Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“An Ordered Life” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday October 2, 2011

Purpose: To recognize the dangers of being controlled by the passions

Scripture Text: Proverbs 29:16-27

Proverbs 29:16-27 (NRSV)
(16)When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases,
but the righteous will look upon their downfall.
(17)Discipline your children, and they will give you rest;
they will give delight to your heart.
(18)Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint,
but happy are those who keep the law.
(19)By mere words servants are not disciplined,
for though they understand, they will not give heed.
(20)Do you see someone who is hasty in speech?
There is more hope for a fool than for anyone like that.
(21)A slave pampered from childhood
will come to a bad end.
(22)One given to anger stirs up strife,
and the hothead causes much transgression.
(23)A person’s pride will bring humiliation,
but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
(24)To be a partner of a thief is to hate one’s own life;
one hears the victim’s curse, but discloses nothing.
(25)The fear of others lays a snare,
but one who trusts in the LORD is secure.
(26)Many seek the favor of a ruler,
but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.
(27)The unjust are an abomination to the righteous,
but the upright are an abomination to the wicked.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This lesson concludes our study from the Book of Proverbs. At first glance our text seems to be a jumbled array of wise sayings. These sayings seem to jump from government to child rearing and even advice on how servants should be handled. I think the overall jest of these verses can help us in all sorts of relationships. They spell out for us the importance of acting faithfully in all of our relationships. How might our neediness or immaturity end up damaging our children, our workplace, our church, and even the larger society? How have we been shaped for good or ill, by relationships and institutions? What can we do to mitigate the damage? How do we stay strong in our faith and ethics when others exert a negative influence on us? Hopefully we can answer some of these questions after we study these verses further.

Beginning with verse 16 and depending on the translation you are reading, this verse can apply to “the wicked” or “the wealthy” and they can be in power or just thriving. The implication is that when the wicked are in power or thriving, sin and transgressions increase, and the righteous will be around to see their downfall.

Verse 17 seems simple enough to understand, unruly children require more work, and a better chance of breaking our heart. Refrain from discipline creates miserable children and parents.

Verses 18 talks about the importance of receiving God's word, without it, we have a tendency to just go wild.

Verse 19 tells us there are times when “words” are not enough to get someone’s attention. There are criminals and evil doers that require more than words; I suppose this also could apply to unruly children. Sometimes words need an added persuasion.

Verse 20 sounds like a Seinfeld episode, with a “fast talker.” This also applies to those that talk without thinking. Fools have a better chance of succeeding than someone that “puts their mouth in motion before the brain is engaged.”

Verse 21 like verse 19 talks about servants or slaves, but again we might relate this to societies unruly or criminal element, pampering may bring on a more serious problem down the road.

Verse 22 talks about something we can all relate to, anger. Simply put, anger begets sin. Anger probably causes more problems in our world than anything else; it has started world wars and destroyed families. And it also destroys those that cannot control their anger.

Verse 23 talks about arrogance and pride. When we become prideful and arrogant we become worthless to ourselves and to society. However, humility has just the opposite effect, it brings honor to us and our community.

Verse 24 talks about a life of crime and mischief. I like the Good News translation of this verse it says, “A thief’s partner is his own worst enemy. He will be punished if he tells the truth in court, and God will curse him if he doesn't."

Verse 25 deals with fear. Fear, when it is fear of what others think about us, can paralyze us from being an effective witness. Trusting in God can release us from fear, and give us the security that comes from that trust, it is God that we must please and not man.

Verse 26 says we should not put our confidence in earthly rulers, but rather put our confidence in the only one that can truly administer justice, and that is the LORD.

Verse 27 tells us that good and evil cannot co-exist. The good guys don't like the bad guys and the bad guys don't like the good guys. I am reminded of the passage in James 4:7-8: 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

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