Below is a very brief array of verses in Proverbs that describes the speech of fools and wise men. The verses below were chosen for explicitly mentioning the fool or his foolishness in speech and the wise man or his wisdom in speech as well. Many more verses on speech from the Proverbs could be added, to be sure.
These are good reminders for all of us, and you can profit the most by looking up these verses for yourself, meditating on them, and hiding them in heart. May these descriptions and admonitions take root in us in our attempt to live out Ephesians 4:29: “You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV).
The Speech of a Fool in Proverbs: A fool is hasty to speak (29:20) and speaks his mind instead of listening and learning, bringing about his ruin (10:8, 10, 14). He delights in expressing his own opinions (18:2) and exercises no control, holding nothing back (29:11). He pours out words full of foolishness and void of knowledge (14:7; 15:2, 7). His foolish words stem from the foolishness in his heart (12:23).
His foolish words are crooked (19:1), filled with slander (10:18) and quarreling (20:3), and he is entertained and angered when presented with wisdom (29:9). His words bring about difficulty in general (18:7) and even physical retaliation (14:3; 18:6).
Because he is so characterized by foolishness in his speech, he is assumed to have nothing to offer when wisdom is needed (24:7). In fact, his wisdom is best shown when he remains silent (17:28). Even if he were to say something wise, his characteristic foolishness would make this momentary oracle of wisdom of no influence and even difficult to hear in light of his reputation (26:7, 9).
The Speech of the Wise in Proverbs: Wise speech comes from the Lord (2:2) and lodges itself in the heart of those who would be wise (2:10). A wise man speaks wisdom in general (10:31), spreading his knowledge to others (15:7). His words are persuasive in their wisdom (16:21), being carefully contemplated in his heart before they leave his mouth (16:23). His words are those to which all should listen (22:17).
He speaks when necessary (10:19), sometimes responding to foolishness and sometimes not (26:4–5; 29:9), exercising self-control (29:11) and keeping peace when he chooses to speak (14:3). When he reproves someone who listens and heeds his wisdom, his words bring healing to the listener (12:18) and encouragement to all who observe (25:12).
How much more could grace reign among us if our words were consistently wise! Let us strive towards uttering grace into the ears of others with every word we say.
“18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19 ESV).
While this passage describes why some unbelievers never believe, it can be applied to believers who struggle to bear fruit because they struggle with these same thorns. Let’s examine the three thorns identified above.
The Cares of the World: A “care” is a “worry” or “anxiety” and is related to whatever produces such a reaction. A busy schedule, grass to mow, a car to fix, a house to maintain, ―these cares of the world are not necessarily sinful. However, we carelessly increase these cares or care for them so much that we care more for them than how the Word is bearing fruit in our lives. Remember that these cares can choke the growth of the Word in your life. Care for what is necessary, and make sure that your chief care is not of this world―taking time to let God’s Word bear fruit in your life.
The Deceitfulness of Riches: If we are not careful, we can easily orient our lives towards the deceitfulness of riches. Excessive overtime, a side business, a second job, obsessively watching the stock market―we think we’ll have an edge or get ahead of the game with our money. In reality, riches are fleeting, and consuming ourselves with these activities robs us of letting God’s Word bear fruit in our lives.
The Desires for Other Things: The desires for other things are desires for things extra that are not necessary to life. “Cottages, boats, campers, time-shares, real estate, snowmobiles, new cares, new houses, new computers, new iStuff, new video games, new makeup, new DVDs, new downloads” are some examples. While these things are not inherently sinful and can be wisely managed, our desire for others things can move us to work for them, get them, and maintain them, taking away from the greater priority of tending the soil of our hearts so that God’s Word will bear fruit in our lives.
John Calvin exhorts, “Each of us ought to endeavor to tear the thorns out of his heart, if we do not choose that the word of God should be choked; for there is not one of us whose heart is not filled with a vast quantify, and, as I may say, a thick forest, of thorns” (emphases original).
Be mindful of your thorns and tear them out. Order your life around what is most important. Set priorities and stick to them. Say no to the unnecessary, even when you’ve been saying yes for some time. Habits are hard to break, but fruit is hard to grow. Tend the soil of your heart and tear away what robs you from bearing fruit for God.
If God decreed all things, did He actively decree that some would sin, be unbelievers, and thus be punished forever? If we were to ask Jesus for an answer to this question, He might point us to His words in Matthew 25, a prophecy of the judgment of believers and unbelievers to come at His return.
In this setting, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34). Those on the right were blessed by Father to inherit a kingdom that He planned to give them even before the time He created the world. The Father knew who these kingdom citizens would be and planned to bless them in this way. To state it in terms of this article’s title, He decreed in eternity past that there would be a kingdom and that these blessed would be its citizens.
As for unbelievers, however, Jesus does not state that a place of damnation was prepared by the Father in like manner for them. He states to those on His left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). There is no mention of the Father, and the place of punishment was not even prepared for them but the devil and his angels. The implication is that the unbeliever is not guilty of not being one for whom the Father prepared the kingdom. Rather, the unbeliever, like the devil and his angels, rejected God and was cursed and would be held responsible for his unbelief by being punished forever.
In short, the Father prepared a kingdom for those would believe. The Father is not said, however, to have prepared eternal fire for unbelievers. In all of this, we see one of the texts in the Bible that holds the mystery of the sovereignty of God side-by-side with the responsibility of man. God did not prepare a kingdom for some, but these outcasts chose to shun His kingdom, for which they find themselves cursed and forsaken to eternal fire.
Seeing that men shall answer to God for how they have loved and lived for Him, may we implore the lost all the more to repent and turn to Him!
What is propitiation? John states that Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) and, similarly, that the Father “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Greek term for propitiation in these instances is hilasmos, and we can understand it better by examining related words in the NT.
Romans 3:25 uses the noun hilastērion―Christ is He “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Hebrews 9:5 uses this noun in identifying the mercy-seat in the Holy Place of Israel’s tabernacle: “Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.”
The verb hilaskomai is instructive as well. Luke 18:13 records the tax collector’s plea, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 2:17 states “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Some conclusions from above: (1) propitiation was possible in the OT through the mercy seat (Heb 9:5) but not completely as it would be in Christ (Rom 3:25); (2) Christ Himself is the propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10); (3) propitiation is for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), the sins of the people (Heb 2:17), and the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2); (4) Propitiation was made possible by the blood of Jesus (Rom 3:25); (5) propitiation was made possible by Jesus because He was human (Heb 2:17); (6) propitiation is something Jesus has done in His service to God as our High Priest (Heb 2:17); and (7) propitiation is for those who humbly acknowledge their sin before God (cf. Luke 18:13).
From these conclusions, we can describe propitiation more fully. Being the infinitely holy God that He is, God justly responds to our sins with infinite wrath. Sadly, many experience (and others will come to know) this infinite wrath in hell, a punishment that lasts forever. Others, however, humbly acknowledge their sin before God and place their faith in Jesus who paid the infinite penalty for their sins on their behalf, made possible because Jesus is both God and man. The wrath of God was temporarily satisfied through animal sacrifice in the OT which anticipated the sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:5; cf. Lev 16), and His wrath is now completely satisfied through Christ’s shed blood (i.e., His death on the cross).
In short, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, meaning that He is the one who set aside the wrath of God by taking our due penalty for sins upon Himself on the cross. What an amazing Father we have to send His Son to die for us, and what an amazing Son He is to be the propitiation for our sins!
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.