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Proverbs 28: Virtues


Proverbs 28: Virtues

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As we begin to close our journey through Proverbs, we reprise this Favorite from October 2009. We have explored our relationships with fools and friends, we have walked with the wise and accompanied fools who are whacked on the head. Watching Lady Wisdom build her house, we have learned that God’s heart asks for union with each of us. Exploring wise sayings of Solomon and others, we have understood that God allows us to lose and find our way. Knowing that God misses nothing and that each morning we are offered armloads of life, we continue to ask for the cure of God’s love and listen for Spirit that speaks to us within. 

Surety, Prudence, Integrity, Wisdom, Generosity, Truth, Justice

The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself.

When we create monsters out of nothing we give in to our human fears.

If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many; but with a prudent man it knows security. 

Our rashness can divide us more than it unites us.

Better a poor man who walks in integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.

Power and treasure appear to be safe havens; yet they crumble to corruption and cannot withstand the simplicity of truth and honesty.

He who rebukes a man gets more thanks in the end than one with a flattering tongue.

The truth always comes out in the end . . . and is precious.

Happy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Prudence is necessary; hardness is our downfall.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Generosity is a sign of a trusting heart.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is safe.

Patience and stillness bring their just rewards.

When the wicked gain pre-eminence, other men hide; but at their fall the just flourish. 

In the end, God alone is enough . . .

Words to live by; virtues to cherish; axioms to settle the mind; maxims to sooth the troubled heart.

When we compare translations of these verses, we allow God’s wisdom to enter our hearts. 

 


Proverbs 27: Knowing Tomorrow

Monday, August 21, 2017

We so easily convince ourselves that we are in control, that our well-laid plans will come to fruition, that all those who work hard and behave well will avoid suffering and pain. Proverbs remind us that we will want to think this through again.

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. (MSG)

We have ourselves convinced that we can bull our way through any problem and over any obstacle if we just shove our way to the front and outlast everyone else.

The weight of stone and sand is nothing compared to the trouble that stupidity can cause. (GNT)

We look for solutions to our problems by changing homes, changing friends, changing work, changing spouses when in reality all that brings us anxiety and worry ride along with us until we change our hearts.

Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home. (CJB)

We believe that if we have just a little more wealth, a little more power, a little more fame then we can make right all that is wrong when all we need is already dwelling within.

The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame. (MSG)

So what are we to do when we realize that the gifts we have to earn a way in the world are given to us by the Creator, when we see that God’s providence holds us fast in good times as in bad? Proverbs can give us ideas.

Know your sheep by name;
    carefully attend to your flocks;
(Don’t take them for granted;
    possessions don’t last forever, you know.)
And then, when the crops are in
    and the harvest is stored in the barns,
You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool,
    and sell your goats for a profit;
There will be plenty of milk and meat
    to last your family through the winter. (MSG)

Once we remember that our lives are spinning thoughts of the Creator that yearn to come together in the Spirit, then we begin to understand that knowing tomorrow is purely God’s domain. It is for us to lace our trust in this eternal, constant, loving presence.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we have less apprehension about the knowledge that we cannot know what tomorrow brings.

 


Proverbs 26: Recycling Silliness

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool;
you’ll only look foolish yourself. (MSG)

We may draw others into our own foolishness, or we may be drawn in by the foolishness of others. Whatever the circumstances, the proverbs remind us that putting new glaze on cracked pottery solves nothing. Jesus tells us that new wine will break old wineskins. The Holy Spirit wants to renew us in Christ so that we might be one.

Do not answer fools according to their folly,
    or you will be a fool yourself. (NRSV)

Paul tells the Corinthians – and he tells us – that for Christ’s sake we are fools; but you are wise in union with Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! We are despised, but you are honored! (1 Corinthians 4:10)

Don’t answer a fool in terms of his folly,
    or you will be descending to his level. (CJB)

Jesus reminds us that fools build houses on sand will find them washed away in rivers of rain, while the wise build on a rock foundation. (Matthew 7:24-27)

If you answer a silly question, you are just as silly as the person who asked it. (GNT)

All of creation tells us that our earthly wisdom is nothing when compared to the wisdom of God, for what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

When we spend time with the verses of this chapter, we give ourselves tools to avoid recycling the foolishness of the world.

To compare varying versions of these verses, use the scripture links and the drop-down menus.

 


Proverbs 25: Further Sayings

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gustave Doré: King Solomon Writing Proverbs

We continue our journey through Proverbs and we find more nuggets of gold.

God delights in concealing things;
    scientists delight in discovering things.

Perhaps our world today needs to appreciate the mystery of Christ more than we value our own powers to understand or our desire to control.

Remove impurities from the silver
    and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice;
Remove the wicked from leadership
    and authority will be credible and God-honoring.

Perhaps our world today needs to appreciate authenticity and honesty more than we value trickery and plotting.

Trusting a double-crosser when you’re in trouble
    is like biting down on an abscessed tooth.

Perhaps our societies today need to trust fidelity and hope more than we value wealth and fame.

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch;
    if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink.
Your generosity will surprise him with goodness,
    and God will look after you.

Perhaps our societies today need to trust the words of Christ to love out enemies more than we value revenge and power.

A north wind brings stormy weather,
    and a gossipy tongue stormy looks.

Perhaps we need to tend to the little moments in our lives rather than look for momentous ones.

Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary
    is a letter from a long-lost friend.

Perhaps we need to tend to those close to us rather than look for new friends when our old friends bring us the truth.

Perhaps we might learn a bit of wisdom from these further sayings.

When we explore other translations of these verses from THE MESSAGE, we open ourselves to more of God’s wisdom.


Proverbs 22-24: The Cure

Friday, August 18, 2017

The cure for what ails us comes through the discipline to follow the rules laid out for us. The writers remind us of the basic tenets of good living. Later in the Gospel story, Jesus’ words and actions remind us that God’s wisdom is so often the reverse of our own.

It’s wrong, very wrong,
    to go along with injustice.

Whoever whitewashes the wicked
    gets a black mark in the history books,
But whoever exposes the wicked
    will be thanked and rewarded.

The practical precepts of Proverbs follow.

  1. Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor, and don’t use your position to crush the weak . . .
  2. Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads . . .
  3. Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or hock your house against a lucky chance . . .
  4. Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines staked out long ago by your ancestors . . .
  5. Observe people who are good at their work—skilled workers are always in demand and admired . . .
  6. When you go out to dinner with an influential person,mind your manners . . .
  7. Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!
  8. Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special . . .
  9. Don’t bother talking sense to fools; they’ll only poke fun at your words . . .
  10. Don’t cheat orphans out of their property, for they have a powerful Advocate
    who will go to bat for them . . .
  11. Give yourselves to disciplined instruction; open your ears to tested knowledge . . .
  12. Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones . . .
  13. Dear child, if you become wise, I’ll be one happy parent . . .
  14. Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels . . .
  15. Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat . . .
  16. Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her . . .
  17. A loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast . . .
  18. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor . . .
  19. Don’t envy bad people . . .
  20. It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation . . .
  21. It’s better to be wise than strong . . .
  22. Wise conversation is way over the head of fools . . .
  23. Fools incubate sin; cynics desecrate beauty . . .
  24. If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place . . .
  25. Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help . . .
  26. Knowledge and wisdom for your soul—get that and your future’s secured,
    your hope is on solid rock . . .
  27. Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them . . .
  28. Don’t laugh when your enemy falls; don’t crow over his collapse . . .
  29. Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked . . .
  30. Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders . . .

Heavy doses of humility and generosity bring us the cure that heals all that divides us from God and on another. When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the ingredients of the remedy that restores us.


Proverbs 21: Motivation

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
     God directs it to whatever ends God chooses.

We justify our actions by appearances;
    God examines our motives.

Over the last few weeks, we have examined twenty chapters of sound advice and we have discovered much to ponder and much to celebrate. Today we remind ourselves that even when we try to deceive ourselves with appearances or quick fixes, the God who created us knows our most secret desires and motivations. We do well today to explore God’s wisdom and love in these verses.

Clean living with God and justice between neighbors are traits of wise living while arrogance and pride describe the wicked. Besides being practical, careful planning brings us more exposure to wisdom than does a hurry-scurry life. Lying and cheating lead only to smoke and death. Doing our best and preparing for the worst, learning by listening rather than talking, tending to the poor, celebrating justice, and trusting God are all signs of a wise one. An addiction to thrills brings us to a congregation of ghosts, and the evil we plot will only boomerang on us, the plotters.

Watch your words and hold your tongues.

We can easily agree with this practical advice but the proposition posed today is this: what motivates us to life authentically and to avoid deceit?

The writers of Proverbs understand that we cannot fake fidelity. We cannot pretend that we have hope. And we are incapable of loving our enemies if this love does not come from the heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus, we have an opportunity to explore our motivation for practical living.

For a post on God’s valentine to us, click on the image above. 


Proverbs 20: Deep Water

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quick-tempered leaders, blabbermouths and gossips, rebels and dolts. These are our neighbors and friends, and perhaps even ourselves, who are featured in today’s lesson from Proverbs.

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
    a wise person draws from the well within. (MSG)

Rigging scales in the marketplace, cursing the light, seeking revenge, boasting of bargains, padding expense accounts, switching price tags. These actions are part of today’s advice from Proverbs.

A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out. (GNT)

A farmer too lazy to plow, people making impulsive vows, fools picking fights. How do we handle the awkward people and circumstances we encounter each day? How do we guard against falling into these activities that clearly are not part of kingdom building.

The heart’s real intentions are like deep water;
    but a person with discernment draws them out. (CJB)

Today we find more practical advice about how to navigate the deep waters that ebb and swirl in our lives. Today we have a chance to discover the warning signs of  deep currents.

Proverbs 19: Listening


Proverbs 19: Listening

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What happens if we decide that God does not exist and we stop listening for the voice within that longs to serve and love us? The writers of Proverbs have anticipated that question, and they provide insight today.

Verses describing the poor and powerless versus the wealthy and influential ring as true today as they did when they were written. Practical advice about how to manager the differences between classes mixes with words to parents and others. Then the writer make a simple, clear suggestion about how to proceed.

Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
    keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.

A wise heart and a clear head . . .

We remember that God’s Wisdom comes with active listening and patience. We also know that struggling against evil and hoping to win is often more than we can endure. Our energy flames out like the sparks that rise from a bonfire. The writers advise us in verse 19.

Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
    if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.

So what then, do we do when confronted with evil and riddled with anxiety?

Once we pause to realize that we cannot combat the darkness on our own, we finally decide to relax into Christ’s open and willing arms. Once we recognize that the Spirit has more power than we do on our own, we are able to listen again for the voice that both guides and protects. Once we surrender to the Creator’s persistent hope and love, we decide that listening is the first step in open communication.

Toward the end of this Chapter, we find this bit of golden advice.

If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
    you’ll soon be out of your depth.

Once we determine to listen patiently and carefully, we find the calm in the storm that we have been so ardently seeking.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we find the strength and wisdom to listen once again.


Proverbs 18: Fool or Friend 

William Merritt Chase: The Court Jester

Monday, August 14, 2017

As we resume our journey through the Book of Proverbs, we continue to find strength in the practical advice that sits just under our noses.

Loners who care only for themselves
    spit on the common good.

We know that together we find strength while alone we languish.

When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind;
    contempt for life is contemptible.

Truth always makes herself visible, no matter the circumstances.

The words of a fool start fights;
    do him a favor and gag him.

There is no point in mincing words. Fools reveal themselves.

Pride first, then the crash,
    but humility is precursor to honor.

We know that humility is the hallmark of one who lives the Gospel.

Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding can lead to love for our enemies.

Do a favor and win a friend forever;
    nothing can untie that bond.

Friends can bolster us when we are down; they encourage us when our strength ebbs.

Friends come and friends go,
    but a true friend sticks by you like family.

When we compare these verses from THE MESSAGE translation with other versions, we have the tools we need to discern whether those who surround us are fools or friends.

 

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