Proverbs 20:11

Observe Your Children Closely

Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

In computer lingo, we hear the acronym, “WYSIWYG.” It stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” What you see on the screen will be duplicated when it is printed on paper. Little children are like that. Not yet adept at masking their fears and feelings like adults, what you see is who they are.

A secular proverb says, “Large oaks from little acorns grow.” A character flaw may begin as a little acorn. If left unchecked it will one day become a large oak. We as parents need to observe our children closely. When we see acorns of selfishness, vengefulness, pride, dishonesty, and the like, we need to stifle that trait’s growth by discipline and fervent prayer before it forms into a settled habit.

Conversely, we are to encourage and seek to strengthen character traits in our kids that will mature into large oaks of righteous behavior. Don’t forget to reaffirm correct behavior in your children. Train up your children in the Word of God and watch as it does its transforming work in their lives.

Scriptural Examples

Jacob. Jacob’s character was seen very early when he came forth from the womb holding onto Esau’s heel. It was a glimpse of the personal ambition and deceit that would mark his later life (Genesis 25:26; Hosea 12:3).

Samuel. The Lord’s hand was upon Samuel from his youth, and Samuel’s words were without defect. All Israel recognized that he was to be a prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:19-20).

John the Baptist. The Spirit’s hold upon John was evident even from within Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:15, 44).

Jesus. Jesus’ messianic mission was discerned by both Simeon and Anna as they served in the temple. His character and holiness were evident from His youth (Luke 2:25-52).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, help us parents to be discerning of the character traits of our children even from birth, then help us to raise those children in the fear and discipline of the Lord.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:10

Practice Absolute Honesty

Differing weights and differing measures—the Lord detests them both.

If a someone owns a grocery store and permits its produce scales to weigh just a slight bit heavy, so that for every true pound of potatoes he is charging for 1.02 pounds, then he has stolen from his customer just as certainly as if he had pilfered the stereo from his customer’s car. Actually, what the grocery owner has done may be worse than common burglary, because he has done it in the context of a seemingly honest business transaction in which an innocent party is tricked.

We Christians must practice squeaky-clean honesty in all our dealings. We must do this not just because we know that our God is omniscient and that His judgment is like a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). We are to do it primarily out of love for Christ and a desire to see His name glorified in us.

Scriptural Examples

Satan. Called “the king of Tyre,” it is nevertheless Satan who is described by Ezekiel. At one time a blameless and beautiful creature, Satan’s heart became proud and he engaged in sins and dishonest trade. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and the father of dishonest scales, too (Ezekiel 28:12-19).

Jacob. Although Jacob used dishonest means to steal his brother Esau’s birthright and in some of his dealings with his father-in-law, Laban, toward his latter years God changed him. When his sons returned from Egypt, Jacob insisted that they return the silver in their sacks (Genesis 43:12).

Judas. Judas complained to Jesus that the perfume lavished upon Him by Martha’s sister Mary was a waste. He said its value could have been given to the poor. But Judas didn’t care about the poor. He was a dishonest schemer who would probably have kept the money for himself (John 12:4-6).

Prayer of Application

Lord, every day I run into situations where my honesty is tested. It may be in financial matters, in my associations, or in my home. Help me, Lord, to be honest in every way.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:9

Invite Others to the Lamb’s Cleansing

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure, I am clean and without sin”?

Americans are historically very independent people and want to do things for themselves. But can you imagine do-it-yourself heart surgery?

There you are lying flat on your back on the operating table, looking into a big mirror on the ceiling. Your scalpel is poised on the line drawn on your chest. Beads of perspiration break out on your forehead as you think of the pain that lies ahead, since a general anesthetic would be out of the question. The only sound you hear is that of the steady wheeze of the respirator and your own sickly heart, beating uncontrollably.

Sound ridiculous? It’s actually not as ridiculous as the heart surgery that millions of people perform on themselves every day. They say, “My heart is clean, I have made it pure.” They don’t practice surgery, but self-deception. The heart they claim to make pure by good deeds is their eternal soul.

Only one Surgeon can give you a clean heart that is sinless and pure in the sight of God. His name is Jesus, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. His heart was broken so that many hearts could be eternally healed. Invite others to wash their hearts in His cleansing blood.

Scriptural Examples

David. David was a sinner and acknowledged that fact. Even a great king like David needs cleansing; he can’t do it for himself. In David’s wonderful 51st Psalm he asked God to cleanse him from his sin and wash away all his iniquity. He requested a pure heart, freshly created by God, and that all of his past sins would be blotted out of God’s record book. Why would a just God do this for King David and for you and me? For the purpose of His own delight, pleasure, and glory (Psalm 51:1-19).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, thank You for the cleansing blood of Christ by whom every person must be washed if he is to be presentable in Your sight and stand faultless before You.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:8

Warn Others of the Great King’s Judgment

When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

The word “winnows” here brings to mind the picture of a farmer separating the interior kernel of wheat from the surrounding chaff. In Old Testament days, threshing floors were typically on top of a hill where the wind facilitated the work. In Judges 6:11, however, Gideon threshed wheat down in a valley. Boaz’ threshing floor in Ruth 3:2-14 was probably on a hilltop as was certainly that of Araunah the Jebusite, which was to become the site of the temple (2 Samuel 24:21).

The natural person scorns the wrath of God, but the Bible says that all history is moving toward the final day of judgment when the Great King will winnow out all evil with His eyes. Nothing is hidden from His sight (Hebrews 4:13).

The Christian awaits the Judge confidently (Romans 8:1). He is not confident in his own good works, which are in the eyes of the Great King as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). He has confidence in the work of the same Great King, who saved him by grace.

Scriptural Examples

David. David was the great king of Israel. Except for a few notorious lapses, he reigned in justice and in the fear of the Lord. In Psalm 101:3-8, David poured his heart out to God that he hated the deeds of unfaithful people, and would set his eyes on no evil thing, cutting off every evil-doer from Jerusalem.

Jesus. David foreshadowed the Great King who will judge the nations in righteousness and justice. Jesus told His disciples of the day when He would separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be invited to an eternal inheritance, but to the goats He will say, “Depart from me into the eternal fires prepared for Satan and his followers.” Warn others of the judgment that is certain unless they repent (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).

Prayer of Application

Great God and King, thank You that the Great Judge on that day of wrath will also be my defense attorney, only because He died for me on a Roman cross while I was still Your enemy.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:7

Bless Your Children by Your Faithful Walk

The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.

What you are speaks so loudly to your children they often can’t hear what you say. If you talk a good game, but don’t walk in a manner that conforms to it, you are not practicing integrity. Integrity comes when a person lives what he says he believes.

There is a very foolish belief in some evangelical circles today that since we are no longer “under law, but under grace(Romans 6:14), the Christian can do anything he pleases and be accepted by God. This is absolute nonsense. While grace is vulnerable to this kind of irresponsible presumption, it never teaches it. We are “under grace” inasmuch as we are able to choose integrity over and against hypocrisy. By God’s grace, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16-19).

We parents are called to lead blameless lives. The parent who has been truly called of God will want to walk in integrity. If he doesn’t, his children will see through the ruse quickly. Bless your kids and live what you say you believe.

Scriptural Examples

Adam. Adam sinned against God in eating the fruit forbidden by God’s commandment. Adam’s children have paid for his rebellion ever since (Genesis 4:8-12).

Abraham. Abraham was a man of integrity who walked in the ways of God. He walked by faith and God counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abraham’s faithful walk blessed his children after him (Genesis 17:19-21; 18:19).

Job. Job suffered greatly but remained steadfast in his integrity. The Lord blessed the final part of Job’s life, giving him seven more sons and three more daughters. His daughters were declared to be the most beautiful in all the land (Job 42:12-14).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, keep me in the way of righteousness by Your mighty hand. May my children see the evidence of Your hand upon me and be blessed, giving You the glory.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:6

Be Discerning of Professions of Faith

Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

In the last proverb we saw the need to discern the intentions of the heart. Here is the same need for the lips. Most people claim to be good. This is directly opposed to the Word of God, which speaks of mankind’s evil nature and alienation from God’s goodness (John 2:23-25, for instance).

In the visible church today, many claim with their lips to have “unfailing love.” But what do they do? Their “procession” often doesn’t match their “profession.” I spoke with an acquaintance the other day who is a professing Christian. During our conversation he revealed that there was a young woman sharing his bed, as if that were a perfectly normal thing to do outside of marriage. He was deceiving himself, and others, because of the dichotomy of what he claimed to believe and what he was actually practicing.

Scriptural Examples

Jehu. Jehu claimed to have great zeal for the Lord, and indeed he did show some zeal for killing, because he slaughtered the priests of Baal. But he worshipped the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. Jehu’s talk did not match his walk (2 Kings 10:16-31).

The Pharisees. False prophets often come in sheep’s clothing, professing to be something other than the wolves they really are. They perform their acts of righteousness, i.e., fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, in a public setting for all to see. They love to receive honor at banquets and to be given titles. Woe to those who have an outward profession of godliness but no inward reality (Matthew 7:15; 6:1-2, 5, 16; 23).

The Laodicean church. The Lord rebuked this lukewarm church. He wished they were either hot or cold. They professed to be in need of nothing, but they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked(Revelation 3:16-18).

Prayer of Application

Lord, help me to back up my profession of faith with the reality of godly behavior that I would bring glory and honor to Your name. Help me not to be fooled by false professions.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:5

Be Discerning of Others’ Intentions

The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.

I used to enjoy watching Perry Mason on TV because he was so discerning. Through his cross-examinations he could extract the truth from the depths of people’s hearts.

I don’t believe that we should think all people are out to take advantage of us, but we should realize that some are. We are to hide the Word in our hearts and use it as the basis for our discernment (Psalm 119:11). We are also to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) as we use our God-given common sense.

Learn how to ask good “Perry Mason”-type questions that get to the heart of a matter. Develop a sense about certain things, such as “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.” Your spouse will often have intuition about a certain transaction or person that goes beyond your ability to properly discern. Finally, and above all, ask God and godly people for specific guidance. Make no major decision without prayer and the competent counsel of those you trust.

Scriptural Examples

David. One day Absalom approached David and asked to travel to Hebron for worship to fulfill a vow. It was a lie, but David did not discern his son’s evil intent. Absalom went to Hebron and proclaimed himself king (2 Samuel 15:2-10).

Darius. The king of Babylon was hoodwinked by his advisors into signing a law that was designed to trap Daniel. Their deception backfired as the Lord protected Daniel (Daniel 6:4-9).

The Wise Men. Had not God intervened, they would have probably played into King Herod’s hands. They failed to discern that it was his intention to kill the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:7-12).

Paul. He understood some of the intentions in the hearts of those who preached Christ. They taught out of selfish ambition and envy, not out of a heart of love and good will (Philippians 1:15-17).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, grant me a discerning mind. Help me not to be cynical, but to keep a balanced view and to always give the other person the benefit of the doubt when I’m not sure.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:4

Let’s Stop Making Excuses

A sluggard does not plow in season [KJV: “by reason of the cold”]; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

It is estimated that in any given congregation, 10 percent of the membership does 90 percent of the work. Only four percent of the members of evangelical churches in America tithe. No wonder we can’t reach the lost for Christ, with the vast majority of Christians riding their hot-air balloons of excuses.

We have in the verses above a picture of the would-be farmer who can’t plow his fields because it’s too cold. Frozen land is not the problem here. It’s personal, not physical. He is just uncomfortable plowing on those cold March mornings. He’s procrastinating. Come harvest time, he’ll look out at his fields and they’ll still be brown dirt and weeds. No crops will have grown.

For many of us, procrastination is a habit that needs to be overcome. Not only are our plans and dreams stifled by it, but it brings depression and guilt in its wake. Let’s stop making excuses and get on with the work at hand.

Scriptural Examples

Aaron. When Moses climbed the mountain, he left Aaron in charge of the camp. The people began to party and Aaron made a golden calf. Aaron blamed his sin on the pressure of the people. He said the idol just popped out of the fire. Aaron is an example of our propensity to cook up an incredible excuse if a good excuse won’t come to mind (Exodus 32:22-24).

Gideon. God chose Gideon to lead His people. But Gideon began coming up with excuses. He basically accused God of not being able to do what He said He would do (Judges 6:12-17).

The unwilling disciples. These two men excused themselves from following Jesus. The first had to take care of his father and the second wanted to bid his family good-bye. They placed personal priorities above the Kingdom (Luke 9:59-62).

Prayer of Application

Father, forgive me for making excuses instead of being about Your work. Give me the wisdom to establish priorities, Lord, and then to make my priorities Your priorities.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:3

Seek Peace, Not a Quarrel

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Here again, the godly wisdom of Scripture is in direct opposition to the wisdom of the world. The natural person finds it necessary to defend his honor, while the spiritual person finds honor in not defending himself, seeking peace instead.

America has become an incredibly litigious society. Thousands of lawsuits are filed daily. Our Lord called us to agree quickly with those who oppose us and to try to avoid courts of law. You don’t know what kind of trouble you might find there, particularly if you are paying your attorney by the hour. Overlook the offense. It will be to your glory (Proverbs 19:11). Seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11).

Scriptural Examples

Isaac and the Philistines. The issue was water rights. Isaac would no sooner dig a fresh well than the Philistines would claim it as their own. Each time Isaac would move his herds and thus to his honor avoid strife (Genesis 26:17-25).

Gideon and Jepthah. Each handled a similar experience in different ways and achieved different results. Both men were called to go to war. In each case, they were accused by their brothers, the Ephraimites, of not calling them to join in the fighting. Gideon soothed the Ephraimites’ anger and preserved the peace. Jepthah said he had called but they had refused to come. This remark brought great anger, and even began a battle between brothers (Judges 8:1-4; 12:1-4).

Hanun and David. David sent an envoy of peace to Hanun to express sympathy on the occasion of his father’s death. Instead of receiving David’s men in peace, Hanun seized them, shaved off their beards, and cut off their garments at the buttocks, sending them home in shame (2 Samuel 10:1-7).

Prayer of Application

Sovereign Lord, You call the peacemakers “blessed” in Your Word. Give me the grace and understanding to pursue Your peace in a world that is in rebellion against You and Your Word.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley

Proverbs 20:2

Beware of Provoking the King’s Anger

A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion; he who angers him forfeits his life.

Going to the movies as a kid I used to enjoy the roar of the MGM lion. But his roar was not worthy to be compared with actually facing the king of the jungle on the African veldt where nothing would separate me from his fangs and claws but grass and air. That I would find very fearful indeed.

What provokes the human king to anger? Isn’t it rebellion against his authority? One who raises himself up against the king’s absolute authority had better be prepared to forfeit his life. To rebel against the Great King is utmost foolishness. No chance for success exists. Such rebellion forfeits eternal life.

The sinful person sets himself up as king of all he surveys, but rejects the Kingdom of God. God offers riches beyond measure as a joint-heir of His throne, but many refuse to give up control of their own puny thrones. What foolishness! Don’t rebel against the King. Obey Him! Bow before Him! Submit to His reign and live.

Scriptural Examples

Pharaoh. In Exodus we have the story of two angry kings in what resembled a boxing match. In one corner was Pharaoh, lion of Egypt, and in the other, Jehovah God, Lion of Judah. God, the infinitely greater power, toyed with Pharaoh, backing him into a corner, before throwing the knockout punch at the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s big mistake was in scheduling the bout. If he had really known the Lion with whom he was to spar, he would have never put a foot into the ring (Exodus 7-14).

Adonijah. This son of David tried to make himself king as his father lay dying. Anointing Solomon, David stopped Adonijah’s plot. Solomon let him live, but later when Adonijah asked if he could marry David’s concubine, the request angered the king and cost Adonijah his life (1 Kings 1:1-2:26).

Prayer of Application

Lord Jesus, thank You for reigning in my life by faith. Your sovereign rule is a great comfort to me. Help me to warn others of Your pending judgment at the Great White Throne.

Copyright 2014 – Robert C. Beasley