Saturday, January 14, 2017

Proverbs 12:2 --- Honesty or Dishonesty? Favor or Condemnation?

Proverbs 12:2 
A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
    but a man of evil devices he condemns.

We have two contrasts in this proverb.  First, "a good man" is contrasted to "a man of evil devices."  Second, "favor from the Lord" is contrasted to the Lord's condemnation.

The first contrast teaches us that maybe the most important thing about a man is his honesty in relation to the triune God.  The good man is not a person of evil devices.  The good man is not crafty.  The good man is not a dishonest schemer.  Rather, the good man is honest and straight forward.

We see this connection between good and honest in Jesus' parable of the sower.  In Luke 8 Jesus teaches us that the person who receives the Word of God or the gospel, is the person with "an honest and good heart" (Luke 8:15).  A truly honest heart does not reject God's Word or God's Son.

Receiving God's Word and receiving God's Son go together.  It is impossible to reject the Word of God but receive God's Son.  Nor is it possible to receive the Word of God but reject the Son of God.  God's written Word is intimately connected to God's incarnate Word, his Son, Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons there has been such a decline in Christianity in the western world is that mainline churches rejected the Word of God as infallible and inerrant.  I suppose these churches and denominations may have thought they could keep their confidence in Jesus even if they lost their confidence in the written Word of God.  But that is not how it works.  The incarnate Word and the written Word are intimately linked together.  To reject one is to reject the other, and to love one is to love the other.

What is your attitude to the Bible?  Your attitude to the Bible determines your attitude to Jesus.  If we love Jesus, we will love the Word which reveals him to us. 

The second contrast in our proverb points to the most important question of our lives:  Do we have God's favor?  Nothing is more important than this question.  If you don't have the triune God's favor, everything else in your life is ultimately worthless.  You can be a billionaire, but if you don't have God's favor, you are wretchedly poor.  You can be loved by your family and friends, but if you don't have God's favor and know the love of the Father in Christ, you are to be pitied.  You can have great career success, but if you don't have God's favor, your life will prove to be a miserable failure in the end.

We get the heavenly Father's favor when we receive and welcome his Son into our lives.  In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified and speaks to humanity.  At one point Wisdom cries out, saying:

            For whoever finds me finds life
                and obtains favor from the Lord,
            but he who fails to find me injures himself;
                all who hate me love death.  (Proverbs 8:35-36)

Jesus is the wisdom of God.  Everything depends on our relation to Him, whom the Father sent into the world for our salvation.  When we find him, we find life.  When we find him, we obtain favor from the Father.  But when we reject him, we injure ourselves eternally.  When we reject him we choose eternal death over eternal life, and dishonesty over honesty with God.

You and I can know the favor of God in our lives right now.  You and I can know the hope of eternal life and favor forever.  Won't you receive and welcome Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior into your heart and life?  If you do, then ultimately your life will be a success.  You might not have money, but you have eternal riches in Christ and the favor of God.  Your family might be a mess and far from ideal, but you belong to your Father in heaven, and you have the favor of Christ.  You might not have great career success, but you have the success that truly matters, favor and intimacy with the Father and the Son forever.





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