Could You Handle It? (10:16)

Proverbs 10:16

“The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.”

It’s Not About Money

There is a popular saying that has been around a long time. It goes, “Follow the money.” The idea is that if you want to know who’s behind something, or what’s at the root of something, then just follow the money trail – there you’ll find the answer.

But in reality, it’s not always just about money. Money is amoral. Money is neither good, nor evil. What people do with money has a lot to do with the heart of the person spending it.

It’s What You Do With It

Every once in a while a different translation can help to shed light on certain truths. You see, in verse sixteen it is not about the “labour” or the “fruit” as much as it is about the “righteous” and the “wicked.” Look at how the New Living Translation treats this passage…

The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin. – Proverbs 10:16 NLT

The point of this proverb is to highlight the differences between the righteous and the wicked. The difference is that the same money, the same labor, can bring life, or it can be used to dig deeper into sin, but it all comes down to choice. What a person does with their money; what a person works for each week; these are outward indicators of the heart.

Ask Yourself this Question

If wealth was dropped into your lap tomorrow, how would you handle it? If you were to become a millionaire tomorrow, would it be the end of you, or the beginning? Either way, don’t blame or give credit to the money. The state of your heart, right now, is what would determine the outcome.

Are you poor? Could you handle wealth? If not, then you may have issues that are worse than an empty bank account.


Topsy-Turvy Teaching (10:15)

Proverbs 10:15

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.”

The Rich and the Poor

It seems to me that wealth needs poverty to exist. In Western terms I am not wealthy, but I am not poor. But in the eyes of the poor, wherever they live, I am a billionaire. Why? Because they do not have what I have, and may see no way to achieve such relative wealth. Is it right that what I have is made possible because someone else has less? How much is too much? What do I need to keep and what should I give away?

Wise Investments

Whatever we have been given, we need to make sure that we invest it wisely. In the parable of the talents Jesus taught about two servants who invested wisely and one who did not. Burying what we have in the ground is not wise, and does not create a strong city! However, Jesus also watched as a poor widow put everything she had into the offertory box. Was that the sensible thing to do? Did it destroy the widow? We don’t know. The only thing we do know is that Jesus saw more in the poor widow than he saw in those with greater wealth. Immediately before Jesus pointed out the widow to his disciples He heavily criticized the richer teachers of the law. Jesus said that these people ‘devoured the houses of widows.’ In other words the wealth of the teachers of the law relied on the poverty of the widow, for whom they did absolutely nothing.

Good to be Rich?

While most of us are never going to excessively rich in monetary terms, we can be rich in wisdom, knowledge, and in our relationship with God. These three things should govern how we manage whatever wealth we have received. But the point here is that whether we consider ourselves rich or poor it really doesn’t matter. We enter this world with nothing and we leave in the same way. Far more important is what we do with what God has given us while we reside on Earth. Whether we are good or bad, rich or poor, God is watching us. He sees and hears everything. But He also looks deep inside to the riches or poverty within. Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

Welcome to the topsy-turvy teaching of the Son of God. When we think we are rich, we are actually poor. But those who know they are poor have access to riches untold.


Saving Words (10:14)

Proverbs 10:14

“Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”

A Penny Saved

I am not sure where the saying “A penny saved is a penny earned” originated. For the longest I was under the impression that Benjamin Franklin coined it (coined it – now that’s funny), but evidently it originated much earlier in the 17th century. That’s OK, though. Whoever “coined” the “penny saved” idiom, if not already dead, is probably too thrifty to sue over copyright infringement.

Nevertheless, the idea of the idiom is that not spending a penny is the same as saving a penny. And when you save a penny, you grow richer in pennies by the day. Too bad pennies aren’t even worth pennies any more. But I digress.

You may be wondering what saving pennies has to do with today’s verse. Well, like pennies, or dollars, or pounds, or whatever, a wise man knows not to use up all his words. He knows there is profit in saving his wisdom for the right time.

A Penny Wasted

Even though pennies are of little value these days, they do have some value. Save enough of them and you could eventually have some money on hand. The foolish man, however, fails to recognize how things add up, so he spends his words quicker than a child’s allowance in a game room.

This sorta reminds me of what my wife tells young children when they won’t stop talking. She says, “Don’t use up all your words.” Wisdom teaches us to use our words carefully, but a fool speaks until he’s proven bankrupt.

A penny saved is a penny earned, and a watched word is wisdom stored.

A Prayer

Lord, some of us love to talk. Help us to save our words instead of spending them all in one place. 


Need a Rod? (10:13)

Proverbs 10:13

“In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.”

Whack On the Head

One of my favorite television shows of all time has been NCIS. I love the combination of drama, action, and genuine humor that is so characteristic of each episode. The characters in this crime drama have become almost like family over the years. And when I read verse thirteen, I thought of two of the main characters, Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).

So many times, when DiNozzo says or does something inappropriate, Gibbs is famous for coming up behind DiNozzo and whacking him on the head (as a form of endearment, of course). Instead of getting a “rod” to the back, DiNozzo gets a palm to the back of his skull, all because he said something stupid.

I’ve Heard it Said

I have heard it said somewhere that the less you say, the smarter you appear. Likewise, the more one runs his mouth, the more ignorant he appears, not to mention how obnoxious he becomes. Have you ever met a person like that? Someone who thinks he knows everything, but is “void of understanding?”

People love to hear the words from the genuinely knowledgeable. In their words wisdom can be found. Good can come from listening to one who has experience in a matter. People may even seek him out to hear him speak.

On the other hand, people tire quickly of the one who thinks he is an expert. He has no wisdom, only pride. This man constantly offers his advice on anything and everything from love to lampshades, even though he has never been in a relationship and he’s a filament short of a light bulb. Solomon essentially says that this man is asking for a beating.

The Back Saver

Having been in ministry a while, I have visited my fair share of hospitals, jails, and prisons; not to mention broken homes and funeral homes. In so many of those places there are people who have suffered from the result of foolishness. Void of wisdom, they suffer the consequences of their actions. Yet, when offered help, they speak again of things they refuse to understand.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him (Proverbs 22:15 ESV). That leads me to believe that wisdom in the mouth of an adult could be a back saver.


Another Perspective on 10:12 (Web Exclusive)

Proverbs 10:12

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Hatred

One of the problems with people is that they can’t tell the difference between love and hate. Even recently a now-former professional football star’s wife came out in his defense after punching her in an elevator. She thinks he loves her!

False love can take many shapes. Envy, lust, jealousy, and possessiveness all dress up like love, but underneath the woolly exterior is a hungry, deadly beast. In reality, what many call “love” is actually hatred. The love of a man towards his wife, as explained in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, is clearly defined as a sacrificial one, the kind that would no sooner strike his wife than himself.

Real Love

True love can be seen in the last part of 10:12. True love would rather deal with hurt privately than publicly. A real love would bear reproach, suffer shame, and seek the greater long-term good rather than immediate retribution.

Jesus showed true love for the world by going to the cross, bearing our sin, our shame, and our blows.

Now that I think about it, maybe Mr. Rice’s wife loves him more than he loves her.


What Kind of Well?

Proverbs 10:11 

“The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Righteous

The word righteous is probably not one that many of us would wish to use if describing ourselves. But how do we become righteous? The simple answer is that nothing on earth, and nothing we can do in our own strength, will ever make us righteous. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God provided a way to achieve righteousness.

God sent Jesus, His righteous Son, who willingly gave His life for us, the unrighteous. Although God knew that we could never achieve the righteousness He desires in us, His love for humanity was so great that He made a Way. But it came at a price.

How can we repay the debt that each of us owes to God? One answer is contained in this verse. If we accept the gift of God’s grace, then we must be changed. Our lives must increasingly reflect the life of Jesus. Our friends and family should be able to see Jesus in us, and we should be able to see them through His eyes.

Be the Well

When we speak, our mouths become like wells. The words that come from deep within should bring life to others. Therefore, our words should mark us as different.

It should be easy to tell the believer apart from those who have not accepted the gift of grace that God gave in Jesus. But sadly, many times what comes out of their mouths tells a different story. The challenge for those who have received the gift of grace is to be easily distinguishable from those who have not.


Does Your Dog Bite?

Proverbs 10:10

“He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.”

Biting Dogs

If you have ever owned a dog, or been around them, I am sure you have heard someone say, “Does your dog bite?” The reason they ask this question is because one can never tell if a dog is safe by appearance.

One of my favorite scenes in any movie came in the Peter Sellers classic, the Pink Panther Strikes Again. In that scene Inspector Clouseau asks a hotel manager, “Does your dog bite?” The manager replies as he shakes his head, “No.” Clouseau then reaches down to pet the little dog and gets bit.

Angrily, Clouseau said, “I thought you said your dog did not bite!” The manager replied, “That is not my dog.”

Commenting on this verse, the great Matthew Henry said, “The dog that bites is not always the dog that barks.” In other words, the dog that bites is not always the one you expect.

Prating Fools and Winkers

Some fools are easy to spot (Spot – get it?). They run around acting like idiots, saying things that are obviously out of line with all wisdom, and make their true colors known. They are the barking dogs with foaming mouths. They are the wild hounds running the streets. They are the ones you know are trouble, so hopefully you stay away.

Other people are like the quite, fluffy dogs who look at you with big brown eyes, just begging to be petted. Then, just as you trust them, they explode into a white hot ball of canine terror* and rip your arm off. They are the ones who seem so friendly, so sweet, yet anything but nice.

The prating fool is someone who will come to an end by his own making. He is dangerous, but mostly to himself. But the man that “winketh” is bound for destruction, but not before he hurts the unwary who trust him.

Fakers are Biters

If there is anything I hate, it is fake concern. God hates it, too. “Winking” friends allow you to think they care about what you are going through; that they are concerned with your pain; that when the time comes they will find a way to help you through your difficulties. They may even say things like, “I’ll be praying for you, brother.”

The fakers, the winkers, want to let you think they care, but their goal is to use you for their own gain, even if the gain they seek is their own self-edification. Shame on those who say they care only to look pious and holy! They are nothing more than biting dogs, and somebody always gets hurt.

*”White hot ball of canine terror” is a line from a great Steven Spielberg cartoon, “Family Dog.”

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