Proverbs 24:12

If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”

    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,

    and will he not repay man according to his work?

Proverbs 24:12 ESV

This is an admonition to tell the truth and a warning for not doing so. While we may be able to deceive other people, this proverb warns us by way of two questions, that the Lord knows. When we practice deception, we are saying one of two things: God doesn’t see us OR God doesn’t care. Neither is true.

Proverbs 24:1

“Be not envious of evil men,

    nor desire to be with them,

for their hearts devise violence,

    and their lips talk of trouble”

Proverbs 24:1 ESV

This proverb aims directly for the heart. Envy is a sinful desire for something that another has. That something may be a status or a possession or an ability. But what is it that we are not to be envious of? The evil person. The reason? Because “their hearts devise violence and their lips talk of trouble.”

This seems pretty straight forward. Proverbs 22:5 warns us that “thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked.” Again, pretty straight forward. So, if the warnings (e.g., 24:1 and 22:5) about what await us on the evil path are so straight forward (i.e., clear or easy to understand) why would we be drawn to the evil person?

Throughout the book of Proverbs the choice is wisdom or folly, which is a matter of the heart. The prophet Jeremiah (17:9) warns us about our hearts, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Proverbs 3:5 directs us toward the Lord, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Trusting in ourselves is folly. Trusting in the Lord is wisdom.

Which path will you choose today?

Proverbs 24:29

“Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me;

  I will pay the man back for what he has done.'”

Proverbs 24:29 ESV

How many times have your heard someone say something similar to “Paybacks are twice as much.” Of course they mean if you hit me once, I’ll hit you twice. Here, the writer commands the reader not to say things like that, and it is clear that the prohibition includes the associated actions.

In the context of this book, the implication is that saying such things is akin to harboring these things in our hearts. Remember, he’s not talking about simply withholding the action, he’s talking about the heart and thoughts that support the action. The writer is getting to the foundation or heart issues.

Notice how Jesus addresses this issue: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 ESV). Simply put, what comes out of the mouth is what is in the heart.

How is your heart? Does your mouth support your answer?

Proverbs 24:9

 “The devising of folly is sin,

   and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.”

Proverbs 24:9

Here, the writer reminds us, that the heart matters. Scheming folly is sin. There is no plausible deniability for the person who thinks out the plan; he can’t say, “But I didn’t actually do it. I just thought about it.” Jesus addressed this matter of the heart this way: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart'” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Here are some verses they may be helpful for this topic:

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.” (Prov. 27:19)

“… to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

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