Teaching Series
Wisdom That Works

Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Violence
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
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 1:8-19  in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: “If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder . . .” (Proverbs 1:11–13).

When I was in high school I attended a private boarding academy that, at the time, didn’t allow any kind of entertainment devices in the rooms of the students. No radios. No record or tape players. No televisions. Nothing. We were there to study and not to be morally swayed by the music of the seventies, nor by the comedy of Laverne & Shirley. 

Of course, this didn’t stop students from smuggling all sorts of contraband into their rooms to get their entertainment fixes. (This was in the days before Sony had come out with personal listening devices.)

Each school year the boy’s dean would confiscate all kinds of radios, televisions and other devices, keeping them in a large closet in his office.

I was sitting in a room one evening with some fellow ne’er-do-wells when the topic came up. One of the more devious young men said, “Hey, we should break in to the dean’s office and steal all those radios and televisions and hock them at a pawnshop!”

Knowing approximately how much inventory we were dealing with, the two protagonists of this bad idea added up a potential number of dollars we could get for such a haul. They included me in their plans and asked if I’d like to be in on the heist. I knew better than to take such a risk, but the thought of free money along with the desire to be included hooked me in. 

We broke into the dean’s closet over a weekend. We cleaned it out, “borrowed” a truck, and hauled it all over town to different pawn shops, which, of course, wanted nothing to do with a bunch of teenagers and a truck full of stolen merchandise. 

As the weekend unravelled, the empty closet was discovered and the cat burglars were caught. People were kicked out of school and suspended and parents were shamed by the choices of their kids. 

As I look back, I lament the times I gave into the pressures of doing evil to fit in. As an adult, I don’t hang out with the kinds of people who would try to lure me into an Ocean’s 11 kind of a scheme. As a reasonably responsible adult, my temptations are more socially acceptable. Even so, I need to remember that doing evil, even if it seems low risk or relatively benign, for the sake of gain, will always blow up in my face.

Recalibrate: When was the last time you got caught doing something wrong? Was it your own idea or were you lured into it by pressure from others?

Respond: Pray these words: “Lord, keep us from being influenced by evil, but influence us for the good.”

Research: Read about an ambush in Luke 10. In the story of the Good Samaritan, how were those who passed by complicit in the ambush? 

Remember: “My child, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10, NIV).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.

Draw a pretend road using chalk on the pavement with your child today. Add in a stop sign, a pedestrian crossing, a traffic light, or any other traffic items that are relevant to your child’s community. Play a game of running around or riding trikes around this road.  When you play, model what you want to see from your child. Our Zoe takes great delight in going off road so she can overtake her Nanna. Where did she learn that from? Model what it is to stay on track, on the road made for you. The Words to Remember for this week say, “My child, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10, NIV). Stay on track. When you find yourself off track or in a ditch, set your eyes on the road ahead, listen to the voice of those who love you, hold the hand of the One who loves you the most, and get back on it. Happy driving!

When I was about eight years old, I had a friend who lived down the road from my house. She came over to visit one day in one of those super cool toy cars. We were playing in the backyard, and my mom told me that she was going inside to take a shower and that she wanted us to stay in the backyard until she was done. A few minutes later, my friend said it would be fun to drive the little car over to her house to play. It wasn’t that far, after all. I agreed, and we gave my mom a big scare when she came back outside and didn’t see us anywhere! When she found us at my friend’s house, she was not happy. Proverbs tells us that there are going to be people who try to get us to come with them and do things that aren’t smart or that could hurt other people. Have you ever had someone try to get you to do something you know you shouldn’t? It doesn’t make you feel very good afterward, does it? Why do you think the Bible reminds us not to go with those kinds of people?

In one of my favorite animated movies, The Emperor’s New Groove, there is a scene where the character Kronk is faced with a dilemma of whether or not to save Emperor Kuzco from danger. In trying to make the choice, on his shoulders appear a little version of him dressed as an angel and one as a devil. Both mini Kronks try to give the full-sized Kronk advice on how he should proceed before he finally shoos them away and makes a decision on his own. Before they are dismissed, the “devil Kronk” says to the full-sized version, “Listen up, Big Guy! I’ve got three good reasons why you should walk away.” He then proceeds to give three really bad reasons for Kronk to do anything, let alone listen to his advice! Yet, when he gets to reason number two, even the shoulder angel-Kronk says, “Actually, he’s got a point!”

In Proverbs 1:10, this week’s Scripture for our Words to Remember, Solomon gives his own advice for us to follow if are ever in a similar situation where we aren’t sure which way to go. It says, “If sinners entice you, do not consent.”

Sometimes it’s easy to know the difference between right and wrong. Other times, even the people we think should be helping us to make the right choices aren’t there for us when we need them. In those moments, it’s good to take inventory of where we see God moving and follow His lead. Pray about these things today so you are already talking with God throughout the day. In that way, you will be ready when the time comes to make a choice. Because if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready!

Can you think of times in your past when you have had to choose between one decision and another and weren’t sure how to move? How did you go about making the choice you did? How do you think you would react if you were able to choose again today? Would you still go with what you chose back then? Or would you change your answer?

“Did God really say . . . ?” was one of the first lies ever told to humans. From the beginning, it seems that the devil has been trying to tempt and trap humanity into normalizing sin and not understanding the gravity behind it. God has set up healthy boundaries for us so we can flourish and live better lives in this world. But it seems the devil tries his hardest to undo every moral God has set up and he gets us to believe that God is hiding something from us. And that is what we read in Proverbs 1:11. In this verse, people are tempting others into killing just for fun. As horrid as that sounds, I think we can find this same application in our everyday lives. While people may not be killing just for fun on a regular basis, society and culture get us to normalize certain things that God has set boundaries around. What are some problematic behaviors that you have been normalizing?

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.
Emily Ellis is a senior studying theology at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington.

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