Palm Sunday 2018

March 25, 2018 in Bible - NT - Luke, Cross of Christ, Meditations

Luke 9:51–56 (NKJV)
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for [Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it was the culmination of intentional planning on his part. From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus understood that one day He would be called upon to enter into Jerusalem only to be rejected and killed. And it is this fixed purpose of Jesus to die for His people which Luke highlights for us in our text today.

Luke tells us that when the time had come for Jesus to be received up – in other words, when the time had come for Jesus to be crucified, the time when He would be delivered over to the scribes and chief priests, and rejected, and put to death – when that time had arrived, Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He knew it was in that city that the final contest would be waged. So He did not shrink back in fear or waver in unbelief but steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He went to His death willingly and courageously.

As Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem, they come to a Samaritan village, but the village rejects Him and refuses to grant him and his disciples shelter. Why? Listen to Luke’s words: But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. The villagers rejected Jesus as a foretaste of the destiny that awaited him in Jerusalem. He goes to Jerusalem to suffer and be rejected.

Why? Jesus’ rebuke of James’ and John’s vindictiveness gives the answer. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Jesus is going to Jerusalem so that He might save men, women, and children from sin and death, save them from the ravages of the Evil One. He is going to Jerusalem to give His life a sacrifice for others, to give His life so that the just penalty of the law might be paid by Him so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem to die. He went to Jerusalem willingly, courageously, and sacrificially.

It is fitting, therefore, on Palm Sunday – this day that we celebrate the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem – that our color changes to red – for red is the color of blood and it was to shed His blood that Jesus entered into the city. While Jesus was acclaimed today, He knew that this acclamation would not continue and that the end of the story would be bloody. He had set His face to go to Jerusalem.

This morning we are reminded that Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem for our sins. There is forgiveness with the Lord, that He may be feared. If He hated sin so much that He was willing to send His own Son to die for it, then ought not we to hate sin as well? As we enter into the presence of the Lord, therefore, let us confess our sins in the Name of Christ and seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus our Savior. As we do so, and as you are able, let us kneel. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Wise People Store Up Knowledge

March 11, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Education, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:14 (NKJV)
14 Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Our proverb today once again contrasts the wise and the foolish – a common theme in Proverbs and so a thought that should never be far from our own minds. We should daily, hourly be asking ourselves, “Am I being wise or foolish? Am I exhibiting the characteristics of the wise man as he is described in the Word of God?” If you aren’t asking that question regularly, then might I suggest that you are most likely a fool? The fool is the one who fails to consider his life, fails to reflect on his own character, and constantly justifies himself whenever he gets into trouble.

So let us note this contrast in our text. Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. On the one hand is the character of the wise. The wise store up knowledge. They are careful to listen, eager to learn, and thirsty to imbibe as much knowledge as possible. While wisdom and knowledge are distinct, the wise man knows that the more knowledge he possesses the better able he will be to make wise decisions and to give counsel that honors the Lord and reflects the way that He has made the world. Wise people store up knowledge.

In contrast, the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. Whereas the wise are eager to open their ears and learn, fools are eager to open their mouths and pontificate. They already know all there is to know and there is very little that others can teach them. And so, because fools refuse to listen so as to understand how the world works, they are always near destruction. Financial disaster courts them, spiritual disaster pursues them, and relational disaster follows them. The mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Solomon’s contrast reminds us that the wise man is the one who listens well, learns well, understands well, and does all these things before he speaks. James admonishes us, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Consequently, Proverbs frequently urges us to restrain our lips. Solomon will comment in verse 19 of this same chapter in Proverbs: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Again Proverbs 17:27 exhorts us, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” The wise man learns far more than he teaches.

So what of you? Are you storing up knowledge? Christian, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound theology so that you are prepared to weather the storms of life and to offer solid counsel to others? One reason so many Christians founder under trial is because they lack a robust and solid grasp of the Word of God and so do not know the character of God. What about you?

Husbands and fathers, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound books on the family so that you are equipped to lead your families in the fear of the Lord? As a husband, your calling is, like Christ, to wash your wife with the pure water of the Word that she may be pure and spotless. It is to live with your wife according to understanding (1 Pet 3:7). How are you doing? As a father, your calling is, like Joshua, to teach your children the fear of the Lord. How are you doing?

Children, are you storing up knowledge? Are you taking your studies seriously? Are you learning to read well so that you can read the Word of God more faithfully? The things you learn now are equipping you to lead your families, your churches, and your communities in the future. So what kind of leader will you be? Are you storing up knowledge or are you despising knowledge? The wise child does the former, the foolish child does the latter.

And so reminded this morning of our calling to be wise and not foolish, to store up knowledge and not to despise it, let us confess that we are often lazy, often disinterested, often rebellious, often foolish. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Do People Just Want to Hit You?

March 4, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:13 (NKJV)
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

As our Creator, God did all things well. The creation that spun forth from His hand was good. And man, the pinnacle of that creation, was glorious. As we consider what it means to be created by God, therefore, it is important to note that God fashioned us with tongues. God fashioned us with tongues in order that we might speak words – words that reflect the eternal Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. God fashioned us with tongues in order that the words we breathe forth might give life to others – life-giving breath that reflects the life-giving and eternal Spirit of God. Our tongues, in other words, are a chief part of our glory as human beings.

It is the part of the wise man, therefore, to recognize that his tongue is a gift from God and to learn to use that tongue well. Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding. The one who understands the world rightly will use his tongue to convey wisdom to others. He will use his tongue to speak truth, to worship his Creator, to bind up the broken hearted, to oppose injustice, to expose wickedness, to honor authority, to express thankfulness, etc.

However, because we humans rebelled against God, that which was a chief part of our glory has now become a chief part of our shame. James, the brother of our Lord, reminds us that the tongue is a fire, a very world of iniquity. Among the various members of our body, it is the tongue that often gets us into trouble – with God and with others. With our tongue we slander, we boast, we gossip, we berate, we lie, we corrupt, we complain, we grumble, we destroy and so we bring upon ourselves dire consequences: a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

I once had an acquaintance who served as a police officer. Though he loved police work, his mouth routinely got him into trouble. He repeatedly spoke ill of his superiors to his fellow officers. He was convinced that he knew better how to run the department and how to make police work effective. But despite his appreciation for his own wisdom, no one else seemed to appreciate it. He was passed over for promotions and urged to seek a position in another department which he eventually did – and then another and then another. For no matter where he went it seemed that no one appreciated how much he understood about police work.

So what of you? Does your mouth keep getting you in trouble? Do employers keep encouraging you to seek other positions? Do your parents wonder if your ears operate as well as your mouth? Do people hang on your lips, treasuring the flow of wisdom, or do people just want to hit you when you start talking? Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

Reminded that we are called to be men and women of understanding who convey wisdom to others, let us confess that we often need to be corrected instead. And as we confess, let us kneel before the Lord as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Stirring Up Strife

February 25, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Covenantal Living, Love, Marriage, Meditations, Responsibility

Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV)
12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

When we live in community sin and strife are inevitable. Often in our exhortations, therefore, I take the time to warn us from sinning against others and provoking strife. We need to beware lest we be a cause of strife in our relationships.

But today’s Scripture reminds us that we not only need to beware lest we cause strife in our relationships, we also need to beware lest we perpetuate it. It addresses the victim of sin and strife not the perpetrator. What do you do when you are the victim of another’s sin? There you were, living piously, saintly glow radiating about your face, angelic halo dancing above your head, and then, out of the blue, comes a sinner who treads on your toe and picks a fight. Your husband ignores you. Your wife snaps at you. Your friend speaks maliciously to you. Your sibling breaks your toy. How do you respond?

Solomon gives you two options and he paints them in black and white – “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.” The first option is hatred. You can respond to the sinner in turn. He stepped on your toe? Then step on his and poke him in the eye for good measure. Hatred stirs up strife. Hatred says, “I’ll see your sin and raise you some.” The second option is love. You can respond to the sinner out of turn. He stepped on your toe? Then overlook it and do good to him; or, if you can’t overlook it, then confront it graciously. If he confesses, you have gained your brother. If he persists, then you can choose to overlook it or to bring along others to help you resolve the matter. Love covers all sins.

Solomon’s words remind us that God does not give us a license to sin when someone else has sinned against us. Even when we are the victim of another’s sin, we are to respond to that sin in love. We are to beware lest we stir up strife by our response to the sin. Hatred stirs up strife. You didn’t introduce it, but you increased it. In other words, Solomon tells you, there is no situation so bad that you cannot make it worse by your sin. Our calling as victims, therefore, is to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ, “who, when he was reviled, did not revile in turn; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet 2:23). Jesus’ life reminds me that your sin doesn’t justify mine.

But often when we are the victim of another’s sin, we justify our sinful response and we get angry with those who would correct us. Imagine that a thief stole your money and stabbed you in the arm. You are a victim. You go to the doctor. The doctor expresses sympathy for you, stitches up your arm, and gives you instructions about keeping the wound clean. “Keep it clean and you’ll be fine in a couple months.” But you’re so angry about this situation that you ignore the doctor’s orders. You refuse to change the bandages and the wound gets badly infected. Finally, you return to the doctor and he’s dismayed. “Did you keep it clean? Did you do what I said?” he asks. “No,” you sullenly respond. So he rebukes you and tells you that you may lose your arm; you may even lose your life. But you angrily respond, “How dare you blame me? I was the victim! I didn’t stab myself!” What’s the doctor going to say? Is he going patronize you? To apologize for rebuking you? No! Not if he’s a good doctor. He going to tell you that you are a fool and that you’ve only made a bad situation worse.

So what of you? Are you using another’s sin to justify your own? Are you nursing anger or resentment or bitterness in your heart against another? Are you blaming your wife for your outbursts of wrath? Are you blaming your husband for your nagging spirit? Are you blaming your parents for your sullen attitude or sinful rebellion? Are you blaming your employer for your laziness? Or are you taking responsibility for the way that you are responding to the sin of others?

Reminded that the sin of others does not justify our own sin, let us confess that we often stir up strife through hatred rather than cover it through love. And, as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able do to so. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Church Discipline: Suspension

February 18, 2018 in Bible - NT - 2 Thessalonians, Discipline, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sin

2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 (NKJV)
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Several weeks ago we spoke of the biblical rationale for practicing church discipline. In our text today, Paul commands the Thessalonian church to implement the first stage of that public discipline, a stage we commonly refer to as Suspension from the Lord’s Supper.

Paul begins with an exhortation to the congregation at large, “brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.” Paul’s command presumes that it is a temptation to grow weary in doing good – after all, we don’t warn against things that aren’t threats. The temptations of the Evil One, combined with the allurements of the world and the sinful desires of our own hearts, often make the task of doing good challenging. So Paul commands us never to grow weary.

Paul then commands the Thessalonians to practice a particular good – to take seriously disobedience to God within the congregation. Paul knows that if a congregation permits blatant sin to go unchecked, then that sin will spread. As Paul says elsewhere, a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough (1 Cor 5:6). So Paul writes, “if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Paul’s command involves two parts – first, the Thessalonians are to note – that is, mark, point out, or publicly identify – that person. Second, they are to refuse to keep company with him – that is, they are to suspend normal fellowship with that person, including sharing in the Lord’s Supper. Why? Note Paul’s words: “that he may be ashamed.” In other words, the purpose of the discipline is to awaken the sinner to the seriousness of his sin. As Solomon writes in Proverbs 20:30, “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.”

It is in keeping with Paul’s words here and elsewhere (1 Cor 5:4) that the elders announce the Suspension of ——– from fellowship in the Lord’s Supper. Despite private counsel and warnings for the last year and more, ——– has hardened his heart in opposition to the wife of his youth, has ceased marital counseling, and has declared his intention to seek a divorce, something that God hates (Mal 2:16). Because ——– has failed to give heed to our private exhortations, we are now announcing this to the church, praying that God will use this to convict and restore him to his family and to the church.

In so announcing, we would remind you of Paul’s exhortation, “do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Your duty is to pray for and, as occasion permits, admonish ——– as a professing Christian to repent of his sinful conduct and to strive for reconciliation with his wife and with this body. And remember that you are to do this in a spirit of gentleness, taking care lest you also be tempted (cf. Gal 6:1-5). So how might you be tempted at this time?

  • Pride – Imagining that you are above such sins and morally superior to ——–. Such is not the case. Were it not for the grace of God, we would all be in like circumstances. So please pray for ——–, asking God to show him mercy.
  • Gossip – Using this as an opportunity to speak uncharitably about ——– or about his wife and children rather than as an opportunity to pray for him and them, expressing a longing for his restoration and love and affection for those he is hurting by his sin.
  • Slander – Making or entertaining false accusations against the elders, accusing them of heavy-handedness or insensitivity in disciplining him.
  • Flattery – In conversations with ——–, permitting him to blame others for his plight rather than urging him to take responsibility for it. We should want him to deal with his sin in a godly fashion – by confessing it to the Lord and forsaking it (2 Cor 7:8-12).

All this reminds us of our susceptibility to sin and our need of God’s grace and mercy; reminds us of our need to humble our hearts regularly and to confess our sins to the Lord. So let us confess our sins to the Lord and, as you are able, let us kneel as we do so. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Mouth as a Well

February 12, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:11 (NKJV)
11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.

After Ishmael mocked the young child Isaac, he and his mother Hagar were cast out of Abraham’s tent and wandered for a time in the wilderness. Soon their skin of water was used up and the two were dying of thirst. So Hagar placed Ishmael under a shrub and went away from him a short distance lest she see him die. Then she lifted up her voice and wept.

The Angel of the Lord heard their cry. He spoke to Hagar. “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She filled her waterskin with water, and gave the lad a drink and they lived. This well in the wilderness was a well of life.

As that well in the wilderness was to Hagar – preserving her life, rejuvenating her strength, and restoring her hope – so is the mouth of the righteous to those who hear him. The mouth of the righteous is a well of life. As those who live in a fallen world, the paths we travel are often dry and thirsty. We face doubts, discouragements, disappointments, and even death. Scattered throughout the world are wells, put there by God to refresh our souls. As a follower of Christ, you are to be one of those wells. Paul commands you, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph 4:29). Be a well of life.

Because wells are so precious in the wilderness, because they are the only places where one can obtain water, they were often chosen as a place of ambush. Thieves and marauders would prey upon unsuspecting travelers, pillaging their property and often taking their lives. Wells were often places of violence.

So too are the mouths of many. Violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Travelers come seeking water, seeking refreshment on the journey. But what they find instead is violence. They are confronted by bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. Their souls are ravaged, their hope diminished, their dignity destroyed.

So what are you? Are you a well of life? Or are you a bandit? Do your words bring refreshment, strength, and hope? Or do they rob others of dignity and hope? How do you speak to your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your neighbors, and your friends? Do you build up or do you destroy? The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.

Reminded of our calling to use our mouths to bring life to others, let us confess that we often use them to bite and devour and destroy. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

He who winks the eye

February 4, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations

Proverbs 10:10 (NKJV)
10 He who winks with the eye causes trouble, And a prating fool will fall.

The sin highlighted in our text today is that of the troublemaker or schemer – the one who plots against others because he boasts in his own strength. He winks with the eye, causing trouble for others perhaps by signaling to his compatriots to execute their plot against the innocent. He has no regard for the law of God but instead delights to air his own opinions. He is a prating fool.

These figures of “winking the eye” and “a prating mouth” are fairly common in Proverbs. For example, Solomon describes the wicked man in Proverbs 6:12-15:

A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth; He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers; Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord. Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.

Notice Solomon’s description of the gestures that characterize the wicked man: his mouth speaks perversely, he winks with the eyes, he shuffles his feet, he points with the fingers – in other words, he is shifty and unreliable, he is a schemer and a plotter, he refuses to accept responsibility for his own sin, pointing at others as though he is the victim. So why do these things characterize him? Because perversity is in his heart. His fundamental problem is that he is alienated from God. Consequently, because he is alienated from God, his actions are evil. He devises evil continually, He sows discord. The one who winks the eye sows discord among brothers, exaggerates faults, and plots destruction.

What all this indicates is that God despises the plotter and the schemer. God despises the one who uses his mouth and his eyes to cause trouble rather than to bless. Consequently, the troublemaker shall fall. God will bring him down – whether through humbling him or humiliating him or exposing him or destroying him.

So what of you? God has given you the gift of eyes – are you using them to plot evil or to accomplish good? God has given you the gift of a mouth – are you using it to cause trouble or to bring peace? Are you shifty? Are you a troublemaker? Do you constantly point the finger at others, portraying yourself as the victim, meanwhile winking at your compatriots who know the truth? If this is you then hear God’s warning: you shall fall. God will bring you down. So cease blaming others and confess your own sin.

Reminded of the high calling that God has placed upon our eyes and our mouths, let us acknowledge that we often misuse them to dishonor God and to injure our neighbor rather than to bless him. And as you are able, let us kneel together as we do so.

Integrity vs. Duplicity

January 28, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Sanctification

Proverbs 10:9 (NKJV)
9 He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.

Hypocrisy is a deep and troubling sin. It is a type of lying or duplicity – saying one thing with one’s mouth but living in a completely different fashion. It is this sin of hypocrisy or duplicity that Solomon confronts in Proverbs 10:9 – He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.

On the positive side is the man or woman who walks with integrity. This describes the one who walks uprightly and who behaves in private in the same way he speaks publicly – that person walks securely. The one who walks with integrity doesn’t have to worry about what happens when his parents look at his internet history; he doesn’t have to worry when his wife looks at his phone records; he doesn’t have to worry when his accounts are audited. Why not? Because he has nothing to hide. What he is publicly, that he is privately – and the public image is one God approves.

On the negative side is the man or woman who perverts his ways. This is the one who speaks peace with his lips but has war in his heart; the one who hides his desires and schemes behind a smiling face. That person, Solomon tells us, will become known. Though he deletes his internet history; though he is careful to make sure no one is at home to catch him; though he soothes his conscience, saying, “No one will know,” God knows and God will expose him in the end. As Jesus warns us, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Lk 8:17). The truth will out.

The prophet Isaiah gives us a colorful description of the man of integrity whose way is secure. He writes, “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure” (33:15-16).

So what of you? Are you walking in integrity? Are you carefully observing what God desires and commands? Are you willing to let those you respect look at your play list, your movie choices, and your internet history? Or are you perverting your way? Are you hiding? Are you dissembling? Be sure that God will find you out – so before that happens, confess your sin and make things right. Give up your hypocrisy and deceit.

Reminded of our calling to confess our sins to the Lord and to forsake them in fear of Him, reminded that we need His forgiving grace to restore us to fellowship with Him and His empowering grace to free us from our own perversity, let us confess our sins to the Lord and seek His favor. And as you are able, let us kneel together as we do so.

The Prating Fool Will Fall

January 14, 2018 in Authority, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Meditations, Parents, Tongue

Proverbs 10:8 (NKJV)
8 The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall.

Wisdom is a commodity that has often been in short supply. Praise God, therefore, that the Spirit whom the Father poured out upon Jesus and whom Jesus pours out upon His people is, according to the prophet Isaiah, “the Spirit of wisdom…” (Is 11:2). Hence, Paul prays for the Ephesians that “Father of glory may give to you the Spirit of wisdom…” (Eph 1:17). God pours out His Spirit upon the Church in order that we might become more wise.

So how does the Spirit grow us in wisdom, how does He impart His wisdom to us? One of the chief ways He does so is through instruction in the Word of God including the Proverbs of Solomon. The Proverbs guide and teach us that we might be full of wisdom; that we might govern our lives in a way that glorifies and honors our Creator and Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. So today Solomon gives us one of the evidences of wisdom: The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

There are two parts to Solomon’s exhortation. First, Solomon tells us that the Spirit of wisdom teaches the wise to receive commands. In the words of James, the brother of our Lord, the wise in heart is”quick to hear” (Jas 1:19). The wise in heart recognizes that God has created a world in which there are proper authorities – parents, elders, employers, bosses, governors, kings, etc. Hence, the wise in heart receives commands, he listens to what these authorities tell him and, so far as he is able, he honors and obeys them in the fear of God.

Solomon contrasts the wise in heart with the prating fool. Who is a prating fool? To “prate” is “to talk much and without substance”; it is to “talk tediously about something.” The prating fool, therefore, is one who is so fond of his own opinions and desires that he refuses to listen to others. He goes on and on and on and on, sure that he is the fount of wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. He is not, in James’ words, quick to hear and slow to speak. No, the prating fool is so fond of his own opinions that he refuses to listen to instruction and he will fall. Why? Because the prating fool is proud and God is opposed to the proud.

The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall. Solomon’s words have particular relevance for the young. One of the great temptations of youth – listen up you teens – is to refuse to listen to your parents and instead to blather on about your own opinions. “Mom, I shouldn’t have to walk the dog because it is Susie’s turn to walk the dog and it isn’t fair that I’m always walking the dog and sometime last week Georgie stole my pencil and I think that I sprained my ankle last night and…” That is an example of a prating fool. But the wise in heart knows that when mom gives a command, it is time to be quiet and obey.

But Solomon’s words apply not only to the young; they apply to all. Solomon tells us that the wise in heart is humble, the wise in heart knows how to submit. So, wives, do you receive the commands of your husband? He is your lawful authority, do you listen to him? Men, do you receive the commands of your employers, bosses, and elders? They are your lawful authorities, do you listen to them? You see the same temptations that confront teens, also confront you. Do you too make excuses for your pride, are you too a prating fool, or are you wise in heart, humble, and inclined to receive commands?

And so reminded that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, gives grace to those who receive commands, let us confess that we have often been proud and refused to receive commands. And as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.