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Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Proverbs. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Day 31 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Deovotional


Day 31  If you choose to get married, the person you choose will be the greatest influencing factor in your life.  Marriage is far deeper than romantic feelings and passion. It is a partnership for life.  It is two people becoming one flesh.  It is a symbol of Christ's love for His church.  Choose wisely or choose not to marry.

Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs 31:10-12
10-12 A really good wife is a truly rare treasure.  She’s worth more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her with his whole heart and she blesses his life.  She helps and never hurts him all the days of her life.

Everyone puts a lot of pressure on you to get married and they have all these oversimplified sentiments about marriage that have very little to do with the reality of married life.  Don't fall for the world's folly.  A wise person knows marriage is not required (Jesus never married).  It is perfectly normal and acceptable and often best to remain single and celibate.  If you choose to marry, choose a godly spouse who shares your core values and compliments you well.  Love your spouse like Jesus loves you.  They are the single most important thing in your life--more important than your kids, your job, your friends, your family, your hobbies, your possessions, or anything else.  A really good wife (or husband) is a truly rare treasure.

Prayer
"Loving God, you know everything about me and my spouse.  Help us to love each other the way You love us so we can help each other become all that You want us to be.  Amen."

Read Proverbs Chapter 31
New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

1 The words of King Lemuel, the [a]oracle which his mother taught him:

2 What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

3 Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,

5 For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the [b]rights of all the [c]afflicted.

6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him [d]whose life is bitter.

7 Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
For the [e]rights of all the [f]unfortunate.

9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And [g]defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Description of a Worthy Woman

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her [h]hands [i]in delight.

14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And [j]portions to her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
From [k]her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She girds [l]herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her [m]hands grasp the spindle.

20 She [n]extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And [o]supplies belts to the [p]tradesmen.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the [q]future.

26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the [r]teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who [s]fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.


Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 31:1 Or burden
  2. Proverbs 31:5 Lit judgment
  3. Proverbs 31:5 Lit sons of affliction
  4. Proverbs 31:6 Lit bitter of soul
  5. Proverbs 31:8 Lit judgment
  6. Proverbs 31:8 Lit sons of passing away
  7. Proverbs 31:9 Lit judge the afflicted
  8. Proverbs 31:13 Lit palms
  9. Proverbs 31:13 Or willingly
  10. Proverbs 31:15 Or prescribed tasks
  11. Proverbs 31:16 Lit the fruit of her palms
  12. Proverbs 31:17 Lit her loins
  13. Proverbs 31:19 Lit palms
  14. Proverbs 31:20 Lit spreads out her palm
  15. Proverbs 31:24 Lit gives
  16. Proverbs 31:24 Lit Canaanite
  17. Proverbs 31:25 Lit latter days
  18. Proverbs 31:26 Or law
  19. Proverbs 31:30 Or reverences
  20. Proverbs 31:31 Lit fruit
Proverbs 31

The Sayings of King Lemuel

1-3 Here’s an oracle King Lemuel’s mom taught him:
What would I say to the son I carried in my womb, the one I dedicated to God?  Don’t waste your time on women or throw away your life as a king.

4-7 Lemuel, it’s not good for kings to drink a lot of wine or for rulers to crave alcohol.  Their drinking may make them break their own laws or violate the rights of those in their care.  Alcohol is for people who are dying; wine is for people with a heavy heart.  They drink to forget their worries and troubles.

8-9 Speak up for those who are powerless; fight for the rights of the forgotten.  Speak up, do the right thing, and make sure the poor and needy are treated fair.

A Really Good Wife

10-12 A really good wife is a truly rare treasure.  She’s worth more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her with his whole heart and she blesses his life.  She helps and never hurts him all the days of her life.

13-18 She buys the best raw materials and enjoys making things by hand.  She’s like the delivery man that brings surprise packages from far, far away; she brings the best, most delightfully unexpected food you can’t hardly ever get.  She gets up before the sun’s even out to start cooking for her family and she organizes the day’s events for the girls who’ll be helping her.  She inspects property and buys it; she invests her money in a profitable vineyard.  She’s a healthy, tireless hard worker.  She works late into the night to make sure her investments payoff.

19-25 She keeps her hands busy on the spindle spinning thread.  She is generous to the poor and warmly welcomes those who are in need.  She’s not afraid of snow because her family is warmly dressed in the very best clothing.  She puts together the best outfits, her’s are the finest material in splendid colors.  Her husband stands out to everyone in town and is welcome among the most important people in town.  She also sells fine clothing and supplies scarfs to the merchants.  She wears strength and dignity like a beautiful dress and joyfully looks forward to a very bright future.

26-27 Wisdom pours out every time she opens her mouth and her words shows everyone how to be kind. She’s never lazy. She manages her household well.

28-29 Her children proudly stand to bless her; her husband praises her too:  “Of all the good women in the world, you are the very best of all!”

30-31 A charming woman can mislead you and her physical beauty is an empty virtue, but a woman who reveres the Lord shines with His glorious splendor.




New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Day 11 of Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Devotional


Day 11  Cultivate generosity. Be as generous as you can in as many ways as you can to as many people as you can. A generous person is a joyful, satisfied person. They always feel like they're living an abundant life. They bless others and people bless them for their generosity. Generous people inspire generosity in others and others are generous with them. Of course, there will be those who are not appreciative, who never say thanks, or that take your generosity for granted. Be generous anyway because the benefits for you and others will always outweigh the negative. And stingy, greedy people who cling to what they have with clenched fists will never really be happy or satisfied. People won't like them that much and they will live a sad, unfulfilled life that comes to nothing of eternal consequence.

Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 11:24-30
24 People who spread generosity widely gain even more.  Those who cling to what they have, never have enough.

25 A soul that blesses will be satisfied with more than enough and the person who refreshes others will be refreshed.

26 People will hate on those who refuse to sell them food when they’re starving, but they will sing the praises of those who sell it at a fair price.

27 Someone who always tries to do good is admired; but if you try to do evil, it will catch you in its claws.

28 People who rely on their wealth will meet with disaster, but those who do what’s right blossom like flowers in the spring.

29 People that always aggravate their family won’t inherit anything.  Fools end up slaving for the wise.

30 People who live right are rewarded with life and those who win souls are wise.

Prayer
"Father, help me to be generous.  Help me to see and feel that I have more than enough already and so be willing to give freely.  Help me to keep my eyes open to the many opportunities to give generously.  And help me to be generous in as many ways as I can and as often as I can for You have been so generous with me.  Amen."
Read Proverbs Chapter 11
New American Standard Bible
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase
Proverbs 11
Contrast of the Upright and the Wicked
1 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.
7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of strong men perishes.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked [a]takes his place.
9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.
11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.
12 He who despises his neighbor lacks [b]sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent.
13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is [c]trustworthy conceals a matter.
14 Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is [d]victory.
15 He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates [e]being a guarantor is secure.
16 A gracious woman attains honor,
And ruthless men attain riches.
17 The merciful man does [f]himself good,
But the cruel man [g]does himself harm.
18 The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.
19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.
20 The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their [h]walk are His delight.
21 [i]Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the [j]descendants of the righteous will be delivered.
22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks [k]discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.
25 The [l]generous man will be [m]prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
26 He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
27 He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.
28 He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.
29 He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise [n]wins souls.
31 If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth,
How much more the wicked and the sinner!

Footnotes:
1.    Proverbs 11:8 Lit enters
2.    Proverbs 11:12 Lit heart
3.    Proverbs 11:13 Lit faithful of spirit
4.    Proverbs 11:14 Lit deliverance
5.    Proverbs 11:15 Lit those who strike hands
6.    Proverbs 11:17 Lit good to his own soul
7.    Proverbs 11:17 Lit troubles his flesh
8.    Proverbs 11:20 Lit way
9.    Proverbs 11:21 Lit Hand to hand
10.  Proverbs 11:21 Lit seed
11.  Proverbs 11:22 Lit taste
12.  Proverbs 11:25 Lit soul of blessing
13.  Proverbs 11:25 Lit made fat
14.  Proverbs 11:30 Lit takes
Proverbs 11
1 It disgusts the Lord when people cheat, but He is delighted when people are honest.
2 Arrogance leads to disgrace; those who are wise are humble.
3 Honest people do the right thing because of their integrity, but shady people are ruined by their own crooked ways.
4 Money is useless on the day of judgment, but living right can save you from death.
5 The way innocent people live keeps them out of trouble, but the ungodly are brought down by their own evil deeds.
6 Godly people are saved by the good things they do, but the misconduct of deceivers land them in jail.
7 An ungodly person’s hope is lost when they finally die; their lives come to nothing.
8 People who obey God steer away from trouble, while those who do wrong head right to it.
9 Godless hypocrites say things that ruin their friends, but God saves those who carefully obey Him.
10 The whole community celebrates when God’s people do well and they shout for joy when the wicked lose.
11 A city becomes a model when it's blessed with people who live right, but it can all be ruined by the toxic things bad people say.
12 It’s senseless to be rude to people.  A smart person just doesn’t say anything.
13 A gossip is someone who goes around sharing everyone’s private business.  Someone who’s trustworthy will keep quiet.
14 A community fails without wise leaders to guide; it succeeds when there are many smart leaders guiding people.
15 It’s too risky to cosigning a loan for someone you don’t really know.  Be safe and don’t do it.
16 A gracious woman maintains her honor and a strong man maintains his wealth.
17 It’s rewarding to be kind; cruelty hurts you as much as anyone else.
18 Whatever rewards the ungodly earn are really thin air, but those who do the right thing will be richly blessed.
19 People who always do the right thing will live, but people who chase evil will find it and die.
20 A perverse heart is disgusting to Lord Jehovah, but the innocent bring a smile to His face.
21 You can take this to the bank: people won’t get away with evil forever, but the descendants of those who live right will be saved.
22 A beautiful woman with no class is like a muddy pig wearing a golden nose ring.
23 People who really want to live right find goodness, but all the ungodly can hope for is fury.
24 People who spread generosity widely gain even more.  Those who cling to what they have, never have enough.
25 A soul that blesses will be satisfied with more than enough and the person who refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People will hate on those who refuse to sell them food when they’re starving, but they will sing the praises of those who sell it at a fair price.
27 Someone who always tries to do good is admired; but if you try to do evil, it will catch you in its claws.
28 People who rely on their wealth will meet with disaster, but those who do what’s right blossom like flowers in the spring.
29 People that always aggravate their family won’t inherit anything.  Fools end up slaving for the wise.
30 People who live right are rewarded with life and those who win souls are wise.
31 If people who live right are rewarded in this life, what do you think will happen to wicked sinners?
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs (PCP)
Copyright © 2018 by Chris Mullis

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Preface to Pastor Chris' Paraphrase of Proverbs Devotion

Preface
My first Bible paraphrasing project was a study of Gospel passages about the birth of Christ. The Birth of Christ was so rewarding I wanted to do another. I chose the book of Proverbs for my second project for several reasons.

First of all, Proverbs is quite a bit longer and more challenging than the birth narratives of Christ. This paraphrase of Proverbs is at least eight times longer than The Birth of Christ. However, the challenge is more than just the length. The witty, symbolic, and poetic meanings in Proverbs are far more difficult to translate than the narrative stories of Christ’s birth. Yet, having already successfully accomplished the easier project, I wanted something more challenging.

Second (and most important), I need more practical wisdom in my life. Wisdom is more than education. It’s more than book knowledge. It’s far more than knowing things. Wisdom is even more than knowing right from wrong. I have known wise people who were not very intelligent (and perhaps a few who were not even very noble). Yet, a truly wise person seems to have an uncanny ability to do the right thing in the right way at the right time. Who wouldn’t want more of that kind of wisdom? Proverbs teaches it and we can grow in this wisdom as we spend time with God while we read, study, and live out the Proverbs in these pages daily.

There is a third reason I chose the book of Proverbs. The book has a nice symmetry that lends itself to daily devotion. My friend, Tom Kazniki (who has since passed away), was the first person to point out to me the symmetry in Proverbs. There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs and thirty-one days in most months, making a natural rhythm to read one Proverb each day of the month. That was Tom’s daily devotion. I have followed his pattern as I studied Proverbs over the last year.

A Word About Translations and Paraphrases
I should add a short explanation about the difference between a Bible translation and a Bible paraphrase. A good translation starts with the most ancient and accurate copies of the biblical manuscripts available in the original languages and then carefully evaluates the differences and translates them into English (or whatever language is desired). Emphasis is on accurately translating the words and meanings of the original authors into English. A translation is far more accurate and reliable than a paraphrase. The struggle of the biblical translator is that words and phrases from ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic do not always translate directly into English. For instance, Jesus and his father Joseph are called carpenters. In the original Greek, Mark 6:3 calls Joseph a 'tekton'. A tekton is a builder, usually of houses. Most houses today are made of wood so it makes sense to translate 'tekton' as carpenter. But in Jesus day, a builder of houses usually worked in stone or mud and there wasn't much wood around with which to work. So maybe it might be better to say Jesus and Joseph were stone masons, but that doesn't really get it either. And this is just one of the easy translation problems. The work of translators can get really, really tricky. Add to this that other languages use words in different orders than the way we use them in English. For example:
  • In English, the verb follows immediately after the noun.
  • In German the verb at the end of the sentence comes.
  • Appears the verb in Greek at the beginning of the sentence.
So, translators can't translate the Bible word for word from the original language to English or we wouldn't be able to understand it. Translators have to strike a balance between making the translation as accurate as possible and as readable as possible. Modern translations fall somewhere between two ideals. There is the word for word translation, which tries to keep everything as literal as possible and sacrifices readability for accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum is a thought for thought translation, which tries to translate the thought or idea and sacrifices word accuracy for readability and to make the passage easier to understand.

With a paraphrase, the author takes a translation of the Bible and puts it into his or her own words. The author of a paraphrase usually does not start with the Bible in its original languages--Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. It is more common for a paraphrase to come from an English translation that is rephrased into the author's own words. My process was to compare a passage from Proverbs in several English versions (NRSV, NASB, KJV, NLT, NIV, and YLT) and then rephrase the passage according to how I would say it in my own words. Often, I looked up the meaning of the original Hebrew words my Strong’s Concordance to better understand what I thought the author was trying to say so I could try to put that in words that make sense to us today. However, a paraphrase does not do the more difficult and scholarly work of studying all the most ancient fragments, manuscripts, and copies of the Bible that exist in their original languages and translating the Bible into English. Therefore, a paraphrase is not as accurate as a translation. A paraphrase can be helpful in seeing the Scripture from a different perspective or shedding more light on a passage, but we should never rely on a paraphrase to replace or change the meaning of a passage. A translation is just more accurate and reliable than a paraphrase in almost every aspect. Furthermore, the risk of a paraphrase is that it can introduce the author's own ideas, perspectives, theology, and bias into the Scripture.

The New Living Translation is one of my favorite translations of Scripture. I value it’s thought-for- thought style for easy reading and understanding. Furthermore, the creators of the NLT compiled an impressive and diverse team of translators to guard against theological bias into their version. However, for this project, I chose to feature the New American Standard Bible (NASB) because it is a strict word for word translation that seeks to render the original passages as literally as possible. The NASB’s translation style leads to one of the most accurate translations of the Bible, but it can also make passages more difficult to understand for the contemporary reader. The NASB was the logical choice to parallel my paraphrase. You can read a very accurate and reliable Bible translation in the left column and look to my paraphrase to shed more light in the right column.

Acknowledgments
I would like to make several acknowledgements. First of all, I want to thank my Lord, Jesus Christ, who continues to lead and speak to me as I study His Bible. His Word is alive and powerful. I am blessed every time I dig deeply into it. My journey through Proverbs has been no exception. It has brought me closer to Christ as I walked with Him through Proverbs every morning.

Second, I am thankful to the congregation of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. Their support enables me to earn a living as I pursue the Lord and share His guidance with as many as I can. What a blessing and privilege to do something I love and live out my calling as a child of God and a minister of the Gospel. Working as their minister gives me the time and encourages the discipline needed to complete projects like this paraphrase. I am very grateful.

I also want to acknowledge the many people who read my daily paraphrase postings on social media. Their words of affirmation spurred me on to continue and expand my work, knowing my own discoveries were an encouragement to others as well. It brought me joy to share my personal journey with a wider community of faith.

Finally, I want to acknowledge my amazing wife who’s honesty, love, and support are a deep blessing and constant encouragement. The thoughts, prayers, and paraphrases in these pages were mostly written early in the morning after we both had a cup of coffee. We would sit together on the couch of our living room together for a few minutes to start the day. Then, I would begin my study as she went to get ready for work. Dressed in her nursing scrubs, she would head off to the hospital NICU to serve her tiny little patients and their parents as I typed on the computer. She is a blessing to so many and especially to me.

Monday, March 26, 2018

As Sheep Among Wolves, part 4 - Listening vs. Scoffing

Introduction
            On Sunday, we had a confirmation ceremony at my church.  Three young "confirmands" completed a six-week course on the basics of Christianity and then chose to publicly confirm their faith in Jesus Christ in front of our congregation on Palm Sunday.  I was so proud of these three young people between the ages of 11 and 12.  They were very attentive throughout the course--listening and learning. 
            Jesus said we should emulate the faith of a child (like my confirmands who were so attentive to learn and accept Jesus by faith).  Their attitudes are quite a contrast to the religious leaders when Jesus rode into Jerusalem the week before Passover.  You can read the full Palm Sunday story here in John 12:12-19.  Although crowds of children and ordinary people were amazed by Jesus' teachings and the miracles (even raising Lazarus from the dead after he'd been in a tomb for four days), the religious leaders scoffed.  They couldn't or wouldn't believe in Jesus.  Even though they espoused to worship and serve God, they dismissed God's Son as a fraud.
            Jesus knew there would be many who scoff at our faith. It doesn't matter to them that we have experienced the life changing power of God or that our faith in Jesus has changed our lives forever for the better.  They will still scoff and dismiss us and our beliefs.  Many will even labor to destroy us because they feel threatened by how we live and what we teach.  Always remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:16-20; we are sheep living among wolves.

Matthew 10:16-20
16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.[a] 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

The Amazing Rise of Christianity and the Scoffers Who Dismiss It
            Though the religious leaders of Jesus day tried to get rid of Jesus and then his followers, Christianity grew exponentially.  The persecutions, arrests, and murder of early Christians only caused believers to move to new cities where they persisted in teaching people about Jesus Christ and more and more people became followers.  The Christian faith would have died with it's leader Jesus if it was only of human origins.  Since, however, it was God's plan for His people, the Christian faith endured and today more people follow Jesus than any other religious leader.
            There always have been and always will be those who feel threatened by true Christian faith and just want to explain it away.  Even today, when a passionate church or Christian movement grows rapidly, there are scoffers who try to blow it off saying, "There's nothing to it.  It's just a fad and it will fade away."  When John Wesley led a revival of the Church of England in the 1700s, people dismissed the early Methodist movement as a bunch of religious fanatics.  However, people's lives were truly changed.  Drunks put away their liquor, thieves became honest men, Christians gave to the poor, visited the sick and dying and those who were in prison.  The whole fabric of society in England and America was changed for the better as Christians took their faith in Jesus seriously and loved God and their neighbor with their whole hearts.  Yet even then, there were people who scoffed; and there are people who scoff at vital Christianity today too.  "There's nothing to it," they say.  "They're just a bunch of religious fanatics and hypocrites."
            Proverbs, the book of God's wisdom, teaches again and again that scoffing is the enemy of true wisdom.  We must guard ourselves and maintain a childlike faith and not become scoffers like the religious leaders of Jesus day.  So in this blog, I want to examine the difference between scoffing and listening.

Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 13:1 – A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a scoffer doesn’t even hear it.

Scoffing - Lus לוּץ or Liys - לִיץ
            No, I'm not talking about scoffing down your food!  The Hebrew word for scoffing (Lus or Liys) literally means “to make mouths at.”  Scoffing is to speak with a sarcastic tone, to deride, mock, or scorn.  Scoffing is like the stereotypical teenager rolling their eyes when their parents give a lecture because, you know, "my parents are dumb and know absolutely nothing."  When we scoff, we don't listen.  We've decided a person is not even worth listening to.  And so, we can't learn from them because we've already decided they have nothing worthwhile to offer.

Listening - Šâma' - שָׁמַע
            The opposite of scoffing in Hebrew is Sama.  It means to hear.  However, it's more than just detecting sound.  Sama means to hear intelligently, carefully consider, and to listen and obey.  The only way to learn is to listen, deeply contemplate what you've heard, and put it into practice.
            If we are to be truly wise in this wolf infested world, we've got to stop scoffing and start listening.  So I want to give you some practical advise on how to avoid being a scoffer.  Listen to these principles.  Remember and put them into practice in your life.

Practical Application
            First, always try to think the best of others and be respectful.  When you mock someone, you dehumanize them.  When you look at someone on the other end of the political spectrum and say (or think in your heart), "They're just a bleeding heart 'libtard' who doesn't know anything!", you are no longer thinking of them as a person.  They aren't a child of God to you anymore; they're just a label, an enemy on the wrong side of a war.  You do the same if you say (or think), "They're just a backwards thinking conservative clinging to their guns and religion."  You are scoffing at someone's deeply held beliefs and writing them off as unworthy of your mental attention and respect.  And if we go down that road too far, it doesn't take long before we arrive at genocide and holocaust. Once you stop seeing people as worthy of love and respect, it's a lot easier to just see them as problems to be eliminated.
            And here's the thing, mocking people will affect all your relationships negatively—even unintended ones.  When you mock your boss, your employees, your co-workers, or anyone you dislike or disagree with, it bleeds over into your relationships with people you really care about.  Soon you'll find you're being sarcastically disrespectful with your spouse, your children, and your friends.  You just can't seem to help it and you don't know why.  When a scornful spirit takes residence in your heart, it poisons everything that comes out even when you don't want it to.
            So be humble and empathetic.  Try to understand how others feel and why they think the way they do.  You don't have to agree with them or condone their actions, but you do have to care about them and love them.  You have to respect others if you want others to respect you and take you seriously.  People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

            Second, keep an open mind.  You can learn from anyone—even those you disagree with and those who are just plain wrong.  You don't have to agree with a person or point of view to learn it and understand it better.  And if you have learned an idea you disagree with, you have still learned something.  I have often found listening to someone I disagree with helps me better understand why I believe what I do.  Usually, I learn more from those I disagree with than those I do.
            There is a way you can be right and still be wrong.  Does that seem like a contradiction?  It's true, you can be right and still be wrong.  How?  Well, how you disagree is as important as why you disagree.  If you disagree and do so by belittling, disrespecting, or scoffing, you actions are wrong even if your ideas are right.  God doesn't want us to be scoffers--even if we believe the right things.
            One example of the right way to disagree is a time Rev. Billy Graham (a Christian evangelist) met with Woody Allen (a self-professed agnostic).  They had a delightful conversation about their opposing views on television several decades ago.  Graham disagreed quite frankly with Allen and clearly articulates his position and yet also does it with grace and love.  Graham makes it very clear that he loves and respects Woody Allen even though they disagree.  Allen obviously appreciates and respects Graham for his attitude.  You can watch the exchange on video here.
 
            Third, listen more and talk less.  Remember God gave you two ears and only one mouth, so you ought to listen twice as much as you talk.  Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 13:10 says, "People too proud to listen always get into drama, but those who listen to counsel wisely avoid it."  And Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 18:13 says, "Speaking about something before fully listening is just stupid and brings humiliation."
            You already know your point of view, but you only “think” you know someone else’s.  It’s not going to hurt you to set your own point of view aside for a few moments so you can really listen and understand someone else’s.  Just listening and truly understanding another's opinion (even if you deeply disagree) is an act of respect and grace that ought always to be part of the character of godly people.  And if it is, people are more likely to respect and listen to you.
            Pastor Chris’ Paraphrase of Proverbs 15:5 says, "A fool rolls their eyes when their parent tries to teach them, but a smart person is careful to listen and learn."  Sometimes, when our heart is not right--when a sarcastic, mocking spirit is deeply imbedded in us (because of the topic or the relationship or our stage of life (teenager!!!  parents!!!))--it’s best for us to just keep silent.  If our heart's not right, no matter what we say, it’s gonna come out wrong.  Our tone will be wrong.  Our body language will betray a mocking spirit even if we aren’t aware of it.  So, just keep silent. Pray about it.  Ask God to help you give the Holy Spirit time to change your heart so your words (when you finally do speak) will flow from a pure heart and not a scoffing spirit.
 
Let's Change Our World by Letting God Change Our Hearts
            Our world is full of mockers, scoffers, and sarcastic, scornful attitudes.  The last thing we need is for Christians to be the same way.  Perhaps, Jesus is calling you to repent of your scoffing, so you can listen and learn and become more Christ-like than you are today.  I know He's calling me.