By Allen White
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.
A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:3-5
Hebrew poetry uses parallels to add emphasis. When we look at the second proverb here, we see this technique. A wicked person is the same as a liar. This person “listens to deceitful lips” and “pays attention to a destructive tongue.” It’s quite an indictment.
Why would anyone accept a lie? These proverbs don’t focus on the speaker as much as the listener. The listener is wicked, but then, the listener is also a liar. The sense is there is sort of a mutual admiration society among those who reinvent the truth. The error is not only in lying, but in accepting lies as well.
Wouldn’t truth telling and listening to the truth be easier? The great thing about telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said. Liars must add lies to cover their lies. It’s very convoluted.
But, why lie and listen to lies? Most of us want the assurance that we’re okay. Insecure people need affirmation that their decisions are okay. Deceptive people need others to side with them in order to feel “right.” I won’t delve into all of the layers of this neurosis, but if you’ve experienced someone like this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. These folks live in an unreal world – a house of cards built on lie after lie. The truth is too hard to take.
So, what do you do if a deceitful person is telling lies about you or a deceived person is accepting those lies? You really can’t do anything. But, fortunately, the proverb about liars doesn’t stand alone.
The first proverb says that “the Lord tests the heart.” God knows what’s in our hearts. If our hearts show that we have contempt for the less fortunate or that we gloat after disaster, God’s punishment will follow. If our hearts are pure, then we will see God (Matthew 5:8). But, who actually has a completely pure heart?
God is truth. There is no deceit in Him at all. The lies and deception in this world will be exposed exactly for what they are. Things that are done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops (Luke 12:2-3; Romans 2:16).
So, what do you do when God is for you, but others wish to do you in? You trust God. You have absolutely no control over what other people do or what other people say. None. But, you do have control of yourself. When you try to control other people, you lose control of yourself.
You and I are safely in God’s hand. Regardless of the storm that rages around us, our responsibility is to live in obedience to God. No matter how we feel. No matter what other people are doing. No matter how they do us wrong. What matters, what we can control, is how we conduct ourselves.
The Bible tells us to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). That may seem like the last thing that we want to do. But, it’s the right thing.
Who is working against you these days? Are you praying for them? They are definitely in need of prayer. Are you doing the right things even when you’ve been done wrong? With God’s help, you are better than how you’re being treated.
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