Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Proverbs 25:15-19 eat just enough

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, May 29, 2019

15 With patience a ruler can be persuaded,
  and a soft tongue can break a bone.

True patience is a virtue that few people understand. God created us to give him glory and to serve one another, but almost everyone wants to be served and not to serve. But what does “love your neighbor as yourself” mean to a Christian (Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27), if not being willing to do or to put up with anything in order to win your neighbor’s soul for Christ? The vast majority of social work done in the world is done so that the volunteer who does the work will feel that they have made someone’s earthly life a little better. But the soul that suffers agony in hell doesn’t care a whit about soup kitchens or pennies given to beggars. He begs (ἐρωτῶ) for someone in heaven to go back to preach the gospel to his family so that they won’t suffer in hell, too (Luke 16:27). Couple this kind of patience—the patience to share the gospel without giving up on a person—with the problem of facing a ruler, or with someone who acts like a ruler. In our culture, we have something like this in that brand of person who thinks that they are entitled to having whatever they want and who never had to work for anything. The evangelist who encounters this spoiled brat will have his work cut out for him, because the initial Christian love is soon splattered with disgust and frustration. It’s far easier to throw up your hands and say, “I tried!” But the spoiled brat is a soul Jesus died for, too. And they, too, have bones to be crushed with the law (Psalm 51:8). There is true healing to be had from the gospel of forgiveness. “Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed. Save me, and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14 EHV).

16 If you find honey, eat just enough,
  otherwise you will have too much and vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house,
  otherwise he will tire of you and hate you.

Know when to stop. Know when to go. Being moderate in what you eat and in physical visits to your neighbor also carries over into our consumption of other literature besides the Holy Scriptures. There was a time when we cautioned our people about reading the Apocrypha because there are some passages that are confusing (like keeping a fish’s gall, heart and liver as medicine, Tobit 6:5; 8:2). But what romance novels or thrillers are truly more wholesome reading than 1 Maccabees or The Wisdom of Solomon? And the more time you spend between the pages of a Robert Heinlein novel, or the works of Marcel Proust, Jack London, Jean-Paul Sartre or Virginia Woolf, the more you will discover that they and others like them truly despise you and your faith. Like TV’s “Science Guy,” they would do anything at all to crush your faith and to outlaw Christianity. They want to scorch your faith as if they were burning weeds. Run back to Moses and Paul, and let your faith and your love of Jesus be healed and nurtured.

18 Like a club,
  like a sword,
  like a sharp arrow,
  is a man who answers his neighbor with false testimony.
19 Like a bad tooth,
  like a foot that slips,
  is trust in the unfaithful in a time of trouble.

These two proverbs line up five similes with an untrustworthy or undependable neighbor. The Assyrians warned Hezekiah, “Are you really trusting in Egypt to be your staff, that splintered reed that will pierce the hand of anyone who leans on it?” (Isaiah 36:6 EHV). Being careful with your trust in human neighbors is good, but these proverbs also warn us about listening to those who preach and teach false doctrine. The radio is filled with music and messages that sound Christian on channels that call themselves Christian. But more often than not, the message is about the basics of the sanctified life, and not about the details of sin and grace. We need to hear the message of sin and grace, so that we can confess, “You have thrown all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17 EHV). Anyone who has ever stood at the grave of a loved one and had to listen to a preacher or a speaker who didn’t believe in the resurrection understands: Run away from false teachers! Pull them out of your life like a bad tooth.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



Browse Devotion Archive