Sabbath School Lesson for January 24-30, 2015
Our choices were so much simpler before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Think about it. The only requirement God set for this couple was that they not partake of the fruit of only one tree in the Garden. Of course, it all boiled down to their love and trust in God. That first sin was enormous due to the fact that it was such a seemingly easy test of their faith, and they failed it. God made it easy for them to love and trust, but they allowed Satan to convince them that God was not to be trusted.
As a result, all their descendants have found their choices more difficult and complicated in this world of sorrow, suffering, and death.
But the story doesn’t end there. God, in His abundant love and mercy, would not let His created beings slip through His fingers so easily. He set in motion the steps it would take to bring His children back into fellowship with Him. Our choices, when we choose to follow God, are much simpler again.
Key Text: “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked” Proverbs 10:6 NKJV
Blessings are gifts, aren’t they? We ask a blessing as we sit and enjoy a meal; we are thanking God for the gift of our food. This verse also talks about being righteous, and we mustn’t forget that we can only be righteous as a result of God’s gift to us in the person of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Proverbs 10-13 we will see the stark difference in being righteous and being wicked. God is once again trying to make it easy for us to choose Him. The benefits or blessings He offers His followers will be studied this week. No matter where we are in our spiritual journey, our choices are made easier by seeing them described so fully in these chapters.
Sunday: Righteousness Is Holistic
We cannot choose one area of our life as good or righteous. It’s all of us or nothing. That’s why we can safely refer to it as holistic. And that’s why we must always be covered with the righteousness of Jesus.
The righteousness God requires, not only affects our life alone, but all those around us, our whole family, as Solomon points out in the first seven verses of Proverbs 10.
“A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother…He who gathers [crops] in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.” Proverbs 10:1, 5 NKJV
No one can say to a concerned friend or family member, “This is my life; it has nothing to do with you.” Our choices do touch others, especially our parents, who raised us.
But they also affect our present circumstances. These verses describe how our present state is affected by the choices we make.
“The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, But He casts away the desire of the wicked…He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:3, 4 NKJV
God does not leave out the future either. Proverbs tells us:
“The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.” Proverbs 10:7 NKJV
Our future legacy depends on the righteous deeds of kindness, patience, and mercy that others see in our lives. Let’s be sure we are remembered for being righteous.
Discussion Questions: Why should our legacy be important to us? How can we glorify God even after we’re gone from this earth?
How do you explain the fact that some who are diligent workers still endure poverty?
What kind of riches could these verses be speaking about?
Monday: The Mouth of Righteousness
Solomon continuously speaks of the mouth, lips, and our words in his proverbs. It seems to be the most important organ of our body and is featured prominently in chapters 10-29. Our next passage, Proverbs 10:11-14, returns to this theme.
“The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.” Proverbs 10:11 NKJV
Notice the expression “well of life”, or “fountain of life”. This must relate to Christ Himself, often referred to as the “Source of life”, who spoke our world into existence. But also to the Spirit. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “…the water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 NKJV
James 3, in speaking of the tongue, compares it to a spring or fountain of water. “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” v. 11 NKJV
The second part of Proverbs 10:11, about violence covering the mouth of the wicked, is also found in our Key Text, Proverbs 10:6. It’s a bit more troubling to understand. It might mean that we can use our mouth for violent or evil purposes, and then find ourselves unable to call for help, having our mouths covered.
Discussion Questions: Read Proverbs 10:12 (about love covering our sins) and Proverbs 28:13 (if we cover our sins we won’t prosper). Discuss what it means to “cover our sins.” In what sense is it good, and in what sense is it bad?
Read Leviticus 19:18. How does this relate to the passages we’ve studied in Proverbs 10?
How do we show love and hate by our words? Can they be as healing or damaging as our actions?
Tuesday: The Hope of the Righteous
Taking a look at Proverbs 11, we notice an array of topics covered, such as honesty, mercy, and generosity. As a wise father, he always gives a description of the opposite character trait, in order for us to understand both sides.
There are also many blessings mentioned to motivate us to make right choices. We will:
- be delivered from trials
- have hope for the future
- gain life eternal
One thing we notice about the righteous vs. the wicked is that the righteous are focused more on the future. Because of their hope for the future, they behave with more humility, compassion, and honesty. On the other hand, the unrighteous live only in the present, for instant gratification and immediate rewards.
Paul also tried to make his hearers understand this blessing of hope. “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18 NKJV
Discussion Questions: Read Proverbs 11:14. Why do you think this is a popular verse? Is there always safety in many counselors? What do you think Solomon meant by this advice?
When should we choose right, regardless of the negative consequences it might bring to us or others? Can we always trust what seems like the loving thing to do?
Wednesday: The Truth of the Righteous
Proverbs 12 reveals many facets of righteousness, but honesty seems to be at the heart of Solomon’s message. We see it in these verses:
- v. 17 “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit.
- v. 19 “The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
- v. 20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.”
- v. 22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.”
Augustine has said that “when regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.”
Philosopher Sissela Bok tells us, “A society, then, whose members were unable to distinguish truthful messages from deceptive ones, would collapse.”
An author, Ellen G. White wrote: “Let truth telling be held with no loose hand or uncertain grasp. Let it become a part of the life…He who utters untruths sells his soul in a cheap market…he finally reaches the place where he can trust no one. Himself a falsifier, he has no confidence in the word of others.” ~My Life Today, p. 331.
This brings another angle to the story. It’s not just society or the people who are deceived who suffer the consequences of dishonesty. Those engaged in dishonesty are affected too.
Most of us feel a sense of guilt and shame when we tell a falsehood. And this is good, because it shows that the Holy Spirit is still trying to reach us. The real worry is when someone lies with no thought of regret or remorse. As if it were just the natural thing to do. We should avoid these people, and make sure we don’t fall into the same trap by repeated lying and deceptive practices.
Discussion Questions: Proverbs 12:4 is a popular verse: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Explain the meaning of this verse. Does it apply to either spouse?
Read Proverbs 12:15. Discuss the need for humility in becoming wise. Why would a humble person be more likely to become a wise man, as opposed to a foolish one. [they are teachable]
Read also Isaiah 57:15-21 for another contrast of the wicked and the righteous.
Thursday: The Reward of the Righteous
Proverbs 13 continues to compare the difference between wisdom and foolishness. In reality we see that we all exhibit a bit of both characteristics. Romans 3:23 informs us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But the the rest of the sentence gives us hope: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 NKJV
So this reward is freely given, but it must go to those who truly believe as John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So that is the final reward of the righteous–eternal life with God.
But we must want to be with Him here on this earth too. By living for God, and following His counsel to be wise, we are equipping ourselves for this future reward.
Solomon doesn’t hesitate to spell out our rewards, both now and in the future. By choosing the wise course we will:
- have a good influence on others
- bear much fruit (be a productive worker for God)
- leave a valuable legacy when we die
All these things contribute to a happy, peaceful existence even before we get to heaven. This chapter makes a good argument for living a life of faith and obedience, which is better than a life of disobedience and foolish behavior.
Discussion Questions: Discuss the meaning of Proverbs 13:7. How does one become rich, yet poor at the same time?
Much has been said about Proverbs 13:24. How do you interpret and apply this counsel to not spare the rod? Is it a mandate to physically discipline children? What boundaries should be observed in carrying this out?
How does our way of life reflect the kind of rewards we are looking for in life?
Clearly righteousness is equated with wisdom, and wickedness or unrighteousness is the same as folly.
In Proverbs 10-13 we find that:
- righteousness is holistic (we either are or we aren’t)–Proverbs 10:1-7
- our communication is very important in the pursuit of wisdom–Proverbs 10:11-14
- wise people have a hope that others don’t–Proverbs 11
- the truth is vital in maintaining a righteous lifestyle–Proverbs 12
- there are rewards for the wise, both now and in the future–Proverbs 13
Study Romans 5:5 and Philippians 2:1-11 and try to apply it, by being more humble and loving in your daily interactions with others.
List ways you or your church can be a more loving witness for Christ by humbly serving the needs of others, both in the church and in the community.
Next week–What You Get Is Not What You See
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