Tag Archives: advice

Mind Your Own Business

He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. –Proverbs 26:17, KJV

Gossiping is pretty bad. We all agree. It causes more harm than helps, which is frequently the intent of the gossiper, though often times it is merely ill-advised but done by those who like drama.

What is just as bad is the person who listens in on conversations and then tries to take over the conversation.

It is true that sometimes a stranger can offer a bit of insight or resolution to a disagreement, but this verse is not about these nice people who politely admit to overhearing and offer help.

No, Proverbs 26:17 is about the person who hears just a little tidbit of a conversation (or argument) and assumes they are the authority. They know all about this issue, and you would not only be wise to listen but they will make sure you do!

And the majority of the time, this person has taken that tidbit completely out of context.

Now matters are worse, and either the people involved are stirred up to more hatred toward each other or this poor fool may feel the wrath of those who just a moment ago were upset with each other.

Moral of the story: mind your own business.

Unless there is a legitimate concern for one or all people involved – like a fist fight about to break out, or they are causing a major disturbance … like in a restaurant … – they can work it out themselves or will find someone to help.

Or you are a masochist who likes being verbally and physically beat up. But then you have even more issues than we are discussing today.

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When to Answer the Fool

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. -Proverbs 26:5, KJV

This is a fairly easy verse to understand: tell someone when they are doing something wrong, otherwise they may think they have it all figured out and are doing nothing wrong.

I could stop there, but perhaps some examples could help.

Children need to be told what is right and wrong, or they grow up thinking everything they do is okay and even good, if they survive! (My parents told me not to run I to the street, for example.)

A gossip will continue spreading lies and mistruths unless they are confronted and corrected.

Most importantly, people are on their way to Hell, thinking they are okay or even right in their beliefs, unless the Gospel is shared with them.

There are times to know when to stop and “shake the dust off your feet,” as mentioned in the previous verse or by Jesus Himself (Matthew 10, Luke 9, Mark 6). That is for another post!


Trying Not To Be Fools With His Words

Many readers of Proverbial Thought may enjoy the thoughts we share each day.

Maybe you do not understand some our thought process.

I for one do enjoy writing out these devotional thoughts for others to enjoy, but it weighs heavy on my heart.

For starters, read Proverbs 26. It will only take a few minutes. What really strikes me is the number of verses about the wastefulness, follies, and even dangers of fools speaking proverbs.

We are basically putting it put there that we are responsible for affecting the way people think!

In fact, when I was a new believer of Jesus Christ, I knew I should “do my part” and read at least something in the Bible. I chose James, for “not being too long and possibly boring me, nor too short and making me look lazy.”

Ouch. This was the first thing that stood out to me (in my NIV Bible at the time):

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

I understood that to teach others means I would be scrutinized myself, both by other people and by God.

That terrified little 16-year-old me! (Even at six feet tall at that time …)

Honestly, it should be intimidating to all of us.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

God has an expectation. If you teach others about the Word of God – which all believers should in some way – you are expected to know what it says and how to explain it adequately.

This is the struggle we deal with every day for Proverbial Thought, and for many of us, who are pastors and ministry leaders, as a daily concern.

Therefore, we write to help others (you, dear reader!) to be better equipped to share your faith, even if mostly about the Proverbs.

If you are a follower of the Lord, you should be able to share the reason for your faith. Use any tool available to you to grow, starting with regular Bible study, researching what others have said, and meeting with fellow believers (by going to church, attending Bible studies, meeting together just to talk, and serving togwther).

Hopefully, we have played a role in your growth and not written foolishly.


Be an Earring? Yep.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. -Proverbs 25:11‭-‬12, KJV

We must be willing to hear the truth.

If you are willing to hear that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, you can be saved. If you can hear that you have messed up and that there is hope for change, that becomes good news. (This is what verse 12 means.)

If you are struggling with something – whether a sin, a discomfort, a pain, or a problem – it can be difficult to listen.

A fitly spoken word is one that cuts through the pain and worry, it cuts through the distractions, and touches the humanity of the hearer. How many times have we been hurting, and that one person comes alongside, comforts us, and we feel safe to trust listen?

Now Apply It

There are many things wrong in our world today. They lead to pain, discomfort, and problems, and frequently they come from sin.

Now, who would you rather listen to:

  1. The person who attacks your intentions, character, and way of life, or
  2. The person who can connect with you, offer hope, and then points out your part?

Obviously, we would all listen to the second person more readily. Both point out the problem and the sin, but only one treats you with respect.

Which person are you?

Do you vilify those you disagree with or who cause problems, or do you seek to resolve things peacefully?

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18‭-‬19 KJV

We are to be peace-makers.

And remember, do not take attacks from others personally. Just like us, they need to be washed in Christ’s atoning blood and forgiveness. Show grace. They are hurting, too.

Let them see Christ. You are the gold earring they will see as they whisper in His ear. You are the gold necklace they find when resting on His shoulder.


Hearing Correction

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. –Proverbs 23:9, KJV

Have you known that person who knows everything?

Even when it is obvious there is a lacking in knowledge?

Perhaps she has been friends with a lot of famous people.

Maybe he knows all about everyone around.

It could be they have done everything and been everywhere.

And then you pull them aside and quietly point out a small error in their story or correct a “fact” they shared.

But there is always an excuse or a way to brush off what you’ve said.

You may even find you have a new enemy (or at least less of a friend).

Or maybe you are that person.

Can you take simple correction? Can you admit you may be wrong? Or do you always have an excuse or ignore those who disagree?

Be wise.

Do not stretch the truth or make up facts. And if someone corrects you, listen and, if needed, admit you’re wrong and change.


I’ve Become My Dad

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6, KJV

Too many people understand this verse to be saying, “If you raise your child a certain way, he (or she) will follow that same path forever.”

First, we must remember that proverbs typically are generalized sayings, not prescriptive rules that are always 100% true.

This leads to the second point, that the truth in this passage is more subtle but still believed by most people today.

Maybe you have heard someone (including yourself!) say “I became my mom (or dad)!” Allthis means is that we find ourselves doing what our parents did, sometimes saying when we were younger “I’m never gonna do that!”

Thankfully, though my parents were far from perfect, I can take some pride in saying “I’ve become my dad.” Sometimes it is from doing some mannerism the same way he did. Many times I have stumbled across the wisdom of why he did certain things because I have to do them more regularly.

More often than not, this is what the verse is taking about, passing life’s wisdom on to the next generation.

Are we exactly like our parents in every way?

No. But we learn from them how we might live, which affects what we believe and how we act.

Sadly, it does not mean if we raise children to be Christains they will remain so. But I do have friends who have left the church, but they believe that Christian morality is good.

In this sense, they have “not depart[ed] from it.”

Remember, we are not responsible for the salvation of others, merely for guiding them to truth and godly living.


Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

The lot is cast into the lap, but the response is from the Lord. –Proverbs 16:33

There is a mentality today that casting lots is superstitious at best and magic from the pits of Hell at worst.

We must remember, though, that many people throughout the Bible cast lots, most recently in Acts chapter one with the choosing of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot as an Apostle. Perhaps you have even drawn straws, which is very similar.

Most frequently today lots is seen as a game, whether for children or when gambling, like the lottery (guess where the name comes from). It is seen as something you wish for luck in.

But luck has nothing to do it.

God is in control. Lots can be used when you are really struggling with a decision (like which job offer to accept) or if you are simply feeling apathetic about a choice (like maybe where to eat out or what movie to watch … if you are into that kind of thing).

The key is to remember that you are asking God for direction. Otherwise, you are merely being superstitious.


Have a plan

moses-2628535_1920Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. 

He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When He moves left, they move left.  When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents.  Kind of like a cosmic GPS.  What could be easier?

Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave.  It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite).  Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them. 

“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’  ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”

Hold on.  I thought God was their guide…?  Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush suddenly gotten cold feet?

As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case.  We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park.  It’s more like taking over Chicago.  God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.

Now, I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”.  Okay, true enough.  But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility.  Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand.  It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.

ThreadBecause sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.

Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


I Told You So

A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. -Proverbs 13:1, KJV

My dad recently told me how proud of me he is. Of course, I took his advice on a few things, so there is that.

I guess it helps show I can be wise and just a wiseacre!

There have been times I have not listened to him. He and my mom would tell me what would happen if I followed through with my plans.

Then I would hear it: “I told you so.” I usually felt pretty silly, too, but my parents did help me to know that they took no pleasure in my pain nor being proven right.

The Big Rebuke

The biggest rebuke in history came when Jesus came to live and die for our sins.

He told us that the Father’s standards are not ours, and we need help. He told us He would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would convict us of our son and lead back to Him. He told us He will return to finally judge us.

If you reject the Spirit’s prodding and Jesus’ warnings, one day you will hear Him say very sadly, “I told you so.”

And there will be no more time to change your mind.


How Do YOU Respond To Correction?

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:8‭-‬9, KJV

Schooling

I taught 7th Grade mathematics last year. There were a handful of students who, whenever corrected or disciplined, would lash out. One in particular said he hated me. Who was I to tell him how to live his life?

Most of the students in the class reacted negatively to correction, to be honest, but a few (and eventually more) saw the benefits of following through with the correction. Somehow, I became the favorite teacher of many students.

The Church

Now look at the yourself and even others in the Church. When presented with biblical truth about sin, what is the response?

If your reaction is to lash out, deny, or get angry, ask yourself, Why? If it is not true, why get upset?

Fighting a correction can cost more than listening, such as hurt/broken relationships and/or wasted time.

The wise person wants to change, for the goal is to be Christ-like, perfect as God is perfect. You may even find you love that person more for helping you grow closer to Christ.

That is not possible if we continue in sin.

Refusing to even acknowledge the need for correction could imply you are heading the opposite direction, and you come to hate those who offered the correction.