Summary: Careful: Many of life's blessings can be enjoyed, but they carry with them the potential to work against you.

Gaining Your Bearings in Life

(Proverbs 18:20-24)

1. I was told that I had used the joke from last week's sermon just 4 weeks earlier, about the 2 Jews, the 2 Catholics, and the 2 Baptists stranded on an island. Oops.

2. So, to redeem myself, I will tell one only about two Jews stranded on an island.

3. When they were rescued, they asked Max, "Why are there 3 synagogues on the island?" Max replied, "The Reform Synagogue is for me, the Orthodox Synagogue is for Yochanan, and the other one neither of us would be caught dead in."

4. We joke about complaining and whining, we joke about marriage, we joke about our poor estate, and we joke about bad friends. But these issues are no joking matter.

Main Idea: Careful: Many of life's blessings can be enjoyed, but they carry with them the potential to work against you.

I. Celebrate the TONGUE But Watch Out! (20-21)

So often, people think the Bible's message is "be quiet; speak minimally." Such is far from true. The Bible cautions us; more is not always better, and wordiness runs a risk. Yet positive, wholesome conversation is considered a blessing. The idea of schmoozing in the non-manipulative sense is quite biblical.

• Nuclear power: bombs or power plants; Chernobyl or Japan

A. Your tongue can make life PLEASANT (20)

Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

Proverbs 15:23, To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

• Developing the art of conversation adds richness to our lives and those around us.

B. Your tongue can make you or BREAK you (21)

• The secret: to guard your tongue (monitor)

• DVD players that can be set to eliminate bad language…catch it

II. God Wants Most People to Marry, But to Marry WISELY (22)

A. Other proverbs QUALIFY this concept

Proverbs 19:13-14, "A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD."

2 Corinthians 6:14a, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers."

B. Marriage can often be a blessing, even for FOOLISH people

Not only do most first marriages survive, the majority are also happy: "Among the nearly twenty thousand married men and women questioned over the last several decades as part of the General Social Survey, 66 percent of the husbands and 62 percent of the wives give their marriage the highest possible happiness rating" (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, p. 74).

But what is even more fascinating is the reward given to those who are unhappily married but choose to stick it out: "…86 percent of those who rated their marriage as unhappy in the late eighties and who were still married five years later said their marriages had become happier….nearly three-fifths of those who said their marriage was unhappy in the late 80's and who stayed married, rated this same marriage as either 'very happy' or 'quite happy' when reinterviewed in the early 1990's" (p. 74, 148).

C. A good marriage is an earthly REWARD of God's Grace

If your marriage is a good one, you should view your spouse as your reward in this life. Perhaps if you viewed your spouse as your reward, your marriage would become a good one.

III. The HARSH Reality: In the World, Might is Right (23)

You are never so wealthy that you have a right to be rude; this also reminds the non-wealthy that they are not alone – many people look down upon others.

A. The difference between demanding and ASKING

B. Qualified by OTHER Proverbs

If we couple this with Proverbs 19:1, we can understand why Jesus said, "Blessed are you poor" in Luke 6:20 and "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in Matthew 5:3. He may be building upon the idea of the blameless poor man

IV. In Friendship, It Is QUALITY Over Quantity (24)

A. Issue is the TYPE of friend

B. Passive or LOYAL

Two Soldiers, traveling together, were set upon by a Robber. The one fled away; the other stood his ground, and defended himself with his stout right hand. The Robber being slain, the timid companion runs up and draws his sword, and then, throwing back his traveling cloak, says: "I'll at him, and I'll take care he shall learn whom he has attacked." On this, he who had fought with the Robber made answer: "I only wish that you had helped me just now, even if it had been only with those words, for I should have been the more encouraged, believing them to be true; but now put up your sword in its sheath and hold your equally useless tongue, till you can deceive others who do not know you. I, indeed, who have experienced with what speed you ran away, know right well that no dependence can be placed on your valor.

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