Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Responsibility, Opportunity, and Unity
Preacher: Dena King
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 6:1-19 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers” (Proverbs 6:12-13).
She called me in tears. She had received a phone call from the IRS and they were about to send the police to pick her up for tax fraud. Somehow, the person who had filed her taxes had made mistakes so that unless she provided the IRS with her debit card number for a payment of $50, the police would be sent and she would be arrested.
Fearful of the worst, she quickly gave her bank card information. They assured her that they would take $50 out of her account to correct the error her tax person made and she’d be in the clear.
It was later that afternoon that the sophomore business major found herself in my office in tears because the IRS had mistakenly wiped out her whole bank account. That’s right, I said, sophomore business major.
I calmly explained that she had been scammed. I guessed correctly that the person on the phone had a bit of an accent. Likely they were from another country and had set up a local or 800 number to do their corrupt deed. She wept big tears that came from feeling both violated and humiliated that she’d fallen for the scheme.
I don’t believe in hell. But I do believe there is a special place in hell for those who prey on innocent people like this. My prayer is that somehow at the end of time they will have to live in northern Alberta in February. In a tent. With a sleeping bag that has a broken zipper.
For those of us who are seasoned and naturally suspicious, these kinds of scams don’t pose a threat. We’ve received the emails informing us that a billionaire wants to share their inheritance with us, or that a loved one is stuck in London and needs us to wire them $3,000. We laugh it off and delete the scammer’s email request.
But then there are those who don’t know any better. Many of them are senior citizens who send half their Social Security check to the slick TV evangelist so he can have yet another Gulf Stream or yacht or waterfront mansion. Somehow, bringing Jesus into the scam makes it even a little worse. At least it does for me.
The wink of an eye. The promise of God’s financial blessings. The nod of the head. The use of fear and manipulation to exploit the innocent. All of it is evil. The Wisdom Writer warns us. He wants us to be alert.
Recalibrate: Have you ever been scammed? How did it make you feel? What have you protected yourself from having it happen again?
Respond: Father, help me to be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
Research: Read BBB Tips: 10 Steps to Avoid Scams.
Remember: “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light and the corrections of disciplines are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:23, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
Lay out a path for your child to follow. You can use cookie crumbs or blocks or toys or whatever you want—just explain that they need to follow the objects from one to the next. How often did your sweet one become distracted by other things around them? Did you purposely put stuff in their way to see if they would stay focused? There is nothing worse than someone purposely leading you astray. Help your little one stay focused on the path you have laid out. Encourage them, journey with them and celebrate each time they move in the right direction.
Get a piece of paper and draw a big line down the middle of it. On one side write down or draw the things you love! On the other side of the page write down or draw things you hate! They have to be things you really hate. I don’t like raw tomatoes so much, but I don’t hate them. What I really hate is when people are mean and hurt animals. The Bible tells us about things God hates and cannot stand. On another paper make a few guesses about what God hates. Tomorrow we’ll see if you guessed right!
As we finish out this series on wisdom through the lens of Proverbs, we reach an important point in the story as Solomon talks about the things God hates and our instruction not to become any of those things. I want to bring your attention to Verses 17-19 where Solomon lists the Lord’s Bottom 7 which are:
“a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that thinks up evil plans, feet that are quick to do evil, a witness that tells lies, and a person who causes trouble among others.”
Eyes, tongue, hands, mind, feet, spirit, and poor leadership.
Unfortunately for us, that’s pretty much every part of our lives and bodies (except our spleen, I guess) that can be responsible for doing evil. But Solomon also gives some wisdom earlier in the chapter when he tells us that anything we get ourselves into, we can escape from.
Look at Proverbs 6:5 which instructs us to “save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the trapper.”
Even when you find yourself doing something unsavory, there is a way out. It may not seem like it; it may seem like it would be uncomfortable not to follow the crowd seeking to bully someone. It may be awkward to admit that you’re wrong when you realize you’ve made a mistake, but it’s always better than the other option—to continue doing something wrong for the sake of saving face.
How might you seek to do something that gets you out of the wrong place at the wrong time in order to get to the right place again? Just like you might make a plan to escape a bad situation in an emergency, do you have a plan for when you find yourself at the crossroads between good and evil?
My best friend Makenzy is a huge trouble maker. He loves to play jokes and pranks on people. Sometimes this gets him into trouble, yet most of the time people just laugh at his jokes and he is the life of the party.
Makenzy is a good man. He has a good heart, does good things for many people, and loves Jesus with his all. The text today is not talking about people like Makenzy. It is addressing the people who truly want the worst for others. There are people who want to hurt you in this world. I am not trying to scare you, but I am a realist. You cannot trust everyone, and you really shouldn’t!
But there is One you can trust. Jesus will never betray you. As you navigate life, be quick to go to Jesus first, then people. Allow Him to be the first person to hear about your situation. Cast your burdens upon Him. Then allow Him to work on your behalf.
We are often too quick to go to people and neglect going to the Cross. Jesus has no ill intentions or selfish motives. He will deal fairly with you. He bids you to come to Him in peace.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.