Pride and Humility

  The Book of Proverbs makes four interrelated claims regarding pride and humility.   First, pride and humility are fundamentally spiritual in nature. They are outward manifestations of the inward state of your heart toward God. If you are proud, your heart is far from God. If you are humble, your heart is drawing closer to God. As an example of the former, consider what this proverb says about the mocker, i.e., a militantly anti-religious person:   The proud and arrogant man — “Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride (21:24).   Haughty eyes and a proud heart, … Continue reading Pride and Humility

Ethics and Organized Religion

I once had a friend who was very interested in spirituality but not in organized religion. His wife attended church, but not he. Instead, he would invite me over to his house from time to time, cook a wonderful dinner, then pepper me with questions for the rest of the evening. I did my best to answer them before he brought out dessert.   There are probably a passel of people like my friend. They like Jesus, but not the church. They are interested in what he says about ethics and whatnot, but they are uninterested in what the church … Continue reading Ethics and Organized Religion

Leaving It Better

  The Boy Scouts have an unofficial motto when it comes to campsites: Leave it better than you found it. In my opinion, this would make an excellent mission statement for Christians and their churches. As a result of our efforts (individually and collectively), the world should be a better place (spiritually and morally).   Several proverbs speak about the positive influence of the righteous, and the negative influence of the wicked.[1]   Influence is expressed through what we say and how we say it.   Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth … Continue reading Leaving It Better

To Spank or Not to Spank?

  When I was a kid, my parents spanked me if sweet reason didn’t stop me from misbehaving. The parents of most of my friends acted the same way. Today, however, spanking is controversial. Does the Bible say anything about the topic? Yes, actually; quite a lot.   First, the Bible offers a theological argument for disciplining children.   My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in (3:11-12).   Discipline, here, is a broad term. It includes every action … Continue reading To Spank or Not to Spank?

Openness to Advice

   According to the Book of Proverbs, one of the key differences between sages and fools is whether they are open to advice. Sages are; fools are not.   Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid (12:1).   The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice (12:15).   A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke (13:1).   Advice, here, is more than words. It is a parental activity, words followed up with disciplinary consequences. For the proverbist, then, “advice” … Continue reading Openness to Advice

Can You Hear Me Now?

  I’m sure you’ve seen the Verizon commercials with the bespectacled geek who asks that now immortal five-word question: “Can you hear me now?” The point of Verizon’s commercials is that it has a superior wireless communication system, which may or may not be true. (As a Verizon subscriber, I’m generally impressed.) But for me, the question is what’s really important.   Last year, my dad called me on his cell phone. That in and of itself is not an unusual occurrence. What was unusual was his location and the clarity of his call. He was on Turkey’s Mediterranean shore, … Continue reading Can You Hear Me Now?


  There are many kinds of lies. Wikipedia lists eleven: bold-faced lie, lying by omission, lie-to-children, white lie, emergency lie, perjury, bluffing, misleading, dissembling, exaggeration, and jocose lies. These vary in moral blameworthiness. For example, lying to your husband about his upcoming birthday party is surely less blameworthy than perjury in open court!   In general, as we saw yesterday, God hates lying. There are occasions when biblical characters lie in order to save lives (e.g., Rahab hiding the Israelites spies in Joshua 2:1-7). But these occasions are few and far between, and the lie, while morally questionable, prevents a … Continue reading Perjury

God and Lies

  We Americans live in a culture that has grown comfortable with lies.   Turn on the television, and you’ll see slickly produced lies every few minutes, otherwise known as commercials. Listen to politicians, and they’ll make all manner of campaign promises in order to get your vote. What’s worst, pay attention to certain televangelists, and they’ll tell you God will reward you financially if only you give generously to their ministries. (If they’re seeking financial reward themselves, why don’t they give their millions to ministries serving the poor?)   God is not comfortable with lies. He never has been … Continue reading God and Lies

An Investment that Pays Dividends

  Hard work is an investment that pays dividends.   The Book of Proverbs makes the case for this conclusion in two ways. Negatively, it shows the debt that laziness incurs. Positively, it shows the profit that diligence accrues. Let’s take a close look at two proverbs that make this case.   Proverbs 24:30-34 makes a negative case for hard work by showing the devastating results of laziness.   I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone … Continue reading An Investment that Pays Dividends


  The dictionary defines a slacker as “someone who avoids doing something, especially work or military service.” While the Book of Proverbs doesn’t say much about draft dodgers, it says quite a bit to about people who avoid hard work. Consider these specific proverbs:   As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him (10:26).   If employees or coworkers have ever hindered you from accomplishing a job on time, you know exactly what this proverb means. Their slackertude (slacker + attitude) is physically irritating, not to mention embarrassing in … Continue reading Slackertude