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(#137) The Proverbs of Solomon 18:19-Can You Forgive Your Brother?

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

Contentious statements that divide brethren are “like the bars of a castle,” that is, they defensively fortify brothers from each other. Enemies can be converted and changed more easily than a relative, and it seems the nearer the relationship, the more difficult it is to effect that change! The first brothers, Cain and Abel, were separated by Cain’s anger that his brother obeyed what was right (Genesis 4:1-12; Hebrews 11:4) but Cain was evil (1 John 3:11-12). Jacob and Esau were separated by Esau’s profaning his birthright (inheritance, Genesis 25:29-34), Jacob’s deception to receive that birthright (Genesis 27:1-46), and Esau’s bitterness and hatred for his brother. They were separated for years before they could reconcile (Genesis 33:1-15), but reconcile they did! Since the Jews come from Jacob, and the so-called “Palestinians” come from Esau, the modern-day Middle East should read the Bible and reconcile their differences as their progenitors did! Brethren in the flesh can be meaner, more violent, and destructive to each other than their enemies who are not related!

Spiritual members in a church of Christ can become as bitter as Cain, and hateful as Esau, toward their brethren. The reason is the same, they have developed “an evil heart of unbelief” and departed from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). Their contentious words become “bars” to keep them inside their castle of ugliness. “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:13-15). This brings eternal damnation upon the contentious brother. No amount of attendances, giving, singing, or prayers can disguise the real intent of wrong brethren. “We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:19-21).

The message of Jesus Christ, to His churches of Christ, is that of “reconciliation.” “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#anger, #bible-study, #bitterness, #brethren, #church-of-christ, #contentious, #family, #hate, #jesus-christ, #jews, #love, #palestinians, #proverbs

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(#124) The Proverbs of Solomon 17:12-Which is Worse: A Savage Bear or A Stupid Fool?

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 17:12: “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly.”

Never, ever, come between a mama bear and her cubs! Instant outrage, savage aggression, and violent attack is sure to be the swift, certain, and deadly outcome. The explosion of fury could not be more clearly illustrated than by this image. King David’s friend, Hushai, described David’s fierceness in war to David’s son with this parallel: “you know your father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are enraged in their minds, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field” (2 Samuel 17:8). When Israel forgot God, He promised, “I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs” (Hosea 13:8). With this simple depiction, there is no doubt about the ferocity being described.

Never, ever, expect normal attitude from “a fool in his folly,” for all rules are off! First, “a fool” is anyone who doesn’t follow God’s Word; and, secondly, “folly” is any behavior that doesn’t conform to God’s Wisdom! “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly” (Proverbs 13:16). Folly is “the foolishness of fools” (Proverbs 14:24); and so “he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). And a fool never learns better from his “folly,” for “As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).  Expect a “fool” to erupt in “folly” with passion associated with outbursts of anger! Because one man raped their sister, Simeon and Levi murdered and plundered a whole city (Genesis 34:24-29,30); because the wise men did not return and tell him where the young child Jesus was, King Herod was “exceedingly angry” and murdered all boys in Bethlehem under the age of two (Matthew 2:16); while he was ignorant of Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus was “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). Every mother who rips apart her son or daughter; every father who abruptly punishes his children; every husband or wife who verbally, or otherwise, abuses his/her spouse; every intoxicated user of drugs or alcohol; and every short-fused person is, or will be, acting the “fool.” “An angry man stirs up strife, And a furious man abounds in transgression” (Proverbs 29:22).

Never, ever, stand between “a fool” and his/her “folly,” lest we are torn apart by sin!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,unless otherwise noted.

#abuse, #aggression, #anger, #attack, #bible-study, #fool, #mama-bear, #outrage, #practical-lessons, #proverbs

When his father ordered his son to clean…

When his father ordered his son to clean up his room, the angry son screamed at Dad and threw a plate of food across the dinner table at him. That might not be so unusual except the son is 28-year-old Andrew Mizsak, who lives rent-free with his parents in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford, Ohio, and is a member of the local School Board. The proverb declares: Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. Control of one’s temper is a discipline of character, but it seems both discipline and character are in short supply in these latter days. Better a cool head and a clean room than a hot head and a spilt plate. This is Just-A-Minute

#anger, #discipline, #just-a-minute

The Path to Survival and Success

I sometimes parody Robert Frost’s old poem by saying, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I blazed a new trail between them.” One should never let tunnel vision limit their achievements. Just because three options present themselves does not exclude the possibility of a fourth. Creatively pondering what other paths one may take may just prompt recognitions of a new trail.

Sometimes, however, our trails reach a dead end. A deep chasm looms ahead or a wall blocks our progress. What shall we do? One possibility is to turn around and go back to our starting point. We also might choose to give up. When some people reach this situation in their lives, they attempt suicide. Almost always, other options exist than surrendering. One may try to climb the wall or build a bridge across the canyon. If a wall, we may look to the right and left to see if passageways exist in those directions. We may even be able to build a door in the wall. Seriously, even when it seems that there are none, options usually exist in life. They may not be our first choice; they may require giving up a long-cherished goal. Sometimes the new path leads in a better direction.

Psalm 37 gives several insights to surviving and thriving when it seems opposition cannot be overcome or that we have run out of options. These include:

“Do not fret” (verses 1 and 8).
“Trust in the Lord and do good” (verse 2).
“Commit your way to the Lord” (includes prayer, verse 3).
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”(verse 7).
“Refrain from anger” (verse 8).
Keep the word of God in your heart (verse 31).
Follow good role models (verse 37)
“Take refuge” in God (verse 40).

Maintaining calm and trusting reliable counselors (to include God) greatly increase odds for survival and success. Restraining anger and panic is critical. Fear breeds failure. Having a sustained pattern of behavior, especially in scripture study, prayer, and association with other believers, helps but one also needs to learn to wait and to build flexibility. Rigidity paralyzes people when unexpected situations arise. The message of Psalm 37 is that even when situations seem to require new solutions, some basic truths and practices will sustain us. When multiple options exist in life, God’s word will help us navigate the best trail to our destination.

#anger, #church-of-christ, #faith, #fear, #god, #hope, #poetry, #prayer, #robert-frost, #role-models, #scripture-study, #suicidal-ideation, #trust, #tunnel-vision

Some Can’t — No, Some Won’t Be Pleased

  • Some show anger toward God because he allows the freewill of men and women which results in mankind being able to make evil decisions. If God were to control us like robots and not allow freewill, the anger would still be shown on the basis of never being able to make our own choices!
  • Some show anger toward God and accuse him of disinterest, impotence and a lack of love because of the injustice he allows to happen in this life. When such are told that God will enact his justice in the life to come, the anger then turns to the accusation of unfairness, bullying and a lack of love!
  • Some show anger toward God when evil people are blessed with earthly gain. When God moves to punish the wicked in earthly ways the accusation then turns to God not showing the mercy he said he would!
  • Some show anger toward God because of his standard of righteousness and the burden of sin. Tell them about the righteousness fulfilled and of the burdens lifted at Calvary and the anger is directed towards God’s plan of atoning sacrifice through the innocence of Jesus!

The truth of the matter is that some will not be pleased with God because they do not want to be pleased with God. They are angry with God whether the “quarter lands on heads” or “whether the quarter lands on tails.” They not only disdain the acknowledgement of God – they disdain any acknowledgement of him! Beyond that, not only do they disdain his knowledge, they disdain any knowledge of him! Anger, wrath, self-righteousness, rebellion and idolatry is so bound up in their heart, eyes and ears that no matter what they feel, see or hear it will be what they want to feel, see or hear. When the evils of mankind’s lies, smacks, punches, whips, nails and taunts at the cross cannot be perceived alongside the goodness of God’s redeeming work then no amount of truth, touching, holding back, drying tears, healing wounds or words of encouragement from the throne of God will change a heart that so determines that the fault of evil rests upon the character of God’s heart and not upon the lack of character within the heart of mankind.

Some people refuse to be pleased by God no matter what is done by God.

But what comparison may I make of this generation? It is like children seated in the market-places, crying out to one another, We made music for you and you did not take part in the dance; we gave cries of sorrow and you made no signs of grief. For John came, taking no food or drink, and they say, He has an evil spirit. The Son of man has come feasting, and they say, See, a lover of food and wine, a friend of tax-farmers and sinners! And wisdom is judged to be right by her works.” (Matthew 11:16-19 – BBE)

#anger, #atheism, #judgment, #righteousness

Anger is one letter away from Danger

Almighty God asked his completely frustrated prophet if he had a right to be so angry in Jonah 4:4 when Nineveh repented.

What a question! Not because it was an angry Jonah who was asked this, but because we all need to be asked this from time to time.

Yes, there can be room in the heart of a Christian for righteous anger (Mark 3:5), but often times (at least I’ll speak for myself) this room can be taken up with the wrath of man that doesn’t care for, follow or consider the righteousness of God that properly directs the anger (James 1:20).

The next time the “little teapot” feels like shouting we would all do well to ask ourselves the question that God asked Jonah…and give the right answer before that anger turns into danger!

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 – NKJV)

#anger, #emotions, #jonah

Illustration About Listening and Emotions

Years ago a radio talk show host was reacting to President G.H.W. Bush’s refusal to eat broccoli. A caller criticized the President for being a bad example. The host said that he didn’t like broccoli and didn’t see why he should have to eat it, either.

After the angry caller hung up, the host said, “Do you realize that everyone who ate Broccoli in the 18th Century died?”

A flood of angry callers lined up to yell at the host and defend the healthy qualities of broccoli. This is what happens when we don’t listen and allow our emotions to take over our reason.

Of course, everyone who ate anything in the 18th century died! It was an excellent social experiment to show how irrational we can become.

Quite often we allow this kind of ridiculous behavior to destroy our relationships. When we are talking to people we love, we must never forget who they are and , if we must, remove ourselves from the situation to settle down so that we do not say something that cannot be remedied.

True love means that we always focus on the other person, instead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Otherwise, we get wrapped up in our emotions and can burn up everything around us.

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

We must never lose ourselves to anger or we might lose our souls, in the process.

#anger, #broccoli, #listening, #relationships