“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22, NKJV)
The proverb depicts a process of separating the husk from the kernel of grain in a manner that is more intricate and careful than the usual threshing process. (The word “grind” means “to pound or beat small.”) Pulpit Commentary notes in this proverb “is expressed the idea that the most elaborate pains are wasted on the incorrigible fool…an obstinate, self-willed, unprincipled man cannot be reformed by any means; his folly has become his second nature, and is not to be eliminated by any teaching, discipline, or severity” (Proverbs, 519). Although pounding and grinding grain yields its intended results, you cannot beat foolishness out of a fool. You cannot pound the truth of God into a heart that is hardened by sin against it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is said to be “impossible…to renew them again to repentance” who have tasted heaven’s sweet goodness and then fallen away from the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-6). Unless and until the obstinate heart softens toward God and toward His truth, the sinner will go on, unaffected by efforts to separate him (or her) from the foolishness of his sin. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:7)!
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” 40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:39–41, NKJV)
Jesus is a decision point in your life. When you are presented the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you must decide what you will do with Jesus (see John 9:35-38 and the decision made). That is the judgment for which Jesus came into the world (v. 39). He came to give spiritual sight to the spiritually blind. Yet, His truth also blinds those who refuse Jesus and trust in themselves for spiritual guidance. Jesus is the light of the world who brings enlightenment to those who are blinded by sin (John 8:12). Those who pridefully believe they do not need Jesus remain blinded in their sins. Admitting your spiritual blindness enables you to see Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. But, you harden yourself in sin by refusing Him. What decision are you making about Jesus? Is pride causing you to refuse Jesus? If so, you remain blinded in your sins. Or, have you decided to believe and follow Jesus in the light? Your decision has eternal consequences (Rom. 2:1-11).
“In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;” (Psalm 15:4, NKJV)
The sweet psalmist of Israel is in the middle of answering the question he posed in the first verse of Psalm 15: “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” David draws our attention to the person who makes a pledge and keeps it even when, by doing so, it hurts him instead of benefits him. God accepts into His presence the person who measures honesty as a mark of integrity and personal honor. Truth is sacred to this person. This person does not pledge himself to honesty only if it results in a personal advantage. Are you such a person? How important is keeping your word to you? For Christians, our word is our bond (Ephesians 4:25). We keep our word, even if it disadvantages us to do so. The person who loves truth and fears God more than personal advantage dwells with God. Pledging our word and then breaking it because it puts us out, displays a lack of integrity that does not go unnoticed by God.
15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” 16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you?” (Psalm 50:15–17, NKJV)
The wicked, who defy God’s law and break His covenant, have no ground to stand upon and declare what God will or will not do. God is not a talisman or lucky charm to be called upon to conjure up blessings in a moment of crisis. Yet, too many people think of God this way. They have little time or use for God until a crisis occurs, and then they can be heard crying to God for help. God is not a fire-extinguisher on standby only when we have a problem that needs fixing. He commands and deserves our gratitude and faithful allegiance always. The Lord God hears and answers the cries of the righteous (1 Peter 3:10-12). Are you responsive to what God wants from you (His words of instruction)? If not, how can you expect Him to respond to your cries for help? What right do you have to say what God will or will not do, seeing you have rejected His word? Come back to God and obey His word. Then, He will hear and answer your prayers according to His will, not yours (1 John 5:14-15).
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. (John 9:35–38, NKJV)
This man, whom Jesus had healed of blindness on the Sabbath, had been cast out of the synagogue because he drew a necessary inference about Jesus, and had the audacity to declare it publicly. He concluded from the miracle Jesus worked for him that Jesus was from God, otherwise, “He could do nothing” (John 9:31-33). When Jesus found the man and challenged his faith in the Son of God, He identified Himself to be the Son of God. The miracle had convinced him that Jesus was the Son of God. When Jesus identified Himself to the man, he confessed his faith and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. The recorded miracles of Jesus continue to be signs providing the testimony we need to believe Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Exalted on high at the right hand of the Father, the Son of God gives life to those who put their faith in Him and follow Him according to His word (1 John 5:11-13).
59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59–60, NKJV)
The heart of Stephen is revealed as his life is taken by cruel men and horrible means. Accused by false witnesses, he spoke the truth to people who were “stiff-necked uncircumcised in heart and ears,” who resisted the Holy Spirit by refusing the word He gave them through the prophets (Acts 7:51-52). As they rushed upon him in hatred and hurled stones at him in anger, Stephen sought God’s mercy for them. When someone sins against you, how do you react? With anger? With hatred? Do you try to harm them in some way? The way of the righteous is different. When wronged, the righteous trust in God, as Stephen did. He had the heart of compassion that each Christian must develop (Colossians 3:12). Even in the face of great injustice, rise above the fray. Keep your trust in the Lord Jesus. Keep your heart pure. Keep your conduct righteous. And, thank God for men like Stephen, who set such a worthy example to follow.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed— 5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:4–5, NKJV)
A vow is a solemn, voluntary promise made to God and to others. This reminder to swiftly pay a vow made to God is a rehearsal of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). The law explained to Israel that God required them to keep the vows they made to Him; failure to do so was sin. No doubt, that is reflected in God having “no pleasure in fools” (those who make vow but do not keep them). This foolish treatment of vows occurs when marriage vows are broken for the most dismissive reasons. “Irreconcilable differences” is often legal code for “I don’t want to be married to this person anymore.” If you are married, you vowed yourself to your spouse before God and witnesses to be joined in marriage “for better and for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, until death we do part.” With such vows made in a God-approved marriage, He binds the husband and wife to each other for life (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:4-6; Romans 7:2-3). Take your vows seriously; God does. Keep your vows swiftly. God does not favor fool who do not keep their vows.