Character Flaws

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Last week Solomon gave us some wise counsel on dealing with others. We’re not to withhold good from people to whom good is due when we have the power to do good right now. He also said we shouldn’t contend with a man unless we have a reason. This morning, Solomon continues with some commands that deal with character traits that are anything but godly.

Pro. 3:31-35 says, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways. For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright. The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted. The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.”

Are these things obvious? Are you wondering why Solomon seems to tell us things that should be obvious, things that should be common sense? The difference in this passage from vs. 27-30 is that those had conditional clauses attached to the do nots. Don’t withhold good when it’s in your power to do good. Don’t tell your neighbor come back tomorrow if you can help him right now. Don’t be scheming against your neighbor while he thinks he’s safe and secure. Don’t contend with someone without cause if he’s done nothing to you. There’s a shift here that doesn’t include a conditional clause, but includes the reason not to do it. “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose his ways.” Does Solomon really have to say that? Ps. 73:3, “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Paul seems pretty clear in Gal. 5:19-21: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So envying is a deed of the flesh and we’re not to fulfill the deeds of the flesh, but are to be led by the Spirit.

Solomon is specifically talking about envying a man of violence. So we have to figure out what a man of violence is, and we need to understand it in the context of what he just said. Even though this may look random, Solomon is still talking about taking care of your neighbor from the verses we looked at last week. He’s talking about benevolence and justice. He’s talking about a person that uses violence to get ahead in life, to get what he needs to prosper. This person uses whatever force necessary to gain the advantage over someone that has something he wants. That’s why criminals carry weapons; so they have an advantage over you. Don’t envy this type of person. It doesn’t matter how rich they are or seem to be. It doesn’t matter what they have. How could any Christ follower envy someone like this? I cannot answer that, but it seems God knew there would be a draw to ill gotten gains. Have you ever been not totally honest on your tax return? Ever not give back the extra change? Ever play cops and robbers and everybody wants to be the robbers? Ever play Robin Hood? Ps.140:1 says, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men.” Back in Proverbs, Solomon says, “Do not choose any of his ways.” This gives us an indication that there is a choice. If you were brought up in an environment of criminal activity or other ungodly or unlawful behavior, you don’t have to continue in it. The power of the Gospel can break that cycle.

The conclusion God draws is that, “The devious are an abomination to the Lord.” So the man of violence is also devious. Devious means skillfully using underhanded tactics. This man is dishonest and deceptive. Think about the stereotypical used car salesman. Think about those rent to own places. They are an abomination to the Lord. Is that too harsh? Abomination means inspiring disgust from God. These deceitful, devious, and dishonest people draw God’s disgust. But the contrast is that God, “Is intimate with the upright.” The opposite of the man of violence is the upright, the righteous, the authentic child of God that walks by faith. God has a close relationship, a fellowship, an intimacy with the believer because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Just to make sure you get the separation between God and the unrighteous sinner, Solomon says, “The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked.” This is hardly consistent with those people that wrongly conclude that God is a God of love and that we’re all God’s little children. Apart from Christ, there is no possibility for a relationship with God and those that reject Christ have a curse placed squarely on their house. The word curse in this form surprising only occurs five times in the O.T. Why the hard line on this? Deut. 28:20 says, “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.” Because you have forsaken God. That’s why you do the anti-God things you do. The flip side is, “He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.”

“Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” He gives back what is given Him. Scoff at God and He scoffs back. Scoff means to speak about something in a derisive or contemptuous manner. But grace is given to the afflicted. I don’t want you confused on this. God’s grace is lavished upon every human being, but you can’t disrespect Him, scoff at Him, curse Him, shake your fist at Him, mock Him, curse Him, and have no use for Him and then expect His judgment to be withheld. That is conditional based on our relationship with God through Christ. The assumption is that if you are an authentic child of God, you’d never do those things. James 4:6 quoting Ps. 138:6 says, “He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Grace will take you to the throne room of God and enable you to be an overcomer. The final contrast is, “The wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor.” Who is wise? The one that finds understanding. The one that is lowly or afflicted tying in with the preceding verse. Honor is also translated glory. It is given as an inheritance because of who you know. Once again, the foolish are totally opposite.

True wisdom is from God. The one that finds it is blessed. Don’t be envious of people that seem to be getting ahead in the world from ill gotten gains or from cheating, lying, or stealing. Remember Solomon said that wisdom is far greater than riches and more precious than jewels. Don’t sacrifice the eternal for the temporary.

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