Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. — Proverbs 20:11
Soon after I became a Christian, my five-year-old son told me he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart, as I had done. Assuming he was too young to really understand what that meant, I did not think God would answer his prayer. However, I did not want him worrying that he wouldn’t go to Heaven, so I decided to humor him and we prayed together.
Several months later, my mother and sister were visiting and remarked that my son’s behavior had changed. They said that in the past, he had only wanted to play by fighting with them, but now he was calm. I had noticed a change also. He had quit biting his sister, he was cooperating with me in the mornings, and he no longer gave up in frustration when something was difficult. My sister asked what had happened to bring about this change in his behavior and I thought back, trying to remember when I had first noticed it. Then I realized that it was when we had prayed together, and I knew that Jesus had come into his heart.
A few years later, I noticed that my son was beginning to be drawn towards the things of the world. After reading a book about cowboys, he announced that he wanted to learn to play poker. When I told him no, he started carrying a deck of cards in his pocket. He did not disobey me and play with them, but I could see that he wanted to. One day, he brought home a cassette of music that I had banned and asked if he could listen to it. When I said no, he added the cassette to his pocket.
After a few more things went into his pocket, I told him that if he would pray, God would take away his longing for the things of the world and he would be happier. A short time later, I observed a change in his behavior again. He no longer seemed to be drawn toward activities that were questionable, or that would not be good for him spiritually. I checked his pockets and found that they were empty. I realized that there had been a real change: God had sanctified him.
Our focus verse says that even a child is known by his doings. Just as my son’s behavior reflected what was in his heart, our actions as adults reveal what is in our hearts. If we have received the life-changing experiences of salvation and sanctification, and we continue to seek God and be obedient to His Word, our lives will be a reflection of Jesus in our hearts and a testimony to those around us.
The text today continues the proverbs with Solomon’s spiritual wisdom. This portion was written in the parallel style; the initial thought is amplified or repeated by the latter part of the verse. Most of the proverbs from 16:1 to 22:16 have this construction.
Proverbs 19 offers instruction related to character, and has two primary themes. Learning to handle wealth and to heed instruction were essential requirements for Israel’s youth, and the wisdom teachers of Israel did not overlook these topics. The couplets in verses 1-17 deal for the most part with poverty and wealth; for example, in verses 6 and 7, Solomon taught that wealth brings favor and friendships, but poverty often causes relatives and fair-weather friends to forget a person. Verses 18-29 focus on the importance of listening. The phrase “that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” in verse 20 could be translated “that you may be wise the rest of your days,” indicating the high value that Solomon placed on instruction. In many of these verses (see verse 23, for example), it is made clear that those who trust God are spared a great deal of harm. Although the fear of the Lord is not a guarantee of freedom from harm or loss, it does ensure that faithful followers of God will be under God’s protection forever.
Proverbs 20 addresses means and ends related to the preservation of stability in the community, and like the preceding chapter, can be divided into two sections. The first section (verses 1-14) relates primarily to the character of the righteous, making it clear that the godly man will avoid strong drink and strife, will be industrious and faithful, and will walk in integrity. The second section (verses 15-30) includes the recurring themes of wisdom and lasting wealth. The sage’s observations related to these themes bring out the peril of laziness (verse 13), the fact that knowledge is more valuable than wealth (verse 15), that obtaining one’s inheritance by unjust means will cause the forfeiture of God’s blessings (verse 21), and the abomination of cheating (verse 23).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
A. The 375 proverbs of Solomon
2. The call of submission to God (16:1 — 22:16)
The conduct of a child is not only a revealer of his character, but also what kind of relationship he has with God. The same is true of us!