Last post discussed the importance of correcting people, something largely ignored by the world. Our culture often says “love” means letting people do whatever they want whether it is detrimental to them or anyone else. Disagreeing with someone’s choices or lifestyle makes you at best unloving, and at worst hateful. This logic demands sitting back silently while people make decisions that are detrimental to them or others.
The Bible, on the other hand, points out the logical reality that love demands correcting people:
Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
He will love you, because he has the wisdom to recognize you have done him a favor.
Correcting People: The Behavior of Friends Versus Enemies
Giving correction is vitally important to the health and joy of marriages, families, churches, businesses, teams, etc. You name it – any group or organization that involves relationships – requires giving correction.
Why is that? We’re sinners. We sin against others and others sin against us. We have to be able to give correction to others, and we have to allow others to correct us. Here are three reasons this is so important!
1. Giving correction protects against bitterness.
When people sin against us, it can create an offense. We have to talk to the person that upset us. The alternative allows bitterness to develop, and it can have far-reaching consequences:
Hebrews 12:15b Lest any root of bitterness spring up causing trouble, and by this many become defiled.
While the stingy hope to keep more for themselves, God’s Word is clear that the opposite results.
Since Proverbs has thirty-one chapters it works well to read a chapter each morning. This provides wisdom to take with you throughout the day. We often do this for our morning family Bible study, especially on days when I say to myself, “What should we do today?” or “I don’t feel like continuing through…” This was the case yesterday, and I was particularly struck by the consecutive proverbs related to giving. A clear principle developed in Proverbs 11:24-
A stingy heart leads to poverty while generosity secures blessing
Proverbs 11:24 There is one who scatters (or gives freely as it’s translated in some Bibles: NIV, NLT, ESV, HCSB, ISV), yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.
Someone who’s very generous receives more as a result. It’s reminiscent of Jesus’ words in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
In contrast, the second half of the verse says someone who’s stingy – despite their best efforts to have more – ends up poor.
Proverbs 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters (or refreshes in NIV, NLT), will also be watered himself.
Again the generous person is blessed, but with the word waters or refreshes it goes beyond giving financially to giving emotionally and relationally. When people join Woodland Christian Church we tell that we expect them to be giving, but we stress that it goes far beyond putting a check in the offering box. We want people to give of their time, energy, talents, etc.
Those who are stingy with their time and effort lack friends
Friendly, loving people who are interested in others will often find others friendly, loving, and interested in them. And the opposite is also true: those who are unfriendly, selfish, and uninterested in others often find it difficult to make friends and will find people uninterested in them.
Proverbs 11:26 The people will curse him who withholds grain,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
Another contrast between the generous and stingy, continuing the same principle: the generous are blessed and the stingy are cursed. This proverb, like the previous one, also goes beyond a discussion of finances to our relationships with people. It’s not financial gain or loss, but social gain or loss. People can’t stand the greedy, but they love the giving. Being generous moves beyond just being blessed financially to being blessed in our relationships with others.
Proverbs 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.
This last verse gives a strong encouragement regarding finances: we shouldn’t put our trust in them. Putting our confidence in our bank accounts will lead to failure. Instead we need to pursue righteousness – which is available by grace through faith in Christ – and that’s what our confidence needs to be in.
Have you found these warnings to be true? Do you think of being stingy only with money, or do you see how it relates to our time and energy too? Share any thoughts or questions below!
The Study Confirms What God’s Word Says about Nagging
A nagging wife damages her marriage and her husband…
The contentions of a wife are a continual dripping (Proverbs 19:13b).
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious (Proverbs 21:9 & 25:24).
Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman (Proverbs 21:19).
Nagging makes a husband want to get as far away from his wife as possible. He would rather be on the corner of a rooftop or in the wilderness.
A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious (or nagging) woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand (Proverbs 27:15-16).
Restraining a nagging wife is impossible. It’s like trying to restrain the wind or pick up oil with your hand. When you try to restrain a nagging or contentious wife by responding, it makes her more contentious. She engages in even more nagging! All you can do is climb to the corner of a rooftop or dwell in the wilderness to get away from her.
A Wife’s Nagging and a Husband’s Stubbornness
In Genesis 3:16, God told Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This verse reveals two temptations husbands and wives face as a result of the fall. The words:
“Your desire shall be for your husband” reveal the temptation wives face to control their husbands. This often manifests itself as nagging.
“He shall rule over you” reveal that God has called men to be the leaders in the marriage relationship. By nature husbands are less receptive to having their wives tell them what to do.
Two truths make the tension between husbands and wives even worse:
This can create a vicious cycle that sucks the joy out of marriage. God is aware of this, so He has revealed how to bring it to an end—not with words, but with godly behavior. First Peter 3:1 says:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.
If you are a believing wife, I know there are things you want your husband to do, such as read the Bible with you and pray with you. Perhaps you also want your husband to do things of a less spiritual nature, such as finish a project around the house or take the family on a trip he promised some time ago. There might also be certain things that you want your husband to stop doing, such as watching ungodly things or spending too much time on a certain activity.
The truth is, nagging your husband will not bring him any closer to being the man you desire him to be or increase the likelihood of his doing what you want. On the contrary, since men are stubborn, nagging will probably make him less inclined to do what you want and could possibly even push him in the opposite direction. What a wife needs to do instead is obey Peter’s command to win over her husband, not with words, but with godly conduct.
An Example of Katie NOT Nagging
When Katie and I were first married, one summer I was unable to teach summer school. I made the terrible decision to try playing World of Warcraft. I soon became addicted. I quit after a few months, because of how convicted I felt. One reason I felt so bad about my behavior was that I had married a wonderful woman, and even at the worst of my addiction, Katie continued being a godly wife. If she had nagged me or mistreated me in some way, I would not have felt as bad.
Now do not get me wrong. Katie let me know how much it bothered her that I was playing. But she spoke to me honestly out of her pain, instead of in anger. Had she yelled at me, I would have felt more justified in playing because I would have thought that she did not deserve better. It was Katie’s godly conduct while I was being a lame husband that helped convict me of my selfishness.
Some balance is required. I am not advising wives to refrain from ever asking their husbands to do certain things, or not do certain things, or from giving their husbands reminders. God created a wife to be a “helper” to her husband. Sometimes husbands forget things, and a reminder (or two) can be a real blessing.
What to Do Since Men Can Be Oblivious?
Sometimes husbands walk around having little idea how much they have hurt their wives, children, or friends. They are unaware of how their wives, or anyone else for that matter, feel about what they are doing or not doing. Husbands need their wives to point certain things out to them.
Wives should share with their husbands what they want and how they feel, but they should keep two points in mind:
The frequency with which a wife says these things is important. At some point, a request made a few times moves from being reasonable to nagging.
The way a wife makes her requests is important. Yelling and disrespecting a husband will not convict him. Lovingly and respectfully petitioning him about the way he is acting and the pain he is causing will. When a wife speaks to her husband in this way, he will likely feel terrible for mistreating such a wonderful woman.
Husbands in turn need to let their wives know when they have moved from being helpful to nagging, but in a gentle and loving way. Husbands who respond cruelly to their wives are not going to help their wives stop nagging. When a husband raises his voice at his wife he is sinning, but he is also pushing her to move from nagging to yelling in response.
Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
Although a wife shouldn’t nag her husband, what can a husband do or say to make it easier for his wife to resist this temptation?
How can a husband resist being stubborn when his wife’s frequent reminders aggravate him?
Although a husband shouldn’t be stubborn, what can a wife do or say to make it easier for her husband to resist this temptation?
How can a wife avoid nagging when she is concerned about something her husband is doing or not doing?
Questions for Husbands and Wives to Answer Separately and Then Discuss Together
Husband: List three times you recognize you were being stubborn.
Wife: List three times you feel like your husband was being stubborn.
Husband: List three times you feel like your wife was nagging.
Wife: List three times you recognize you were nagging.
Since it’s the 27th, Katie and I read Proverbs 27 together this morning; whether you believe God gives us a chapter of Proverbs for each day of the month, it still works out nicely for us to introduce wisdom into our lives regularly. During our reading this morning, I was encouraged by a number of verses and wanted to pass along some thoughts; the point isn’t to comment on every verse, but share what stood out…
1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
This isn’t condemning planning or preparing for the future as that would conflict with other Proverbs telling us to do just that: Proverbs 6:6-11, 21:20, 27:12. It’s is a criticism of declaring what will happen in the future; it’s condemning the pride of being a false prophet and foretelling the future. The same warning is given in the New Testament in James 4:13-16.
2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
My wife made a good point that the word “Let” shows it’s not bad for others to speak well of us; it’s only bad if we’re the ones doing it.
3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
But a fool’s wrath (or provocation in the NIV, ESV, NASB, WB)is heavier than both of them.
When a fool provokes you, it’s very hard not to respond. I wrote about this in a recent post: “How to Deal with a Fool.”
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.
18 Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit;
So he who waits on his master will be honored.
19 As in water face reflects face,
So a man’s heart reveals the man.
The heart – and not the way someone looks outwardly – is the real revelation of a person.
20 Hell and Destruction are never full;
So the eyes of man are never satisfied.
One of the strongest verses in the Bible discussing the emptiness people experience looking at porn.
21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And a man is valued by what others say of him.
Fire tests gold and silver and reveals the value of it, and the same is true of people when they’re praised:
Praise tests whether people become prideful.
Praise reveals whether people have the character to stay humble.
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.
Fools don’t listen, they don’t learn; they can experience terrible consequences as a result of their foolishness, but they stay the same. I discussed this verse in the post I mentioned earlier: “How to Deal with a Fool.”
23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; 24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations. 25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, 26 The lambs will provide your clothing,
And the goats the price of a field; 27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household,
And the nourishment of your maidservants.
Although these verses aren’t primarily for pastors, I found tremendous encouragement and exhortation as a pastor:
Know your flock and take care of the people that are part of it (v. 23).
Riches and wealth don’t last and can’t take care of you, but if you take care of your flock, your flock will take care of you (vv. 24-27).
Learn how to avoid being foolish ourselves. Even though certain people are identified as fools, there’s some foolishness in all of of us. Learning about fools can convict us of our own foolishness.
How to identify a Proverbs fool…
They’re described as unteachable:
Proverbs 1:7b Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:22c Fools hate knowledge.
It’s not that they literally hatewisdom, instruction and knowledge. They hate it in the sense that they won’t gain any because they think they know everything:
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.
Since they refuse to learn, they continually make the same mistakes.
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
Instead of learning:
Proverbs 18:2A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
This is to say they don’t want to understand. They just want to listen to themselves talk. This leaves them very puffed up:
Proverbs 14:3a In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride.
This pride leaves them blind to their own foolishness. They’re deceived:
Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.
Wise people know the truth about themselves. They see themselves accurately. Fools on the other hand have deceived themselves into thinking they’re wise. As a result they think they’re speaking wisdom, when in fact:
Proverbs 15:2b The mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Proverbs 15:14b The mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
This is why their mouths and ignorance get them in trouble:
Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Proverbs 10:21 Fools die for lack of wisdom.
What’s the solution for fools? How can they avoid the destruction their foolishness brings? The solution is to become teachable:
Proverbs 8:5 O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.
How to deal with a Proverbs fool…
Now that we have an understanding of the characteristic of fools, this is the obvious question!
The simple answer is you don’t! Proverbs says the best way to deal with fools is by not dealing with them at all:
Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
When you recognize people are fools, it’s time to get away from them!
If you choose to hang around fools though, the Bible also lets you know what to expect:
Proverbs 13:20b The companion of fools will be destroyed.
What if you don’t want to be the “companion of fools” but you want to try to reason with a fool. In other words, what if you try to deal with a fool? The reality is you can’t, because it’s inevitably going to become an argument. Scripture is clear about the hostility you should expect dealing with fools:
Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s wrath is known at once.
Fools are quick tempered and often respond in anger. This is how miserable it is:
Proverbs 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs,than a fool in his folly.
A fool will hate what you have to say:
Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.
The clear instruction from Scripture is not to waste your time trying to deal with a fool; it is a futile, frustrating endeavor. You can’t talk any sense into a fool, and not to sound too simple, but this is what makes him a fool: he won’t listen. He won’t learn. He could experience terrible punishment and discipline, but he won’t change:
Proverbs 27:22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.
If fools would listen they’d cease being fools, but since they won’t it’s best to let them continue in their foolishness. What’s the problem with this though? If you’ve been around a fool it’s hard not to respond!
Proverbs 27:3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than both.
The difficult dilemma with fools…
You shouldn’t respond to a fool for the reasons mentioned, but you know if you don’t respond the person will remain a fool. The situation is described perfectly:
Proverbs 26:4 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. You want to respond so he doesn’t continue to think he’s right and remain a fool.
Answering a fool makes you “like him” in two ways:
It is so foolish to answer a fool you have to be a fool to do so.
You won’t be able to help but look like a fool when you respond, hence the quote, “Don’t argue with a fool because onlookers won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Proverbs 26:4 says not to answer a fool, and then Proverbs 26:5 says the opposite? It looks like a contradiction unless you consider how well it captures the predicament you’re in with a fool:
You can’t answer a fool because of his foolishness.
You should answer a fool so he learns some wisdom.
Despite the strong urge to respond, DON’T! Unless you want the frustration the Bible clearly warns you’ll experience.
Do the verses in Proverbs help you recognize a fool? More importantly, do they warn you against being foolish yourself?
Have you dealt with a fool before?
Requiring some humility, when have you acted like a fool?
Share your answer(s) in the comment section below!
The other day Ricky came running in the house slamming his hand into his thigh angrily saying, “Rhea hit me in the leg. Rhea hit me in the leg!” He was reenacting the terribly violent action of his sister. It just occurred to me while writing this that if Ricky could hit his leg in the same spot Rhea hit him, his leg must not have been hurting very badly. Anyway, I said, “Wow! This sounds serious. Let me get Rhea to come in so I can ask her what happened.” Ricky quickly replied with, “Buuuuuuuut….I was kind of choking her. All I wanted was a piggy-back ride and she wouldn’t give me one.” Don’t you feel like choking people when they won’t give you a piggy-back ride?
It’s hard to trust kids…but I think it can be just as hard with adults at times. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone’s side of a story and thought to myself, “I can’t imagine it being any different than what this person just said” only to hear the other person’s side and find myself thinking, “Uhhh. Wow. Now I see where this person’s coming from too.” It’s Proverbs 18:17 The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.
One time when Katie and I were driving home we saw a young lady sitting on the curb only a few houses down from us. She looked really upset so Katie went to talk to her. She said she needed us to give her money so she could make it back to the other side of the country. Her sister kicked her out and if we didn’t help her she’d be homeless. By the time she finished explaining everything, I found myself thinking I couldn’t believe anyone could be that cruel. That’s about the time her niece yelled out the front door, “Mom says to quit being a baby and get back in the house.” Turns out she wasn’t kicked out at all; when she didn’t get what she wanted she tried to run away.
Probably the craziest thing is even when people have completely conflicting sides it doesn’t mean anyone is lying. Both people can be telling the truth…from their own perspectives. Jim says, “There are three sides to every story: one person’s side, the other person’s side, and the truth.” The most important thing is investing the time necessary to thoroughly listen, while making sure not to come co any conclusions until both sides are heard.
Sunday’s sermon, Luke 3:15-17 True Humility can be found here.