Right Attitudes
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God which we have been studying together. We are following the natural divisions into which the book of Proverbs falls. At the present time we are discussing that division that begins with chapter 25 and concludes with chapter 29. According to chapter 25, verse 1, it has been designated The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men , because we read:

Proverbs 25:

1 These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.

We suggested to you that there was a time when part of the Word of God was hidden in the dark of disuse and disinterest. When good King Hezekiah came to the throne he ordered his scribes to uncover all of the Word of God that had been hidden away. In the midst of this discovery they came across these proverbs of Solomon which the scribes of Hezekiah copied and incorporated in that book of Proverbs with which we are familiar at the present time.

When we make a statement like that, let us keep in mind that that does not do away with the inspiration of the Word of God; rather, it adds to the marvelous truth that God, in His mercy and grace, has provided and preserved the Word of God for us down to this particular hour.

This particular division, The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men , has fallen into several sections. In chapter 25 we studied together some comparisons which were unrelated one to the other, but did emphasize some definite truth that was a blessing to our hearts.

In chapter 26 we had three illustrations presented to us: the illustration of the fool, the illustration of the sluggard, and the illustration of the scoundrel.

That brings us to chapter 27 of the book of Proverbs. You will find that this is a chapter of 27 verses. That would mean that it would be too long for us to read together as far as your absorbing what is in the chapter is concerned. But I would like for you to notice the two natural divisions into which it falls.

In verses 1-14 we have presented to us what I have described in the words, Right Attitudes —attitudes which we as believers ought to maintain. In the last part of the chapter, verses 15-27, we have a presentation of what I have been pleased to call Right Relationships —relationships which we as well-taught believers ought to maintain.

Right Attitudes

I am going to suggest that we read together verses 1-12, and as we read I want you to notice a peculiarity about them that will even cause you to wonder if I have made a wise selection in the term I have used to describe them—right attitudes. Notice in verse 1:

Proverbs 27:

1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7 The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
8 As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
13 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
14 He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.

We are going to stop our reading there. I wonder if you noticed what I had in mind when I suggested there were peculiarities about these statements. Let me say at the very outset that these attitudes which are enjoined upon us oftentimes are not presented in a positive fashion. Sometimes the negative aspects of the attribute is mentioned so that the positive aspect might be clearer. If you notice carefully you will recognize that the attitude which is enjoined upon us is made even clearer by comparison and contrast with other things. Then if you study this portion of the Word in the light of all the Word of God, which is a very important thing to do with any part of God's Word, you find yourself having emphasized in your own heart the clarity of the correct attitude by comparison and contrast. Look with me again at verse 1:

Proverbs 27:

1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Presumption Versus Prayer

Here is an attitude presented in a negative fashion that the positive attitude might be brought to your attention. Let me suggest it in the words presumption versus prayer . The wise man suggests the idea of presumption when he says:

Proverbs 27:

1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Presumption is a wrong attitude for any believer to have. For any believer to boast about what is going to happen tomorrow or what he is going to do tomorrow is in error. Keep in mind that the morrow may not necessarily be the next twenty-four hours. If you will turn with me to the epistle of James, chapter 4, you will notice the alternative to presumption, so that we can recognize immediately that presumption should not be the attitude that believers should maintain. In place of presumption there should be prayer.

I am going to suggest something with which you may not agree at the outset, but before you reject it, I would like for you to give it your careful consideration. I would like to suggest to you, Beloved, that if you are not praying you are presuming. If you are not living a life of prayer, then you are living a life of presumption. If you are engaged in anything about which you feel no need of prayer, then you are manifesting an attitude of presumption. Notice James, chapter 4, verses 13:

James 4:

13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

The phrase, go to , is a favorite expression of James, which could be translated many different ways. You might say, “Stop that foolishness,” or “How foolish can you be to say that you are going to go tomorrow into such a city and continue there a year, both to buy and to sell and to get gain.”

If you stop and look at that verse for a moment, you will see there are several things that the individual in question has done wrong. First, the very idea that he plans to make a trip tomorrow by his own accord. Another thing that is wrong is for him to make a decision on his own about how long he is going to stay in that city. The third thing that he does wrong is to assume that he knows already what he is going to do. He has his plans. He is going to buy, and he is going to sell.

The fourth thing that he does wrong is to presume that what he is going to do is going to be a success. James says, “Go to now, ye that say that…” Solomon said, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for you do not know what is going to happen tomorrow.” Then James says, in verse 14:

James 4:

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

He says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow,” then he says some thought-provoking things. He says, “You don't know whether you will be alive tomorrow.” Well, that is not exactly the way he says it. He says, “For what is your life? How long do you know you will live?” To remind you of the brevity of life, he says, “Your life [any man's life] is as a vapor. It appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. Your life might be gone by tomorrow night. Why are you making plans in your own strength for anything?”

What are you supposed to do? Not make any plans? Not look forward for tomorrow? No. In verse 15, we see:

James 4:

15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Did you notice what he is saying? “If God permits me to live until tomorrow.” I wonder if any of us think as literally along this line as we should. I wonder if, when you go to bed at night, you say, “Lord, if it is your will I would like to wake up on earth tomorrow morning.” I wonder if you just flop in the bed, not even giving it a thought. Then after you have prayed about God's will for your life tomorrow, you can pray about the individual things that James describes under the terms “do this or that.” “Lord, shall I do this? Lord, shall I do that?” You seek the will of the Lord about it.

The people to whom James was speaking and those whom Solomon had in mind were not only neglecting to do this, but they were rather proud of the fact that they didn't need to do it, for he says in verse 16:

James 4:

16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

What was it the wise man said? “Boast not thyself of tomorrow.” James said, “You rejoice in the fact that you have your plans all laid out for tomorrow, but I want you to know that is evil.”

What was the alternative? What can you do? You can pray about it. Did you notice how the paragraph ends? Notice verse 17:

James 4:

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I think that sometimes we can generalize the Scripture to such an extent that we miss even the application that God had in mind when He gave the verse of Scripture. How often have I heard this verse quoted to convict men because they don't win souls, “…for to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” I have even heard it used as a text for a sermon to be preached at the folk who don't come to church on Sunday night. We read again:

James 4:

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

The wide application of this verse defies one's imagination. Do you know that literally it is related to the thing we are talking about? If you presume to do something without praying when you have been instructed from the Word of God to do so, you have sinned.

If I were going to ask you how many of you are in fellowship, I am wondering what kind of an answer I might get. I wonder if you could say, “I am in fellowship, absolutely.” Some of you might say, “Well, I would rather not answer that question at the moment.”

Then if I were to say to you, “Well, if you don't feel that you are in fellowship, what sin have you committed that has kept you out of fellowship?” And you say, “Well, the police haven't found it out yet, but I killed my mother-in-law.” You see, with most people the thing that puts you out of fellowship is a great, big sin.

I might say to some of you who have said that you are in fellowship, “Are you sure you are in fellowship?” Then the answer forthcoming, “Oh, of course, I know that I am in fellowship. I do not know of an unconfessed sin in my life.” Then I might say to you, “What are you going to do tomorrow?” You might answer, “I am going to Dallas,” and I might say to you, “Have you prayed about that?” You would say, “No, why should I? If I want to go to Dallas, I will go to Dallas.” Right then, you are out of fellowship. Whether you know it or not, you are out of fellowship because we read:

James 4:

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

It is sin to presume to do something without praying about it. Go back to Proverbs, chapter 27: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow…” Why? Because neither you nor anyone else knows what tomorrow may bring forth.

Personal Praise Versus the Absence of Love

A second attitude that I would like to call to your attention, I have suggested by the words Personal Praise Versus the Absence of Love because we consider the attitude against the background of Scripture. Look at Proverbs, chapter 27, verse 2:

Proverbs 27:

2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

I want you to let those words sink in real deep because we are getting down close home where a lot of us live. Think as clearly as you can, Are you really sure you are obeying the injunction about everything? Read again:

Proverbs 27:

2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

I was talking with an individual the other day who was talking about a preacher, and that individual was telling me how much that preacher did—how many hours he got up before daylight, how many people he saw. It went on and on and was quite an extensive story, and just to step things out a little bit and make a point, I said, “That is wonderful. I am happy to know that there is somebody who is really burning themselves out for the Lord. That is really good, but how did you know that? Did you get up at the same time he did?” They looked at me rather strangely and said, “Well, no.” “How did you know that?” I think they got the point. They smiled and said, “He told me.” There came to mind this passage of Scripture:

Proverbs 27:

2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

I wonder how many folk would starve to death for want of praise if they didn't plant the seed that caused the praise to be forthcoming. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, I quoted to you the proverb before that we have used in a number of services here: “Blessed is the man who tooteth his own horn, for he that tooteth not his own horn, verily it shall not be tooted.” That is a proverb that has a wealth of truth in it. You know, some of us get kind of tired waiting for our horn to be tooted, so we go ahead and toot it. What does this proverb say? We read:

Proverbs 27:

2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

Why is this proverb so very important? Why does it express a need for an attitude that most of us need? Turn with me, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 13, the chapter which is known as the love chapter , which describes the love of God that is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit. This is not a love that is worked up. This is not a love that is manufactured. This is not a love that is somehow or other synthetically produced with all of the modern means of emphasis that we have today. This is a divine love that is produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, and among the many characteristics that is given in this chapter, I would like for you to notice what is recorded in verse 4. Charity is the word used. Actually it is love, agape . Notice:

I Corinthians 13:

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

In these two verses I would like for you to notice one or two phrases. You will notice, please, love vanuteth not itself . Love does not toot its own horn. Love is not caught up. Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, and seeketh not her own.

Beloved, I would suggest to you as we go back to Proverbs, chapter 27, again, that the man who permits another man to praise him, a man who permits a stranger to say good things about him is a man in whom the love of God is shed abroad. He is a man who is controlled by the love of God, but a man who has to say those good things himself, a man who has to draw attention to himself, a man who leaves the impression that he is the only one in all the world who can do what there is to do, a man who speaks in such a fashion that folk see him instead of Christ, is a man who is not filled with the love of God.

Any time the Holy Spirit is hindered from producing fruit in your life, whether it is love, or joy, or peace, or some other fruit, you are not in fellowship. I am making it a bit difficult, but I am emphasizing to you, Beloved, that there are many things that can keep you out of fellowship other than what you are inclined to call sin . You see, a man who talks about himself all of the time is not usually characterized as a sinner, while more times than not, I have heard somebody say, “Why, he is a wonderful man. Of course he is always talking about himself.” Somehow or other you don't seem to think that there is much wrong with that, but God says it is sin. It breaks fellowship, and it quenches the Spirit of God.

Notice again in the book of Proverbs, chapter 27, verse 3:

Proverbs 27:

3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

Did you get that? That is a tremendous proverb. Let's read it again:

Proverbs 27:

3 A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

Have you ever tried to lift a sack of wet sand? That is what is in the picture in this proverb here. Sand is weighty. Have you ever tried to move a heavy stone? Of course, stones are varying in weight, but have you ever tried to lift a heavy stone? Perhaps as you tried to move a sack of wet sand or you tried to move a very heavy stone, you have said to yourself, “I don't believe there is anything in the world any heavier than this.” Well, God said that there is. Do you know what it is? It is in the last part of verse 3: “A fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.” You take the heaviest stone that you can find, the wettest sand that you can find, and you try to lift either or both, and you will recognize the truth of this proverb where God says, “The individual who is a fool and who is full of wrath is a heavier weight than the wet sand and the heavy rock.”

Why? Let's think for a moment about the definition of a fool. You keep in mind that we have defined a fool for you in our study of the book of Proverbs. We have given you varying definitions of it, but basically, the definition of a fool in the Word of God is a man who is in rebellion against God. A fool in the book of Proverbs is a man who is in rebellion against God. He could be saved; he could be unsaved. He could be an unbeliever; he could be a believer out of fellowship, but he is in rebellion against God.

Look again at verse 3 and notice that that man's wrath is heavier than wet sand or a great, big rock. Immediately upon seeing the word wrath , you think of the word anger . You think of a fool's going around getting mad, losing his temper and creating a lot of problems and stirring up a lot of fusses, but actually, the word wrath comes from the Hebrew word kaac , which means “grief” or “vexation” or “spite.”

Did you ever stop to think about the grief that the unsaved man has to bear, how heavy it must be? Did you ever stop to think about the vexation, the frustrations with which an unsaved man is faced, and how difficult it is for him to bear the spite that is engendered in his heart because he feels that everything has gone wrong with him and everything is going right for everybody else, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it?

You may think you have a heavy burden, Beloved, but if you are a frustrated individual and you do not know what to do about your frustrations, you are carrying a weight that is heavier than wet sand. If you are frustrated and you do not know what to do about your frustrations, you are carrying a weight that is heavier than the heaviest rock that you will find anywhere around to pick up.

I don't know how many people came to us during the time that Cricket was ill and we were waiting for her to depart and be with the Lord, and they would say something like this: “You are bearing a terrible burden, aren't you? This is a terrible thing to have happen to you.” One of our friends (I don't guess she really meant it) said, “I am almost mad at God about this. I don't understand why you would have to go through a thing like this. This is terrible.” I said, “No, it isn't really because the time that I have been in this hospital I have been up and down these floors and I have met more people than I could number who are faced with the very same thing. They are frustrated. They are overwhelmed with their grief. They are full of spite, but they don't know what to do about it.”

The wonderful thing is that we have the Lord. The wonderful thing is that we have the Lord so that our frustrations, ordinarily speaking, become God's care. Turn to I Peter, chapter 5, and notice a very familiar portion of the Word of God. You have turned to it many times, I am sure, as you sought comfort from the Word for this is a precious passage of comfort. Notice verse 6, where we read:

I Peter 5:

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Yes, Beloved, there will come a time in your life when wrath, in the sense of how we are now speaking about it, frustration, vexation, will be heavier than you can possibly bear; and if you are unsaved or out of fellowship it will be too heavy for you to bear, but if you are in fellowship it can be handled. Notice the progressive thought in these two verses. Notice verse 6 again:

I Peter 5:

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Beloved, whatever is your frustration, you are not going to be able to bear it until you learn to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. God puts His hand on you. You can bow your neck if you want to and He won't twist it off, but His hand will rest awfully heavy. You can stiffen your back under the mighty hand of God if you want to, and He won't break it, but His hand will rest awfully heavy. But if you will yield to the mighty hand of God, you will find that hand that is resting heavily upon you, burying you down, down, down, down, down until you feel that surely you will be ground into the dust, the moment you humble yourself you will find that hand changing positions and slipping under you and lifting you up, up, up until you are standing upright. Then this frustration, this tremendous burden is still there, but what do you do? You just throw it on Him. Buried in the ground like you were, you couldn't have thrown anything on anybody, but when you have been made upright because you humbled yourself, then you can cast your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Conclusion

There is no question about that, but the emphasis that we want to put on the verses is that He will care for you. It is just as if you had said to the Lord, “Lord, this thing is too much for me. There is too much wet sand about. There are too many heavy rocks. It's just too much for me. Take care of it, will You?”

Do you know that He will, so if you want to express the right attitude as a believer, don't be presumptuous. If you want to express the right attitude, don't praise yourself. Wait until God brings forth the praise. If you want to express the right attitude, then don't give vent to your frustrations. Cast your care upon the Lord.


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