It is amazing to see how much the world has changed over the course of the last two hundred years. As in anything else, there are pros and cons that rise to the surface. Some would be subjective, such as personal preferences. Others would be objective, such as matters relating to Scripture. One of the obvious changes that has taken place can be seen in the fast-paced lives that many people live today. It seems as though since the Industrial Revolution, things have never been the same.
No longer is the common trend for families to be close. No longer is the common trend for a son to grow up and have the same occupation as his dad. Rarely will you find people who raise animals and grow their crops. Times are changing; it’s just the way it is. While times are changing, there is also a direction in which it is flowing. Jesus Christ will return one day, and all will be made new. What era will the kingdom of Christ resemble? Will it resemble the Garden? Will it resemble the kingdom of Israel under David’s rule? Will it resemble our modern era? In actuality, these questions are rather silly. When Christ comes and all is made new, there will be nothing to compare it to. It will be absolutely unique, different, and other worldly.
Nevertheless, the Christian finds himself in this intermediate point in which Christ has come and He is yet to return. Tomorrow could be the day of His return. Better yet, He could come today. Either way, the Christian must conduct himself in a way in which he will not be ashamed at His coming. But what does the Scripture have to say about how a believer is to conduct himself in the here and now? The book of Proverbs is filled with application for the Christian, whether he finds himself in the fast-paced business world of today, his home, or out in the world in his relationships with others.
Steadfast Love and faithfulness
Scripture says, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee…” (Prov. 3:3). In Proverbs 3:3-4, Solomon tells us what our conduct must be one to another. In Proverbs 3:3, the words “mercy” and truth” are used. The Hebrew word for mercy is “chesed”; this is the word that is used to describe God’s steadfast love. The Hebrew word for “truth” is “emeth,” which bears the meaning of stability or faithfulness.
It is interesting to see that there is a command for man to act in steadfast love one toward another. Typically, the Christian may only think of God as being One Who exercises steadfast love. But what does this mean? When the steadfast love of God is spoken of, it is referencing God’s covenantal love. In other words, when God says He will do something, He does it. God has made a covenant with man in the New Testament. Jesus died for the believer, and the believer is promised the indwelling of the Holy Spirit if he believes on Jesus and repents of his sin.
Now imagine if one day God would simply choose not to honor His covenant. Man would be left in a state of despair and uncertainty. In actuality, this could not be done. It’s like that illustration, “Since God can doing anything, can God make a rock so big that He cannot pick it up?” Some would say yes, and others no. Nevertheless, the problem arises in the fact that the question presupposes God can do anything. God can do anything that He desires to do. However, God cannot sin. Therefore, there are some questions that are simply flawed. This is the case with the question concerning the rock; it is, in essence, a flawed question; it does not make logical sense. This is also the case in questioning if God would simply choose one day not to honor His covenant. It cannot be done; it is foolish to think otherwise and even raise the question.
Scripture tells man that he is to be like Christ in his dealings with others. This means that when someone makes a commitment to another, he is to fulfill his side of the deal. Beyond this, he is to be faithful, reliable, and truthful in all his dealings with others. Surely, steadfast love and faithfulness would go hand in hand. But there is to be a unified front between these two commands. Faithfulness is to characterize a man’s steadfast love as steadfast love is to characterize a man’s faithfulness.
Faithfulness is hard to find. So often, people are preoccupied with self. As a result, faithfulness is not on their list. Faithfulness, in a sense, is a lot like selflessness. It seeks the good of another and commits oneself to that person in a state of loyalty. This type of behavior is to characterize the Christian. The Christian must prioritize his relationships biblically and apply steadfast love and faithfulness properly.
Binding and writing
Scripture says, “…bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart” (Prov. 3:3). Solomon wanted to make sure that his readers would never forget these words. He recognized the tendency of man to read and forget. Have you ever read a page before, then forgot what you read when you were done? Have you ever read a chapter before and forgot what you read when you were done? Have you ever sat down to read God’s Word and even had a nice time with the Lord but soon forgot what He was seeking to impress on your heart that day? Sure you have – you are a member of flawed humanity. Solomon noted this common tendency, and he sought to combat this with his instruction.
He tells the reader to do something to remember. That is the application. You do not need to write it down somewhere or bind it around your neck per se. That could be a good way to remember, but the point is to somehow remember that you are to show steadfast love and faithfulness to others – and to do something so that you remember to do so.
Favor with God and man
Solomon wanted to make sure his readers knew that there is great reward in showing steadfast love and faithfulness to others. Scripture says, “So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:4). Those who seek to apply Solomon’s words will find that they will receive favor from God and man. Favor carries the meaning of another’s being for you. After nine of the ten plagues come down upon the Egyptians, God told Moses to tell the Israelites to ask their neighbors (the Egyptians) for silver and gold jewelry. The Bible tells us that, “…the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians…” (Ex. 11:3). In other words, the Egyptians gave the Hebrews silver and gold. The Egyptians were, in a sense, for the people. They may have just wanted the Israelites to get out of there at that time. But either way, they showed kindness to the Israelites.
When someone grows in showing steadfast love and faithfulness to his neighbor, it will have an effect on his neighbor’s heart. The neighbor may not give up all his silver and gold, but over time, there will be a way in which that relationship will grow. Not only that, but the one who shows steadfast love and faithfulness will also notice the favor of God upon his life.
Father, I thank You for the instruction that You have given me in the book of Proverbs. Help me to show steadfast love and faithfulness to those around me. Teach me how to apply this in greater measure in my life. Help me to look to Jesus when it gets hard to show steadfast love and faithfulness to others. Open my eyes to see the work of the cross, and allow it to change the way that I think about my dealings with other people. Thank You for Your grace toward me. Sanctify me with Your Spirit this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen