As we continue in this great book, we now come to Chapter 6. Again, a lot of the same language and themes- think of years of reminders and instructions. You never leave the fundamentals. Don't rush over these as you read- ponder proverbs and pray that they resonante in your heart.
But where Ch 5 tends to lean toward warnings about adultery, Ch. 6 tends to lean more toward principles of money and business. The Bible has a lot to say about the use of money, stewardship, and principles that lead to a prosperous and honest business.
It begins with the danger of debt. It is not wrong to borrow per se- but it is unwise to guarantee a debt because it is dependent on promises that can be outside the guarantor's ability to control. And the more a person lives under debt, the more they are out of control. If we are not careful- the trappings of financial dealings can put us in a situation where we are a slave to mammon and not free to be under the control of God's desire for our lives. We should always live to be a slave only to Christ and not bound by money. I have always taken this as: 1) Give to the Lord 2) Live on less than I make (no consumer interest other than my mortgage) and 3) pay my bills on time. This is so appropriate because of the danger we are under as a nation because of the huge debt we have that is owned by foreign countries, some who would be considered as hostile.
The passage also points to hard work as the key to provision. There is no such thing as a short-cut to success. I love the passage about considering the work ethic of the ant. I believe that discipline is greatly ties to motivation and real motivation is directly tied to your relationship with God. Ultimately, the greatest pressure to improve discipline comes from the inside desire to glorify Christ. The ability to work hard and SMART comes with age. What is it about getting older that allows us to need less sleep and work harder? But we have to be self starters and decide that nothing done for the Lord is ever in vain (I Corin. 15:58) so we should be diligent to press hard in building Christ's kingdom. I know from Scripture that God is pleased with hard and honest work- but He wants it to be in the proper priority (no idol service) and always lubricated with the lotion of love.
A BIG ONE, the need to deal honestly in business. This theme will be highlighted later as a call for honest scales. But the passage is clear- the con man may steal for a season- but destruction is always at the end of ill gotten gain. I think we will be shocked at the Lord's anger toward all the times His children were scammed over the years- the carpet-baggers will be just as much under his wrath as the drug dealers and war mongers. All the shady dealings will be brought to light and it will not be a pretty sight.
And we have ANOTHER passage on adultery here. I thought about titling this chapter: God knows money and Solomon knew women. We know the narrative about King Solomon- the many wives and concubines and how foreign wives distracted and deadened his heart toward God. Multiplying wives was NOT part of God's law, but He patiently allowed it as David and Solomon chose to follow the pattern of the world here. And we know that both men were taken down by failure in this area. What will the end of history show here about how many men were ruined by ignoring God's boundaries here?
But of all the passages on the seductress- this one reads to me the most poetic and most compelling. In fact this is a beautiful chapter in terms of imagery throughout. One remarkable distinction shown in this chapter is the deadly consequences of adultery in terms of how it can lead to murder.
"The price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread but a married woman hunts down a precious life." This verse is not saying prostitution is a little sin- it is saying it is little COMPARED to the cost of destroying a marriage.
"Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?" I have always attached this thought with an application today to pornography. If the seductress leads to destruction and death- how can any person not light that deadly fire by viewing pornography? I mentioned in yesterday's devotion that the battle must be won in the mind- pornography is a slam dunk mental loss and it pollutes. It keeps us from enjoying the intimacy of marital relations in joy and purity and it pressurizes the temptation to break the covenantal commitments.
Years ago we had a godly man in our small group confess to an addiction to pornography. You know men's group- we sit around and lie to one another for about 3 months and then one day someone gets real and healing begins. This man, with prayer, support, and accountability overcame this sin and escaped the potential consequences. I could write in more detail about the nature of this sin- but this is not the correct forum to do so. But my experience (with all of the sins we like to hide) is to expose it is first step to victory- let the light shine on this area. Don't broadcast it on you tube- but find a small group of people (or 1 person) who love you and confess it. Then begin the process of victory utilizing the power of Scripture and godly accountability to break the sin cycle. The ultimate win comes through deeply understanding the gospel and finding real forgiveness at the cross.
My prayer is that all of us find the 'expulsive power of a new affection' and the love of Christ and the grace of God and the intimacy with the Holy Spirit allows us to enjoy healthy marriages and run our homes in financial security and meaningful relationships. May our 'affairs' in the marketplace be just and righteous dealings with all people .
ALL SIN DESTROYS and we should be diligent to root it out of our lives. Proverbs is godly wisdom of warning signs and provides a road map to life!