1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Verses 1-5 give warning against committing and obligating ourselves. No one can foresee the future. The useful soldier of God is the one unencumbered (2 Tim. 2:4).
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
It is so easy to thoughtlessly put burdens on our backs and ropes around our necks that will hinder us in the way of life. Here is a first principle of wisdom. Here again is the dividing line between fools and wise.
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
If any man be truly a son of God, he is after the Spirit, and minds the things of the Spirit. His tastes and affections and enterprises are all in that direction. Christ and his apostles are our examples in the case, and it is nothing short of treachery in the camp for anyone professing allegiance to them to teach that they are not our models, or that we are not to be expected to walk in their steps.
The new man in Christ is not negligent of the affairs of this life, but he attends to them in a different way, and with a different spirit and different objects from the old man he was before he became enlightened in the truth. To begin with, he has a God which he had not before, and from this results a faith unknown before, which prevents him from being fearful and anxious about this life's affairs, and from bestowing his exertions upon large schemes of self-provision.
He provides for his own, and is diligent in business because the new Master he has received requires it of him; but what he does, in this respect, he does to the Lord, and not to men, nor to himself, for he serves the Lord Christ
...If, in the exercise of his personal duties in business, plenty comes to his hand, he recognizes that he is a "steward of the manifold grace of God," and that having received much, much will be required at his hand in distributing to the necessity of the saints
... If he be poor, he remembers the widow's mite, and rejoices that, though little is in his hand, by the faithful use of what opportunity God has put in his power, he may lay up in store for himself in heaven a larger measure of divine approbation and blessing than those who "out of their abundance cast in much."
...The Spirit's point of view is his point of view. He looks at men and their affairs as Christ did, and takes the course he would have taken. For this reason he cannot be friends with the world. He will not be found partaking in the world's pleasures, or taking part in the world's enterprises.
He stands not in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night. In his eyes, vile men, however refined and ornamental, are despised; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord, however uncultivated or ungainly.
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Slumber is more than just lying in bed. It is mental drifting and inactivity -- spiritual laziness -- natural self-indulgence and self-pleasing (Rom. 13:11-12)
We are placed here for worthwhile activity and WORK. The purpose of our life is to serve God in joy and enthusiasm to the fullest limit of our mortal powers, as a training for future eternal service in the tireless powers of the divine nature.
This alone is true living. Indolent self-pleasing is death --
"She (or he) that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. 5:6).
But (1 Cor. 15:58) --
"ALWAYS ABOUNDING in the work of the Lord."
-- is the joyful, purposeful, satisfying ideal of true living.
10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
Evil speaking is a characteristic of the world.
So common is it that its heinousness is not perceived. God has pronounced it a crime. His hatred to it is repeatedly emphasised. Are we resisting or yielding to this popular sin? "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice."
This commandment cannot be infringed with impunity. Woe to evil surmisers, false accusers, and tale bearers! Their conduct separates them from God. Gehenna is their certain goal. What righteous man is not pained to hear his brother maligned? Think you not that Christ shares this feeling? Let us not indulge in evil speaking under the unjustifiable notion that we think our brother is deserving of it.
God has provided rules for dealing with transgressors. These rules rigidly prohibit us allowing evil thoughts to rankle in our minds, much less of infusing them into others. Assuming that we have ground for righteous indignation, let us refrain from acting unscripturally. Let us follow an example set us-"being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it, being defamed, we intreat."
The world from God's standpoint is incorrigibly bad-"the whole world lieth in wickedness." This truth the saints should keep vividly before them. Let us consider the significance of the expressions which the Scriptures apply to it:-vain-ignorant-rebellious-cruel-corrupt -dark-asleep-dead-blind-drunk-mad. If we keep these characteristics steadily before the mind, it will stimulate us to be circumspect-it will steel us to resist the deadly influences which assail us on every side. But though possessed of this character, the world serves a purpose. Otherwise it would not exist.
Neither would the faithful be made to struggle within it. "The creature was subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope."
The world is God's machinery, by means of which He produces that character which is essential for an eternal life in His kingdom. Christ prayed not that his disciples might be taken out of the world, but that they might be kept or guarded in it. To go the way of the world is fatal. To withstand it-though a painful and distressing exercise-evolves that spiritual strength and vigour which lead on victory. Let us realise the good that God is accomplishing in relating us to evil, and there will be more patience and less complaining.
A. T. J.
The Christadelphian, March 1887
13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Planning sin is in some ways more vicious than the sin itself.
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
God demands utter TRUTH in the "inward parts" -- rigid integrity in the deepest well-springs of motive and intention -- regardless of consequence, which is the very opposite of natural, shifty human nature.
What terrible judgment is in store for such! And yet what a common, thoughtless fault it is!
All these things are the natural motions of the flesh, and will manifest themselves naturally in us all, unless honestly faced and rooted out -- especially the last.
So much is said with the secret (though never admitted, even to ourself) purpose of causing one person to be estranged from, or offended by, or think less of, another.
This is such an ingrained characteristic of the flesh that we are all guilty. It is so satisfying to the pride of the flesh to criticize and think evil. And this is the crowning abomination in the sight of God, but -- "Love covers a multitude of sins."
Bro Growcott - 'She openeth he mouth with wisdom'.
A fruitful source of discord is evil-speaking. Evil-speaking springs from many causes; from spite, envy, and sometimes from the careless, unthinking use of the "little member."
Evil-speaking in not necessarily false speaking, though for the most part it is so. A brother may speak evilly by retailing from a wrong motive the unquestionable failings of another. To defame by wilfully lying, or by making a statement upon insufficient data, is to practise the vice in its most abominable form. Let us endeavour under all circumstances to obey the divine commandment-
"Speak evil of no man."
Let us take heed lest any root of bitterness spring up and many be defiled (Heb. 12:15.) How can "unfeigned love of the brethren" co-exist with such practices as that of saying hard things against them, of wantonly circulating their failures, of cherishing unkindly feelings?
Let us not forget that by our words we are to be judged. The prevalence of evil-speaking, tale-bearing, and tittle-tattling, makes it doubly needful for us to be watchful in the matter. Let us not basely interpret brethren's motives. Neither let us aid the slanderer by encouraging and listening to him. "Speak not evil one of another, brethren."
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Feb 1888
20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
in relation to Bible truth paves the way for doubt, doubt for denial, and denial for shame and death at the judgment. If we would safe-guard ourselves against unbelief and apostacy, we must not grow weary in reading.
This is no guess, but information vouchsafed in divine revelation. Where brethren "give attendance to reading," there will be no forgetfulness. God, in regard to His law, has put the matter very plainly - "Meditate therein day and night" (Jos. i :8; Prov. vi: 21; Ps. lxviii: 5-8).
Forgetfulness is not the only cause of infidelity; but it is a cause, and a very potent one. It matters not how intelligent a man may be in the truth, how moral-minded from a phrenological point of view, he is bound to grow unfriendly with the truth, and ultimately to renounce it, if he cease to read, prayerfully and carefully, the word of his God.
Let all men, whether their brain-power be great or small, note this fact, and act wisely.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, March 1899
Those only come to judgment who are responsible; and this rule holds good with Jew and Gentile. The responsible are those who are sufficiently enlightened to know the will of God, and do it or refuse. Who are sufficiently enlightened for this purpose, God only knows. There we must leave it. The principles of the truth are clear enough. Their personal applications are often doubtful.
The Christadelphian, Nov 1886
22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.
23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?
29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;
31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.
34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.