Posts Tagged Proverb 16: 18

The Wise Follower

Hebrews 13: 7

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

On two occasions the Apostle Paul encouraged people to imitate him. The first occurrence is in 1 Corinthians 4: 16 where he wrote, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.” I find that remarkable. What kind of confidence does it take to tell people to examine your life and imitate it? Isn’t that exactly what today’s verse teaches though? The second time Paul instructs people to follow him by imitating his life is in 1 Corinthians 11: 1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” The key is in the last phrase. He was confident in his following of Christ. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” he might say.

No one walks this journey alone. There is no such thing as a self-made person. We all stand upon someone else’s shoulders. The wise among us are better at this than the rest of us. They don’t let their ego inhibit their growth. For some people, advancing on the journey is more important than trying to be their own leader. There is an expression in legal circles that an attorney who represents himself in litigation has a fool for a client. The same sort of wisdom can be applied to our spiritual journey. Only a fool would nominate himself as his own leader. How can I lead myself where I have not yet gone?

I am increasingly aware of and impressed by the number of times the Bible addresses humility. It is one of the overarching principles in the Bible. Humility goes with honor. Pride is associated with one’s destruction (Proverb 16: 18). Pride is often joined with foolishness while humility is the hallmark of the wise.   The reason this is important is that the number one reason we do not submit to another’s leadership is ego. If we can embrace humility, then we can benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

There are people in the body of Christ who have been appointed as leaders and they bear a tremendous burden because they have been given the responsibility for leading the flock. Having been appointed to positions of leadership has not made them perfect but still they lead the way for us. As today’s verse teaches, we are able to consider the result of their conduct, which is the same as beholding their fruit. If the fruit is good then humble yourself and receive the benefit of their instruction. 

I want you to be a follower even if you have been chosen as a leader because only good followers make good leaders. I do want you to be wise in who you follow though. Let us look again at today’s verse. Beyond being a person who bears good fruit they also must be one who speaks the Word of God to you. I don’t care how wise or how awesome they seem, if their advice is worldly then they are deceived and will soon lead you in to deception. And by now we all know who the author of deception is. Paul intones, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” In like manner we might say, “Follow this advice which I have received from the Lord Jesus.” We also should follow those who are following Christ. There is no one of this earth who can give us wisdom that eclipses that of God. So, why would we listen to those fools? And yet we do. In plain language let us be clear. Do not take financial advice from someone who does not tithe. Do not take relationship advice from someone who does not have a deep and abiding relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Do not take business advice from someone who has not made Christ the Lord over their business. We have learned what happens when we follow worldly fiscal and business advice. We end up in an upside down economy such as we experienced in 2008 and the years following.

Lastly, I wish to strongly encourage you to honor those who are leading you. Read today’s verse again. Who does it bring to your mind? Who has spoken the Word of God to you? Of course our pastors spring to our minds and I wish for you to show them honor and gratitude because theirs is a difficult job to say the least. Perhaps there are some other people who have given you the benefit of their walk with the Lord. Hearken to their voice and bless them however you may.

Barnabas and Paul

Acts 15: 39

And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another.

This is such a tragic story. It is an early New Testament example of a church split. Barnabas and Paul were preaching partners. They travelled together spreading the good news of Christ. In fact, it was Barnabas who, we could say, sponsored Paul.  

Do you remember that Paul’s name had been Saul? He was well known in the region for persecuting Christians. He was even there when Stephen was stoned to death. Then he had that remarkable conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). After his conversion he began to preach about Jesus. He went to Jerusalem and tried to associate with the disciples but they didn’t trust him and so wouldn’t have anything to do with him. It was Barnabas who vouched for him. The scripture says “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9: 27).  

Barnabas was already established in the church but Paul was a newcomer and an outsider. It appears to me that Barnabas took Paul under his wing and helped him. No doubt Barnabas was Paul’s best friend and probably his mentor. Something has gone very wrong by Acts 15 though. They had a bitter disagreement and it split up the team. Neither one, it would seem, was willing to concede the point so they, quite literally, went their separate ways.

What was at the base of this split, do you think? A conflict arose over whether or not to take John Mark with them on their trip. It seems to me, though, that the argument really isn’t over this issue. There is something deeper going on here. I found another scripture recently which may shed some light on this situation. It is Proverb 139: 18 and it reads, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”  

I wonder if pride had crept into their relationship. Perhaps Barnabas still perceived himself as the leader and expected to make decisions and to advise Paul. Paul clearly did not wish to defer to Barnabas’ wishes. Neither man would give in so they were forced to separate. It’s sad.

We are faced with the same situations today and it is my theory that pride is at the root. Face it. Few of us have the humility to receive advice. We all want to pretend that we have all of the answers. Pride is our calling card. This is why we quarrel and why we lack wisdom. We are unwilling to receive wisdom from those who would willingly share it with us. There are people with great wisdom and experience who keep it all to themselves because they have learned that most people would rather blindly stumble along in their own strength. And that is a shame. We should be learning from the learned. We should be sitting at the feet of the elderly, gleaning information and experience from them. But alas . . . .

Perhaps if we could learn something from this story of Barnabas and Paul we would have fewer church splits and fewer relationship splits. We’ve learned a few things about pride and humility. Wisdom is found in those who take advice and pride breeds quarrels (Proverb 139: 18). When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverb 11: 2). “Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall” (Proverb 16: 18). Up ‘til now, though, all of this knowledge is just in our heads. It will only transform us and our lives when it makes its way to our hearts. For that we need at least enough humility to pray to our God and ask Him for help and for wisdom. The problem is that the people who need this most are the one’s least likely to receive this into their hearts. Those of you who are nodding your heads as you read this have already come to appreciate the truth of these verses. Perhaps, then, if you would pray for the rest of us, maybe, just maybe, those of us who have a greater challenge in this area could find a measure of humility such that we could humble themselves before the Lord. We must go before the Lord and ask Him whether we are the humble or the proud and ask Him to soften our hearts. “While you are in there, Father, remove the prideful attitude and arrogance and remake us into the image of your dear son.”

Truly, if we will allow the father to remake our hearts so that arrogance and pride are not central cast members on the stage of our lives, we will live a much better existence and the peace of God will surround us at all times. Hallelujah.

From Disgrace to Wisdom

Proverb 11: 2       NIV

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Yesterday we learned from the life of Uzziah that when we fall into the trap of pride and arrogance we are headed for a great fall. We also saw a clear warning about pride and arrogance in Proverb 16: 18. In today’s proverb King Solomon teaches that pride is accompanied by disgrace. Because none of us wants to suffer disgrace Solomon warns us off of pride. Happily Solomon shows us the other side of the coin. Humility leads to wisdom.  

The Amplified version says “When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.” It seems that humility comes through that process whereby God prunes us as Jesus spoke about in John 15: 2. We do learn humility through that process of tutoring that God leads us through. It seems that as we grow we become more and more humble. The more we know, the more humble we become. So, humility is actually a sign of our growth and maturity. I am not speaking about a false humility though. We are to be confident in the things of God and in His might and power. That never leads us to considering ourselves as worms in the dirt. We are the very children of God; His prize and His treasure. 

It also seems clear from this passage that in order for us to gain wisdom we have to venture forth in a spirit of humility. That only makes sense though, doesn’t it? If we are arrogant then we think that we already know a lot. When we think so highly of ourselves it is very hard to receive wisdom from others and frankly in our arrogance we don’t even go to God and solicit His advice. Wisdom is for those who have renounced self. It is for those who have been pruned and chiseled by the hand of God. When we submit ourselves to be molded and sculpted by God we must do so in spirit of humility. It is through our submissiveness that God transforms us and gives us His wisdom. Therefore, repent of arrogance and pride and give way to humility. In this way God can fill you with His wisdom which will bless your life in every way.