Unfortunately, most of us do “it” without thinking about “it.” “It” has become part of our nature and we do “it” constantly - much to the displeasure of God. The “It”? Rewarding the undeserving.

Our hearts go out to them: the “unfortunates” - or so we think of them as being “unfortunate.” Or incapable. Or unable. Or not having had opportunities. Or not having a teacher or mentor or who or whatever it took to “get” what they “got.” But if they were or are capable of “getting” what they “got” according to Solomon, the “it” is not fitting. Rarely do we think of them as being what we must recognize: the “unwilling.” This is a category that we have allowed to become eroded from our minds.

“It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,” wrote Solomon. Perhaps we need to look at “it is not fitting” more closely. It is more accurately translated “inappropriate” for the point he wants us to understand, accept and apply. Unearned gifts to others, no matter how deserving we may think the recipient is, do not reflect God’s wisdom. Those gifts, the “its” of life, are not a result of a person living according to the teachings of God’s Word or the application of His wisdom. Our skills and talents are gifts from God - and what we do with them is our gift to God. Developing our skills and talents to enjoy the “luxuries” of life is important.

Receiving an inheritance or winning the lottery or receiving any gift that is unearned often reveals a person’s “flawed character.” Unearned “gifts” are often squandered in the pursuit of selfish and self-centered “luxuries” that are unneeded, unnecessary and ungodly.

There is nothing essentially wrong with having “luxuries.” But there is something wrong with not earning them by honoring God’s wisdom. Wealth that comes from hard work honors God because we learn the value of earning the “luxuries” that He gives us.

Prayer:  “Work” began with You and is something You did willingly. May we honor You by working for our “luxuries.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:10 Luxury is not fitting for a fool, Much less for a servant to rule over princes.

Years ago Mary and I had a beautiful boat. Each time we went to board the boat we would see her name written in beautiful script across the stern: “No Excuses.” Those provocative words made us pause and think whether or not we had completed all of our tasks and responsibilities before enjoying the pleasure of a trip around the lake. It also reminded us of the fact that to be honorable Christians, if we failed our Lord or denied Him for any reason, we had “No Excuses.”

“A man’s own folly ruins his life,” are a few great words to think about often. Here’s why: Our outward behaviors are always a reflection of the values that we store deep within our hearts. And here Solomon emphasizes this fact often, unless God-centered, our decision making processes will lack sound judgment because the knowledge or wisdom or understanding does not come from God.  When we go our own way without comparing or contrasting what we are doing in light of God’s published directions, there may be problems. And if there are, unfortunately, we have “No Excuses.”

Here is a proverb that reinforces another proverb: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Our folly - trusting our distorted instincts rather than the wisdom of our God - does not make sense if we are His followers. We have access to Him and His promises. Fools, by choice, destroy whatever opportunity God gives them by looking within for their guidance rather to Him.

While fools are their own undoing, they refuse to take any responsibility for their behavior though their “heart rages against the Lord.” It is because God has “frustrated” or “mangled” their best laid plans when they are contrary to His will. Normally, fools respond by “raging” like an angry, caged lion who cannot escape.

Prayer:  Lord, we have “no excuse” to offer You or ourselves if we refuse to accept Your wisdom. Open our heads and hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord.
Making amends means “I’ve harmed someone.” Not an easy thing to do. First, if I have harmed someone, they “certainly deserved it or had it coming to them.” Secondly, whenever I apologize I admit that “I did something that is or was wrong - and that simply is not like me to do something like that.” Or, “They are too sensitive - they shouldn’t wear their feelings on their shoulders. It’s about them, not me.”

Unfortunately, those options do not agree with God’s Word. First, “All have sinned.” So, I’m not in any position to harm anyone. Secondly, “No one is righteous, not even one.” Well, there goes my reputation. Or, “If you have never committed a sin, pick up a stone and throw it at the first person you see - for they surely have!” But, when I look into my stone-carrier, it’s empty.

“Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright,” seems to include everyone in one way or another. One who “mocks at making amends” would be a person who has no sense of guilt or personal accountability for their actions. They turn a “blind-eye” to God’s “ever-present, watchful eye.” That’s not wise!

To feel unaccountable for sin implies that there will be no judgment before God or man. That one surely is a fool, for one day we will all stand before God to be judged. On the other hand, “men of goodwill” are those who want to be “approved” by God and others for the way they act. They want their relationships, beginning with God, to be open and beyond reproach. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” is what making amends is all about.

Prayer:  Lord, it’s much easier to live in denial than the world of reality. Give us courage to seek forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

That’s the problem. It may make sense to the person making the decision, but no one else. So, Solomon warns, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” And, that’s not always easy!
Taking advice from others is a statement, to some, of being inadequate or incomplete. It is a public admission that “You, of all people, could actually keep me from being wrong? You, keep me, from making a mistake? How dare you think I don’t know everything!”

It is sometimes difficult to admit our limitations. No, perhaps most of the time it is difficult to admit we cannot handle things by ourselves and have limited information about choices that confront us. We think and reason, talk and ask questions, but if what we hear does not agree with what we already have in mind, we readily dismiss it, whether it could keep us from disaster.

Closed minded, stubborn, insecure and threatened individuals who refuse advice, or counsel, are usually very defensive. They are quick to argue and anger, usually impatient and insecure, closed and lonely people. They are self-destructive, and in the process usually destroy others because every decision impacts the lives of others.

Looking to others for insight and understanding, for knowledge and information requires humility. And that may be the real problem. To be humble is to admit that “I don’t have all the answers! Only God does.”

If after searching His Word and praying, we do not have His peace, He’ll send the right “advisor” if we ask.
Prayer:  Help us, Father, to be strong enough to become weak, wise enough to seek advice, and then trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.

“I may not always be right,” he said as though he believed it, “but I’m never wrong. Never!”

We sat there wondering if he knew what he was saying, trying to convince himself of such insanity, or wanting to create fear in our  hearts about his power. It really did not matter. All of us, including him, realized the folly of his speech.

However, there are many who believe as he believed: they are incapable of being wrong. They refuse to accept the counsel of anyone and after making a decision become even more resolute and stubborn. Solomon had something to say to people who held that opinion of themselves: “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

Ultimately and finally, those who have that attitude about themselves are on a path to self-destruction. When looked at from a biblical point of view, they refuse to accept the role of sin in their lives, their need for a Savior or the reality of God’s judgment that awaits them. Their world view is completely distorted.

The wise, however, “listen to advice.” Even though they may be embarrassed or disappointed when someone who loves them corrects them or points out a “flaw,” they know that it is for their own good. Those who listen to the advice or counsel of someone with spiritual insight and wisdom, will be rewarded.  Listening to and accepting the advice of our “elders in Christ” is the “wise” thing to do before making any decision.

Prayer:  Lord, break the hardness of our hearts when we  think we “know it all.” Lead us to those who are wise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.