How Not to Disgrace Your Folks


I chose to hunker down in the book of Proverbs for 2013. The wisdom promised as a result motivates me. Anything considered more valuable than jewels and incomparable to anything else I may desire (Prov. 8:11), that I want to acquire in greater quantities.

Recently I progressed in my reading to Proverbs 10, the second table of Solomon’s writings. The wise king’s starting place intrigued me. In one respect, it did not surprise. By and large this book of the Bible exists for young people and their benefit. Just read the first table in chapters one through nine to see quickly what I mean.

In the second table, where the writer moves on to a wide variety of proverbial sayings, he focuses on wisdom as it applies to a son or daughter from a unique perspective. He considers the prospect of a youth’s choices in terms of their impact for good or for ill on the parents. Here’s the text:

A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. 2 Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. 3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. 4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.

Now take it from a father who knows. Parents can do all kinds of things to bring shame on their kids. That’s a different post. This article deals with the other side of the equation. And make no mistake about it, Mr. Middle or High School student, your choices can have enormous ramifications on the Ma and Pa’s psyche. You should care about that. Check out the fifth commandment if you think otherwise. If you turn out wise, you make them glad. If you go the way of a  shipwrecked fool, you bring sorrow and shame. Which do you want? Settle the matter early. Choices you make today impact the kind of person you become tomorrow.

Please note the acid test Solomon immediately goes to in terms of measuring a youth’s wisdom or folly quotient – his or her approach to wealth. No surprise here. Jesus said you can’t serve God and money (Matt. 6:24). As my sidekick in ministry likes to say: time and money tell all. What you do with your time and your money reflects the idols of your heart. The heart always worships what it desires most. Never, never, never, dear teenager, doubt the significance of your disposition toward the almighty dollar.


Solomon cites two virtues related to wealth and its accumulation  that, embraced by the child of a parent (presumably wise as well), will ensure a glad-hearted  response on the part of that parent – integrity and industry. Kids, you can fall off the horse in at least two directions in this money thing. First, you can resort to evil in the name of making a profit. Good luck with that. Deception, fraud, embezzlement, or any other wicked means to line your pocket with Benjamins will not help you on the day you die – only righteousness will. God is not mocked. You sow what you reap (Gal. 6:6-10). Think I heard that preached somewhere recently.


Second, you can care less about acquiring wealth by perfecting the art of laziness. The writer talks about summer and harvest and the like because that connected with the way folks made their living those days in an agricultural society. You can make the jump on your own to our industrial/service age. The issues don’t differ. Diligence is a virtue. As a rule, it makes one wealthy (Prov. 13:4). The Hebrew word for “diligent” is used in Isaiah 41:15 of a threshing instrument that winnows grain well because of its sharpness. Sloth makes you dull. It will lead to poverty. Industry, hard work, showing up on time at your place of employment, laboring hard throughout the day, giving 110% effort – these things, because of your prudence, will see you well taken care of AND make your folks proud rather than ashamed.

So, what’s it going to be? Integrity or shadiness? Industry or sloth? Death or life? It’s not the most important aspect of these questions by a long shot, but it still matters. The difference in your choices will make for deliriously happy parents or dreadfully sad ones. Determine by God’s grace and the power of the gospel of Jesus to do all you can for the former.

Faith's Ultimate Display (Part One)

Today’s message from John 12:1-11 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here’s how I closed:

Because of Mary’s one-of-a-kind act of extravagant devotion, we should believe in Jesus as the Messiah and follow Him with similar commitment.

Make no mistake about it. The choice to believe or not is an intensely personal one and ultimately a sacrificial one, even financially, if money tends to be your idol. Believe in Jesus if you are yet to do so.

And take care in case you are tempted to take comfort in the illusion as a non-believer that at least you have never sold out Jesus like Judas. John MacArthur has an answer for such:

You say, “I never sell Christ. I never betrayed Christ.” Oh yeah, for anybody who doesn’t receive Jesus Christ as Savior, you’re selling Him. Whatever it is that keeps you from inviting Christ into your life is the price that you’re selling Christ for. Some people are selling Christ for money, they want to play around with money, they want to become a financial success and they don’t want Christ horning in on it. Some people are selling Christ for sex, they want to live the kind of immoral life they want to live and so that’s the price they’re selling Christ out for. Some people want to sell Christ out for ambition, others for all kinds of other things, self-glory. Whatever it is that keeps you from receiving Jesus Christ is the price for which you sold Him. It would have been bad enough if Jesus had only been kissed by one Judas, He’s been kissed a thousand-thousand times the same way.

With what kind of kisses are we kissing the cheek of the Lord Jesus?

Not Your Average State of Happiness

No question about it. The way James describes blessedness doesn’t fit the average American definition. Consider James 1:2-12.

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James promotes a living faith – a faith that works (see James 2:26). Genuine faith manifests itself in a lifestyle of wise speaking and acting in all of life’s facets. These verses in chapter one address how faith works to persevere under trial. He gives four principles to guide the believer.

First, reckon your joy (2-4). Count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds. We are to calculate the immense value of trials such that we delight, not in their pain, but in the profit they yield. What profit? For you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. We are to let steadfastness have its full effect that we might become spiritually mature. That’s worth delighting in. God uses trials to grow us in the likeness of Jesus.

Second, request your wisdom (5-8). If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. Who doesn’t lack wisdom? We all do, particularly when it comes to how to navigate a trial so that we make the most of the opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. So pray. Remember two things when you do. God loves to give wisdom (5b) and don’t doubt that fact for a second (6-8).

Third, release your wealth (9-11). Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation. One great source of trials in life comes in the form of money, either too little or too much of it. James levels the playing field for both ends of the spectrum by urging right thinking about wealth. If you are poor, exalt in your spiritual riches. If you are rich, remember it will all pass away. The focus needs to be on the spiritual, not the material. How important is that in these difficult economic times in which we live?

Fourth, relish your perseverance (12). That brings us back to his beatitude, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. There is a present benefit to steadfastness in trial as we saw in vv. 2-4. But there is a future, eschatological one as well. Those who persevere receive a crown of life in heaven! It goes to those who love God. And those who love Him keep His commandments even when it proves costly. They never abandon their faith.

Oswald Chambers gave this counsel:

Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us.

And it is trust that often imagines how greatly He will reward us.

Take care that your pursuit of happiness is not conformed to the world but rather transformed by the renewing of your mind in passages like James 1:2-12.