Tag Archives: Book of Proverbs

My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)

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I Was Despicable

Proverbs 13:5

“A righteous [man] hateth lying: but a wicked [man] is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Loathsome Lies and Shame

I have shared before that as a child and teenager I had a habit of stretching the truth, spreading rumors, and flat-out lying. I was rather despicable.

In truth, I told these stories and fabrications to satisfy my own needs.

My need to feel important. (People actually listened to me!)

My need to feel accepted. (People listening felt like people liking me!)

My need to control my life. (That big lie we all believe at some point in our lives.)

Many times, I got caught in my deception. I felt shame and guilt. It led to hating people more and more.

Hating … in a good way

I also have shared before that  because of my deceitful tongue, I learned the importance of being open with people.

I started out hating people, because I felt that no one understood me and no one wanted to be with me.

I learned to hate those things that pushed people farther away. I learned how much God hates sin, and I wanted to hate what He hates.

Several chapters ago, we discussed some things God hates: specifically “lying lips”.

We should hate lies. We should love honesty and openness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves coming to shame and being hated.

Good Father, thank You for Your truth and confronting us in our lies. Thank You for Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forgive those who continue in lies. Help us learn to hate anything that goes against Your truth.


Shepherd’s Pie

Proverbs 13:2

“A man shall eat good by the fruit of [his] mouth: but the soul of the transgressors [shall eat] violence.”

The Fruit of the Mouth

As part of our church anniversary on we enjoyed lunch together. A team of mostly young women spent several hours preparing the food on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and then they served the meal to those who stayed after the morning service. The same ladies cleared away and washed up. They left church mid-afternoon knowing that they had done a good job, but their mood was lifted collectively by the many words of thanks and encouragement they received from so many people who benefited from their work. Interestingly, our guest speaker when talking about discipleship during the evening service said; “encouragement is important and powerful.” You could say that our church ate well yesterday, before the fruit of our mouths provided huge and well deserved portions of encouragement to those responsible for what we ate.

A Different Meal

The main course for our anniversary meal was shepherd’s pie. When Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd He warned about the voices of strangers, thieves and robbers who come to steal and destroy. The suggestion is that theft and destruction are not limited to physical acts of violence, but may also be initiated by words. There is no doubt that words can change lives, which is why the book of Proverbs contains so many warnings about how we speak, how we choose our words, and what finally comes out of our mouths. The warning in this verse is that bad words bring a different meal to those who speak them.

We ate good food yesterday at church and thankfully we responded well with words of thanks and appreciation. We’re human. We need to be encouraged. We need to lift other people with our words, and we need to be lifted by the words of others. What we receive will surely be governed by what we give.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:7-13)


Listen Like a Wise Son

Proverbs 13:1

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”

The Hot Pot and Life

When I was a child, my parents warned me not to touch a pot sitting on the stove. “It is hot, and it will burn you,” they told me. (To test this, I waited until a few minutes after they shut off the burner under the pot, then I touched it. It was very, very warm!)

When my sister was told this same bit of information, she still reached for that hot pot. She was burned, because she did not listen.

As we grew older, our parents continued to give us advice and warnings about things. Sometimes it meant they had to punish us for not listening to them (such as taking a cookie after being told to wait until after dinner).

Many times, I avoided some things that would have caused pain or grief, because my parents warned me of the dangers, such as doing drugs, avoiding certain “goods” or services, and hanging out with certain crowds. (It does not mean I always listened, and it led to grief. Remember my examples with a young woman.)

A Loving Father

God is our Heavenly Father who has sent us warnings and guidance (Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus’ Disciples, the Bible) about who we are by nature and the consequences of following our nature (sin) over Him.

If we are wise, we will listen to the Father’s instructions and live well.

If we scorn His teachings, we must deal His rebuke. Often times, His rebukes come about as the natural consequences of our sinful choices. Sometimes He denies us things we want, such as jobs, promotions, transportation, time with loved ones, and on and on.

Too many times we default to “God is punishing me! He must hate me!” The truth is that He is allowing us to live with our choices, because He loves us enough to give us what we want: Not Him.

Because that is what we are really choosing when we rebel.

Choose wisdom. Choose God.

Merciful God, thank You for Your Word and guidance. Give us the wisdom to choose You, and help us hear Your rebuke when we fail. Help us to live wisely with each other.


Don’t Waste the Hunt

Proverbs 12:27 

“The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”

Hunting

I am not a hunter. I am a gatherer.

Unlike some of my more outdoorsy friends and relatives, I am not much for going out and killing things, even for food. Don’t get me wrong, though, I have gone hunting in my younger years; it’s just not something I enjoy. I’d rather go to a restaurant and hunt down a steak.

The biggest gripe that I have with hunting, however, is having to dress the animals you kill in the field. If you don’t know what am talking about, that means gutting the animal that was just an hour before frolicking in the wilderness.

I do not enjoy the smell of blood in the morning, especially mixed with sweaty camouflage.

Wasted Kill

This proverb makes mention of a hunter, but the hunter is a lazy man, one so lazy that instead of preparing the slain animal for food, he just lets it spoil. What could have been food for his family and himself is allowed to rot and go to waste. That’s just wrong.

Some people kill just for sport, which I believe is unethical.

However, there are others who never kill anything, but they waste life, nevertheless. How sad is that?

Life is Precious

I believe that all life is precious, even the life of the animals used for food. It’s not that God gives deer and squirrel souls, but He is responsible for the life within them. After all, He was their Creator.

An ethical hunter knows this, and that is why the above proverb says, “but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” A lot goes into the hunt for game, including time, money, and skill. A wise man doesn’t waste what opportunity he has been given; he puts it to use.

The “Game” of Life

What is it that you have been working for all your life? What have you gone to school for, or practiced for? Was all of that for nothing? Did you hunt down time, only to let it lie there and rot in the forests of life?

Don’t waste the opportunities or talents God has given you. But more than that, don’t let go to waste the things for which you have hunted and caught. What a waste of life if you do.


You Think You’re Better than Me?

Proverbs 12:26

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

I’m No Better

How many times have you been told that you should never think of yourself as better than anyone else? I have to remind myself of that every time I get behind the wheel of a car. You may have to be reminded every time you go through the checkout isle at the grocery store.

So, if we are to believe that we are all human and no better than our neighbor, why does today’s proverb say that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbor?” Maybe it would help to look at some other ways this could be translated.

Three Versions

The English Standard Version reads, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Now, let’s read what the Holman Christian Standard says: “A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray.”

Finally, the Revised Standard Version says, “A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Even though the last part of the verse remains consistent, the first part does not. What’s the deal?

Translating

I am no Hebrew scholar by any definition of the term. However, if you were to look at the Hebrew text for this proverb you would find that there are only 6 words. What is interesting is that it takes anywhere from 15 to 19 words to say the equivalent in English.  The key is “equivalent.”

Interpreters of Scripture sometimes have to translate meaning, not just word for word definitions. And when this happens, the idea of what the original is saying may take more than just a few words to express. That is possibly why there are so many different versions of this one verse.

What’s the Idea?

Well, the idea of this verse is not that we as believers should think of ourselves as better than anyone else, but that the righteous should care about where the unrighteous are heading.

The contrast between the two parallel parts of verse 26 is meant to highlight who cares more for his friends – the righteous man. To put the KJV in a way that compares more with the other versions, it is saying that the heart of the righteous and the way he cares for his friends is much different than the wicked man who only wants to deceive and lead astray.

The righteous man is not “better” than his neighbor; he only cares about where his neighbor is going.

A Prayer: Lord, help us to be good neighbors. Help us to care about others and guide them to You. Don’t let us lead others astray.


Choose Your Guarantee

Proverbs 12:21

“There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.”

Good and Bad Life

There are certain things that no one can get away from in this life. There are good things and bad things that will have an effect on every person. Jesus told us so, when speaking about God: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

In terms of today’s passage, this deals more with how we conduct our lives.

When we do good things in the pursuit of God, we may very well see good things in our lives. Wise choices generally make life easier and better.

Simply pursuing what we want or what makes us feel good or willfully causing pain or grief to others will eventually lead to bad things in life. We can not spend beyond our means for too long before we have to deal with the consequences of over-spending. We can not push the world away and expect the world to continue to help and give anything good.

It especially applies with our relationship to God

When we are following our Lord, when we believe in the truth of who Jesus Christ is and live out our faith, we have a guarantee, a strong hope, that we will one day be with Him forever.

The wicked have no such guarantee. Choosing your own path and not believing in Jesus Christ, choosing to promote your own well-being and happiness without considering others, disregarding the teachings of the Bible, all of these all but guarantee suffering when this life is over.

Which path do you choose this moment?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for giving us a way out of our mischief and troubles. Strengthen us to choose You every moment of every day that we may show love and grace to others when they choose the path of wickedness.