Proverbs on Laughter

Today we are wrapping up our series in Proverbs. Last week, we talked about pride, something we all need to hear. This week’s topic is much needed too – laughter. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” People who do not know how to laugh are often bitter, critical, and hard to deal with. Jesus wants us to be full of joy!

 

Holy Humor

Proverbs 17:22, and the other verses we will look at, are not just pieces of good advice or good old sayings. They are the Word of God! Psalm 2:4 tells us that God laughs. He has a merry heart. Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” We have reason to be merry.  Think of all the great things God has done. Jesus died for our sins. Our names are written in heaven. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He is coming again to receive us unto Himself! Whether you have a husband or not, a wife or not, a car or not, a house or not, a job or not, a degree or not, money in the bank or not, you still have something to shout about if you know Jesus!

 

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” The devil hates laughing at home, in your marriage, and in church. Gloomy, depressed people are weak and more apt to be sick. God gave us the gift, the ability to laugh. We can’t always rejoice over our circumstances but we can rejoice in them. Have you lost your joy? David prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12).

 

Healthy Humor

“A merry heart does good…” (Prov. 17:22). Medicine cost has skyrocketed.  You can’t afford to be sick.  One man said, “I just got a prescription. The instructions read: Take one every time you can afford it.” I read one time where a child laughs 400 times a day on average, while an adult laughs only 15 times each day. Other writings on the topic have cited 300 or 200 times a day, but the point is that children laugh way more than adults do. Maybe it is stress or responsibility, but laughter is a stress reliever! It restores and rejuvenates. All work and no play isn’t holy or healthy. Just google the medical benefits of laughter! In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Keep your marriage fun.  Keep your home fun.  Keep your work place fun. Whistle while you work and you will live longer!

 

Healing Humor

Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” Happy patients recover quicker. People who laugh longer live longer. In our theme verse, we read, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” The picture here is of a person who is so loaded down by the pressure and pain of life, they are crushed by the weight. A crushed spirit is a heart that is weighed down with worry, sorrow, guilt, or discouragement. This, Scripture tells us, is unhealthy. Stop carrying the guilt and all of the baggage of past.  All of us have done things we’re ashamed of, things we wish we had done differently, or not done at all. The fact is, you cannot change the past but you can learn from it. God does not want you crushed by the weight of past sins, mistakes, or failures. Don’t carry around the weight of worry. Give your worries and your past to Jesus. Ask Him to trade your sorrow for joy. He will! C. S. Lewis said, “It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of joy Himself.” In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy! (Ps. 16:11)

Proverbs on Pride

What is pride? It is important that we know what Solomon is talking about when he uses the word.  Spiritual pride is an attitude of independence from God. It is not taking pride in your work, celebrating victories, marking milestones, giving a pat on the back, or thanking someone. Lewis Smedes in Love Within Limits said, “Pride is an arrogant refusal to let God be God. To grab God’s status for one’s self.”

 

The Sin of Pride

In Proverbs 6 we read a list of six things the Lord hates. The first one listed is pride (v. 17). Proverbs 21:4 says, “A haughty look, a proud heart… are sin.” Ever meet people who think they are a notch above? The conservative who thinks he is more moral? The liberal who thinks he is more open-minded? Pride is no respecter of persons. We all want to call the shots and run our own lives. We want to be our own god. We want to find meaning and purpose our own way. However, when pride walks in God walks out.

 

The Sight of Pride

Both Proverbs 6:17 and 21:4 refer to sight – a proud and haughty look. We live in a narcissistic society consumed with self-centeredness and self-importance. It’s all about me and what I want. Pride is the need to be seen and heard. “The lamp that guides the wicked—haughty eyes and an arrogant heart—is sin” (Prov. 21:4). Pride distorts everything you see. You can’t admit when you are wrong, you blame everyone else, you have to be better, etc. Do you do things just to be seen? Is your vision distorted?

 

The Sound of Pride

There are also references throughout Proverbs to the pride of the mouth. Look at 14:3, 8:13, and 21:24. We all are familiar with this. Listen to people talk. They are politicking, jockeying for position, etc. We hear that we are to “swallow our pride,” but really, we should spit it out! Do you disregard the input of others and make decisions solely based on what you want? Is pride taking center stage in your life? Is your speech arrogant or condescending? There are no big shots or little shots in the family of God!

 

The Shame of Pride

“When pride comes, then comes shame” (11:2). “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud” (15:25). “Pride goes before destruction” (16:18). When you watch a Christmas parade, you know that Santa is coming at the end. Pride is like a parade. Where there is pride, destruction is coming. Years ago, they boasted saying the Titanic would never sink. What they said it would not do, it did. Peter said that he would never deny the Lord, but he did. We all need to be aware of the danger of self-confidence.

 

The Strife of Pride

“By pride comes nothing but strife…” (13:10). The disciples argued over who was the greatest. They argued over where they were going to sit and who got to sit on the right and on the left of Jesus. Every war, church split, divorce, and argument is caused by pride. The proud do not learn from their mistakes. They do not take advice. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” We all need to check our egos at the door!

 

The Solution of Pride

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (15:33). Humility comes before honor. The humble are not after importance. In their humility is a glory that never fades. Jesus was born in a feed trough, to a poor family. He came meek and lowly to die a humiliating death. Salvation was achieved through humility and can only be received through humility. Jesus overcame the temptation of pride. Get in the presence of God. You will fall down in humility before holiness. You have to decrease before you can increase.

Proverbs on Work

As we have seen, the book of Proverbs is intensely practical. Proverbs gives us the secret to being healthy spiritually, physically, and financially. This week, we will look at what Solomon says about work. “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23). Have you ever met that person who is all talk and no action? Solomon gives four motivations of why we work.

 

God Honoring

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” God created us to be doers not just dreamers. We read in Genesis 2:2 that God rested from his work in creation. He is a worker. We also read that we were created to work. Genesis 2:15 says that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work. Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Work is not sin or punishment. Work is good. It existed before the fall. Under the curse of sin it is harder, but it is still good.  Some people have the idea that those who really love God go into full-time ministry or to serve on the mission field. The truth is, in every vocation we are called to serve God. Martin Luther promoted a Protestant work ethic. He believed all work is divinely ordained. He hated the laity-clergy division, the idea that priests, nuns, and monks were engaged in holier work than housewives and farmers.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Col. 3:23). God is more concerned with the how than the what.

 

Grocery Shopping

“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on” (Prov. 16:26). Another reason we work is so we can eat! 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” No one owes you a free meal! The issue is not being able to work but not being willing to work. God always has made provision for those who cannot work. In Proverbs 6:6-8, Solomon uses the ant as an example. Ants never sit still.  They are always moving, getting food, and saving food. Hunger is God’s way of saying get a job! Get a life! As Christians we should never arrive late to work or leave early. We shouldn’t wait on someone to tell us what to do. We should be self-starters and take initiative. We need to teach our kids responsibility and a good work ethic. We need to model for them what it looks like to work a full week and then take a day of sabbath rest.

 

Generous Living

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6:27). We work to eat, but also work for kingdom purposes. There are so many promises in Scripture for those who are generous. Good will come to them (Ps. 112:5), their children will be a blessing (Ps. 37:26), they will prosper (Prov. 11:25), they will be blessed (Prov. 22:9), etc. Are you generous to those around you? Are you generous with your work and your earnings? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

 

Gospel Expanding

In the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go… I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). That means, when you go to work, He is with you. “Always” means always. Many in the Bible leveraged their vocation for the Kingdom.  Joseph was in upper management. He managed the food supply for Egypt. Daniel was in the President’s administration. He was an advisor to the King. Paul was in the RV/mobile home business.  He was a tentmaker. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter.  God wants to use your work to advance the Kingdom. We show the excellence of God when we do our work with excellence. We show the love of God when we love the people we work with.  We show the holiness of God when we do our work with integrity.  We show the preeminence and priority of God when we honor the Lord with our tithes and firstfruits. We show the goodness of God when we are generous. Your work does not have to be boring, it can be a blessing when it is done for Jesus!

Proverbs on Wealth

Solomon was the richest, wisest man in the world. He has taught us about sex, words, anger, parenting, and now wealth. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” As we look at what Solomon says about wealth, we must remember that money is not our provider. God is.

 

The Purpose of Living

The beginning of verse 9 says, “Honor the Lord.” Why did God put you here? Why do you get up every morning? The ultimate purpose in life is to honor the Lord.  This should be the motive for everything we do. We honor God when we crown Him Lord and we give Him the rightful place in our lives. 1 Samuel 2:30 says, “Therefore, this is the declaration of the Lord, the God of Israel…those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disgraced.”  There is more to life than wealth accumulation. God designed us to be generous, not hoarders. Life is not about being rich, but being enriched!

 

The Priority of Tithing

Generosity is usually a topic we’d rather avoid. Whenever someone talks about tithing and giving, our flesh cringes. David Jeremiah said, “Generosity is not about what’s in your bank account—it’s about what’s in your heart.” Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” Notice the words “possessions” and “firstfruits” in verse 9. Firstfruits represents the whole. Tithe literally means first tenth, the first 10%. Not leftovers. Cain and Abel brought offerings to God. God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s. Abel brought the firstborn. Cain brought some of his crops, not the firstfruits.

 

Some people argue saying tithing is Old Testament, under the law, and you do not have to tithe under grace. The fact is tithing is found in the Bible hundreds of years before the law was given. Before the Law of Moses, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. It was an act of love before it was an act of law. Abraham and Jacob gave to the Lord when they worshipped. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus gave a list of things we ought to do and tithe is one of them. The tithe is the Lord’s . You can’t give what is not yours. Tithing is just a plan to get started. “Possessions” make up your 90%. Possessions are tools God gives us to be generous. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. The widow who gave two mites gave the most.

 

The Practice of Saving

“So your barns will be filled with plenty….” Do you have a barn? A bank account? Savings? Retirement? Do you want to give, but can’t because you don’t have it? It’s so important to remember the 10-10-80 rule. Get your life in order by tithing 10%, saving 10%, and living off 80%. Whatever you earn, spend less! Spending more than you earn, or all that you earn, causes unbelievable stress. There is no pressure like financial pressure. Learn to save money.  You need an emergency fund.  Save for a rainy day. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” The Bible never says it is wrong to borrow money. Most would never have a house or a car without debt. But to the extent you borrow, you become a slave. We don’t need more stuff. We need more contentment!

 

The Promise of Blessing

Verse 10 says, “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow….” God wants your life to be full and overflowing! Have you ever heard someone say, “I got back so much more than I gave”? Don’t let the devil cause you to doubt or question your giving! You are not crazy! It is worth it! Lives are being changed for eternity through your generosity. We develop a habit of generosity in the same way we develop any good habit.  Generosity isn’t a one-and-done situation. It’s a lifestyle. Billy Graham said, If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” Decide today to honor the Lord with your finances. You will not regret it!