Skip to comments.Why the world wants believers to shut up — and why we mustn't
Posted on 11/11/2006 3:13:22 PM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past
Why the world wants believers to shut up and why we mustn't
The blessing of upright men exalts a town, But by the mouth of wicked men it is torn down (Proverbs 11:11, my translation)
The interpretive key to understanding many of the Proverbs from 10:1 and on is in knowing the nature of Hebrew poetry, which does not tend to rhyme sounds as much as thoughts. That "rhyming" can be synonymous, or it can advance or complete the thought, or it can be contrastive. In this case, the "but" clues us that it is contrastive. Solomon is giving us two contrasting pictures.
That will help us understand each line. "The blessing of upright men," itself, could mean the blessing they receive, the blessing that they themselves are, or the blessing that they speak. Any of these could be true, if the line stood by itself.
But the second line is not so ambiguous: "by the mouth of wicked men [the town] is torn down." That clearly indicates what they speak, write, communicate. As it is a contrast to the first line, then, we understand that "the blessing of upright men" is what they say, write, communicate. Upright men exalt a town by the blessing communicated in what they say; wicked men tear it down by what they say.
Seen this way, the verse has many echoes in Proverbs and elsewhere. In Proverbs 10:11, we read that "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence." Again, in Proverbs 13:14a, "The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life." By contrast, "With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor" (Proverbs 11:9).
The Bible is very clear on the power that resides in the tongue, seen as the organ of communication. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue," we are told (Proverbs 18:21a). I don't think anyone has ever crystallized the matter as forcefully as James did, in the third chapter of his letter:
3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Cf. James 3:1-11)
What does any of that have to do with Christians shutting up?
Since "evangelicals" (whatever that means, anymore) and generally the religious had such an impact in the last election thank God! there has been an uptick in the noise on the role of "the religious" in society. Some well-known Christian leaders have advocated that Christians not be politically involved, but focus instead on evangelism. Others clearly advocate a Christian presence in the affairs of state.
Now, let me say first and clearly that the very best thing a Christian can do for the health of his nation is to grow in godliness, and to disciple others to Christ for all he's worth. I know that without a doubt, because that is a natural outgrowth of what Jesus singles out as the two greatest commandments: love God with everything we've got (which necessarily will mean growing in godliness), and love our neighboras as ourselves (which necessarily will mean pointing those who do not know Him to the Lord Jesus; Matthew 22:36-40).
But by this same token, this will also necessarily mean Christian involvement in politics.
Good on ya! I always find your thoughts edifying.
We love the lost by sharing all of God's truths with them everywhere they apply. We don't love them by being the number one manufacturer of fig leaves so they can cover up their nakedness before God.
Ps. 119:97-100 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts.
It's God's wisdom, not ours. While it is true that God's enemies are our mission field, that doesn't mean we have to help them hide from God's truth.
"Mind" you pointing a few more readers my way? Heavens, no. Thanks!
It is funny, though, I have been pinged to a few threads of my essays, where I had the impression that no one knew that I was me.
Pity blog essays are in a bit of a ghetto here, though.
Question: Which act of terror will the mythical "evangelical Christian" "militia" perform before Mrs. Clinton inauguration in 2008?
Doesn't matter. They'll pull a Reichstag fire if they have to, if nothing else comes up. If you pay attention, you can already see the scapegoating starting.