Thursday, June 6. Proverbs 18 – 20

Growing up, it would have been scandalous for a Christian to drink alcohol in any form. You certainly didn’t want to have beer in the fridge when the preacher came to call and sermons on “drinking” would invariably include Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

It is important to note however that the proverb doesn’t say the person who drinks wine is not wise, only that he should not be led astray by it.

We need to have healthier, better informed views.

Proverbs promises vats that overflow with new wine to those who honor God with their wealth (3:10). It cannot be that wine (nor the drinking of it), in and of itself, is sinful. Why would it be a blessing to have vats of if you can’t drink it?

But Proverbs is wisdom, and there are some considerations that should not be overlooked.

Alcohol has an attractive quality to it. How I have been attracted to the beauty of those umbrella drinks in restaurants! Surely something that looks that good has to taste good! The proverbs speak of wine’s sparkling beauty that causes men to gaze longingly at it (23:31) and who spend too much time with it. The next thing you know, you’re captivated by it. One in thirteen adults are addicted to alcohol. But along with its attraction, comes a dulling factor that numbs the senses and judgment. That’s why Kings and other rulers (those in the judging business) should stay away from it (31:1). Impaired judgment causes us to lose self-control, and so gluttony is mentioned along with excess drinking – one never knows quite when to stop. The loss of self-control through alcohol leads to unbecoming behavior – behavior we would never engage in if we were thinking clearly.

All that leads us to the last observation: alcohol does have the ability to numb the senses to get us through difficult times – those who are perishing and in anguish (31:6). But if you find yourself trying to “drown your sorrows,” you might be far better off actually doing something about them rather than numbing them.

Yes, Jesus turned water to wine. No, it wasn’t “Welch’s.” But like so many things, wisdom requires that if we are going to toy with something with a potential for destruction, we should do so with caution and not with abandon. The person who believes alcohol can’t adversely affect his life just isn’t listening to wisdom.

Tuesday, June 5. Proverbs 18 – 20

Remember Psalm 109, the cry of the poet wounded by hurtful things said about him – things that weren’t true?

The Proverbs continually remind us that every time we open our mouths to speak, a message is being conveyed about who we really are.  In fact, speech is such a revealing thing that it’s not just the content of what we say that betrays our character, but the fact that we say anything at all!  So Solomon writes that “the words of a man’s mouth are deep waters” – danger lurks there (18:4).  The wise man “holds his tongue” (10:19; 11:12) and guards his life (13:3).

Your words can “pierce like a sword” or they can bring healing (12:18).   Even a gentle tongue can break a bone (20:18).

Righteous people think before they speak, but fools are quick to respond (often before the question is finished – 18:13), their words are many – and destructive (15:28).

A person who talks all the time will eventually tell something he shouldn’t (20:19), and that person is to be avoided.

In the New Testament, James will write that the tongue is a “world of evil among the parts of the body.”  It is such an undisciplined body part that “if anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:6,2).

This business of what we say, when we say it, how often and for how long is such an important matter that it is addressed in some way in every chapter of the proverbs except for three (chapters 3, 9, 29).  As you read the proverbs, take note of these warnings, reflect on them regarding your own life.  Your willingness to do it, and mold your life accordingly, will say volumes about the kind of person you really are.