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Have you ever had someone call you out on a trait of yours that really needs correcting? It happened to me at my ordination council. One of the wise men there to examine me said his biggest concern about me was that I was formulating answers before questions had even been fully asked. He was right. And his wise rebuke has stuck with me the nearly 40 years since. Positively I trust.
Based on that one would think our key passage today would be Prov. 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”. Instead it comes out of our reading in Proverbs 18 and specifically vs. 13: “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” And while that verse fits the scenario above, it also has another very important application.
I’m Reid Ferguson and we’ll think on that a bit more in a moment on Through the Word in 2020.
Luke 17:1–4; Song of Solomon 8:8–Isaiah 2:5; Hebrews 5:11–6:12 and Proverbs 18 are before us today. And I had a tough time deciding which passage to go to. But seeing it is all God’s Word and provision for us, I guess we can’t go too far wrong no matter which we choose. He is so good!
Now as I already mentioned, I have often been guilty of giving answers before I hear other parties out fully. It is a tendency in me – and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. We can want to be heard and understood, rather than to hear others and fully understand them.
Thinking about it even now makes me want to pray: “Father – Help me to Listen, listen, LISTEN! And forgive me for the way I do this.”
But we can err even here too. There is a flip side we dare not ignore. It comes home to us in our evangelism. And in this case, we need to guard those who hear us from giving an answer before THEY fully hear.
No doubt, this is the cause behind many a spurious conversion.
In other words, we need be sure those we speak to on behalf of Christ, understand as clearly as we can make it – just what exactly is being discussed.
Let us tell them and press home the essentials.
The reality of their condition in light of creation and the Fall. That their greatest need is not spiritual therapy, but forgiveness of sin – for their rebellion against God’s right to rule and reign over them as His creation.
That the world is in the state it is in because of God’s just judgment upon mankind. That all stand condemned apart from Christ.
The nature of grace and mercy being extended in this call to pardon; and what is meant by words like reconciliation, regeneration, sanctification and glorification.
The necessity and accomplishment of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement. Of justification by faith. Our guilt placed on Him so that His righteousness might be accounted to us by faith.
The implications of following Christ Jesus. That there is a cost to be counted. It might well cost them friends and family, and that they will be entering a perpetual battle against indwelling sin.
And the reality of balancing off our great hope in the coming Kingdom of Jesus against both the offers and the trials of this present world.
If they “believe” too quickly – without knowing the facts, it will end in shame.
We need to be clear on what this salvation we are telling them about really is. That we are calling them to turn from their idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
God willing friends, we’ll be back tomorrow.