Summary: Wisdom helps us recognize corruption, avoid corruption, and work around corruption.
The Proud, the Powerful, and the Squandering
1, A little girl asks her father: "Daddy, what is corruption?"
-- Go bring me a beer and I'll tell you.
-- But mommy said you should stop drinking!
-- Get yourself an ice-cream too while you bring me that beer.
-- Oh, okay! [source: upjoke.com]
2. Corruption is part of life; Our bodies become corrupted. Our computer files become corrupted. And, very easily, our moral compass can be corrupted.
Main Idea: Wisdom helps us recognize corruption, avoid corruption, and work around corruption.
Transition: To be wise, we have to be able to sort out behavior patterns. Contrast, whether stated or implied, can help us do this.
I. The Proud Who ENTRENCH When Confronted Rather than Submit (1)
A. This stubbornness is REPEATED.
1. Most of us have had times when we were stubborn and arrogant.
2. Some people believe that stubbornness is a virtue, at least for them.
3. Others are not so much stubborn as needing time to cool off or acclimate.
4. The person described here is a repeat offender.
5. Others know they have this problem, but they cannot see it; to them, sadly, their stubbornness is reasonable, or they are not stubborn, just right.
6. The opposite of stiffening our necks would be bowing our heads and receiving correction.
7. When we hear different people who care about us say the same thing about us, do we choose to believe them over ourselves? That’s a good indicator.
8. The Jewish people were warned by Jeremiah and others: if they didn’t repent, their nation would be taken captive. They mocked him & imprisoned him.
B. Pride leads toward being ENTRENCHED in denial.
1. This means we fail to learn from our mistakes and repeat them over and over.
2. Even when those who love us point our issues out, we still choose the same course.
3. Instead of progressing toward better decisions, which is what wisdom is, we keep making bad ones because we are incapable of correcting ourselves because of pride.
C. He will be taken by SURPRISE when destroyed.
• Eli’s sons both died in battle on the same day as a judgment; they refused to repent.
• The rebellion of Korah: ground opened up & swallowed he & family alive. Another related proverb says pride comes before destruction. In the account of Esther, Haman is completely surprised when he goes from prime minister to death row.
• If I hear the same criticism from several people who care about me, am I open to believing them above my own judgment?
II, The Powerful Who Choose OPPRESSION Rather than Fairness (2, 4)
A. A ruler’s character AFFECTS those over whom he rules.
1. One of the strange lessons of the Books of the Kings is how the people of the land either followed the king into sin or into godliness. Many of these vacillators were probably not saved, but that is a different issue.
2. Look how much North Korea has suffered under its leader. Look at China, how, even in prosperity, the government is not respecting basic human rights. Look at various Islamic countries and the horrible persecution that take place in them.
3. An oppressor can make life miserable for a family, a workplace, a classroom, or an entire nation! Most people are not corrupt, cruel, or heartless – but many are.
B. To a corrupt leader, MIGHT makes right.
1. When we have influence, we need to be fair. We can be tempted to over-compensate for past unfairness, or we can lie to our own selves, self-serving.
2. Wicked Queen Jezebel had no qualms about taking Naboth’s vineyard and setting him up for execution for a crime he never committed.
3. Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
4. You don’t correct an imbalance by going to the other extreme. You aim for the center, which is called “fairness.”
C. A ruler who is easily BRIBED nurtures further injustice.
1. Cases are decided based upon who is the highest bidder.
2. Money, prestige, favors owed, blood relations….many temptations
III. The Next Generation Who Either Carry-on Responsibly or Live for the MOMENT (3)
• For most of us, our top desire is for our children to walk with the Lord and continue in Biblical faith.
A. Parents experience great joy when their grown children evidence WISDOM.
1. I have comforted many parents whose children have grown to make poor and foolish choices. It is a heartbreak!
2. The person who loves wisdom becomes wise; person who doesn’t doesn’t.
3. What does it mean to love wisdom? It means to be addicted to wisdom, always seeking a better way, improvement, more information to hone choices. Wisdom considers the source – is it godly or worldly?