Proverbs – Week 37 Notes

By October 18, 2020Sermon Notes

People are much more likely to die from the results of unforgiveness, bitterness and unresolved anger than they are from Covid.

The good news is…we don’t have to wait for scientists to come up with a cure…Jesus already has.

But to my point about the physical results of what are in essence spiritual problems…

“Chronic anger puts you into a fight or flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”

This is from an article entitled…”Forgiveness : Your health depends on it.” By a doctor from John’s Hopkins

There are about a million of these kinds of articles…I’ve read books on similar topics, heard lectures, been to training…the impact of our anger, bitterness, unforgiveness on our physical health is well documented.

The act of forgiveness (whether the other person asks for it or receives it or not) can lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels and sleep, reduce pain, blood pressure, and lower anxiety and depression.

The many studies out there demonstrating this heart/mind/body/others connection are just us playing catch up to what the Bible has long taught us. 

This year we are in Proverbs, this month we have been looking at how Proverbs reframes life for us.

How we frame life determines how we live life.

If we frame in the negative…we live in the negative.

If we frame life without God in all of it…we live life as if God is in little or none of it.

Today, we see once again how Proverbs frames human life as being a seamless whole…we are spiritual/physical hybrids…we cannot be divided into parts as if one part matters more or less than the other.

OBJECTIVE: AS A RESULT OF OUR TIME TOGETHER IN GOD’S WORD I AM PRAYING THAT THE GOSPEL WILL MORE FULLY FRAME OUR THINKING AND SHAPE OUR LIVING SUCH THAT WE WILL ENJOY MAXIMUM PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL, AND RELATIONAL HEALTH…FOR OUR GOOD AND GOD’S GLORY

We are designed to live with our bodies, minds, souls, and relationships all under the loving and wise Lordship of Jesus.

When we do…when we live inside our design parameters…it works very well.

When we do not…it doesn’t work well.

And because of what is called “Common grace” anyone, believer or not, who operates within God’s design will do better than if they do not live within that design.

And anyone, even a believer, who doesn’t operate within God’s design…will fail to thrive.

So…a non-believing farmer who comes to understand how God has designed plants to grow can have an abundant harvest.

While a Christian farmer who disregards God’s design for plants…will not have a good harvest no matter how much faith he has in the gospel.

This is true for physical, mental, interpersonal realities that God has designed into the world.

The non-believer who understands and applies truth to his or her own body, mind, and relationships will thrive more than the believer who fails to do so.

It sounds common sense to say this…but many become confused by the thriving unbeliever OR the believer who is failing to thrive.

How can the gospel be true…if this is true?

Because there is saving grace…and there is common grace.

Ultimately…saving grace is necessary in order to have eternal life with God.

But in this life the power of the gospel to save us eternally does not change the fact that we must live with wisdom if we are to live thriving lives now.

So…the non-believer can practice forgiveness, learn to do certain kinds of “mindfulness” physical/mental exercises and have better sleep, more joy, and more health than…

The believer who has trusted Christ for relationship with God but fails to do the things that align with how God has designed the world to work will suffer poor health.

Again…this can be confusing… “How can they be a Christian…if they are so angry, so spun up, so bitter, so unforgiving.”

Of course the answer may be “They aren’t a Christian.”

But it may also be…because they are living as homeless orphans, prodigals…when they could be living in their father’s house, under his loving “house rules”…rules designed to make us free.

Let’s look at our Scripture for today…

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

Proverbs 14:30

Another translation reads like this…

“A calm heart gives life to the entire body but “hot passion” is rot in the bones.”

Hot passion is not sexual in nature here…it indicates all kinds of emotional/mental responses that spin us up.

It’s often translated “envy”…but it’s not just a “jealousy” of what others have…

This is a representative term that refers to inwardly being perpetually “spun up” with anxiety, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness…any manner of self-centered/self-focused thoughts and emotions.

The result of hanging on to these things in the long term is rot in the bones.

Bones here is an expression that means the entire physical body…what we allow to reside in our minds and hearts…can literally kill our physical bodies.

It is like a bone cancer that rots the structure of a person’s body and shortens their life.

Remember: Proverbs are general statements of how life works.

This is not a universal promise that “If you have inner peace, you will have no physical problems.”

Or if you have a disease it is somehow “Your fault.”

Clearly God has different purposes for different lives…he has different ways he wants us to experience him and bring him Glory.

For some it may be disease, earlier death…for some they will live older lives.

What is indicated here and all through Proverbs is that a life of Wisdom…grounded on respect, love, and submission to God…is the path of experiencing your best possible life.

A life that will be, all things considered…a good life…experience bears this out if we are paying attention.

All things considered includes…physical, spiritual, relational, mental, and eternal good.

Proverbs teaches us to measure correctly…to measure from God’s viewpoint not our own.

We often measure too soon (this isn’t working(wisdom)/this is working”(folly, sin))

-Just wait

We often measure too selfishly (this feels good for me/this does not feel good for me)

-Selfishness is never in your own best interests…doesn’t work

We often measure too small (I am happy today/I not happy today)

-Okay, but what larger good might come from this experience from this day?

-What lasting bad might come from you doing what feels good today?

Wisdom teaches to measure longer and larger than folly does.

So, for instance that favorite wisdom verse of mine from Psalms… “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” 90:12

That is using long and large measurements to make today’s decisions…wise choices. 

When I am feeling frustrated, angry, spun up about something someone has said, done…I read an article or two about someone famous who has died.

I then briefly contemplate my own death…then within a few minutes…my frustration, anger…the importance of what I was emotional spun up about…feels really small and petty.

This is not to say there are not serious things done to us that cannot be easily discarded…I’m talking here about the more “run of the mill” offenses.

But even for the larger issues of our lives…the principle remains true…we must measure long and large.

God’s goodness, glory and eternity…are larger than even the largest of offenses.

So, let me read the Proverb one more time, from yet another translation, then let’s go the gospel for God’s solution to our problem.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Proverbs 14:30

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus hears the “muttering” “grumbling” “complaining”…about his propensity to hang around with regular people…people outside the circles of normal religious figures.

He attempts to reframe their perspective with three consecutive parables…all with the same point…we are of great value to God…these “sinners” they are grumbling about…matter to God.

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Then his third and most powerful parable…not a lost coin or animal…but a lost son…in fact two lost sons.

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So, he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So, his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”  

There are two lost and foolish sons in this story…this is the story of two prodigal sons.

 

The first is the son who envied sinners and thought life with his Father was second best.

Four verses in this masterpiece of story describe all that Proverbs says about the way and results of embracing folly verse God’s wisdom.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

This son was experiencing in his physical body…the pain of embracing envy and rebellion…Proverbs in parable form.

But then the power of the gospel changes his trajectory:

  1. First he sees his need.

“My life is mess, and I have made it so.”

  1. Then he repents of his sin.

“I’m not worthy to be your son”

  1. Then he receives his Father’s grace

“No, you are my son, you were lost and now you are found.

The second son likewise experienced envy, lack of gratitude and was in danger of ruining his own life…even while he lived in his father’s house…while he was experiencing his father’s generosity.

This son heard the commotion and celebrating and asked the servants “What’s going on?”

“Your brother has come back safe and your father is celebrating”

The second prodigal son became angry and refused to go in to celebrate.

The loving father went to this lost son and pleaded with him to come and enjoy life in loving relationship.

But this son said “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

This son appeared, outwardly to be doing well in his father’s house…working, obeying…but inwardly…envy was rotting his bones…discontent.

He had turned family work into slavery.

He had turned opportunity to be with his father working for his own inheritance…into dull obedience.

Then he seems as though he wished he had gone and lived a broken life…like his brother got some kind of good deal…while he stayed and played the good boy.

He doesn’t even call him a brother but

“When this son of yours…squandered your money with prostitutes comes home you celebrate him.”

31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours…but your of course we will celebrate that YOUR BROTHER was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.” 

Two prodigal sons…both lost in envy…both needing a gospel reframing.

One thinks life with his father is dull, unexciting…until he finds himself living an utterly empty life, in every way…envying now, not the sinners he joined…but the servants who used to work under him.

“At least they have access to my Father and his loving care…my life is a wreck”

The other thinks life with father is oppressive and unappreciated…he sees himself as a slave rather than a son.

Both framed life through folly…and both came to disastrous conclusions.

One looked at life through the lens of envy…jealous of sinners.

One through the lens of bitterness and unforgiveness…unwilling for his own brother to experience grace.

Only the gospel of grace could save either brother.

The foolish one chasing folly in his actions

The dutiful, embittered one embracing folly in his heart.

Why do I keep going from Proverbs/wisdom to the gospel?

The Bible is a single story…Jesus is the point of the story.

1 Corinthians 12:24 “Christ is the wisdom and power of God.”

Wise living is ultimately all about the gospel:

Justification: Wisdom is putting your Faith in Christ leading to relationship with God, forgiveness of sins.

Sanctification: Wisdom is a life of loving obedience to Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit…leading to growth in becoming like Christ…who is wisdom personified.

Glorification: Wisdom is ultimately experienced after death where we leave folly behind forever.

So, let’s apply Proverbs 14:30 with a gospel reframing

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

How is a heart at peace?

Three answers to this from the gospel…justification, sanctification, and glorification.

  1. Justification:

-A heart, a human life, has peace ultimately through believing the gospel.

-Humanities’ fall into sin caused a relational break between us and God, us and others, and us and ourselves.

-This shows up in our continual attempts to, as Jeremiah wrote… “Dig our own wells to quench our soul’s thirst.”

-The problem is these wells cannot hold water…they are empty…so we are empty…and our thirst often drives us to folly…we lack peace in our hearts and minds.

-Like the prodigal sons…whose own attempts to find life on their own terms threatened to ruin them.

-When we receive Christ’s grace gift by faith…we are justified…we experience peace between us and God.

-His payment for our sins….means we are now “not guilty” but have peace with God through Jesus Christ.

This peace is an objective reality…something we experience whether we somehow feel it or not.

Like a person declared not guilty by a judge…who continues to feel guilt, or fears punishment.

Their feelings can put them in an emotional prison…but the judge has declared that they will not be put in a physical prison.

They are free…now they must learn to live in that freedom.

This brings us the second verse of this salvation song…

  1. Sanctification:

This is the ongoing collaborative process…whereby God uses human will and choices empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring about real change in us over time.

What is true about us in fact…we are free from sin’s power…becomes real for us in the way we think and act and who we become. 

We are no longer slaves to sin…but we must grow in our capacity to live in that freedom.

So ,we have peace with God…we do not need to fear separation or condemnation…but we must learn to embrace this peace in practice.

We do not have to live with bitterness, envy, unforgiveness…selfishness…but we must grow in our capacity to put these things away and embrace the fruits of God’s spirit available to us.

But this will be a lifelong process…so in this life we will not experience consistent and complete feelings of peace…which brings us to the third verse of the song.

  1. Glorification…full experience of peace.

Our salvation is already (we are saved)…justified…we have peace with God

Our salvation is ongoing (we are being saved)…sanctification…we are growing in peace with ourselves and others.

Our salvation is not yet (we will be saved)…glorification…full experience of peace.

This means hope…for those who struggle to feel peace now…full peace is coming, hang in there.

It means perspective…for those who struggle to understand how they can truly belong to God and yet so often lack peace as a subjective reality….they don’t feel it.

Peace is a settled fact if you have followed Christ.

Peace as a feeling will come and go…but feelings do not change the fact.

Have you surrendered your life to Christ?

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Jesus, the Bible says “Is our peace”

If the answer is yes and you continue to struggle to live with peace

-Sometimes feeling like God doesn’t love or accept you.

You must (and you can) let the truth of the Gospel shape your thinking, and believing.

*You can believe what God says, you don’t have to believe what you feel…YOU LEARN CAN DOUBT YOUR DOUBTS…YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BELIEVE THEM.

*You can believe what is real…and let go of bitterness, unforgiveness, judgement of others, insecurity and competition.

You can do this if you will…the fruit of the Spirit is… Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, elf-control.

You have Him you if you belong to Christ…you can enjoy the fruit if you will choose to.

It will be a process with steady progress…but you can get in that process if you only will.

A HEART AT PEACE GIVES LIFE TO THE BODY…BUT ENVY ROTS THE BONES

You may be experiencing some physical disfunction because of a lack of peace in your heart.

Because you are allowing the presence of envy, bitterness, unforgiveness to remain.

You may think you have reason to do so…I’m sure the second prodigal son thought he did.

But is this what you want?   Is this worth it?

You may be experiencing brokenness…rot in relationships for many of the same reasons.

Perhaps you are the discontent prodigal…who has believed there is a better way than life with your father and you are experiencing that emptiness.

Turn to him…he will take you back as a son or daughter…without hesitation.

Perhaps you are the dutiful and self-righteous prodigal.

Feeling ripped off by God because you have been “good” and yet you are no better off than the fools who do whatever they want and still are forgiven and even celebrated.

Reframe this…you have escaped the brokenness of life in the pig pens.

You have lived long in your father’s house…laboring as a son or daughter…you’re not a slave.

You can rejoice with your father when your prodigal brothers and sisters return and join you in relationship with your father.

A HEART AT PEACE GIVES LIFE TO THE BODY…BUT ENVY ROTS THE BONES

“ ‘My son/daughter,’ the father says, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours…and we will celebrate that your brother/sister was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.”

Let God parent others as he sees fit…you enjoy him as your Father…live with a heart full of peace.

You have opportunity to let the stuff that rots the bones…go.

You don’t have to hold it; it doesn’t get to hold you.

There is NO barrier between you and a life full of God and full of relationship with others…no barrier other than the one we put up ourselves.

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