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Proverbs 29:19


“A servant will not be corrected by mere words; For though he understands, he will not respond.”


There can be no doubt that in the history of the United States of America this verse was exploited and used as confirmation to violently treat slaves. Of course that is not what it says, one can certainly observe the opportunity it provides for exploitation by a deceived heart. 

    I believe that the purpose of this verse is actually to add context to the law of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, at approximately 2000 years of human history, God gave the law to His servant Moses for the children of Israel. In this law were included punishments and sentences prescribed for the defiance of the law. At the same time, the hearts of men were hearts of stone and not flesh because the Messiah had not yet come. Therefore no man could be a child of God. The best they could hope for was a friend of God but only one human was bestowed with that title until the manifestation of Jesus Christ. Everyone else had to settle for the title of servant. They were considered servants because they were expected to do what they were told in order to “serve” God. Their only vested interest in that action was self-preservation. They had no personal relationship with God as such and therefore just did what He told them to do so they wouldn’t be stoned to death! 

    Jesus said in John 15:15- 

 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, for I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

This verse from John does two things. First, it tells us that we are no longer servants of God. That is not to say that we no longer serve God because we do, except now our title is child and friend who serve. We work in the family business as such. Second, this verse lets us know that those who are merely servants of God- or those who serve Him to earn something from Him or to save their own skin can only be taught by the harsh consequences of the law. Servants need physical correction whereas friends and children respond to words. Why the difference? Because humans are not made to be servants- period. When they are merely servants there will come a time when their natural minds will begin to “feel” oppressed or suppressed and then they will rebel. However, a friend or a son understands to goals of actions, understands what is happening and why their actions impact the overall goals. When this is the mindset, words can redirect the heart because of the understanding. 

    Think about it in this way, say you are an owner of a business and you have one of your adult children as the manager of that business. The general laborers are people whom you have hired but did not know prior to your employing them. So at the beginning of the year, you sit down with your child, the manager and say to them that you would like to save money this year by reducing the amount of workers comp insurance claims. Your heart is to take that saved money and deposit into Holiday savings accounts for your employees so that they have more money to spend later in the year for holiday gifts. The plan you will utilize to achieve this is to bring a safety technician to teach your employees safer workplace practices, and to become stricter with adherence to prescribed safety practices in the workplace. You now have a plan and begin to execute the plan. As you begin the year, most of the employees respond positively but over time, their adherence to your new policies begins to wane because they figure, “I’ve done it this way for years and nothing has happened so why change?” You observe their disobedience and ask them to adjust their behavior based on your policy and they say they will, but they do not in practice. Let us say that this behavior that they employee actually causes your insurance to increase, therefore, to avoid that monetary increase, you state that if they continue to disobey, they will be suspended. Then, all of a sudden they obey. The reason for their obedience is so that they don’t lose any money from their weekly paycheck, Not because they want to obey so that the year-end goal you have in mind can be met for they do not even know about that goal! However, if this same employee was your child or a friend of the family, then your relationship would dictate that you share goals and visions with them and then they would understand and have a vested interest in your goals because of their love and affection for you and your family in general. 

    This is a very plain but powerful expression of the verse above. Servants will not be correct by mere words because they are only obedient for themselves and have no heart for their master’s desires. Children and friends can be corrected with words because their hearts are with their Fathers and their friends. This is why we can rest assured that if we are saved, then God will not correct us with physical consequences  He will correct us with words. If, however, we, as saved children decide that we must earn our way to inheritance, then the natural law of correction will ensue. If you are trying to earn your salvation, pay back God for a wrong done, or just keep yourself out of Hell, then you can certainly expect physical correction. The better way is to allow your heart to be softened to the desires and goals of God for your life and for the lives of all so that if and when you make a mistake, God can redirect you with His words!!






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