The Difference Christ Makes
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying together. We are in that section of the book of Proverbs that we have designated The Personal Proverbs of Solomon . These personal proverbs begin with chapter 10 and conclude with chapter 22, verse 6. You will recall that we have said to you that in this particular part of the book of Proverbs, the proverbs are not presented chronologically, nor are they presented topically; so we said that the best way to study this particular portion of the book was to select a principle and notice how many proverbs are related to that particular principle, gather those proverbs around the principle and see what we can learn doctrinally about the principle that is stated in this particular portion of the Word of God.

The principle that we are going to discuss with you in this lesson may sound a bit strange for an Old Testament study because the principle that we are going to study in this lesson is the difference Christ makes. You may say, “We are in the Old Testament, and the story of Christ's redeeming grace is not presented personally until we come to the New Testament.”

The main text that we are going to use states the principle in Old Testament language. I think you will be able to see why we are making this suggestion. Notice, please, Proverbs, chapter 12, verse 10:

Proverbs 12:

10 A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

This text presented in the Paraphrased edition of the Word of God suggests even more clearly: “The righteous man careth for his beast, but the wicked man is cruel of heart.”

Beloved, there is a difference. A righteous man has a different kind of heart than a wicked man. A righteous man does care for his beast, his horse, his camel, his dog—whatever it is—and a wicked man is naturally cruel at heart, not interested at all in the welfare of that for which he has responsibility. We suggest to you that the New Testament reveals that there is no righteousness outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Lord Jesus Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and redemption; and that being true, you can see the reason for the principle that we suggest to you—the difference Christ makes.

Yes, Christ in the heart of a man will make a difference in the way that he treats his beast. It will make a difference in the way that he treats his family. It will make a difference in the way that he treats his children. It will make a difference in everything he does, so I want you to notice with me the proverbs which suggest the thought that there is a difference in the heart and the life of the individual who has come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Attitudes and Actions Towards the Poor

I am going to summarize some of them by suggesting there is a difference in the attitude and the actions of men who have come to know Christ. When I speak of the attitudes and the actions, I speak first about the attitude of the individuals who come to know Christ in relation to the poor, the attitudes of people who do not know Christ in this same relationship. Notice chapter 14, verse 21:

Proverbs 14:

21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

If you read this proverb without thinking, you might assume that we are talking about two different classes of people here—a neighbor in the first part of the verse and a poor man in the second part of the verse. However, you must interpret these two statements together. The one qualifies the other so that you are speaking about a poor man in the first part of the verse, and you are speaking about a poor man in the second part of the verse. The use of the word neighbor is not an unusual thing because you will recall that the Lord Jesus Christ answered a question in relation to neighbors with a story of the good Samaritan, and it certainly was dealing with the poor.

Do All in the Name of Jesus

The suggestion also is brought to our attention in the Colossian letter, chapter 3, verse 17, that whatever you and I are called upon to do in our everyday life should not be done from a secular standpoint. It should not be done from a human standpoint, but it should be done from the standpoint of our responsibility to the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice Colossians, chapter 3, verse 17:

Colossians 3:

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

What has that got to do with your attitude toward the poor? There is another verse, if you will go back with me to the book of Proverbs and notice chapter 19, verse 17. Remember now, we are talking about the difference which Christ makes in a life. An individual who has come to know Christ as Savior won't give to the poor in a spirit of impersonality as one might give to the United Fund drive. He looks upon what he is doing as being done in the name of the Lord. Notice what is said in verse 17:

Proverbs 19:

17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that if you have pity on the poor—helping to meet their needs—because you are a believer, you wind up lending it to the Lord? Have you ever thought about investing your money by lending it to the Lord by meeting the needs of the poor and doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Of course, if you don't do it in His name, you won't be lending it to Him.

The Paraphrased version presents a very interesting paraphrase: “When you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord.” I like this: “He pays a wonderful interest on your loan.” That is true because God refuses to remain in debt to anybody. You can't outgive God, and you can't outdo God. There is no way in the world that you can get by Him. He said that when you help that poor man, even if you are expending some of your money, don't look upon it as an expenditure. Look upon it as a loan that you are making to God, and you will be surprised at the rate of interest. You won't be sorry that you made a loan like that.

You see, that is the difference Christ makes. Individuals who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ are not always interested in the needs of the poor, save in some impersonal fashion as we have already suggested; but those who know Christ look upon every appeal as one which should be considered in relationship to Jesus Christ, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Attitudes and Actions Towards Associates

The difference that Christ makes in an individual's life is seen not only in actions and attitudes toward the poor, but in actions and attitudes toward associates, those with whom we have to do. For example, we associate with people. If we are believers we are going to be very conscientious about the example that we set before them. Look at chapter 12, verse 26:

Proverbs 12:

26 The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

This is another one of those unhappy translations in the King James text because it does not give the clear sense of the verse. It doesn't say nearly as much as the American Standard translation does when it says: “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” This is the better translation of the two.

Do you see what we are talking about? If the Lord Jesus Christ is living in your heart, you are righteous. So you are going to recognize, whether you like it or not, that you are a guide to your neighbor. You are an example. Their eyes are on you. You don't need to go and wave a red flag and say, “Watch me as I do this, so you will learn how to do it.” They will be looking, and though you may say that through your liberty in Christ you may do anything that you want to do, you are going to be very much concerned that you be different from the wicked because the wicked don't care. They don't care what their examples are. They don't care what their example accomplished, so they aren't concerned at what they do. They lead their neighbor astray.

Concern for Your Witness

Christ makes a difference. Christ makes a difference in relation to the witness that is given. Notice chapter 14, verse 25, where you read:

Proverbs 14:

25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.

What is the suggestion brought to our attention here? Simply that if you are a believer, if the Lord Jesus Christ is living in your heart and in your life, then you are going to be vitally concerned about your witness and the effect thereof, for the purpose of your witness will be to deliver souls The purpose of your witness will be to speak the truth that souls might be delivered from eternal damnation.

The wicked man doesn't care. He says anything that comes to his mind, whether it is true or whether it isn't. You see, this is the reason that you should be very much concerned, if you are a believer, that you are receiving the truth from the pulpit, that you are receiving the truth when you sit under the ministry of any individual, that the Word of the living God is what is being proclaimed, and that you are growing so that your witness will be stronger and greater and more effective.

Wise Men Restrain Anger and Overlook Insults

When we think about the attitudes and the activities of individuals who know Christ in contrast with those who don't know Christ, we think about them not only in the manner which we have suggested to you thus far, but we think about them in relation to insults. Notice, please, chapter 19, verse 11:

Proverbs 19:

11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

You may wonder what this verse of Scripture has to do with insults, so we offer to you another rendering of it: “A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.”

The wise man in the book of Proverbs, as we have already learned in our study thus far, is a man who is the righteous man, the man who is born again, the Christian of the New Testament, because he has that wisdom that is his because of Christ. So we might well read this passage of Scripture, “A Christian man restrains his anger and overlooks insults, and this is to his credit.”

You may say, “Wait a minute. I don't believe that just because I am a Christian I have to take everything from everybody.” You don't have to, but if you recognize the value of a witness and a testimony, there are times that you will be perfectly willing to restrain your anger and overlook insults that you might have something on the credit side of the ledger when it comes to witnessing for Christ.

Quite often individuals like me fail to restrain our anger. We forget about it rather rapidly because anger vaporizes. You express yourself. You get rid of your hostilities and it is all gone. You don't think anything more about it. Then somebody says to an individual who doesn't know the Savior, “I wish you would go to church with me sometime and hear Joe Temple preach. He brings something from the Word of God that will be helpful to you.” This individual says, “Is that the fellow who preaches over on Butternut? Is that the fellow who preaches on radio and television?” “Yes, that's the fellow.” “You mean you want me to go hear him? No, thank you. I tried to sell him something one time. Let me tell you I never saw a fellow get as mad in my life as I saw him get. I never saw a fellow react to the insults I gave him the way he reacted. He doesn't have anything to offer me. I wouldn't have gotten half as mad as he did.” You see, I had already forgotten about it, but whatever opportunity for witness that I might have had to that individual is gone, and that is the reason that I say Christ in your life should make a difference.

Love Covers Faults

It makes a difference in relation to faults which we are apt to find in other people. Turn with me, please, to Proverbs, chapter 10, verse 12:

Proverbs 10:

12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Again you may say, “What's that got to do with faults?” The word sins is not as happy a translation as it might be, and we suggest another rendering: “Hate is always picking a quarrel, but love turns a blind eye to every fault.”

This is the love of God that we are talking about. You see, when the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit, then you find that love turning a blind eye to faults which lie within the hearts of people. This isn't to say that we condone what is done. This isn't to say that we overlook in the sense of saying that it doesn't really matter, that everything is all right. It is simply saying that the love of God in our hearts doesn't call attention to the faults of others to their detriment. You read carefully what is recorded right here in this chapter and you will find that the Bible isn't teaching you to ignore sin; the Bible isn't teaching you to make light of evil; it is telling you, Beloved, that when love replaces hate, it is amazing how many faults can be overlooked.

You know, that is true in the marital relationship. Where real love is, faults seem to be smothered. Let me pass on just a little extra word that isn't going to cost you any more at the moment, and that is when you begin to find faults with everything your loved one does, and you begin to pick and nitpick, you had better take a little vacation alone together and revive the fires of love because they are dying down. Love covers faults.

Christ Makes a Difference in Friendships

You meditate upon that for yourself as I suggest to you that Christ in the heart of the believer makes a difference in relation to friendship. There is friendship in the world. We know that. There is companionship; there is association; but when Christ comes into the heart and blesses a friendship, there is a difference. Notice in chapter 17, verse 17:

Proverbs 17:

17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

That would seem, just glancing at the verse, that there are two statements made there. One is that a friend is loyal at all times, and a brother is somebody that you have got to go to when you are in trouble. But the literal rendering of the verse is: “A friend loveth at all times. He is as a brother that is born to stand by you in the times of adversity.” Christ in the heart of an individual causes him to realize that we are all members one with another, members of the Body of Christ; and if one member suffers, then every member suffers with him. A friend is a friend in the world, but a friend is a brother when individuals come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Christ does make a difference.

I could be concerned because more of us as believers do not recognize our relationship with one another in the Body of Christ and are concerned about it. Have we learned that relationship with one another that causes us to suffer with every member of the Body of Christ? Most of us, I am afraid, haven't gone that deep with Christ. If you wonder about it, you might just examine how you feel when other believers come into misfortune. When other believers are going through trials, does it really matter? Do you really care? Are you really bearing the burden with them?

Effects of Attitudes and Actions

I want to leave a final thought with you in relation to the differences which are seen in the Christian and the non-Christian as far as the effects of his actions are concerned. For many years people did not know that many physical ailments were related to spiritual problems. The Bible knew it all the time. Now individuals are ready to realize that, whether they accept the Bible as the Word of God or not. These things that we have been talking to you about—your attitudes and your actions as they are colored by your relationship with Jesus Christ—have very definite effects. I would like for you to notice some of the effects which are brought to our attention as they are based upon the New Testament principle. Turn to the book of Galatians and notice chapter 6, verse 8:

Galatians 6:

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that in Galatians, chapter 6, verse 8, the first part is talking about an unsaved man and the second part is talking about a Christian. That isn't true. It is talking about a believer. A believer who soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. A believer who soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The application could be made as to the unsaved man. The unsaved man is sowing to the flesh all of the time, not spasmodically, so may I suggest a physical effect as we go back to Proverbs, chapter 11, which can and does occur quite often in the lives of men who do not follow God's principles for the right attitude and actions which we have laid down for you in this lesson. Notice Proverbs, chapter 11, verse 17:

Proverbs 11:

17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

“The merciful man does good to his own life, but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” That doesn't mean he is a burden or a bore to his wife and children. It means that he reaps in his own flesh the trouble. He reaps in his own flesh the effects of his cruelty. You cannot ignore the laws of God in returning good for evil and not expect for it to take a toll on your physical experience.

There are people today who have physical ailments which have their roots in the bitterness of their soul, in cruelties they have inflicted upon other people that they have not been able to make right, troubled in spirit because of things that they cannot undo.

There is a spiritual effect. Notice in chapter 11, verse 27:

Proverbs 11:

27 He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.

A rendering that will make the spiritual application clearer is seen in the words, “If you search for good, you will find God's favor. If you search for evil, you will find His curse.” You can decide what is going to be the object of your life's search—good or evil. If it is good, then the blessings of God will rest upon you, and your spiritual life will be growing and you will magnify. If you search for evil, then the curse of God will rest upon your life, spiritually speaking, and your life will be stunted and will never come to full growth. You won't be able to progress spiritually as you need to progress.

Attitudes and Actions can Affect You Materially

There is another effect I would like to suggest to you, and it is one, of course, that comes very close to home to all of us because the effect I have in mind is related to material things. Yes, your attitudes and your actions, as they stem from the condition of your heart can affect you materially, and the Holy Spirit establishes this principle in chapter 17, verse 13:

Proverbs 17:

13 Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

The material emphasis is seen in the rendering: “If you repay evil for good, a curse is upon your home.” Many times people do not realize why they are not being prospered materially, why they are not being blessed materially, so to speak. They wonder what they have done wrong or what turn they have taken that is not good or what decision they have made, business-wise, that is not what it ought to have been. Really, all of your practices may have been as they ought to have been. Your decisions may have been wise, but somewhere along the line, you have returned evil for good. God is not going to bless you until that thing is straightened out and made right.

We would not say that this is the only reason for the lack of material blessings, but we would say that if individuals find it difficult in the way they are pursuing, things are not going the way they ought to go, it might be wise to do a little heart searching and see if perchance along the way they have ignored the principle which God has laid down for the believer—returning good for evil instead of evil for good.

Conclusion

Christ does make a difference, and if you have not seen a difference in your life in your attitudes and actions since you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are ignoring a very important principle in God's Word and you should be vitally concerned about it.


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