Proverbs 28:15-27 – Getting What We Want

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on February12th, 2012.  To listen to the audio, just click on this link – Prov 28G.

WE KNOW HOW TO GET WHAT WE WANT.

Unless you Are Trusting, You Will Tend to Be Grasping:  Webster’s dictionary defines the word “Grasping” merely as “being greedy”.  The Thesaurus is more helpful:  avaricious, acquisitive, greedy, rapacious, mercenary, materialistic; mean, miserly, parsimonious, hoarding, selfish, possessive, close, tightfisted, tight, stingy, money-grubbing, cheap, grabby.

These all sound like pretty bad things – and none of us would want to think of ourselves in this way.  Look at the images used in this passage… rulers who extort their own people, murderers who take life from others, providers who chase fantasies and who don’t provide, the greedy who cause fights and even rob their own parents.  These things seem monstrous to us.  And then the Proverbist throws in this statement near the end: “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.”  This is a summary statement to these verses.  What is the writer saying?

If you look back at these verses in light of this summary statement,  it becomes very clear that the ruler who extorts his people is a fool because he trusts in his own wisdom – he chooses to extort from his people and in doing so corrupts the noble office of being a ruler.  Instead he becomes a thug with an army.  In the same way, the murderer who overpowers another to take his life – who trusts in his own understanding and sees murder as the solution to his problem – becomes a fugitive whose only rest will be death.

What is the writer saying?  He is saying that there is something terribly corrupting about trusting in our own wisdom and solutions to get what we want.  He is showing us the connection between trusting in ourselves and grasping.  He is saying that those who trust in their own ability to get what they want for themselves are liable/ likely to become grasping (again, see definition above) and so to corrupt their lives.

GOD KNOWS HOW TO PROVIDE FOR US.

God is a Father Who Provides:  The assumption that underlies this passage is that God provides for us.  The promise that God will take care of us is repeated in vs.19 (the farmer who faithfully works his field), and vs. 27 (those who give to the poor), and vs.23 (vindication for the one who rebukes a person), and vs.18 (to be with the one who hates dishonest gain).

What underlies all these statements is the understanding that God cares for people as they put their trust in his wisdom and in his solutions, rather than in their own.   The point in every example given is that there is a choice:  to trust in our own ability to impress people or to speak truthfully to them… to come up with a money making scheme or to work faithfully and be content… to overpower our enemies or  to pray for them… to take advantage and/or ignore those in need or to show generosity and trust that God, our Father, will take care of us.

The Call to Trust in God:    A lot of people talk about having a personal relationship with God – in very vague ways.  But this is a very practical way to have a relationship with God.  God our father wants to be our provider.  God wants us to develop a relationship of trust in which we are trusting him to care for our needs – to vindicate us when we are misunderstood or falsely accused. This passage is telling us that “those who trust in the Lord will prosper” – vs.25.

In a fallen world, where we see the effects of sin every day, this is a hard thing to believe.  We should not be trite or naive about these things.  Faith – the assurance of what we do not see (Heb.11) is not easy.   Our calling is to learn to trust God as a Father.

LEARN TO TRUST GOD AS A FATHER AND PROVIDER.

So how then do we begin to cultivate this relationship in which we recognize God as our provider and learn to trust in him?   The Passage gives us three sets of specifics to think about

Trust God by Limiting Your Ability to Get What You Want // Don’t Resort to Force – vs.15-18:   What does this mean?  Certainly we shouldn’t take people’s money at gunpoint.  We should not be violent.

But there is also a much more common use of force – the use of words and actions to get what we want.  We manipulate or force others to do and to act and to feel as we want them to by …

~ Emotional Acting: putting on an emotional play – acting sad or angry in order to  get a response – to make people feel a certain way for your benefit.

~ Distorting Dependency:  Suggesting that your happiness – life – ability to cope –  depends on the actions of another.

~ Playing the Martyr:  Suggesting or Demanding that others owe you or should feel sorry for you because of life choices or circumstances.

~ Threatening:  We threaten to withhold love or help. We threaten by making up fearful consequences of what might happen.

~ Flattery:  We use praise to manipulate people and get what we want.

These are just a few of the ways in which we make ourselves tyrants and demand our way.  These are ways in which we trust in ourselves to get what we want – rather than allowing God to be our Father and provider.

Trusting God means limiting ourselves by refusing to be manipulative in our families and relationships.  We trust God when we limit ourselves to simply speaking the truth – confessing our desires and needs and fears for what they are without the use of manipulation, deceit or force.

Trust God by Being Thankful, Recognizing God’s Provision // Don’t Be Driven by Discontent – vs.19-20:  Some people who are creative are natural dreamers.   They are energized by thinking about how things could be – and this drives their creativity.  To those who are dreamers – their is a difference between  creativity, dreaming and chasing fantasies.  The contrast in vs.19-20 is between the one who works and the one who does not work.

That being said, there is also a clear choice between being driven by discontent from one desire to the next – and thankfulness to God as a Father who has provided all we have – and contentment to wait on God, “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim.6:17).

Trust God by Being Generous as Your Heavenly Father is Generous // Don’t Value Wealth Above People – vs.21-27:  Partiality, stinginess, taking advantage of parents, fighting over money, and ignoring the poor are all obvious ways of trusting in our ability to handle wealth and provide for ourselves.

Generosity, on the other hand, is a way of practicing trust in God as our provider.   Generosity that is joyful (not out of guilt but with gladness) is imitation of God which enables us to experience, to some small degree, what God, our Father experiences as he provides for us.

When we are able to see God’s generosity towards us – his provision for us – his compassion and grace towards us, though we are undeserving sinners – and respond with generosity towards others – rather than clutching and holding onto what we can get for ourselves – then we are practicing and responding to the Gospel – we are showing ourselves to be the children of God.

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