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Bible Reading: Proverbs 11.1-15

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. 4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. 5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. 7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of strong men perishes. 8 The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place. 9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. 10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. 12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. 13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. 14 Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory. 15 He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it, But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.  Proverbs 11.1-15

In today’s passage we see God showing huge contrasts between the “upright” and the “wicked”.  We know the Lord demands that the lives of believers be very different from the lives of unbelievers.  In fact just take a look at the definition of the word contrast: the state of being strikingly different from something else.  Wow, strikingly different sounds like a lofty goal. But Christ did command us to be salt and light after all. In our text we will see exactly what strikingly different means.

In the first five verses alone we are given huge contrasts. Fairness vs. Cheating in business; Humbleness vs. Pride; Integrity vs. Treachery; Righteousness vs. Wickedness. The consequences are enormous too. God’s delight vs. Abomination; Wisdom vs. Dishonor; Being Guided vs. Being Destroyed; Being Delivered vs. Wrath.

In Verses 6-10, we see many of the same contrasts being repeated, but take notice in Verse 9 that the tongue is added. Surely we realize the old saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is both false and absurd. Words can and often do destroy others (Read James 3:1-12). This phrase really drives home the truth about our words, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” Verses 11-15, repeat even more contrasts, including the tongue, but they also add being good neighbors, not lying, following Godly leaders/counselors, and the handling of money. I sure do thank God that I go to a church that teaches about the handling of money. Verse 15 teaches that we should avoid foolish risk, and avoid overextending – they will cause damage.

So where are we as individuals? As a church? As a nation? Do we need to adjust the contrast?

Christ’s church, born-again believers, must take a firm stand on God’s truths. We must be “strikingly different” from the unbelieving world. And the topics are not easy at all – divorce, abortion, racism, ethics, honesty, business, government, education, family, even how we drive our car! The list could go on and on, but my head is already spinning.

So how do we do it? How do we adjust the contrast on more than our televisions?

It must start with me. And you, and you, and you, and our church, and our town, and our nation. It may seem daunting but in fact our contrast has already been re-set! Let us all start living like it.  As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  As Jesus says in Matthew 5:14a and 16, “You are the light of the world. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Memory Verse: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12.1