Archive for the ‘righteous’ Category

25:26 Giving Way to the Wicked

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. Proverbs 25:26

Richard Wurmbrand tells that, fearing for their families and lives, many pastors in Romania publicly endorsed the atheistic Communists when they took power. Solomon would categorize them as fouled springs. By contrast, Wurmbrand spoke up for Christ and spent many years in prison where he was brutally tortured.

In his suffering this Lutheran pastor was like Christ his master. Jesus would not give way to false accusers. He neither endorsed untruth nor kowtowed to the men who gave him a kangaroo trial. Rather, he witnessed plainly to those who were about to crucify him. Consequently, he suffered all that the spite of men and demons could contrive against him. He was no polluted fountain.

15:6 Revenues vs. Treasures

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, happy couple.

In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. Proverbs 15:6.

When worldly church-goers hear the word “treasure,” they immediately assume the gold and silver kind are meant; but the person who knows Christ understands that something else is intended—treasures of love, joy, justice, wisdom, and peace. Christian homes, armies, societies and nations are distinguished by such treasures. Often physical treasures follow, too, because people who live well-regulated and honest lives tend to husband natural resources wisely and increase them.

For an example of a home filled with spiritual treasure, one can look to Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. The beauty of their affections and their godly oversight of their children were recorded by contemporaries. Evangelist George Whitefield was so impressed with the love he saw between the pair that he promptly determined to marry himself. His ill-advised union was not so happy.

One of the chief treasures of the Christian is contentment. The revenues that the wicked extract (often by unjust methods) do not bring them much happiness, not least because they constantly crave more and are never satisfied.

Christians enjoy spiritual treasures others can only crave. This is possible because of Jesus, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) and who “became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).” The deposit he has left us is the Holy Spirit, who resides in us, whom Paul likens to those clay pots in which the people of the Middle East stored documents and gems they wished to preserve.

10:7 Blessed Memory, Rotten Name

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Raoul Wallenberg, blessed for trying to save Jews.

The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot. —Proverbs 10:7

In Israel there is a memorial to “righteous gentiles,” whose names include such figures as Corrie Ten Boom and Raoul Wallenberg. Books and movies perpetuate the memory of these brave individuals who attempted to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The memory of the righteous is blessed. By contrast, even authors who claim there is no absolute right or wrong, concede that Hitler was evil and find grounds to deplore him. Indeed, so great is the abhorrence of this ruthless man, that political opponents label each other as Nazis or Fascists, so as to daub each other with something of Hitler’s opprobrium.

This brings us to the most righteous of men. The memory of Christ is revered by billions, so that the highest compliment you can pay a person is to call him or her “christlike.” A complement is a form of blessing. The memory of Judas his betrayer, Caiphas his accuser, and Pontius Pilate his judge resound with infamy to this day.

10:6 Blessed Head vs. Violent Mouth

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Bishop Stephen Gardiner of Winchester who condemned Taylor.

Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. —Proverbs 10:6

During the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, many Protestant churchmen were put to death for their faith. Bishops Bonner and Gardiner were her main agents. Gardiner, who had sworn an oath to serve the Reformation, and then switched sides, was especially notorious for his insults, jeers, and sarcasm toward the men he examined. One of these was Rowland Taylor, a pastor of godly character from a village fifty miles from London.

Gardiner greeted the holy man with his usual barrage of disparaging words (violence covering his lips), and soon enough contrived to do real violence, having Taylor condemned to death for views which differed from those of Rome. To make an example of him, the bishop had him burned to death in the town where he had preached.

The sheriff and his men who took Taylor home to die were amazed at the joy with which he approached death, and at the love and reverence his people showed him. Along the route people called blessings on their good pastor, thanking him aloud for kindnesses he had done to them. One old lady knelt beside him as he made his final prayer, and would not be driven away.

Taylor died patiently. In this he was like his Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Blessings cover Christ’s head and always will, especially the blessing of God who said, “This is my beloved Son.” But violence, jeers, mocking and curses covered the mouth of our Lord’s opponents, who wagged their heads at him while he was on the cross, and taunted him with the words, “He saved others, let him save himself.”

10:11 Mouth of Peace, Mouth of Violence

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Beau Nash

Beau Nash

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

Beau Nash was the reigning dandy at Bath in 1739. An adventurer and gamester, he paraded his materialism with gaudy displays of pomp and profligacy. When he learned John Wesley was coming in June, he promised to drag him down. Friends pleaded with Wesley not to risk preaching, but Wesley refused; he must share the word of life.

As a consequence of Nash’s boasts, the crowds were larger than usual, and many among them were the fashionable people and visitors of the town. Wesley preached in his normal style, warning people high and low that all were locked under sin and needed a savior.

Nash appeared and tried to disrupt the meeting. He asked by what authority Wesley preached. Wesley easily answered; he had been ordained by the man who was now Archbishop of Canterbury. Nash then twisted the law to claim the assembly was illegal; Wesley replied that the law referred to seditious gatherings. Nash next charged him with frightening the people, to which Wesley demonstrated that Nash was speaking from hearsay. Finally Nash demanded, “I desire to know what this people comes here for.”

An old woman shouted in reply, “You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here.” Nash retired defeated.

Anyone who has read the accounts of Christ knows that, like Nash, the Pharisees did all in their power to impede Him from speaking of true righteousness. There was violence in their speech, and ultimately violence in their deeds.

These examples remind me of something Paul Johnson wrote in Enemies of Society. He said that those who will do violence to the language [i.e.: twist facts and meanings to make a point] will do violence to people if they get the power. It has been the way of Satanic opposition from the beginning, for as Christ reminded us, Satan is a liar and a murderer, and his followers act like him.

We must make every effort to be honest with our facts, use words properly, and tell the whole story, not just the parts that support our position.

4:18 Spiritual Dawn

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Sunrise in space, NASA photo.

Sunrise in space, NASA photo.

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

I once observed a dawn from an airliner 25,000 feet above the sea. The sky grew grey in the east and then an orange arc appeared between the grey sky and the black ocean, tracing the horizon as far as the eye could see. Soon the wrinkled water gleamed, and before long everything shone with a fiery glare.

In literature and in history, dawn is a powerful metaphor. Homer makes “her” a goddess with rosy fingers. Columbus anxiously peers through the darkness, awaiting the dawn which will decide if he and his men turn back, the new world undiscovered. The men of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings wait for a dawn that may bring the final battle for Middle Earth; Mr. Vane, longing for the sun as he attempts to revive a mysterious woman he has found in a field in George MacDonald’s Lilith, says, “Beneath the sad, slow-setting moon, I lay with the dead, and watched for the dawn.”

Solomon employs dawn as a metaphor for the life of a child of God. The image finds its fullest expression in the New Testament. When Christ, the Light of the World, shines upon the spiritual sleeper, a spiritual dawn begins. The sleeper awakens from the dead (Ephesians 5:14). As a child of God, made righteous by Christ (who is our righteousness, 1 Corinthians 1:30), he awaits the full daylight, not certain what it will bring, but knowing that “when He is revealed we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2).

11:30 Soul-Winner Wisdom

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

A. T. Pierson, soul-winner.

A. T. Pierson, soul-winner.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who wins souls is wise.

This morning I was looking through a local college catalog. One of the new business courses being touted is Opportunity Analysis. Its purpose is to teach students to assess economic and social conditions for business ventures.

This set me to thinking. Business is indispensable, but its fruits, or profits will ultimately perish. The only business with eternal profits is the Father’s business. Each of us has only a limited opportunity to demonstrate our love for Christ and to win others to follow him. Would we enroll in a course whose purpose was to assess economic, spiritual, and social conditions for spiritual ventures?

Strategically-minded Christians have long thought in these terms. William Carey prepared a careful analysis and heart-felt appeal for missions in a day when Protestants paid little attention to the subject; A. T. Pierson and John Mott showed students how they might win the world in a generation through methodical efforts; and, like a general, Robert A. Jaffrey studied maps and demographics to plot the next advance of his work in the Far East. According to Solomon, such men are wise.

Wiser than all was God himself, who prepared Christ before the world was formed, and in the fullness of time sent him to be born of a woman. Christ redeemed and won untold numbers of souls. The profits of the Father’s wise strategy implemented through the Son are eternal and incalculable. Would God the righteous could do more to imitate their Lord.

29:10 Redeeming Bloodthirsty Souls

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Willems rescues his would-be killer.

Willems rescues his would-be killer.

The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

Christian history is replete with examples of wicked men who sought the lives of the godly, who in turn faithfully witnessed to the wicked. No doubt you can fill in examples from your own knowledge. Two that sprang to my mind were Richard Wurmbrand who showed love to his torturers, and Robert Jaffrey who spoke to his Chinese captors of Christ.

But the noblest story I recalled was that of Dirk Willems. Willems was an Anabaptist pursued for his faith. Fleeing from the man sent to arrest him, he fled across an icy pond. The man followed, but broke through the ice. He cried for help, and Dirk Willems turned back, dragging him to safety. In gratitude, the man-hunter would have let Willems go but a higher official sternly commanded him to fulfill his duty, keep his oath of office, and bring in the prisoner.

Willems held fast his religious views, and was sentenced to burn. At the stake, a strong wind blew the flame away from his body so that his torments were lengthened. Finally the judge could bear to see and hear no more and ordered the executioner to dispatch the victim immediately.

The parallels between Willems’ behavior and Christ’s are obvious. Both are prime examples of this proverb. Neither sought the lives of the bloodthirsty men who took them into captivity. Jesus healed the ear of one who came to arrest him, and testified to the Pharisees and Pilate in words that might have saved their souls had they listened. He appealed to the Father to forgive the soldiers who nailed him to the cross, saying, “They don’t know what they are doing.” And he won the soul of one of the thieves crucified beside him who had earlier mocked him.