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baby elephant June 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Proverbs 28, 29, 30, 31

Leadership Advice

Though we don’t know the source, it has been said, “You can tell how big people are by how they treat small people” [meaning those who might be considered insignificant, not a disrespectful description for those who are small in size like the baby elephant in the above picture].

If we are an employer or manager, how should we treat those under our charge? Should we make them feel like they are just a cog in a wheel of our organization or make them feel valuable? Do their opinions count? Are their lives important?

How do we treat poor people? Do we look the other way? Will we greet them on the street? Will we invite them into our homes? Will we help them meet a need?

What about the elderly—do we treat them with dignity, respect, patience and kindness, or with disdain and a lack of tolerance?

How should we treat the disadvantaged (meaning those who have mental and physical challenges)? But for the grace of God we might be what they are. Are we patient with them? Do we talk kindly with them?

If we have a family, how do we treat our mate or children? Do we treat our spouse as equal with us? Do we listen to them? Parents, do we invest our lives in our children or think “children should be seen and not heard?”

Wherever we might be, whether at work or at home, are we arrogant and ruthless or do we mix kindness with justice and equality? In this last reading of Proverbs, King Solomon, Agur, and the mother of King Lemuel (more…) address those who are in authority, amongst other issues.

A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops (Proverbs 28:3, NIV).
Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked man ruling over a helpless people. A tyrannical ruler lacks judgment, but he who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long life (Proverbs 28:15-16, NIV).
When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive (Proverbs 28:28, NIV).
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan (Proverbs 29:2, NIV).
By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down (Proverbs 29:4, NIV).
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern (Proverbs 29:7, NIV).
If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked (Proverbs 29:12, NIV).
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully (Proverbs 28:5, NIV).
If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure (Proverbs 28:14, NIV).

If we are in a position of leadership, are we people of integrity and high moral standards, or have we perverted judgment by seeking bribes? Do we have any concern for the poor, or are we too busy building our own wealth and mansions? God blesses the leaders who act with righteousness.

If we are convicted by the sayings of these wise men, how do we change? Jesus Christ is our model. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2Corinthians 8:9, NIV). The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the church of Philadelphia,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:3-9, NIV)

Jesus came to this earth, greatly humbled himself, and provided us a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so we may have forgiveness and eternal life. When he makes us righteous, we are genuinely changed by God's Holy Spirit (more...). A genuine relationship with God through Christ enables us to do what is right and to be a servant (Matthew 20:26-28). Instead of being lords over our kingdoms, we are encouraged to be humble and teachable, and let God’s Word, the Bible, be our guide. (Proverbs 30:2-6).

More Advice for Spiritual Leaders

“When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order” (Proverbs 28:2, NIV). Do we understand the importance of keeping order? Faithful leadership, communication and safety are concerns for those who lead. We must do this to have success.

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18, NIV). There must be clear, understandable rules and procedures to follow in any organization or home. And, they must be enforced with justice and equality to encourage all who are ruled by them (equal justice for everyone). This gives a sense of security and responsibility.

The sayings of King Lemuel-- an oracle his mother taught him:

“O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel-- not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights” (Proverbs 31:1-5, NIV).

Men (the principles could equally apply to women), there are some things which can destroy us as leaders of our organizations and homes. We need to listen to our good mothers who brought us up and taught us. They want us to be good men and succeed in our leadership. Intoxicating drinks and sensuous women can destroy us. They can make us disregard laws and impede our judgment. King Lemuel’s mother continues,

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV).

Some, like the poor, disadvantaged, elderly, widows, infants, and the unborn cannot speak for themselves. As men and leaders we must speak up for them. We must be men of God; we must lead with righteousness, justness, and mercy.

The last piece of advice given to King Lemuel is to find a good wife who fears the LORD (fearing the LORD means she has a genuine relationship with God and tries to please him, more...). Wise Christian men will heed this same advice. Why? A wife who fears the LORD “… brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12, NIV). A good wife, not only fears the LORD, but is also resourceful and skilled in providing for the needs of her household, and she reaches out in kindness to her community.

As a fair exchange, the husband, as head of the home, needs to appreciate his wife. In a family there is little that is worse than a married woman who is not loved (Proverbs 30:21-23). Proper treatment of good Christian women will benefit husbands in the respect and honor they are given. It is important then that men love, praise, and reward their wives for the things they do. If men will do this, then it will be easier for women to submit to their leadership in the home and help them be well-respected.

What if we are not under someone who will rule with justice and kindness? Solomon gives this answer:

Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that man gets justice (Proverbs 29:26, NIV).

It is tempting to always seek justice and compassion from rulers and administrators since that is their function (Romans 13:1-5; 1Peter 2:13-14), but it is the LORD who can move the hearts of rulers. He can bring about justice and change events. Therefore, our reliance should be upon him to help us in our afflictions.

Lessons to Live By

(regarding leadership advice)

  • The character of “significant” individuals can be measured by how they treat the seemingly “insignificant.”
  • Have we been a bad ruler? Do we want to be changed for good? A genuine relationship with God through Christ enables us to do what is right and be a servant (more...). We need to be humble and teachable, instead of lording over our kingdoms, and let God's Word, the Bible, be our guide.
  • Men, to be godly leaders we must be wary of sensuous women and alcoholic beverages for they can destroy us; we must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; we must lead righteously; and if we marry, we need to choose women who are Christians, who fear the LORD and will bring good and not evil to us and our families. As a fair exchange we need to esteem our wives and show our appreciation for them.
  • Seek justice from God. Our reliance should be upon him to help us in our afflictions.
  • We should esteem others under our leadership who serve us well, no matter how significant or insignificant they may be.

Focus Verse

Micah 6:8 (NIV) “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: King Solomon is experiencing Good Times. How does he handle his success? How should we? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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