The wise man was walking down the road one day, and he happened upon a property. To look closely, one could tell that at some point in the past, this was a really nice place. There were fields where golden grain once grew. There were vineyards that once gave forth luscious fruit. There was a stone wall that once protected those fruits and grains, but it had all been covered with thorns and vines, and ultimately it had been broken down.
Solomon’s first thought could have been, “This place is a dump!” He could have condemned it. He could have thought to himself, “This ought to be demolished, and something worthwhile put in its place.” But rather than rush to judgment, he followed his own advice from verses 27-29 and stopped to consider what it was that he was looking at. The wise man made some very powerful observations.
1. Destruction can happen to anyone.
What happened to this slothful man in Proverbs 24 can happen to anyone. It is so easy for us to look at the destruction that comes into the lives of others with a haughty spirit that assumes, “Well that would never happen to me!”
This is foolish thinking. People that fall are made out of the exact same stuff that you and I are made of, and if it can happen to anyone, then it can happen to me! I’ve often said that anything that anyone has ever done, I’ve either already done it, or I could do it before I go to bed tonight. Why?
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:10 – As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
We are all depraved, carnal beings. We all have inherited this sin nature that began with Adam and has been passed down for generations. And that’s who we are! And if you take Jesus out of the equation, we’re all hopeless.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
So when I see the overgrown fields and the broken down walls of the slothful, what is my first thought? When I hear of someone yielding to temptation and succumbing to sin, what is my reaction?
Proverbs 24:17 – Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
That first thought tells me a lot about the condition of my heart. We tend to be respecters of persons when it comes to judgment.
Proverbs 24:23 – These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.
It is unwise to judge yourself by one standard and everyone else by another. The truth is—none of us are exempt from falling. We are all made of the same flesh, and we all face the same temptations.
2. Destruction happens when we lose our ability to reason.
Proverbs 24:30 – I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
I want to learn from people. I want to have understanding. When I hear stories about men of God who have fallen into sin or have done something foolish in the church, I don’t want to stand in judgment of those men; I want to try to understand. I want to be able to look at their scenarios and see how they could happen to me and then put things into place that protect me. I want to understand what happens to people who become trapped. If I don’t have understanding, I too will be destroyed.
There was a young man in Proverbs 7. In context, we’re all watching him from an upstairs room. The Bible says he is heading for her corner and that she is dressed with the attire of a harlot. We all know what’s about to happen. She’s there working her corner. She’s dressed seductively. Everybody knows what’s about to happen, except for the young man. Why?
Proverbs 7:7 – And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Young people, it would serve you well if you would be mature enough to understand that you don’t understand. It would serve you well to put some trust in the God-ordained authorities in your life. And let someone who “gets it” help you get it. It doesn’t make you less of a man or woman.
Proverbs 10:13 – In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
Proverbs 12:11 – He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.
So can we be honest that many people around us have lost their understanding? They have lost their ability to reason. And they’re in trouble.
3. Destruction happens over time.
I learned at a very early age that most things in life involve a process. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t just have success. By the way, you don’t just have failure.
“Behind every tragedy in human character, there’s a long, drawn-out process of wicked thinking.”Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.
Destruction starts small and slowly. The point is that the slothful man’s problem in Proverbs 24 could have been corrected a long time ago if he had wanted it to be. We need to learn to be honest with ourselves. We need to learn to act when we first notice a change, when we first notice that indicator of trouble, and when our hearts seem to be deceptive.
When I was 15, I bought a 1965 Mustang that had been wrecked. I paid $125 for it. Daddy did some of the repairs, and we planned to restore it, but we still hadn’t finished it by the time I left for college. The first summer I came home, Daddy surprised me and had restored my car. I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful!
I drove the car that summer. We lived on a dirt road, and when I would leave the house, I’d pull over at the end of the driveway and get a towel out and wipe off the dust because you can’t look cool cruising down Guess Road with dust all over your car.
I drove that car when I came home from college and after we got married. Then one day, something acted up with the carburetor, and I didn’t have any money to fix it. I pulled it into the backyard and parked it. About a year later, when we moved, I got the car started and drove it to our new house and parked it. Sixteen and a half years later, I towed it to our new house in Timberlake. It’s sitting in our backyard right now. It doesn’t look like it used to look. As a matter of fact, yesterday when I was mowing, I actually saw that there is moss growing on the side of it. It all happened because that one time when I should’ve fixed it and kept driving it, I chose to do nothing.
That’s what happens to people spiritually. You hear a sermon, and the Spirit of God convicts you, but you do nothing about it. And then it’s another one and another one. It happens in every area of your life. When you’re growing with it, you don’t realize what a mess it’s making.
Are you further from God today than you were yesterday? It doesn’t have to be that way.
4. Destruction can be corrected.
No matter how things have gone, they can be corrected. No matter where you are, no matter how far you’ve gone, no matter how bad it seems—we still call Him the God of the impossible! It can be corrected.
Once you come to the conclusion that you’re in trouble, you can get help!
Psalms 103:4 – Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
One day, the guy who owned the house in Proverbs 24 noticed that the weeds were getting kind of tall and the grass was getting a little overgrown and that things were really getting out of hand. And the reality is that at any time he could have corrected the problem, but he chose to do nothing.
It reminds me of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. At some point, something happened in his heart. And as he left his father’s house and the gate slammed shut, that could have been a wake up call. But it wasn’t. He was headed for destruction. And every step he took away from his father’s house was a step he had to retrace to get back home.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Keep short accounts of your sin. The moment you are convicted of your sin, confess it. Why? Because every moment you don’t confess is another step in the wrong direction.
Destruction can be corrected. I’m thankful for a God of mercy and grace. But think again about the Prodigal Son. He came to himself in the pig pen and realized he wanted to go back home. So he started that journey back to his father. His father ran and met him and embraced him with all of his filth and stench.
God doesn’t care how far you’ve gone. But here’s the problem: when destruction is corrected, God does not always correct the consequences. I often say, “I think they’ll come back one day, I just hope that when they come back that they don’t have so much baggage that they can’t enjoy life.”
I don’t care how far you’ve gone in this life, there’s a Father Who is waiting for you, and He can correct all that mess. But sometimes the things we have allowed to come into our lives, we have to live with for the rest of our lives.
>>Listen to Pastor Finley’s full sermon from July 5, 2020 on the church’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/DhjKrMiAzSc