Sunday School Material 10-2-11: Living An Ordered Life

(Proverbs 29:16-27; 10/2/11)

Introduction: A key idea in today's Sunday School material is that God’s people should work on living by God’s will. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to live by God’s will.

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Read Proverbs 29:16
I. Introductory Proverb.
This part of our Sunday School material teaches that when the wicked thrive, sin thrives as well. The implication is that wicked people can experience some thriving. The text goes on to say that the righteous will see the down fall of those wicked people who thrive.

Applications -
- Righteousness and thriving.
Notice in vs. 16 of our Sunday School material that the wicked's thriving leads to sin thriving and the righteous seeing the wicked's downfall. As we reflect on this text, we should see that thriving doesn’t mean that you are doing something right. The wicked can thrive. However, it is temporary thriving.

And on the other hand, we should not assume that those who are not thriving are not righteous. The righteous may not thrive immediately, but God has a way of keeping them around to see the downfall of the wicked people who have experienced temporary thriving.

Let’s focus more on being righteous than on thriving in the things of this world. Being righteous includes accepting Jesus as one’s savior by faith and then living according biblical principles. The stuff and status of this world will not sustain us, when we have to stand before the Lord.

Read Proverbs 29:17-26
II. Principles for an Ordered Life.
This part of our Sunday School material teaches the value of disciplining your son. It talks about the value of having God's word. There is mention of servants who listen but do not obey.

Hasty speaking and pampering of sevants are frowned upon. Having a hot temper, being prideful, helping a theif, and fearing people are not good. The Lord is the ultimate source of justice.

Applications -
- Disciplining our children.
Notice in vs.17 of our Sunday School material the value of disciplining children, specifically sons. There are those who think that just talking to children or placing them in “time out” are adequate ways of disciplining a child. There may be more merit to this way of thinking, if the world was fair and rational.

However, it often is not. Therefore, it is often helpful to discipline the child with the proper use of pain to help him to stop doing wrong and to start doing right.

Let’s work on proper discipline of children and those under our rule. It should also be noted that discipline should take place within a loving relationship. In other words, it cannot be all discipline and no love.

You cannot simply punish wrong behavior and never reward good behavior. There needs to be some balance and leaning towards love and kindness, in order for discipline to have the desired long term impact.

- Obedience, fear, and justice. Notice in vs. 18 of our Sunday School material the value of knowing and obeying God's word, in vs. 25 the emphasis on fearing God more than people, and in vs. 26 how the Lord is the ultimate source of justice.

First, we should demonstrate that we really understand the value of knowing and obeying God’s word. The greatest demonstration is not what we say but what we do. God wants us to be known for loving one another.

Second, we should have more fear, respect, and reverence for God than for people. Again, our actions speak louder than our words. When God says “don’t bear false witness” and our peers say “cover for me” (i.e., lie about their being on the job), who wins this battle for respect and allegiance?

Third, we should trust God as the ultimate source of justice. Obviously, God often uses human agents like lawyers and judges. But it is more God and less people who really administer justice. The need for prayer should be obvious.

Let’s work on living like we know the value of obedience, the priority of fearing God, and that God is the ultimate source of justice.

- Accountability and consequences. Notice in vs. 19 of our Sunday School material the idea of mere words having no impact on servants. Notice also in vs. 21 the warning against pampering a servant.

First, there are many people who do not respond to words alone. They need to experience the consequences of their response to what is being said to them. For example, there are many who cannot appreciate being warned about being late for work, until they are docked for being late.

Some substance abusers have to be cut off, until they work through rehabilitation. Some of us don’t like the idea, but the truth is that that rod gets results (see Pro. 22:15). The Pastor agrees with Allen P. Ross (of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary) understanding of this text, instead of the Standard Lesson Commentary.

Second, there is a danger in pampering those who are expected to do a job. On one side, slavery is wrong, especially in our society. But on the other hand, there are still employees and agreements to perform work.

When there is too much pampering – not holding people accountable for doing what is expected of them and giving them what they want, in spite of non-performance of duty – trouble is sure to come.

Let’s work on being people who keep our word and hold one another accountable. We should strive for a balance between firm and fair with a leaning towards mercy.

- Controlling our tongues, tempers, pride, and affiliations. Notice in vs. 20 of our Sunday School material the warning against bring too hasty in speech, in vs. 22 the warning against having a hot temper, in vs. 23 how humbleness is more valuable than pride, and in vs. 24 how being a part of dishonesty and crime leads to more trouble.

First, in spite of all of our 4G cell phones, microwave ovens, and super fast internet connections, as disciples of Christ, we must work on not being too hasty to speak. A few words spoken out of place can cause damage that take months and years to repair. Work on self control, especially tongue control.

Second, we should work on controlling our temper. This is close to but not the same as controlling our tongue. In fact, sometimes the trouble with our tongue is our temper. Knowing that God is working things out for the good of His people should give some aid in controlling our temper. We don’t want to be angry about what God is using for our good.

Third, we should work on being humble. Without God, we would have nothing. If we don’t use what God has given us according to His expectations, He is subject to take it away.

Fourth, we should stay away from shady deals and sinful practices. The more we hang around sinful people and the closer we get to engaging in sin, the more likely we are to be guilty of sinning ourselves.

But when we work on distancing ourselves from sinners and sinful practices, it helps us stay on the righteous path. Let’s work on controlling our tongue, temper, pride, and affiliations.

Read Proverbs 29:27
III. Final Proverb.
In this part of our Sunday School material, we see that there is a detesting (i.e., hatred) between the righteous and wicked. The righteous detests the wicked. And the wicked detests the righteous.

Applications -
- Tension between the righteous and wicked.
Notice in vs. 27 of our Sunday School material the mutual detesting between the righteous and wicked. On one hand, there is a certain amount of figurative-ness to this idea. Christians are commanded to love everybody, specifically enemies.

But on the other hand, we are to hate that which is evil (see Rom. 12:9). Even though the wicked may not be able to make such distinctions, as disciples are Christ, we are called to the difficult task of loving sinful people, while hating their sinful ways.

This tension may well describe why it is difficult to get along with others. There is a detesting/hatred, surely a tension, between the righteous and wicked. Let’s work on loving people, while hating their sins, and being aware of such tension.

Conclusion: Based on our Sunday School material Let's work on living by God’s will. God has much for those who obey His will.

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