Thrive- Proverbs Session 7- Proverbs 14:8-15

Session 7- Thrive

Proverbs 14:8-15

Session Resources- Click to Download:

Proverbs Session 7

Proverbs Handout Session 7

Proverbs Powerpoint Session 7

Subject:  Thriving

Central Theme: Choosing to thrive

Objective Sentence:  Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Keyword:  Contrast

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (V.8,15)

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

Introduction:

Connection:

  • I want to ask a question knowing that at it may seem politically incorrect.
  • Have you ever noticed the relationship between someone’s lifestyle and their countenance?
  • Any reasonable person would agree that the choices we make can affect our bodies.
  • This is true in a negative way and in a positive way.
  • Certain choices and behaviors lead to pain, heartache, difficulty and even a lack of good health.
  • Other choices make it possible to thrive even in difficult environments.

Tension:

  • God has given man the gift of agency.
  • He has given to us free-will.
  • With the gift of free-will comes the responsibility to make wise choices.
  • Some choices lead to thriving, while other choices lead to death.
  • The book of Proverbs is largely a book concerned with choices.
  • It tells us how we can live a life of Wisdom.
  • When we make wise choices around how God designed the world and desires it to work we will thrive.
  • When we go our own way the results in the end are the ways of death.
  • In today’s text we are told how to thrive. We are told which choices we can make so that our lives and eternities can be characterized by flourishing.

Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (v.8,15)

Pro 14:8  The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. Pro 14:15  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.  

Explanation:

  • The passage in Proverbs this week has genre of poetic structure that was somewhat common in ancient near-eastern literature.
  • It’s called a “chiasm” or “chiastic structure”.
  • Chiastic structure, or chiastic pattern, is a literary technique in narrative motifs and other textual passages. An example of chiastic structure would be two ideas, A1 and B1, together with variants A2 and B2, being presented as A1,B1,B2,A2.
  • Let me give you an example from the New Testament:

Matthew_7:6

A1  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, B1        neither cast ye your pearls before swine, B2        lest they trample them under their feet, A2  and turn again and rend you.

  • In this example it is obvious that the dogs are the ones “rending”, and the swine are the ones who “trample”.
  • The first phrase corresponds to the last phrase and the two phrases in the middle correspond to each other.
  • Traditionally the innermost part of the Chiasm is what is being emphasized.
  • Chiasm’s can be a small as one verse, and as large as whole chapters.  It has even been suggested that Luke and Acts, 2 parts of one work by the same author, are written as a chiasm.

The scripture we are studying this week in Proverbs are written in chiastic structure.  Consider the text this way:

  • A1(8) The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.  
    • B1 (9)  Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.  
      • C1 (10)  The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
        • D1 (11)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.  
        • D2  (12)  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • C2 (13)  Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.  
    • B2 (14)  The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.  
  • A2  (15)  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
  • Now that you see the way the text is structured you can see why I have grouped the verses as I have.
    • Usually we read the verses a couple at a time and walk through the passage.
    • This week we are going to walk through the passage according to this pattern.
  • First, let’s look at verses 8 and 15.
  • Notice that verses 8 and 15 contrasts two kinds of people.  Let’s look at these verses say about each one.
  • First, we meet the prudent person.
    • The prudent person seeks to “understand his way” in verse 8.
    • And in verse 15 the prudent man “looketh well to his going”.
    • These verses explain that a prudent person thinks about how they are living and what they are doing.
    • The prudent person is not haphazard about decisions and direction.  They take it very seriously.  They think and plan considering what God wants.
  • Next, we meet the naive person.
    • These are 2 descriptive names that describe the same kind of person.
    • In verse 15 you see the simple person as one who “believeth every word”.
    • In verse 8 the fool’s folly is deceit.  The idea is that they believe people who tell them lies, not looking to their way because they want to believe the lies they are being told.
    • They may believe every word because they do not take the time to think about what they are being told and are therefore naive.
    • In contrast to the prudent who thinks carefully about their way, the fool does not and suffers for it.  It is their folly.

Application:

The application is pretty clear, but can be as profound as you make it.  Which person are you?  Prudent or simple? Wise or foolish?

Are you a naive person?

  • A naive person does not take time to plan their lives.
    • Life happens to them and they react.
    • They do not think about the way they are living.
    • There is no introspection, evaluation, or planning.
  • A naive person takes what they are told only at face value.
    • A simple person never investigates or verifies what they are being told.
    • They are easily deceived.
    • Have you ever questioned any of your basic assumptions?
      • You see, everyone has faith in something.
      • No person can know everything, but that does not mean you cannot know anything.  Do not become easy prey for the enemies of God.

Are you a prudent person?

  • What habits or processes do you have to investigate your life?  Do you think about how you are living?
    • Do you have a daily “quiet time” in which you talk to God and let the Word of God discern the thoughts and intents of your heart?
    • Do you have a plan for your time, called a schedule?
    • Do you have a plan for your resources, called a budget?

Response:

  • As you have read the contrast between the naive and prudent person today what actions do you need to take to begin to live prudently?

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

(9) Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour…(14)The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. Proverbs 14:9,14

Explanation:

  • A second literary concern also helps us understand this text. There are Chapters 10-14 uses parallelism. They are mostly one sentence contrasts or comparisons.
  • In verses 9 and 14 you have two kinds of people. Each respective description are describing the same kind of person.
  1. The Selfish Person.
  • The passage says that the fool makes a mock at sin.
    • This means that the fool takes sins lightly.
    • They don’t view sin as a grave offense against God and may not even see it as a category at all.
  • The “backslider in heart” speaks of someone who has the fools perspective on sin and God.
    • This phrase is used in the Old Testament to speak of someone who ignores or disbelieves in God.
    • Verse 9 seems to talk about the actions of the foolish/backslider in heart, and verse 14 seems to describe the result of that action.
    • The fools mock sin, and then are “filled with their own ways.”
      • This means that they discontented with God’s way, and full of their own way.
      • They are filled with themselves. They are selfish and obsessed with themselves.
      • This also means that he will be “fully repaid” for his actions. He gets the natural consequences of his actions.
  1. The Satisfied Person.
  • The righteous find favor with God because of their attitude and interaction with sin.
  • The result, found in verse 14, is satisfaction of the best kind.
  • They are contented with the natural result of living according to God’s way and reaping those blessings.

Application:

  • We can tell what kind of person we are, according to this passage, by our attitude toward sin. Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
  1. Do I take sin seriously, or do I think that sin is “no big deal”?
  2. Am I allowing an acceptable level of sin in my life? Are there sins I am participating in that no longer bother me?
  3. When I think about the sin in my life, do I compare myself to others, or think “everyone does this”, trying to minimize our guilt?
  • If the answer is yes to these kinds of questions, then know that if you do not deal with these issues you are a “fool and backslider of heart”.
  • At some point you will be “fully repaid” or facing the consequences of this involvement in sin.
  • Choose the contentedness that comes from living God’s way! How? Consider the response below.

Response:

The challenge today is to name the sins, pray a prayer of repentance, and make a plan to forsake that sin with God’s help, and possibly the help of others in your family or local church.

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Explanation:

  • Both of these verses speak about the heart of a person- the inner man, and make some interesting points.

Verse 10- The Privacy of the Heart.

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.  (Proverbs 14:10)

  • In verse 10, the author indicates that there are some emotions felt so deeply, like bitterness and joy, that they can only be fully accessed or fully felt by the individual.
  • No matter how clearly you speak, or how passionately you share what you feel, there is a part that cannot be felt by another person.
  • It is difficult to express on the outside exactly what is being experienced on the inside.

Verse 13- The Sorrow of the Heart.

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.  (Proverbs 14:13)

  • We must take verse 13 as a possibility and even a probability and not necessarily as universally true.
  • The idea is that laughter and “mirth” are not always an indicator that everything is ok.
  • There are those who may be laughing or smiling on the outside, but internally are dealing with sorrow.
  • As in verse 10, there is the possibility that someone’s expressed feelings or demeanor do not disclose the totality of their emotional or intellectual state.
  • Again, this is particularly true with joy and sorrow.

Application:

  • The implications of these truths are profound.  We are all called to minister as believers.
  • We are told to feel something along with other people.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Rom 12:15)

Here are three implications that we must recognize:

  1. Recognize the Uniqueness of a Person’s Grief or Joy
  • As we minister to people it is important to understand that each person’s grief and joy is unique to them.
  • We can sympathize with their pain, but we cannot know exactly what they are thinking or how they are feeling.
  • I have had the chance to walk with people through difficulty very similar to things that I have experienced, and this verse conveys to me that I must be careful about saying things like, “I know exactly how you feel”, or “I’ve been exactly where you are.”  A better alternative would be to say, “I can’t know exactly how you feel or what you’ve thinking but I have endured something similar and this is my experience.”  There is a compassion in this.  We can sympathize with them while allowing them the room to express as best they can what they are dealing with so that we can minister to them well.
  1. Recognize that We Can Assume Wrongly about Another Person’s Emotional and Spiritual Health.
  • There are times where people look like everything is great on the outside but are struggling internally.
    • As this verse seems to relate, we could be laughing one moment and crying the next.
    • They may “put on a front”.  They smile and greet you.  You ask them how they are, a common greeting, and the answer will always be “Fine, thank you.”  And yet they may not be fine.  Not really.
  • If this is true of others it can be true of ourselves.
    • We must recognize this reality and know that it is not healthy to isolate ourselves.
    • We must find people to share our thoughts and feelings with, and we must be a safe person in which others can confide.
  1. Recognize that the only person who can perfectly know our hearts is Jesus Christ.

This is not explicit in this passage but is known to be true in principle by the scriptures.  Consider these verses:

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Psalm 44:20-21

  • And in 1 Samuel…

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

  • Now you may read the previous two verses and think, “God knows and see’s my heart!  That is not comforting.  I’ll just get in trouble.”
  • I share your sentiment, yet I would counsel the both of us with two thoughts.
    • First, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Knowing that God knows our hearts makes me want to make sure it is right before Him.
    • Secondly, the One who knows our hearts became one of us and died for our sins in our place.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16)

  • We can trust the Lord with our hearts.
  • We can go to him boldly and share with Him, best we can, what we are feeling.
  • When we do we can trust that our hearts are understood beyond what are words are able to express.  He weeps with us.  He rejoices with us.
  • This God who knows our hearts has promised to save us.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

  • He will cleanse our hearts and restore our joy when we ask.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psa 51:10,12)  

Response:

  • Is there someone in your life that you need to rejoice with or with whom you should weep?
  • Is there a sin that you should confess to God today?
  • How is your prayer life?

If you want to thrive, you must acknowledge the realities of the inner man and outer man, and go to God in prayer with the struggles of our heart.

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

Explanation:

  • When it comes to a chiastic structure, which is the literary device used here, the middle of the chiasm is what is typically being emphasized and gives a clue to the theme of the text. Verses 11 and 12 are the middle verses of this passage.

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:11-12)

  • Notice what happens to the house of the wicked. It is overthrown.
    • What does an overthrown house look like?
      • Windows are broken. Doors are off their hinges. Everything valuable in the home is broken or taken. There are holes in the roof and nature is coming through. The yard is overgrown and taking over the concrete outside.
    • Look at the contrast. The tabernacle of the upright will flourish.
      • The word for flourish is also translated blossom or budded.
      • It is used 37 times in the King James Bible and is synonymous with life and growth.
    • In all these verses there has been a contrast between God’s Way and man’s way. There is the way of wisdom (God’s way) and the way of the foolish (man’s way).
    • There is a way that seems right to men…
      • In context the way that seems right would be
        • To practice deceit and be naive (vs. and 15)
        • To take sin lightly and make plans devoid of God’s wisdom only consulting ourselves (vs. and 14),
        • To endure sorrow or try to attempt to express joy but never to God (vs.10 and 13).
      • The ends thereof (the results) are “the ways of death”.
    • There is also a way that is right with God…
      • Also in context it would be
        • To think through life and how it ought to be lived (vs. and 15)
        • To be satisfied with the blessing that comes from obedience (vs. and 14)
        • To express the depths of our feeling to God in prayer (vs.11 and 13).
      • The results of doing things right way to “flourish”. It means to thrive!

Application:

  • Do you want to thrive? Do you want the pattern of your time on earth to be characterized by life? Or do you want your life on earth to be like the overthrown house, ravaged by the “ways of death”?
  • Moses pleaded with his people in the wilderness over this very issue. Read Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  (20)  That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19-20  

Response:

  • This is really the response that is encouraged by this whole text. Will we choose the way of wisdom and therefore life? Or will we choose the way that seems right to us, but whose end is death?
  • Wisdom or Foolishness?
  • God’s way or our way?
  • Life or Death?
  • CHOOSE LIFE!!!

Conclusion:

Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (V.8,15)

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

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