He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. — Proverbs 14:21
Mike Adkins wanted to be a blessing and a witness to the world around him. One day, as he was outside his house, he noticed his next-door neighbor, Norman. The other people on the block considered Norman to be messy and rather weird. He was a loner, and the neighbors were happy to keep it that way. However, the Spirit of God nudged Mike to reach out to this man and befriend him.
As Mike began to interact with Norman, he observed firsthand the mess and filth that Norman lived in. Though initially repulsed, Mike followed the leading of God and pitched in to help. He cleaned up Norman’s yard and house, even going into Norman’s filthy bathroom to pull out the toilet and replace the wax seal!
It would have been much easier for Mike to ignore the needs of his unappealing neighbor and focus on his own clean and orderly life, but he continued working with Norman and eventually had the opportunity to share God’s love and the hope of salvation with him. As a result of Mike’s caring concern, Norman was saved and lived many years for the Lord.(1)
Serving God will not always be easy, neat, and tidy. We may be called to work in areas that are not the most pleasant. We may have to get our hands dirty. We may need to reach out to the unlovely people of this world. We may have to get out of our comfort zones to win someone for the Lord.
Sometimes following the Lord’s purpose for our lives will take large measures of patience, longsuffering, and love, along with a good sense of humor, grace, and forgiveness. It may mean going to a mission meeting in a disreputable part of town, ministering to the homeless, or reaching out to disadvantaged Sunday school children and their families. It may mean spending time with a feeble elderly person and tending to his or her needs. Or it could mean ministering in a foreign country where familiar foods and “creature comforts” are not available. In whatever way God chooses, we want to love others and show mercy, as the focus verse exhorts. As we apply ourselves wholeheartedly in reaching out to those God places in our paths, we will obtain sheaves to offer to God one day. It will be worth it all!
Chapter 14 continues with proverbs attributed to Solomon, which give practical and wise advice for everyday matters. In chapters 10-15, most of the proverbs show a contrast between people who are righteous and those who are wicked.
In chapter 14, Solomon gave varied observations on moral virtues and their contrary vices. He began by contrasting again the wise people and the foolish, and saying that fearing (or honoring) God shows obedience. The importance of choosing words carefully, stating the truth, and respecting God and His precepts are restated. Wise people receive instruction and do not mock sin.
Verse 4 speaks of the usefulness of an ox. When Proverbs was written, oxen were used to plow, water crops, harvest, and grind flour. These were valuable animals. More oxen meant more productivity, but also more care — the animals had to be fed and sheltered, and it was necessary to clean up after them. The point of the verse is that their value outweighed the effort needed to maintain them.
In verse 11, the word tabernacle could be translated “tent.” A tent would appear less stable than a house. However, Solomon pointed out that righteousness will last, while wickedness will fail, even though the wicked seem to have built a “house.” Both verses 11 and 12 show that the human perspective is often not the correct one.
Verses 15-18 contrast the gullible with the discerning, and the wise with the foolish. The phrase “soon angry” in verse 17 could be translated “short of nostrils,” meaning that anger is shown on the face and by more rapid breathing.
Verse 22 asks a question, which is unusual in Proverbs. The word err in the original language meant “go astray” or “cause to wander.” The writer wanted his readers to understand that devising evil would result in a person being lost.
Care for the poor is commanded. In Solomon’s time, many thought poverty indicated God’s disapproval, but verse 31 shows that God the Creator is concerned for the poor. This concept is taught throughout the Bible.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
A. The 375 proverbs of Solomon
1. The contrast of wisdom and folly in life (10:1 — 15:33)
Let us work wherever we see a need, even if it is not always pleasant or comfortable. It may not be easy, but we will have a fruitful harvest to present to the Lord.
(1) The complete story is found in the book A Man Called Norman by Mike Adkins.