Sunday, January 29
My husband Jason and I have been in youth ministry for many years and one boy who was in the youth group about 20 years ago comes to mind every time I hear his very favorite Bible verse, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) What middle school boy doesn’t love a great vomit verse! But middle school boys are not the only ones to love this proverb. Jesus’ disciple, Peter, the Rock Jesus would build his church on showed his wisdom (and knowledge and reliance on God’s Word) when he quoted this very proverb in 2 Peter 2:22. Peter was referring to the foolishness, and danger, of false prophets who had once been worldly, then accepted Jesus, but then, “turned their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:21). Just like a dog who returns to his vomit. How disgustingly gross. All of us have some gross vomit and worldly foolishness in our past. What vomit in your life would you be wise to not return to? How will you avoid turning back to your gross folly?
Another proverb that got my full attention was 28:9 – “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable”. Look at that – God’s detest list shows up again. And this time PRAYERS are on the list?? I thought God loved to hear us come to him in prayer with our long list of wants and occasionally a praise or thank you thrown in – who wouldn’t love that? When in the world would prayers be detestable to God? I don’t think I learned this in Sunday School, or Facebook for that matter. Thankfully, Solomon (or the writer of this proverb, who was inspired to write this by God) doesn’t leave us clueless. He says prayers are detestable IF the “prayee” doesn’t listen to the law – doesn’t abide by God’s Word. Perhaps you have seen someone quite content totally neglecting God’s law, hands over ears, living life their own way, returning to their vomit frequently, when all of a sudden – BAM – a crisis sends them to God in prayer. They are ready for their miracle. And some days, I am also guilty of not being fully tuned into listening to God’s law. And then I could become quick to blame God for not hearing my prayers and giving me the answer requested, on my time schedule of course.
The good news is, there are many prayers God does NOT find detestable. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Next time you are frustrated with a “silent” God who doesn’t seem to hear you at all, one possibility is to do a check-up on how well YOU have been listening to HIS law. Perhaps, God is not the one with the hearing problem.
The lovely thing about the book of Proverbs is there are SO many topics and brief nuggets of truth. Each time you read them you can see something different and new and exceedingly wise for you at whatever point you are in life (even a middle school boy) and at whatever stage you are in following God (even those not currently listening to Him.) Dig in regularly to gain another morsel of truth and Godly wisdom. So many pearls of wisdom in today’s chapters, with not enough time to touch on them all, but just a few more quick thoughts. . .
ON HUMILITY – “Do you see someone wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (26:12) “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (27:2) – Don’t be the proud bragger. No one likes the proud bragger.
ON CONFESSION – “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) – God’s not looking for perfect people, just ones willing to ask for forgiveness and turn from their sins.
ON GREED & GIVING – “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.” (28:25) “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (28:27) – Greed does not bring about the prosperous life intended – but giving does.
God Bless You as you Listen to His Law, Marcia Railton
(Photo credit: cartoon by Elgin Bolling. Maybe a little posted reminder would help you steer clear of revisiting your vomit/folly. You can go to the ministry-to-children website to color your own black and white version of the dog cartoon above created by Elgin Bolling. Just go to http://ministry-to-children.com/fool-and-his-folly-proverbs-26-cartoon/)