Proverbs 18:3

Contempt and Ignominy


When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt…

1. The wicked:

a. One guilty of crime or sin.

b. The guilt of violating a standard or a law.

c. Guilt engendered by sinning against others, including God.

2. Contempt:

a. Disrespect, with a possibly implication of a verbal mocking.
• Prov. 30:17 – Despising to obey one’s parents.

b. To be regarded by others as unimportant or insignificant
• Ps. 31:18 – The wicked speak contemptuously (same term) against the righteous.
• Ps. 123:3-4 – The wicked speak with scorn and contempt against the godly.
• The wicked speak contemptuously against God and the righteous.

c. Contempt = disrespect; viewed as insignificant or unimportant; of no value.

3. The concept of contempt here has to do with reputation… in the eyes of others… of onlookers.

a. Solomon’s point is that when the wicked come on the scene, then comes a loss of reputation… shame… lack of respect…
• Shame and scorn follow the wicked wherever they go.
• Shame and scorn follow wicked behavior wherever it is found.

b. When a man or woman commits a crime against his fellow man, and is caught (which is also a sin against God)—there naturally follows a loss of respect… shame… loss of reputation.

c. When a CEO is caught embezzling money from his company, he is publicly shamed… he loses his reputation… and it is extremely difficult to recover from such a crime. Even after he gets out of jail, who wants to hire a dishonest CEO?

d. When a politician is caught in immorality, he is publicly shamed… disgraced… embarrassed… and ridiculed in the press. His reputation is destroyed.

e. When a Christian commits a sin that is discovered… (and be sure your sin will find you out!)… he or she also loses respect… their testimony is ruined… their reputation is damaged… they are shamed…

f. This principle is especially true of a person who professes faith in Christ.
• When he sins—everyone in the office hears about it! (Whether it is drinking, lying, adultery, stealing, etc.)
• His reputation goes right down the tubes…
• He is considered a hypocrite…
• He loses all respect.

g. Solomon’s point in this proverb is that there are consequences to our behavior.

h. Wickedness has a built in consequence: a loss of respect and reputation.

i. We can confess our sin and get right with God right away and we should.

j. However, it not so easy with our fellow man… and sadly, sometimes with believers!

k. There is a lingering sense of shame… a lingering loss of respect and reputation…

l. Prov. 12:8 – a perverse heart shall be despised (same word as contempt). That’s what people think of such behavior. It is looked upon with contempt… as having no respect. IT is hard for people to SHAKE those ideas… even after there has been repentance.

m. One’s reputation CAN be restored, but that takes time.

4. That which is true on an individual level is true in other realms too.

a. When wickedness enters into a church, the result can be a lingering sense of shame… great damage to the testimony of Christ. That may take time to restore.

b. When wickedness enters into a political party (both sides of the aisle!) it too can have lingering effects. It can result in shame. There is no lack of illustrations on that point!

c. When wickedness enters into a marriage—and sin is involved, it too brings shame and contempt. That can be confessed before God and restoration occurs immediately… but it is not always the case in earthly relationships. It takes time for the guilt and shame to diminish and be forgotten.

d. When wickedness enters into a business, it has the same effect. It brings shame and guilt. Just ask the men who used to run Enron!

e. There are consequences to wickedness… consequences that relate to the attitudes of others towards the wicked one.

f. Prov. 10:7 – the name of the wicked shall ROT!
• Rot = decay, to fall apart from decomposition, infection… used of rotting plants…
• This is quite a warning… wicked behavior deteriorates our name… our reputation…
• It causes it to decay… to become lower and lower…

5. Thus, the obvious implication of this is: avoid the wickedness and thus avoid the shame!

a. A loss of reputation can be a difficult thing to overcome.

b. If a pastor is involved in immorality—it has terrible consequences on the reputation of the church.

c. If a CEO is involved with illegal activity, it can ruin the company when exposed. The company loses its reputation.

d. OUR wickedness is responsible for what others think of us… contempt or praise.

e. If we are dishonest, sleazy, involved in immorality, a gossip, a cheat, etc… — don’t be surprised if that behavior is followed by CONTEMPT in the minds and mouths of others.

f. It follows! That’s the point here. If you bring rotten garbage into your house—it will stink!

g. If you bring rotten behavior in your life… your reputation will stink!

h. It is a built in consequence to our sin.

And with ignominy reproach

1. Ignominy

a. Shame, disgrace, dishonour

b. Infamy; low status and public disgrace

c. Being put on display in mockery. It refers to losing a high social position and being ruined.

d. Hos. 4:7 – As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. (What a fall—from glory to shame or ignominy.)

2. Reproach

a. Taunt, scorn; condition of shame, disgrace

b. Insult; a taunt hurled at an enemy, casting blame

3. Some have suggested that these terms describe a progression of intensity.

a. Wickedness results in contempt… which results in ignominy… which results in full blown reproach.
• Contempt (inward feelings of others)
• Ignominy (the state of being—shameful)
• Reproach (overt, public manifestation of those feelings)

b. In other words, there is a snowball effect resulting from wicked behavior…

c. Wicked behavior INVITES this sort of downhill spiral…

4. Wicked behavior brings contempt upon the individual… but the ripple effects go on and on.

a. Their behavior also brings shame to others…

b. It brings shame to their families… to their church… to their country… to their company… to their organization… their friends… to their coworkers…

c. When you see the mug shots of people on the six o’clock news who have been arrested for drugs, robbery, murder, sexual abuse, rape, or treason, etc… those individuals have been publicly shamed.
• But the shame doesn’t stop there.
• With every one of those mug shots, there are also a lot of embarrassed and ashamed mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and spouses too!

d. Their behavior taints all associated with them…
• None of the politicians running for office right now are eager to bring Mark Foley to one of their campaigns stops to speak on their behalf!
• Shameful behavior brings reproach… and it brings shame to all associated with them.

e. But for the believer it is far worse.
• Our wicked behavior brings shame and reproach on the name of Christ!
• Titus 2:10 – Good behavior ADORNS the doctrine of Christ and brings honor to the Lord.
• Wicked behavior brings DISGRACE to the name and reputation of the Lord.

f. Hence, good people keep their distance from the wicked… so as to avoid any association of evil… and thus bring contempt or shame upon themselves.

5. This downward spiral is also seen (in this book) as a contrast to the effects of godly wisdom.

a. Prov. 4:7-9 – An upward progression!

b. The way to turn around from the downward spiral is to begin applying godly wisdom… and you will be headed in an upward progression… which ultimately leads to restoring your name and reputation.

6. The MAIN application from this proverb is that if you want to hold on to your honor and respect, you must maintain your virtue and integrity.

a. They go hand in hand…

b. If we lose our integrity—we lose our respect and honor.

c. It can be restored… but it takes a long time.

d. It is far better not to lose it in the first place!

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