You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week we went back to Genesis and discovered that a fundamental understanding of God’s involvement in creation is essential in our walk with Christ. When wisdom and understanding are found, we can sleep well and be free from anxiety. Remember these are general applications and are not a rule for all in every situation. This morning, Solomon jots down some seemingly random commands that are marked by the phrase, “do not”.
Pro. 3:27-30 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives securely beside you. Do not contend with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.”
In reality Solomon is telling us to be good. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Who deserves good? We are to do good to those that are in need when we have the ability to do it. In the Greek translation of the O.T. known as the Septuagint, the verse is translated, “Abstain not from doing good to the needy.” This lines up with what we’ve seen in our studies in stewardship. If you have the ability to help, then help. Several cross references to this verse refer to giving payment to whom payment is due. This could be an employer employee relationship as in James 5:4. It might be to pay your taxes as in Rom. 13:7. If we look in a broader sense in Gal. 6:10 Paul says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” So we do good to whom good is due and we’re ready to do good deeds in the spirit of Tit. 2:14 because we are children of God. Don’t talk about doing good, do good.
Along with doing good, Solomon says, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” There’s no time like the present. Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Why do we delay in accomplishing something? I think this is a big problem for many people and it raises its head frequently in the church. This verse continues from the previous verse and is really about procrastination. If you can help someone right now, help them. Along with doing good, “Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives securely beside you.” I found myself wondering about this verse. It’s straight forward enough. There’s no hidden meaning here. It means what it says, but why the need to say something so obvious? Other translations say, “plan evil” so Solomon is saying do not plan evil against your neighbor. Now we’re getting somewhere. You’ve heard the saying that good fences make good neighbors? You may not know that I am serving my 4th term as my neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association’s President. I often have to get involved with complaints from homeowners and their neighbors. It seems that there are folks that are out to get others in trouble. And the unsuspecting neighbors are thinking they, “live securely beside you.” But this verse isn’t about casual disputes over shrubbery or pets. This verse is dealing with schemes designed to bring pain and suffering to a neighbor. 1 Kings 21 tells the story of Jezebel conspiring to get Naboth’s vineyard for her husband Ahab that resulted in the death of Naboth. There’s also the awesome story in Esther where Haman plotted against Mordecai to kill him and then Haman was hanged on the gallows he built to hang Mordecai. Don’t plot evil against your neighbors, do good to them.
Not only are we to do good to our neighbors, we are to get along. Verse 30 says, “Do not contend with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.” Again we see a seemingly obvious statement. Before you get to thinking Solomon is telling us things we already know, we see this played out over and over again. Our laws are filled with things that should be obvious. Don’t kill anyone. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. You need a driver’s license to drive a car on the streets. Just because it may seem obvious doesn’t mean everyone gets it. If someone has done you no harm, butt out. Some fights are not yours to fight. In our social media age, it seems people are getting in fights they have no business getting into. It typically starts, I don’t normally comment, but . . . You see the back and forth arguing between people that don’t know one another and generally have no idea what they’re talking about. In recent national news, we saw this played out in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Self proclaimed experts in everything from police tactics to social justice are arguing and fighting with one another that does nothing but contribute to the fiasco in Ferguson. This is a theme that we’ll see again.
These commands might seem random, but they actually build on the concept of wisdom and understanding. Be ready to do good to everyone, but especially people that you have opportunity to influence. It’s not wise to get involved where you have no business getting involved. Remember the goal of our walk of faith is to represent Jesus Christ to others to enable you to share the life changing message of salvation that will bring wisdom and understanding.