Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Wisdom Toward Others (Proverbs 3:27-35)

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so" (Prov. 3:27).

In this passage, Solomon tells us not to withhold good from others, not to plot evil or strive against our neighbor, and not to envy the ungodly.

“Many are the forms of [withholding dues]—borrowing without payment, evading the taxes, ‘keeping back the laborer’s hire,’ ” Bridges wrote. “But the rule probes deeper than this surface. If we have no legal debt to any, we have a Gospel debt to all (Rom. 13:8). Even the poor is bound by this universal law to his poorer neighbor. Every one has a claim upon our love. Every opportunity of doing good is our call to do so. Our neighbors are the real owners of our good.… Kindness is therefore a matter, not of option, but of obligation; an act of justice no less than of mercy.”

Not only should we give every man his due, especially in the declaration of the Gospel, but we should not delay our benevolence. “Delay is an offense against the law of love,” Bridges wrote. “Too often the cold repulse—Go, and come again—is a cover for selfishness. There is a secret hope that the matter will be forgotten, dropped, or taken up by some other party.… We should cultivate a quick sensibility of the wants and sufferings of others; putting ourselves as much as possible in their place; not only ‘doing good,’ but ‘ready to every good work.’ … The Gospel presents every neighbor before us as [someone] needing our help, and to be loved and cared for ‘as ourselves.’ Why do we not more readily acknowledge this standard? The Lord raise us from our selfishness, and mold us to His own image of mercy and love!”

We find in this passage a positive directive to do good as well as a negative command not to do evil to our neighbor. This includes guarding against useless quarrels. Some people carry a spirit of strife into their neighbor’s home—a spirit that is a great hindrance to holiness and the Gospel. Do not be so quick to argue as to edify.

Lastly, the saint must refrain from envy. To envy the ungodly is folly because the blessings of the saints far outweigh the glories of unbelievers. God’s curse is upon them. Shame is their lot. What, then, is there to envy? The ways of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, do not let them be a source of envy for you.

Are you withholding good from others? Are you unkind to a neighbor or associate? Are you refusing to bring the Gospel to someone God has put into your life for that purpose? If so, confess your selfishness and give to others. Are you quarrelsome? Do you envy? Confess and repent if you see these things in your life.