Let's look at Proverbs 23. We don't need to buy a bunch of elf-help advice books from Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc. If you want to know how to live a stress-free life, read the Bible. "Oh sure, you make it sound so simple." Well, it is. It's not always easy, but the solutions are simple, if you put a little effort into it.
First, DON'T TRADE YOUR LIFE FOR RICHES.
Do not overwork yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.
In other words, don't kill yourself trying to get rich. So many people turn in workaholics. They work 70-80 hrs a week, and don't have any time to enjoy what they work for. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is emptiness. When goods increase, They increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? Don't make yourself weary for riches--they just become a burden. And stop thinking so much about it, put it out of your mind. Unforunately, in the church, prosperity preachers think Jesus is an ATM. How dispicable. To think that the Lord of Glory shed His blood for a Benz. Kenneth Copeland went out and spent $20,000,000 on a jet. Benny Hinn said that he doesn't want to hear about streets of gold in heaven. He went on to say, and I quote, "I want my gold now, baby!!" Well, he'll have his reward...in this world. As for me, I'll wait for my gold, and my crown. I ain't lookin for a pat on the back--just that "well done."
DON'T PUT YOUR TRUST IN RICHES.
Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.
Remember what poor old Job said. Job 1:21--"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." "I had everything, and now I have nothing. But no matter what--GOD is GOD!!" Money doesn't take care of us. That $5 you have on your pocket? It doesn't care whose hand it's in. But guess what? GOD cares whose hand you're in! Last week, Keith talked about people who want to win the lottery. They think it will solve all their problems. Let me ask you this: If you won the lottery, do you think you couldn't spend it all? Have you ever seen a woman in a shoe store?
Next, DO NOT TRUST THE BREAD OF THE EVIL.
Do not eat the bread of he who has an evil eye, nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so he is. He will say, "eat and drink," but his heart is not with you. And you will vomit the morsel you have eaten, and lose your pleasant words.
When someone invites you to break bread with them, they are saying, "You're safe here." But there is a deeper meaning in this verse. You see, everything in the Old Testament points to Christ. And Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16, verses 6-8 and 11-12, "Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Saducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?...How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?--but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Saducees?" Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the bread, but of the teachings of the Pharisees and the Saducees. And what Solomon is saying is this--don't get caught up in the world's beliefs. Don't take in what evil men try to tell you. And why not? Because if he's speaking against God, then who's speaking through them? In 2nd Corinthians, Psul says that Satan can disguise himself as an "angel of light", that he even "deceived Eve." Now, do you think Satan's on your side? Of course not! So, when you eat the bread of deceitful men, it may seem sweet when you eat it, but, when you think on it later, it will make you sick, and you will vomit it out.
DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME ON FOOLS.
Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.
Have you ever argued with someone who wouldnt listen. You do everything to reason with them, and they just will not listen. Eventually, you wind up forgetting what point you were trying to make in the first place. If it gets to that point stop, get out of it, cut your losses. In fact, Paul writes in Titus 3:10-11, A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
GIVE YOUR CHILD GODLY GUIDANCE.
Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold correction from a child, for although you strike him, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and save his soul from Hell.
This is one of those timeout moments. When we talk about the rod of correction, people can tend to get image. Remember when we were in school, the principal would have a paddle mounted on his wall, and what did it say on it? "Board of Education." Here, Solomon is not advocating abuse--if you have to give your child a swat, do it. Proverbs 13:24--He who spares the rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Hebrews 12:6--Whom the LORD loveth, He chasteneth. It's to be a loving discipline. I'd rather my child have a sore bottom for a while, than to suffer for an eternity.
Then, listen to the joy of a father: GIVE YOUR CHILD GODLY WISDOM.
My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice--indeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice.
You've seen these people driving around with bumper stickers that say "My child is an honor student at such-and-such school." Let these two verses be a prayer for your children. Proverbs 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Ephesians 6:4--Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the LORD. That brings us to the next passage.
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live always in the fear of the LORD. Surely there is a future, and your expectation will not be cut off. Listen my son, and direct yourself in the way. Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of flesh; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man in rags.
You've heard the old saying, "If you lay down with dogs, you're gonna get fleas." Is this not an illustration of the prodigal son? He got all that money from his father, and where did it go? That word "drowsiness" in verse 21 does not mean "to go to sleep." It means you get lazy. It literally means "to slumber, especially through an inclination to laziness, and sloth." When you hang out with the party crowd, they'll treat you like you're their friend. I think it was a Hank Williams song that said, "If you've got money honey, I've got the time." But, go back to verse 6-7. These people will say they're your friend, but their hearts are not with you. They'll say, "Hey, let's go have a good time!!!" But when your wallet goes flat, it's "Oh, you're out of money? Well, see ya."
BUY THE TRUTH AND DON'T LET GO OF IT.
Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who has begotten a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
The truth is something that deserves for us to spend everything we have to find it. If it takes all of our resources to find the truth of salvation, then my friends, it is more than worth it. Now, in these next verses, you can almost see Solomon getting real serious.
AVOID STRANGE WOMEN.
Give me your heart son, and let your eyes delight in my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch, and an adulteress is a narrow pit. She lies in wait as for a prey, and increases the transgressors among men.
I've talked to some of y'all who can hear women at night hollering, "ten dollars!" There are many reasons women get into it. One, they grew up around it, and it's just another way of life. Two, out of a sense of desperation. They think there's no other way they can make money. And three, they do it to support their drug habit. They don't even realize sometimes that they're destroying themselves. Or maybe they do, but they think they're too far gone to be helped. You know, sometimes, I don't understand the reasons why men do it. I read an article one time, about women who walk. This one, she told about a man who solicited her one Sunday morning, and told her, "We gotta hurry, I need to get home before wife wakes up." Of course, we all know about Jimmy Swaggart. He lost his ministry because of a prostitute. But you know, these are the men and women we need to pray for. David said in Psalm 10:15...break the arm of the wicked... In other words, he was asking GOD to destroy the power that was controlling his enemies.
Finally, Solomon gives us a very stern warning to AVOID STRONG DRINK.
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: "They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?"
I dont think verse 29 needs much explaining. But in verse 30, when he talks about mixed wine--in those days, red wine was stronger than white wine. So, they would take white wine and add red wine to it to make it stronger. That's why he tells us what he does in verse 31. Then verse 32: do snakes kinda walk up--well, not WALK up--and say "Excuse me, but I'm gonna bite you now." And how many times do people go from OK to being three sheets to the wind in a matter of seconds? Now, look at verse 33--some translations say "strange things", some say "strange women." Either one is correct in my book. Some people say there are no ugly women at closing time. And how many lines do drunk drivers see in the middle of the road? And I can recall days when I was like verse 34--you can't walk, the room starts spinning, what else happens when you get seasick?
And verse 35 says, "I ain't feeling no pain!" Man, how many times I used to wake up on Saturday at noon. This was before I knew the LORD. I'd have a headache, a rotten stomach. I felt like--well, something. But, what would I go and do that night? I'd just go and do it all over again. All that time I wasted wish I could have that back. But one day, GOD delivered me from all that--praise His name!! And from then on, I have never wanted a drink. He showed me a passage in Ephesians 5:18-19--Be not drunk on the wine, in which is riotousness, but be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD.
That's why we start off our worship services with singing. A few weeks ago I mentioned that the Bible is life's ORIGINAL instruction manual. We who come here and minister to y'all, we may not have all the answers--but we know where to find them.