The Bird Who Doesn’t See the Net
Speaker: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: An Invitation to Wisdom: Proverbs 1-9
Proverbs 1:8-19 (ESV)
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9 for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
Our desires make us vulnerable (v19) – understanding how we are lured down a destructive path will help us choose the better path. Keep watch in three areas:
1. Conviction – compromising our principles
v13 “we shall fill our houses with plunder”
v11 “let us ambush the innocent without reason”
v12 “like Sheol let us..”
2. Community – poor judgment in where you belong
v11 “come with us”
v14 “throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”
v15 “do not walk in the way with them”
3. Contentment – greed is never satisfied, but those who hope in God are
v18 “they set an ambush for their own lives” (v17 “a net spread”)
v19 “such are the ways…”
v9 “they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck”
Questions for Reflection
How does greed make people vulnerable to exploitation? What other desires, drives or passions are key motivators in the choices people make? In what ways do these other desires create vulnerability?
What should you do when you feel ready to compromise your principles or convictions? How do you discern when a conviction needs to change from when we want to change our convictions because they are prohibiting something want (but shouldn’t)?
In what ways do we justify our actions after we do what we intuitively know we shouldn’t?
How do you deal with problematic dynamics in a social group (friends, family, co-workers)? How do you know when to overlook behaviors or issues, speak up and correct, or withdraw and disassociate? How can we maintain relationships with people who are different from us without compromising our own convictions?
What do you do with desires that are strong and can’t be satisfied?
How do you choose what is right while your desires are strongly pulling you to do what you know you shouldn’t? What are the best ways to navigate that situation?
Are all of our desires actually satisfied in God? How do you seek satisfaction by faith when your physical body has trouble relating to an invisible God?
What are the most compelling components of Jesus and his message? What strikes you as most valuable, most impressive, most appealing?
Do you trust that when Jesus calls you to follow him he is truthful that his way is the path of life? What do you need to keep walking on that path? How can you experience sufficient contentment now? What do you do with areas of dissatisfaction?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we are so easily led astray. There is corruption deep within us so we continually choose foolishly. We compromise our principles easily, not letting our convictions restrain us. We are too easily influenced by others, often wanting to belong so much that we join others in actions we otherwise know we should avoid. We are always trying to feed our thirst for more, but rarely look to you for satisfaction. Forgive our sin and folly. Grant us understanding so that we would see the greatness of your ways and walk with gladness in them. Amen.