Verse 17 of this chapter refers to a good neighbor.
Verse 18 refers to a foolish neighbor.
Verse 19 refers to a violent neighbor.
Verse 20 refers to a deceitful neighbor.
“One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.”
Impulsive risk takers are foolish. Without thinking, they make financial commitments they should not make. “Lacking sense” means that they are shortsighted and cannot see that promises made today may be more than they can pay tomorrow.
Helping a friend in need with a little financial backing is one thing. Over-committing by taking on excessive liability is another. An appeal from a lazy friend (or family member) can be a powerful temptation. Solomon warned his son about losing his bed (home) from such deals (Proverbs 22:26-27). He told his son to get out of those kind of commitments with the desperation of a deer trying to escape from a hunter or a bird from a fowler (Proverbs 6:1-5). Be careful! is the message. Co-signing is a great financial danger (Proverbs 11:15; 20:16; 27:13).
“Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction.”
Combative people are looking for a fight, and because they live selfishly and with little regard for God’s standards, they are constantly in conflict with other people. If you are going to reject the Lord’s principles, you need to be prepared for a life of conflict.
The second half of this verse refers to the arrogant person who has a “high and mighty” attitude. Whether combative or arrogant (or both), the end will be destruction. The irony is that these kind of people seek the destruction of others, but they are the ones who will eventually be destroyed.
The big message here is that the quality of your relationship with God determines the quality of your relationship with others. If you reject God’s standards and have an arrogant attitude, and if you engage in wrong behavior, you are going to have conflict with others.
“A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.”
This is about a person’s spirit and speech. It’s about the condition of their heart and the words that flow from their heart. It is a recurring theme in the book of Proverbs and throughout scripture. Jesus said it most clearly: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12.34)
Proverbs 4.23-24 says it this way: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.”
A crooked heart neither seeks truth nor speaks truth. It has “crooked” thoughts and says “crooked” things. A crooked heart speaks recklessly, and says wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. Such speech is hurtful, irritating, disruptive, and destructive.
Those with a rebellious heart ridicule authority, especially God’s authority. They criticize anyone they wish, whenever they please, however they want. Because of their reckless speech, they create problems for others, and eventually fall into calamity themselves.
There are many people today saying reckless things from a dishonest heart, and they are sewing the seeds of calamity in our society. If America is to move forward, if there is to be real progress in our nation, this must stop. We are in a time that is in great need of renewal of the heart.
Think about that deeply. Our political leaders frequently speak of the need for rebuilding America’s energy and transportation infrastructure, and rightly so. However, it is even more important for America to rebuild its spiritual and moral infrastructure.
We desperately need renovation of the heart in America, and it must start with the Christian community.
Here is a hard truth: Despite what might be happening in your church or ministry, the evidence is clear that the current level of commitment within the Christian community in America is not where it needs to be. The tendency of the professing church in our time is on two ends of the spectrum: it either condemns modern culture, or it copies it. What the Christian doesn’t do well is create culture that fully embraces the moral, relational, and functional standards of God’s kingdom.
A deep commitment to all three dimensions is what is required for real change in American society.
- Christians must be fully committed to God’s moral standards. The Lord’s truth must be evident in our lives and in the Christian community. The followers of Jesus must be people of character.
- Christians must be fully committed to God’s relational standards. God’s love must be evident in our lives, in our interactions with people, and in the Christian community. The followers of Jesus must be people who connect with others.
- Christians must be fully committed to God’s functional standards. Christians must be skillful and effective at the work they do every day, and they must bring that’s skill to every sector of society: business, education, media, science, healthcare, athletics, public service, and government. The followers of Jesus must be people of competence.
For real change to happen in our society, another level of commitment and wisdom is required within the professing church. We simply cannot ask the rest of America to make a depth of commitment that we are unwilling to make.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)