Prov. 21:24; 15:12; 29:8; 22:10; 3:34
The book of Proverbs is a study in contrasts: Solomon and the other authors present to us a decision to make. Either we’re going to do things God’s way, which is the wise thing to do, or we’re going to do things our own way, which will end in disaster.
Last month I pointed out the value of a negative example. Everyone has a purpose in life, and God will use everyone in his plan. But some people’s purpose is to be a cautionary tale, held up on display so you can look at him and say “I sure don’t want to end up like this guy!” It’s like the old joke about the man who was concerned about people breaking into his house in a bad neighborhood. He let it be known that he was all about firing “warning shots.” If anyone broke in, he'd shoot the intruder, and that would be the warning to the next guy. Or as I heard in another (horrible) joke, two men walk into a bar, and the third man ducked.
The book of Proverbs has three distinct men whose value is that of negative examples, people whose behavior we're supposed to investigate and then do the exact opposite. They’re the mocker, the simple man, and the fool. Today we’re going to look at the mocker and see what lessons we can learn from him.
So what is a mocker? It’s a person who's so far away from God’s path that he's rejected it utterly. He makes fun of those on the path as naïve simpletons. Warnings from the Bible are nothing but a joke to him.
What are some characteristics about him that we find from these verses? Well, first and foremost he's consumed by pride. No one's going to tell him what to do! He might even, in his heart of hearts, know that he’s destroying himself, but he doesn’t care. He'll rebel against authority just for the sake of rebellion.
Second, he won’t accept any correction from anyone. If someone tries to warn him about the path he’s on, he’ll laugh it off. He hates to hear from anyone that he’s wrong, and resents it.
Third, he tends to incite others. Unfortunately, his rebellion against the Lord doesn’t just affect him. It’ll quickly spread to others, since this rebellious spirit appeals to all of us with a sinful nature. We’d like to think that we’re in charge.
Fourth, he loves a good quarrel or a good fight. He’s not happy unless there’s strife in a room, and he'll purposefully stir things up in order to see it.
So what does the Lord think about him? Well, how do you think he’ll respond to someone like this? This foolish man might think he’s in charge of his own destiny, but once the Lord starts removing the breath of life from him, he’ll see differently. Not that God delights in the destruction of a soul. Of course not--he “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” But the Judge of all mankind will hand out cosmic justice, and this man who made a habit of laughing at such notions will find out--in the end--that the joke is on him.
So how do we apply all this? Well, if the Lord is pointing out someone like this, then it’s our job to look at what he’s doing and do the exact opposite. This means we desperately need to A) take God’s warnings seriously, B) Be willing to listen to correction from God and his representatives, C) Direct others towards God’s ways, not away from them, and D) Be a peacemaker, someone who loves to see unity among God's people.
And take a last look at 3:34. If we turn away from the mocker’s ways, then we have a wonderful promise. He will give us "favor," or "grace" as it's otherwise translated. It all starts with dropping the pride and follow the example of Alcoholics Anonymous. We all have to admit we have a problem, see that we can’t solve it ourselves, and throw ourselves on his mercy. He’s waiting.
Lord Jesus, I find the picture that your word paints of the mocker is uncomfortably familiar sometimes. Please forgive me for not taking your word seriously, for not listening to correction, and wanting to win arguments more than souls. By your grace, I can change.