PROVERB PRACTICALS Whew! that smarts!, proverbs 11:15, audio
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Proverbs 11:15, He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
Today we will be getting into legal matters as we discuss the act of suretyship.
Godís Word does not speak well of this act most times, with regard to human to human transactions or relationships.
The word surety as used in our proverb means to braid together, to intermix, to traffic, to meddle, to mingle, to give pledges.
The word surety as defined in Websterís 1828 Dictionary with reference to law means: one that is bound with and for another; one who enters into a bond or recognizance to answer for another's appearance in court, or for his payment of a debt or for the performance of some act, and who, in case of the principal debtor's failure, is compellable to pay the debt or damages.
If you are compelled to appear in court you may hire a bondsman, who for a certain fee will pay the fine if you do not show yourself in court on the date specified.
The bondsman then becomes surety for you, meaning that he has given an assurance that the debt will be paid.
Proverbs 11:15 concerns the result to one who becomes surety for a stranger.
The word stranger comes from a Hebrew word which means foreigner which means an unknown person.
Unknown person means not knowing the personís character and ability to take on an obligation.
So what happens to the one who takes on an obligation for another whom he does not know in the sense of not knowing the personís character or ability to take on an obligation by himself.
Well we are told he will smart for it.
It does not say he is smart for doing what he may consider as kind but that he will smart for it.
This word smart as used in this sense is that something bad or evil will befall him.
By being surety to a stranger, calamity, misery, trouble and sorrow is sure to follow.
In other words doing something ill considered and even downright stupid like taking on an obligation for a stranger, someone whose character or ability to pay is not known, is not wise and will result in bad things and regret will come for the doing of it.
And then our proverb cements the fact that suretyship is something that ought to be avoided at all costs, for we are told that he that hateth suretyship is sure.
The word hateth means that something is odious, something like these arrangements ought to be seen as an enemy or foe would be seen.
It means that suretyship should normally be avoided as something detestable or despicable.
So God puts up a warning flag and says to us, Be careful here for this is something that can bring big trouble upon you.
And we find in other places that trouble is not confined to only when you are surety for a stranger but even when your become surety for a friend.
Take a look at Proverbs 6:1-5, My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
In this passage the son comes home and announces to Dad that he is helping his friend by becoming a surety for him.
Dadís response is Gasp! What have you done?
He may even say, not being very sensitive, How dopey is this!
You must go and undo it right away even to the point of humbling yourself you must do it.
Now the danger here is that in naturally being friendly we like to say yes to our friend.
It is difficult to say no to a friend, isn't it?
But there are times when good friends ask their friends to be bound with them in a business venture.
And unfortunately the only foundation for the venture may be their friendship.
The warning of this father to the son is that friendship is not a good enough reason to join together in a business venture.
The father says, no doubt your friend, your very good friend, told you that he has a need.
He told you he wants to go into business and he knows that this business will reap sizeable profits.
He feels sure of this! He thinks it is a sure thing! There is no way I can lose, he declares!
He knows nothing of the "Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best", position.
But in order to go into this business he needs to enter into a loan arrangement with a third party, the stranger mentioned in verse one of Proverbs 6.
But the third party, the stranger will not give the son's friend the loan because he does not think the friend has the capability to pay back the loan if the business venture fails.
The lender is not interested in risking his money on the friend's unsure business venture regardless of his enthusiasm.
The lender requires the friend have some trustworthy person guarantee payment of the debt in case the business fails.
So Son, he comes to you and asks of you to be surety on the basis of friendship and on the basis of a high risk proposition.
So the father asks the question: What is it about his friend that causes a lender to seek the surety or security of another?
Aha! Father asks the son the key question! Fathers should ask the key questions!
Fathers know of Proverbs 17:18 which says:
A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.
This father knows that friendship has clouded up the issue and closed the mind to thoughtful consideration.
In other words the possibility of having to assume the friend's debt is not properly or seriously considered.
The possibility that if the venture is unsuccessful, that the friendship may be lost, is not properly considered.
Son, have you considered that your participation as surety may enable your friend to engage in risky activity that he would not engage in except for your surety relationship.
Your involvement may push him over the edge.
It is never wise to give assistance to a business venture where your kindness may aid only in the financial ruin of a friend or of yourself.
Do not promote with your kindness something that will fail.
Do not set up your children to fail by unearned praise.
Do not by kindness put someone in a position or job where they most likely will fail.
God warns us in Proverbs 20:16: to get security for our surety relationship even to the point of taking a stranger's garment if we are to be surety for a stranger.
The very definition of the word implies that the Surety has the ability to pay the debt in case of the failure of another.
Surety is not to be undertaken based solely on friendship but is to be undertaken only based upon the ability and the willingness to assume the debt of another.
Can it be done with a pure heart?
Would we not think more carefully if we were giving money outright to our friend today instead of promising it in the future?
Do we promise it in the future only because we believe we will never have to pay it?
So Dad tells his son, the words of your mouth have snared you.
As a surety you are no longer free but you are bound by your word.
You cannot frivolously make promises but must accept the fact that your words now bind you to your friend and your friend's debt.
This is not to be taken lightly Son, but must be now accepted as your debt.
Son, your word is your bond! Beware of rash decisions regarding suretyship.
Beware of decisions made on the basis of friendship without due consideration of the binding that you are bound with.
Beware of making promises without knowing the cost, the risk or of what may be the issue.
Beware of engaging in business dealings on the basis of friendships which may dishonor your name, dishonor your family, or bring reproach upon the Lord.
Wisdom counsels to disentangle yourself from suretyship based upon the wrong reasons.
So Father says: Don't wait another minute, don't sleep until you are delivered from this bond with your friend.
Humble yourself before him and beseech him for release of the bond of suretyship.
Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Now in spite of this blazing red flag of warning that we have witnessed think about suretyship in another light.
Let your minds move to a heavenly scene where a conversation is taking place.
Iíll admit this is a bit fanciful but it will show another side of suretyship.
The scene is in heaven and the players are the Father and the Son.
They are discussing the dilemma of the Sonís creation, his creation called man.
This is a true dilemma for man has entered into an agreement with another party called sin whereby payment to this party is such that man cannot fulfill the agreement without dying.
What a dilemma this is. To make a business arrangement where full payoff of the arrangement is death.
How can anything good come from this unless someone steps in an become surety.
A surety is needed who will guarantee payment if man is to be saved.
What will move such a one to do such a thing?
So the Father says to the Son, Son I love your creation.
I love what you have brought into the world.
I have great plans for your creation and I love the men and women, boys and girls that you have on the earth and I cannot abide their loss.
But the agreement is that payment is only made by death.
Will you guarantee payment and become surety for them?
So Jesus Christ the Son steps up and willingly takes on this responsibility.
And John records this in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, (as surety) that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life.
Jesus Christ offers to be man's surety fully knowing that man cannot pay the wages and still live because the wages paid to sin is death.
But Christ can pay the wages for man, by being his substitute by dying himself and shedding his blood in man's behalf.
Christ offers himself as surety fully knowing that he will pay the wages of sin for man because he fully knows that man is incapable of paying the wages himself.
He became surety for strangers and he smarted for it in the ultimate way.
Every wound he suffered on his way to the cross and every wound he received where blood shed for you and me flowed, verified this proverb.
He forsook the safety that hating suretyship brings and gave himself for strangers whom He loved and in doing this he was obedient to the Father.
Now by this we are to learn of the surety pattern.
If we choose to become surety for another we must agree in our hearts to fully pay the debt of the debtor if he is unable to pay.
We must decide in our hearts that we will pay the debt of another.
Perhaps the other will meet his obligation, perhaps he will not.
But pure surety, following the example of Christ, is displayed when we fully expect and are fully prepared to pay the debt of another.
If we cannot follow this pattern then we have no right to be surety.
Surety is a promise and a promise must be based upon an ability to do what the promise says.
If you become surety for a $100,000 debt do you have $100,000 to pay the debt?
If your son wants to buy a house and wants you to co-sign on the mortgage loan are you prepared to pay the mortgage if he fails to do so?
If you donít how can you make such a promise?
If you make such a promise but are incapable of keeping the promise you are simply as liar.
Bu Christ became surety for us because he could fulfill his promise.
He was the only one capable of being surety, for he was the only one who was capable of fulfilling that promise.
He is perfect, being without sin, and could give his life in the place of sinners.
The wages of sin is death.
Jesus Christ is the only one who could become our surety and pay those wages.
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretyship is sure.