Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 24:18
"Or the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn his anger away from him"
This proverb points out one thing that secular people do not want to admit – that God is still involved in the affairs of men and women and that your choices, in some situations, determine our experiences of God.
What are the issues of this proverb?
God does use reproof to teach.
God is angry at people for various things.
God watches our reactions to the lessons and disciplines of others.
If our reactions to God's discipline become a bigger deal than the instruction God is teaching, then God will stop teaching. Just in the way that if a teacher is being too loudly echoed or repeated by their students, the teacher will stop talking until the lesson comes into view and not the embarrassment or kibitzers. If you become a bigger story than what God is doing, then the lesson is over. People do this in all kinds of ways. It could be by coming over and unloading why you think that God is disciplining. It could be that you just make comments like, “How does it feel to be getting yours?” It could be by spreading rumors about the person and why these bad things are happening.
Solomon is trying to cause us to see that God is watching our reaction to the discipline of others in much the same way that a father watches the reactions of a sibling to the firm instruction of their brother or sister. If there is too much glee or excitement over the discipline, then different instruction will be needed for the gleeful watcher. At times a father stops the punishment just because of the reaction of the others. It is this idea that Solomon is noticing with God.
If you get too excited about the harsh form of instruction God is using with your friend or enemy, then God will not finish the discipline. Think this through. Your reaction to another's reproof can determine God's dealings with that person for if your reaction becomes a greater issue than the lesson God was teaching, your reaction becomes the controller of the lesson.
Now we have to talk about the fact that God does reprove people. He has built much reproof into the world in which we live. When we violate His standards of conduct and wisdom, then there is a rather immediate consequence if we are willing to see it. God has also built escalating reproof into the world. The further out from God's ideal, the greater the weight of consequences and difficulties we will be fighting off and pushing against. Eventually God will Himself aim more direct elements of His wrath at the person.
This whole talk about God's direct engagement in reproving people sounds strange to our ears, but it is the message of the Bible. Romans 1:18:For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. God is active in the affairs of men. He has boundaries for acceptable conduct; and He brings spiritual, emotional, mental, and even physical consequences to breaking through those boundaries. I have come to tears many times over the brokenness of people I know and have seen just wandering around doing what everybody says is right all the while suffering under the reproof of God. They wonder why life is so hard; why it doesn't work out for them. I want to shout, “Because you are not following the rules!” But rarely do they want to hear that. They have come to accept that life should be a certain way and if it isn't, then they blame God or everyone else rather than blaming themselves.
This proverb brings up another issue in interpersonal dealings: keeping yourself out of another person's interactions with God. Maybe you have been praying for a particular person that they would realize the error of their way. Then God begins to teach them a lesson. This could be through a painful time, an illness, a change in their financial condition, a changing work situation, or any number of other ways that God uses to teach. This proverb states that if our reaction to another’s lessons are inappropriate and full of pride or inappropriate exhilaration, then God will back off. What is amazing is that we are linked through God's watchful eye.