Bible reading for March 24 -- 25
Mar 24 -- Proverbs 11 and Ephesians 4
Mar 25 -- Proverbs 12 and Ephesians 5
"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight." (Proverbs 11:1)
WEIGHTY MATTERS (ch 11). We've heard it. We've said it. "It's only a little lie." "They'll never miss it." "No one will ever know if we cut a few corners." But Jesus said, "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much" (Luke 16:10). The first proverb in this chapter contrasts a false balance with a just weight. Many merchants in that day would have a second set of weights, shaved or cored to remove perhaps only few grams worth of weight. But the intent to cheat, even only by a little bit, was present. God's attitude toward that minor slight is expressed in the strongest of terms in both parts of the proverb -- abomination on the one hand, and delight on the other. As the missionary Hudson Taylor explained it, "A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in the little things is a great thing." If verse one is true (and it is), then how would the following verses -- vv 3, 4, 6 7, 10 -- also apply to that situation, though at first these sayings seem a bit unrelated?
LIFE IS INTEGRATED. Both righteousness and wickedness are interwoven into the whole person. Eyes, lips, hands, and feet act in concert with the plans of the heart (cf Prov 6:12-19). It is not only important to guard the eyes from what they see, but also to keep the lips from speaking falsehood and the hands away from practicing injustice. In chapter eleven the over-arching theme appears to be our attitude toward gaining wealth. The topics include, how we conduct business (vv 1-8), how we speak to one another (vv 9-12), and how we give to others or withold giving (vv 16-28). These are broad categories which overlap, but one obvious lesson is that a covetous heart will be manifest in various ways. Collectively, these proverbs are telling us that honesty in business, integrity, and generosity benefit not only the individual engaging in business, but more, the entire community benefits. Dishonesty, even in the smallest degree, diminishes the welfare of the community. Note also the various terms used to describe the righteous person: humility, integrity, knowledge, blessing, understanding, trustworthiness, counsel, gracious, kindness, steadfastness, and generous.
MORE PROVERBS (ch 12). Okay, now it's your turn! As you read chapter twelve, make some observations about the various proverbs. What are the comparisons and the contrasts? How do they relate? Are there overarching themes that connect some of the proverbs together in this group?
"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:18-21)
WALK WORTHY OF THE CALLING (ch 4). Chapters four through six are applications of the truths Paul has been writing about in the first three chapters. We are to cultivate a character which preserves the unity of the Spirit (vv 1-7), using spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ (vv 8-16), putting off the old ways of living (vv 17-22), and putting on the new ways of living by the Holy Spirit (vv 23-32). Who we are in Christ, and what God has done for us, shapes the life we now live. Our destiny determines our duty, rather than the other way around.
FAMILY MATTERS (ch 5). Paul continues to give directions on how our Christian lives should be ordered, both in the church congregation and in our homes. Verses 1-21 focus on principles of holy relationship within the family of God, and then, verses 22-33, within marriage. Two important truths to note here: 1) the dynamic for holy living comes from the Holy Spirit, who moves us to abandon immoral, foolish talk, and fills our mouths with God's praise. And 2) God's pattern for marriage has not changed from the beginning. Paul's teaching on headship and submission within marriage is connected to the principle of Christ's relationship with the church. This is highly offensive to many today. This passage does not promote abuse nor inequality, but rather puts forth a divine order for loving headship (the husband serving unto death) and a loving submission (the wife showing respect). This view is called "complementarianism." This article may be helpful: "Why I Am a Complementarian".
Image credit. Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.