One Who Seeks Only Rebellion
Proverbs 17:9-11 ESV
“Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding
than a hundred blows into a fool.
An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”
Although I realize that the Proverbs are a collection of individual sayings, and so they may not always all fit together in the same context, I believe I am to clump these three together for a reason, which should become clear.
Although the Hebrew word for “love” here is not as clearly defined as the word “agape” is for the word “love” in the New Testament, I believe that, from the context, we can ascertain that this is an unselfish love that considers what is best for the one receiving such love as this.
So, with that understanding, this is not talking about covering up evil, nor is it talking about ignoring sinful practices, or abuse of a loved one, or something done illegally or immorally that is causing others harm. This would not be acting in love toward anyone, to protect and/or to justify (see v. 15) the wicked, while condemning the innocent and/or the righteous to a life of abuse at the hands of those who are living sinful lifestyles.
This (v. 9), I believe, has to do with forgiving others for minor offenses, letting them pass, and that we shouldn’t go run to our friends and gossip about what that person may have (or not) done to us. The loving thing to do, if it matters, is to confront the one who did you wrong, and to try to reconcile that situation just between the two of you, if that is at all possible.
The Proper Counsel
But, this is not the proper counsel for repeated offenses that are done willfully, knowingly and that willfully cause others harm, and/or that put others, especially the innocent, in danger (see v. 15). We should forgive them, but we should not ignore the offense or do or say nothing about it. Even though a fool may ignore the rebuke, the Bible talks about how we need to rescue people from the fire and turn sinners from their sinful ways.
We shouldn’t be cruel in our approach, though we may have to speak strongly, at times, in order to get those who seek after rebellion to turn from their wicked ways. But, if they keep refusing God, and if they refuse to turn from their evil ways and to do good, i.e. to obey God, then God will one day send a cruel messenger against them in judgment, whether it be now, or whether it be when he comes to judge all the people of the earth.
He Who Justifies the Wicked
Proverbs 17:13-15 ESV
“If anyone returns evil for good,
evil will not depart from his house.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
This is good counsel here in how we should respond to those who do us evil. We should not trade tit for tat. We should not get even and do to them as they did to us. Vengeance belongs to God, not to us!
Although we might righteously get angry at injustice and at hearing of some people harming others, especially if they are harming the innocent who are not able to protect themselves, we should not take matters into our own hands and try to play God. We are not God!
But, like I discussed in the section above, that doesn’t mean we do nothing or that we say nothing and that we let the sin continue and the innocent to continue to suffer because of it.
That would be like supporting and justifying the wicked while condemning the innocent to a life of suffering at the hands of the wicked. So, we don’t repay evil with evil, but with good. But, on the other hand, we don’t ignore evil and let it go on if there is anything we can do to stop it, either.
The Wise and Discerning
Proverbs 17:24 ESV
“The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”
So, all of this we have just talked about requires us to be discerning people. But, we can’t be spiritually discerning if we are filling our eyes, ears and minds with the junk of this world. We can’t be spending our free time absorbed with TV shows, movies, secular music, video games, surfing the NET, Facebook, and viewing random YouTube videos, and especially porn.
We have to be filling our minds, eyes and ears with what is holy, righteous, pure, good, moral, upright, honest, loving and kind, etc. And, we have to be students of God’s Word, not just in taking it into our minds, but via applying its truths to our daily walks of faith, if we are going to be spiritually discerning with regard to what is evil and what is good, and with regard to what is of God and what is not.
And, then we have to pray for spiritual discernment. But, then we have to be ready to obey what the Lord shows us or we are like someone double-minded who is unstable in all he does, like someone on a teeter-totter, going up and down continually. Or we are like someone who looks at himself in a mirror and then immediately walks away and forgets what he looks like.
For, the wise and the discerning listen to the Lord, and they walk in his ways and in his truth. They don’t turn their ears away from the truth to a cheap grace gospel which allows them to continue on in their sinful practices without guilt. For, when they abandon the right way, and they leave the right path (the narrow way) to go after a path of least resistance, they are not wise, and they are not discerning. They are foolish, the Bible says.
Minds Set on The Flesh
For, taking the easy way just opens the door for people to live foolishly, indulging in all manner of evil, going the way of the flesh instead of the way of God. But, our flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. Thus, the Spirit does not coddle the flesh or make allowances for it and then call it “grace.” That is not grace! That is hell!
For, the eyes of the foolish are on the things of this earth – the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. And, those who follow after these are going to end up the same place, and it isn’t heaven. For those who walk according to their flesh are going to die in their sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
For, the reality is that God is still on the throne. He is still in control. He is truthful and he is completely faithful. And, what he has said he will do, he will do. So, we may build our kingdoms of men here on this earth, but one day it is all going to pass away, and if that is what we put our hope in, we will pass away with it.
So, don’t let your sinful lifestyle continue, for if you do, you are living contrary to the will of God, and your flesh is your god, not the true God. Fulfilling the lusts of your flesh is your idol, not living to please God with your life. And, one day you are going to stand before God and you will have to account to God for what you did with him and with his salvation and with his grace, and you are going to reap what you have sown on this earth.
So, don’t follow the ways of your flesh. Follow the ways of God. Trust God fully with your life, and believe that his way is not only the best way, but it is the ONLY way to peace with God and to eternity with God in heaven. So, let the Lord lead you in the way that he would have you go, because his way is perfect, and only his way will result in eternal life with God.
All The Way My Savior Leads Me
Lyrics by Frances J Crosby, pub. 1875
Music by Robert Lowry, pub. 1875
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
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