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Wanted: A Faithful Man

Notes & Transcripts

Sermon Proverbs 20:6

Theme:  Be a man of Faithfulness

Goal: to encourage believer to be what you say you are.

Need:  we often speak but don’t live truly by that.

Many a man calls himself unfailingly loving.  But a faithful man who can find?

Introduction:  The proverbs are not statements of fact and doctrine. 

The proverbs are wise sayings that make you say, hey, you know that’s true. 

Here’s some examples:

 Love is blind.  Friendship closes its eyes.

Man fools himself. He prays for long life but fears old age.

These things are so true, sometimes.  They are so true.  But not always.  They might have some wisdom to them, but they are not a set of rules that you make into laws for a persons life. You can’t legislate wisdom.

In fact, wisdom is the type of thing that to some degree is similar all across the globe.  It doesn’t matter what culture you come from.  The proverbs I read just a second ago actually come from a Chinese book of wisdom and proverbs.  It also says, “Looking for fish, don’t climb a tree.”

Now the wisdom of the Bible is different.  It is part of the Holy inspired word of God.  It is good for teaching and for thinking about how do we allow our lives to be used for the building up of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  What can old testament proverbs tell us that can guide us in our striving to be holy.

What we hear in this short little verse is a profound truth that we already knew.  At the very basic level, the proverb is saying “talk is cheap.”  Or to borrow another English proverb:  Walk the talk.  The proverb is reteaching us what we have known for a long time, many people are quick to think good things about themselves.  We are quick to assume that we are pretty good people.  We stay true to our commitments.  Forgetting to show love to someone, do we ever just shrug it off saying, that’s something lowlifes and rednecks do.  The proverb reminds us that as followers of Christ we ought to faithfully live out who we claim to be.  Walk the talk.   It laments the fact that we just can’t find anyone who fits the bill anymore of  showing loving kindness and being completely faithful .

Let’s walk our way through this proverb. 

The first word is many.  Many people claim to have unfailing love.  Its a proverb that draws a stark contrast between the many and the few.  So often we see this in the world.  Words are many.  Another proverb says talk is cheap. Talk is cheap.  The vice of the many is the way words come so easily.  Talk is cheap because many people do it.  In fact, is it possible that we fall more in line with what is true of the many than of the few.  This wouldn’t be wisdom literature unless we could see evidence of this truth.  It is so easy to talk and to talk big. 

Proverb:  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  You might think about unfailing love.   You might talk about unfailing love.  You may have promised to a spouse or a loved one your unfailing love.  But many people do that.  The talk is cheap.

Our New International Version of the Bible doesn’t have the best translation of this passage.  The first part of the proverb reads “many a man claims to have unfailing love.  That’s an okay translation.  But the actually language of the Hebrew talks about a person who doesn’t just  claim that they have that attribute, but speaks out about their unfailing love.  The American Standard Bible reads this way:  “many a man proclaims his own steadfast love.  This fits the Hebrew wording better.  It has more this sense of proclaiming something about themselves.  That’s what the proverb is talking about.   There are lots of people out there who can trumpet their own love.

But we come now to one of the most important words in the passage.  Love.  Any time in scripture you come to the word love you have to ask yourself what exactly does this type of love me.  Romantic love?  Friendship love?  Family Love?

          There a many different ways we can understand the word love.

          The word that is used in the Proverb is the Hebrew word chesed.  It happens to be one of the most important words in the old testament.  It occurs around 250 times in the old testament. 

          There are some very familiar places that this word is used.  Perhaps one of the most well known place for us would be in Psalm 136.  It goes like this: Psalm 136:1-5 (NIV)
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. 4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. 5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.

[1]

How about Psalm 100:5Psalm 100:5 (NIV)
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

[2]

We even heard this word used in the passage this morning, but we might not have recognized the word chesed in there.  Ruth 2:20 is part of the way Naomi blesses Boaz.  She says, “The Lord bless him!  He has not stopped showing his kindess to the living and the dead.”

Here the word is translated, not as love but as kindness.

The word chesed is used most often to refer to the covenant relationship we have with God. We have this relationship in which God brings us the blessings of covenant kindness.  Chesed is a kind of love that seeks for the other persons prosperity.  Kindess that reaches beyond emotion to actual help.  God has this kind of love for us in the perfect way through Jesus Christ.  Chesed.  Covenant love and faithfulness.

We hear the same word again at the end of this chapter of proverbs.  Proverbs 20:28 tells us that a leader will prosper if they have both faithfulness and chesed

You need both Love and faithfulness. But there is a disparity in the world.  You can find lots of people that will trumpet the fact that they have this kind of loving kindness.  This lasting love.  This unconditional love.  But talk is cheap.  People need to walk their talk in order for it to really mean anything.

Unfortunately, Proverbs 20:6 has a good grasp of reality when it says thatProverbs 20:6 (NIV)
6 Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

[3]

Claiming love is not the problem.  Perhaps even a few signs of that love are not hard to see in a person who trumpets their own love.  But someone who actually is faithful to their promise to be unconditionally loving?  Who can find that person? 

The implication of that is that it is incredibly hard to find. 

If we look closer at the word faithfulness in this passage, we find the word used for faithful is different from one that is used elsewhere.  What the passage is looking for is the person that is firmly established in the love that needs to be given.  Its easy to say that you are a person of unfailing love.  But are you really.  Are you faithful to your claim.  Who is actually firmly established in their claim to be full of loving kindness?  It is hard to find.

The fact is we all fail in this.  And a proverb of wisdom like this shows us how unique Jesus Christ was in this world.  The love of God the father lived in him.  He had within him all the chesed that God had shown Israel for generations.  All that unconditional unfailing love was packaged up in the person of Jesus Christ.

And who can find the person who is faithful, is firmly established as one who can love sincerely?  They are to find.  Unless you look into the gospels and watch the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. 

Boaz showed Ruth loving kindness.  He established himself as one of the few that was faithful and loving.  

You look deeper and you find that Christ is the ultimate solution to this aweful paradox.   He is love in carnate. He is love in action.

So now us!  We need to love.  And we need to act. 

AMEN


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[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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