometimes done online. That needs to stop, too. You should not participate in mean talking or electronic writing that you know will hurt another student. If you hear of it, you should tell a teacher immediately so that we can handle the problem. Finally, “stealing” ideas by copying work from online sources or other students is a temptation at every school, and God warns you today from Proverbs to avoid that sin, too. When you get caught (and you will get caught sooner or later), the penalties will be serious and you will regret your actions. So be wise and decide this school year to steer clear of the punks!
The Text (Proverbs 1:10-19)
10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, We shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us, Let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood, They lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.
Questions to Think About
- Have you had any “friends” in the past who tempted you to be mean or dishonest? Have you been able to stand up to their bad influences or have you given in and followed along with their ways? Explain.
- Why do you think that punks like to recruit others to follow them into sin?
- Who are some godly friends that you should choose to hang out with this next school year? How can you spend more time with them and less or no time with the punks in your grade?