My Favorite Proverbs: Vouching for Another (6:1-5)
My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler (Prov. 6:1-5).
To “become a surety for your friend” means you co-sign on a loan for him. It is not uncommon for dads to do this for their almost-adult children who don’t yet have enough credit history built up to borrow for a car or something else which requires financing. In this case, Solomon speaks of a man who “co-signs” for a friend or even a stranger on a loan. In so doing, he has given his word that if the borrower defaults on the loan, he will pay it himself. In this case, it was a foolish mistake to co-sign, or as the proverb puts it, “You are taken by the words of your mouth.” The original word for “taken” means trapped. He built his own trap and then walked into it. But the critical point of the passage isn’t really about money and loans. It’s a principle about valuing our names. The risk of co-signing for a friend or stranger is that you’re risking your own good name on the basis of his integrity. You put your name into his hand. He has control over something more valuable than your money. You’ve given him power over your good name. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1).
This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” If I am unequally yoked I give another person authority to command my actions—even when the command is sinful in the eyes of God. I entrust control of my integrity to the hands of one who isn’t even a believer. As Esau foolishly reasoned about his birthright, when he traded it with Jacob for a bowl of stew, a man can lightly make frivolous choices that end up tarnishing his good name.
Be careful with your name. If you are a Christian, you represent Christ and His church. “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17). We all make mistakes, but may we all let the value of our names be a deterrent to sin. Guard your name. Value highly your influence.
Tonight’s Story Time
by Glenn and Cindy
Read Genesis 45:1-15 to prepare for tonight’s special story time with the kids.
After some months of laborious testing have passed (allowing for travel time, etc…) Joseph is convinced that his brothers have changed. He’s ready to reveal himself and it’s a dramatic and wonderful scene (45:1-15). If you choose to read it to the children, be sure to pause and explain every detail you think they may miss.
1. While Joseph had “forgotten” the wrongs his brothers had inflicted on him (Gen. 41:51), he doesn’t appear to fully forgive them until this day. Remind your children about the meaning of repentance, once more. Discuss with your children the role repentance plays in forgiveness: first in sins men commit against men, and next in reference to sins men commit against God. Emphasize to them what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about our forgiveness being tied to our being forgiving: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). Make sure they understand and the older ones can say “To be forgiven, we must forgive.”
2. Which brother was the only brother that through the years played no part in hurting Joseph in the beginning of this story all those years ago? How did Joseph react to this brother when he finally revealed his identity? (Benjamin).
3. How do you think the brothers felt when they realized this powerful Egyptian was the brother they had hurt many years before? Some sins have consequences that last a long time. Can you think of other wrong things that people do today that end up hurting them for years? (Elicit the children’s comments on the price people pay for wrong-doing when they are in jail, for instance. Have them think about the hurt that people go through when they do not learn early on to obey parents. These are people who grow up and do not obey the law. They are paying for wrong choices for a long time.)
4. A spirit of forgiveness is better than hate in a man. Joseph is so excited to help and protect these brothers who sold him into slavery. What if he had let hatred grow in his heart? How would he have treated them now that he had been given great power? Hatred will always hurt the person who hates. Do you think being kind to his brothers brought happiness to Joseph?
5. Read Romans 12:17-20, explaining as you go. Explain to your children that “…this means, when someone treats us badly, we turn around and do something very good for that person. That’s not how regular people act. What do we want to do when someone shoves us, snatches a toy, or yells at us? That’s right. We want to do the same thing right back. But we are not regular people. We are God’s people. So we think of something nice to do for those who are mean to us.”
Practice this with your younger children. Have one of them to be an actress and snatch a toy from another. Then have the one whose toy was taken think of something nice to do for the one who snatched—like offer to let her keep the toy or offer to do a chore for her or give her a cookie. (Explain that, in real life, the one who snatched a toy would be punished, along with the response from his/her sibling. Don’t forget that part. =)) Then remember, in coming days, when one tattles on the other or tells of an offense at school, to challenge your children to think of something nice to do for those who’ve treated them badly. Help them accomplish this. Be sure to model this behavior in front of them.
If your children are older, have them think of instances in which people have mistreated them, said demeaning things about them or excluded them. Have them think of how Christians should respond in specific situations.
6. If your kids are old enough, sing a verse of “Angry Words” together:
Angry Words,(By: Horatius Palmer)
O let them neverFrom the tongue, unbridled slip
May the heart’s best impulse ever
Check them e’re they soil the lip.
Love one another
Thus saith the Savior
Children obey the blest command
7. Pray together.