PROVERB PRACTICALS   soul health 101, proverbs 11:17, audio


Proverbs 11:17,  The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

Again we have in our proverb for today the contrast between two men.

One manís doings are related to his soul and the other manís doings are related to his flesh.

Just by the choice of these two words, soul and flesh we learn much about these men for the one has a knowledge of his soul but the other simply knows of his flesh.

One is doing something that is good for his soul but the other is doing something that brings trouble to his flesh.

Now all of us like something that is good instead of something that is bad.

We know immediately when something is not good for the flesh.

We fall and skin our knee, we cut our finger with a knife.

Our doctor tells us we are afflicted with a disease we have never heard of.

We are given to know naturally in most areas that which is not good for the flesh.

But we also know naturally that the flesh is on a road that ends.

We know that there is a timeline with a beginning and an ending for the flesh.

We know that once we come to the end of the timeline, once we come to the end of the road the flesh no longer is of any value and is disposed of and in most cases never seen again.

By dust it started and to dust it will go.

But there is a difference about the value of the soul.

Jesus said in Mark 8:36, these words that ring down though the centuries as warnings to all to have a proper understanding of the value of their soul.

For Christ said:  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

This astounding statement of Jesus Christ tells us that the value of a soul is greater than this entire world with all its riches, all its treasures, all its God created beauty.

Just think of what God gave to redeem the soul.

What does this tell us then about the soul?

The soul to God is of great value and, as is true of anything that is of great value, it should be cared for, it should be treasured and nurtured.

So what is good for the soul?

Well, our proverb says that extending mercy is good for the soul.

The merciful man doeth good for his own soul.

Here we have a statement that there is great reward for being merciful, for extending mercy is caring for and treasuring that which upon God places great value, the soul.

We are so careful to care for things of far less value.

We are careful to care for our houses, our cars, and our goods.

We are so careful to care for the things of this world but our proverb says to us that caring for our soul is of much greater importance.

It is easy to see that the two men of our proverb are different.

The man who cares for his soul extends mercy and we know that mercy is a fruit of the Spirit.

We who have the Spirit of God indwelling in us are able by the power of Godís Spirit to extend mercy.

Jesus told his disciples in Luke 6:36,  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

We are to be like Father like son.

Jesus when he was a boy said to his mother, I must be about my Fatherís business.

And His Fatherís business is mercy.

Jesus took that mission to the extreme for us when he made it possible for that mercy to reach us through his own blood.

Mercy comes from God.

Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of God.

If I am a child of God, God expects me to emulate Him in being merciful for we are created in His image.

He said, Be ye merciful, and when he says to do something, He gives power to do it.

We who are in Christ, we who have His indwelling Spirit are capable of extending mercy for we are plugged into Godís power to extend mercy.

And when we are merciful it is good for our own soul.

Obeying Godís word in all things is good for our soul for God gives gifts to us that are always good for the soul.

Obedience to Godís Word always enhances the soul, but with the flesh, that is not so, for in the flesh dwelleth no good thing.

For the flesh does not share in eternity as does the soul nor was it designed to be eternal.

Jesus, on many occasions said, what you do will come back to you.

How you treat others will return in how others treat you.

Paul told the Galatians in Galatians 6:7-8,  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

And this reaping pertains to the extension of mercy to others for Jesus said in Matthew 5:7,  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

And in Psalm 41:1,  Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

God is telling us to be merciful to the poor for one day you may be poor and in need of mercy.

And he promises us in extending mercy it will be good for our soul.

A man named W. F. Adeney, wrote,  "The exercise of mercy begins in the pain of self-sacrifice, but it soon bears fruit in inward peace and gladness."

It is like taking a seed and exerting effort to plant that seed but in the end the seed sprouts into fruit.

The story is told of a man and his young son who went to a repair shop to get a tool fixed.

When the job was finished, the man asked what the charge would be.

The shop owner replied, "Oh, there is no charge. I'm happy to do it for you!"

The man did not feel right about accepting charity, however, so he persisted in trying to give at least a token payment.

Again and again, the owner refused to accept any money.

Finally, his patience was about to run out, so he exclaimed, "Wonít you let a man do something now and then just to stretch his soul?"

That shop owner knew what our proverb teaches that in the extending of mercy there comes joy and happiness and health to the soul.

Many times in the morning upon exiting your bed your body tells you to stretch itself and likewise the soul of the child of God needs stretching by extending mercy.

How full and fruitful is the life
That finds in Christ its goal!
His love and mercy have a way
Of making large the soul.

This is a reminder to us that extending mercy is a godly act and should not be thought of as something to work at repaying.

Permit others to extend mercy for it is good for their soul for from an eternal perspective it is indeed better to give than to receive.

So many times we hear the response for a favor given, I wonít forget to pay you back.

So many times you have heard from proud lips, I donít take charity. I earn my keep!

But try saying that to God for his great mercy.

Can you ever return His great mercy extended to you from his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?

No, never can that be repaid.

It is from the pure heart of a merciful God to a sinner and totally incapable of being repaid.

Were it not for Godís great mercy we would be absolutely without hope.

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

So we have seen the connection of mercy to a manís soul.

But in the contrast we are given the connection of cruelty to a manís flesh.

Mercy affects the soul. Cruelty affects the flesh.

The merciful man does good for his soul but the cruel man hurts his flesh.

We see here the manifestation of what is in the heart.

Mercy comes from the godly, but mercy is foreign to the cruel.

The cruel care nothing for the soul and gives nothing for the care of the soul.

The cruel feed not the soul and therefore only cruelty is manifested.

The mark of the cruel man is that he is without mercy.

We erect great requirements when we define him who is cruel for none desire to fit this definition.

None desire to be thought of as cruel!

Terrorists are cruel, dictators are many times defined as cruel but we define being cruel in a way that does not touch us.

But the inference in our proverb is that you are cruel when you are without mercy.

And we are told that cruelty is ordained by God to return to the one who is cruel, for the cruel man troubles his own flesh.

Godís moral universe is predestinated to return trouble for trouble and the trouble will be to the flesh.

Remember Cain, the first baby on Earth, was cruel to his brother and because of jealously Cain also became the first murderer.

Did this affect his flesh? Of course it did.

God banished him and made him a fugitive and a vagabond, and took away his bounty with the earth, telling him the ground shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength.

Cain said his punishment was greater than he could bear.

All because Cain showed no mercy but instead cruelty.

Josephís brothers also showed no mercy but instead cruelty.

They too were jealous of Josephís standing before their father.

I was the last straw when they saw their fatherís preference for Joseph as he came to them wearing the coat of many colors and conspired with each other to put him away.

But they knew not the admonition of our proverb that the cruel troubles his own flesh.

What goes around comes around.

God has so arranged a circular pattern to cruelty for like a boomerang returns to its thrower so does cruelty return to trouble the flesh.

In the case of Josephís brothers it took years to return but it was inevitable for God did not forget.

He brought them to face a Joseph who was the power in Egypt to give life or to take it.

Their flesh was troubled for in Genesis 42:21 they said one to another,  We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

Josephís brothers suffered the troubling of the flesh but in the end there was redemption and forgiveness but not so with Ahab and Jezebel.

Ahab thought to outwit the enemy of Israel by disguising himself but remember the archer who had a spare arrow in his quiver.

But the arrow was not spare to God who directed it between the joints of Ahabís breastplate and his flesh was troubled to the utmost.

And the dogs licked up his blood as was foretold by God.

What about Jezebel, that cruel witch of a woman, did she escape the trouble?

She knew she was is in trouble but she thought painting her face and getting her hair attired would move Jehu to mercy but her cruelty was to be met with cruelty.

Throw her down!, came the command and her blood was sprinkled on the wall and the horses trod her underfoot so that they found no more of her than her skull, her feet and the palms of her hands.

She was not even fit to bury but instead the dogs ate her flesh and the rest of her was used to fertilize the fields.

The idea was she deserved no burial place for people to come and say this is Jezebel.

She was cruel and that cruelty returned upon her own flesh.

James captures this proverb in James 5:1-3 where he tells the rich men to weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon them.

He tells them their riches are corrupted and their garments are moth eaten.

And your silver and gold is cankered and the rust of them shall be a witness against you and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.

The choice is mercy but if not mercy the Bible says cruelty.

Proverbs 3:27 says it this way,  Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

God daily loadeth us with benefits.

Why does he do it?

What does he expect us to do with all these benefits.

Well extending these benefits with mercy to others in need, not only does good for them but it doeth good for our soul.

Why do you have benefits? Are you not part of the body of Christ?

Are you not His hands that took the little boyís loaves and fishes and multiplied them for the many?

Let this mind be in you.

Let Christís mind get a hold of your benefits and use them to extend mercy which in the end is good for your soul.