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Sabbath School Lesson Begins
The Book of Proverbs
Lesson 8 *February 14–20
Read for This Week’s Study: Proverbs 20:1-30; 1 Cor. 12:14–26; Jer. 9:23-24; Proverbs 21:1-31; Matt. 25:35–40; Proverbs 22:1-29.
Most men will proclaim each his own
goodness, but who can find a faithful man? (Proverbs 20:6,
To some degree (a great degree, actually), we are all products of our environment. Though heredity plays a big role, the values we hold come to us from what is around us — our home, our education, our culture. From infancy we are impacted by what we see and hear.
Unfortunately, what we see and hear isn’t always what is the best for us; the world around us is fallen in every way, and it cannot help impacting us negatively. Nevertheless, we have been given the promise of the Holy Spirit, and we have God’s word, which points us to something higher and better than the world does.
This week we will look at various proverbs and the practical truths they express, truths that if taken to heart and followed can, indeed, help us overcome the negativity of this fallen world and prepare us for a better one.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 21.
Read Proverbs 20:12. What does this teach us about the value of all humans?
Unlike the theory of evolution, which considers us all to be
nothing but chance products of a mindless cosmos, the Bible teaches
that all humans were created by God (see
also Acts 17:26). It is no
accident, either, that Thomas Jefferson asserted the equality of all
humans precisely because they were
created by God.
It’s in the Lord, and in Him alone, that we have our equality.
Now, though we all have the same Maker, this doesn’t mean we
are all the same. Even identical twins don’t wind up behaving exactly
alike. In Corinthians, Paul talks about our differences, and stresses
that they should not lead to a sense of superiority but should,
instead, help us see our need for one another.
The eye cannot
say to the hand,
(1 Cor. 12:21, NKJV).
I have no need of you; nor again
the head to the feet,
I have no need of you
Read Proverbs 20:9. What else makes us all equal?
Sin is another universal equalizer. To the rhetorical question
of the proverb, the answer
no one points to the
tragic and hopeless condition of humankind. Humans are all weak and
mortal, and all the money and power in the world will not change that.
Yet in the context of the Scriptures this reference to human sinfulness
should not lead to despair, because Jesus’ death on the cross and His
resurrection have paved the way for anyone, no matter how sinful, to
have the promise of eternal life. And this life comes solely through
faith in Him — not by our works.
If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit
it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he
receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification
by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is
ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man
in his good works can never procure eternal life for him. —
Ellen G. White, Faith
and Works, p. 20.
Do you ever find yourself feeling superior (or inferior) to other people? (You shouldn’t be comparing yourself to others anyway.) If so, what should the cross tell you about the equality of us all?
Their works follow them, says Revelation
(NKJV) about the reward of
the righteous. Only the future will testify
to the real value of the individual. People may boast now of their
wealth, their knowledge, their physical prowess, and maybe that is all
true. But what does it mean in the sight of God? So often the traits,
accomplishments, and deeds that humans uplift as important or
impressive are shown to be the meaningless dross that they really are.
After all, look at some of the despicable characters, often in the
entertainment industry, who are all but worshiped and adored by fans.
What we idolize and worship presents a powerful testimony to how fallen
Read Proverbs 20:6 (see also Jer. 9:23-24; Mark 9:35). What are these texts telling us about what is of true value to God?
It is not the single sensational act of love or sacrifice that will demonstrate the high quality of our relationships, but the long and regular series of small actions that we perform day by day, patiently and surely. The daily meal served to your spouse, the constant attention to a sick parent, the continued effort in your job; all these humble acts throughout life are the evidence that your faith is authentic. Enduring faithfulness is more valuable than intense but rare acts of love.
This principle holds true for our relationship with God, as
well. It is more difficult and more valuable to live for God than to
die for Him, if for no other reason than that living takes more time
than dying. The saint who lives for God is greater than the martyr who
dies for Him. Anyone can claim to believe in God and to serve Him; the
question is: Does it last? Or, as Jesus said:
who endures to the end shall be saved (Matt.
How, through patience, kindness, and a willingness to meet other’s needs, can you reveal to someone something of the character of Christ? How willing are you to do this, no matter the cost to yourself?
Read Proverbs 20:17, 21:5. What practical lesson can we find in these texts?
The thief who steals bread gets it faster than the one who has
to work for it. Salespeople who lie to sell their bad merchandise may
become rich faster than the honest merchant (compare
Proverbs 21:5 to Proverbs 21:6). Yet, says the proverb,
the future will
gravel, and the hastily acquired
wealth will become poverty. The text gives a number of examples to
illustrate the accuracy of this observation:
1. The Inheritance (Prov. 20:21). The
mention of an
inheritance obtained too quickly (implying that the parents are still
alive) follows the condemnation of the one who curses his parents
(Prov. 20:20). The
association of these two proverbs is significant. It
is as if the son (or the daughter) curses the parents and also wishes
them dead. The child may even have plotted the death of the parents in
order to get the inheritance. The prospect of this behavior is tragic:
the lamp he is presently enjoying will become
(Proverbs 20:20, NKJV) and his curse against his
parents will turn on him, for
will not be blessed at the end (Proverbs 20:21,
(Prov. 20:22). This time the proverb addresses the
victim who may be tempted to seek revenge for the evil that has been
committed against him. The counsel is just to
wait for the
Only then will you be saved, which implies that
if you do seek revenge you are taking a serious risk. Proverbs 25:21-22
emphasizes the same instruction, using the metaphor of heaping coals
of fire on the enemy’s head, an Egyptian ritual expressing repentance
and conversion. If you refrain from revenge, promises Proverbs 20:22,
you will be saved by the Lord and, in the process (adds Proverbs
25:21-22) you will save your enemy, thus overcoming evil with good (Rom.
How can you learn to emulate the character of Christ more closely when it comes to overcoming evil with good? Why is this so contrary to our inherent nature? Why is death to self the only way to achieve this end?
A person’s character is measured less by wisdom or even religious commitments than by readiness to help the poor and the needy. It is not what you have that measures your character. Who you are to your neighbor is the measure of character. The Samaritan who saves his neighbor is closer to the kingdom of God than the spiritual priest (Luke 10:26–37). The book of Proverbs emphasizes and explains this priority.
For God’s sake: The first reason to make this a priority lies in God Himself, who prefers human compassion for the poor over our religious zeal (Prov. 19:17, Prov. 21:13). Your sensitivity to the poor and your concrete deeds on their behalf will count more with God than will any of your pious acts. In fact, God is personally invested in that work, so much so that, when we give to the poor, it is as if we are giving to God Himself (Matt. 25:35–40).
Read Matthew 25:35–40. What does this tell us about how Jesus identifies so closely with those in need? How should this truth impact how we relate to such people?
For the sake of the poor: The second reason lies within the poor person, whom God has created just as He has created the rich person (Prov. 22:2). The equality between humans, based on the fact that God has created them all, makes the poor as worthy of attention as the rich person. We should love our neighbors for who they are: beings made in the image of God.
At the same time, think about how much good it does you to help those in need. Our basic natures are selfish; by default we tend to look out for ourselves over and above others. By giving of ourselves, we learn to die to self and to better reflect Christ’s character, and what is of more value to us than that?
In what ways do you get a greater sense of personal satisfaction from helping others in need than only doing things for yourself?
The Hebrew word for
education comes from a
word that means
to build up and
All these meanings are contained in the Hebrew idea of education: when
train up a child (Prov.
22:6), we build up, we
begin, and we lay the groundwork for the future. Parents and educators
are therefore responsible for their children’s future and, by
implication, the future of the world. What we do with our children
today will impact society for generations to come.
Read Proverbs 22:6. What does this say about the importance of educating children correctly?
It is significant that the Hebrew word for
is the very word used for the
dedication of the
temple (1 Kings 8:63).
Early education means to dedicate our
children to God in the same way that the temple is dedicated. It has an
impact on our salvation, even beyond our own life.
is committed the great work of educating and training their children
for the future, immortal life. — Ellen G. White, Child
Guidance, p. 38. Such education has an eternal
apostle Paul seems to allude to Proverbs 22:6 when he commends Timothy
for his early training in the knowledge of
Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation (2
Tim. 3:15, NKJV).
Read Proverbs 22:8, 15. What principles do we find here?
Education can be compared to the activity of
The future of our society and of our children depends on what we have
sown. If our seed was
iniquity, then our education (
rod) will fail, and we shall reap trouble (Proverbs 22:8).
seed touched the hearts of the children (Proverbs 22:15), then the rod of our
education will drive the children’s foolishness far from them.
We so often teach others (especially children) by our example. Think about your example: What kind of legacy are you leaving? In what areas, if any, might your example be better?
Parents should be models of truthfulness,
for this is the daily lesson to be impressed upon the heart of the
child. Undeviating principle should govern parents in all the affairs
of life, especially in the education and training of their children. .
. . Parents, never prevaricate; never tell an untruth in precept or in
example. If you want your child to be truthful, be truthful yourself.
— Ellen G. White, Child
Guidance, p. 151.
Many fathers and mothers seem to think that if they
clothe their little ones, and educate them according to the standard of
the world, they have done their duty. They are too much occupied with
business or pleasure to make the education of their children the study
of their lives. They do not seek to train them so that they will employ
their talents for the honor of their Redeemer. Solomon did not say,
— Ellen G. White, Child
Guidance, p. 38.
a child the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart
from it. But,
Train up a child
in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Paul Brown and his family are a true blessing to me. A few years ago when they moved in, my step-grandfather asked Paul if I could mow his yard. Paul agreed, and soon a connection grew between me and his family, and I found out what nice people they are. His kids, Payton and Stormy, are very upbeat and friendly. Their mother, Christie, is really nice and is always there to help me.
One day I asked Payton why they were always away on Saturdays. I thought it was weird that I couldn’t do any work for them on that day. Payton invited me to come to church with them. I liked it, but after a while started slacking off. Six months later I was back–this time to stay.
I joined the Pathfinder Club. As we were coming back from a
campout, Payton, my cousin Hunter, and I were talking about school.
Hunter and I didn’t like our school because there were so many fights.
Hunter said that he hoped to someday go to a Christian college. Payton
Why don’t you just go to a Christian school?
Our parents agreed to let us go to Highland Adventist School here in
Elkins, and Paul found sponsors for us. I like the school a lot. The
teachers and staff are really nice, and the students are friendly, not
One day as we were going to church, Payton said he wanted to get baptized. Hunter and I said that we wanted to get baptized with him. So we all took Bible studies together and were baptized on November 2, 2013.
The church members are the nicest people I’ve ever met. They are always there for you. And the pastor, Don, there’s something about his preaching that just sticks with me. I like the people here a lot–they are like my second family that I’ve always wanted.
Being able to come here and know about the Seventh-day Adventist church has been a real blessing to me. No one else in my family are Adventists. They don’t understand why I don’t do some things I used to do. My stepdad can’t understand why I don’t eat pork–all my life I’ve eaten it, and at first it was hard not to eat it. But I’m glad I went off of it. I’ve seen a change in my weight and my personality. Everything has gone up since I was baptized.
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Sabbath School Lesson Ends
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