Tag Archives: Proverbs and Sayings

Common Sense

Proverbs 16:7

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Common Sense

Some things make perfect sense. Some things are so sensible that everyone agrees, hence the term “common sense.” However, there are some things that people find hard to understand, even though anyone with common sense would think it makes perfect sense.

Today’s proverb should be a no-brainer.

Pleasing Ways

Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments? I’m not talking about the movie with Charleton Heston, just the Commandments themselves.

If you haven’t read them in a while, why don’t we refresh ourselves with a few of them?

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t murder
  • Don’t commit adultery
  • Don’t lie about your neighbor
  • Honor your father and mother
  • Don’t sit around desiring what’s not yours

If you want to live in such a way (ethically speaking) that will please the Lord, the above list is a good place to start, wouldn’t you think? What is more pleasing than not stealing, not murdering, not lying, not envying, etc.?

Peaceful Enemies

Believe it or not, doing what pleases the Lord (like not committing murder, not stealing from your employer, or not sleeping with your boss’s wife) is actually a good way to get ahead in the world. Common sense, wouldn’t you think?

I have worked with many atheists and agnostics, some of which hated what I believed, but none of them ever fired me for being a bad employee. Most gave high recommendations to my next employer. In one sense they were my “enemies,” but all in all they were peaceful. Why? Because my ways pleased the Lord.

Nonsense

What I found totally nonsensical was a story relating to the Ten Commandments being posted in a public school. I can’t remember where this exactly took place, but I do remember the reason the lawyers gave for removing the list from view…

“If the Ten Commandments are allowed to remain, then children will be tempted to do what they say.”

So my question is this: which is more pleasing, NOT committing murder, or gunning down kindergartners and teachers? Seems pretty simple, but I guess there is a shortage of common sense these days.

 


Afflicted or Merry?

Proverbs 15:15 

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

“Figures”

Have you ever known someone who feels like nothing ever goes his way? I have a friend who says “Figures” when something doesn’t go the way he wants or plans. In other words, he practically expected things to go wrong. How defeated is that?

Those who feel like the world is against them, that fate hates them, and that every wish upon a star is doomed to utter failure are not happy people. There are no silver linings, only clouds, and all the glasses are half-empty due to some conspiracy hatched in a neighbor’s mind.

“Praise the Lord, Anyway”

Then there are those people who take what’s handed to them with grace and a smile. They are the ones who end up truly brutalized and mistreated, but find hope in the middle of hurt. Disappointment turns into new opportunities, while loss is left to the wisdom of God.

Those with a merry heart can face a downturn in events, and even though it may hurt, say, “Praise the Lord, anyway!” It doesn’t mean they like having things go wrong, it’s just that they know the Lord gives and takes away, “blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Cart before the Horse

You know the old saying about putting the cart before the horse? Take a look at today’s proverb one more time and see if you can find an out-of-place cart? Shouldn’t being merry follow having the stuff of a feast? Shouldn’t feeling afflicted come after the onset of an evil day?

The real key to this proverb is the way a person approaches life. A person with a “merry heart” can “feast” on a bowl of beans while thanking God he at least has food. An “afflicted” person would complain that his free four-course meal lacked a piece of cake.

Prayer: Father, help me to maintain a merry and thankful heart, even when things aren’t going the way I think they should. You are sovereign and in control of all things. When “bad” things happen because of my mistakes, help me to accept the consequences. When bad things come as the result of no fault of my own, give me grace to endure and the comfort of knowing all things will work together for good.


Feeding Habits

Proverbs 15:14

“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”

Food Choices

I am not the best example of physical fitness. My body may be the temple of the Holy Ghost, but it needs a little renovation and a serious yard sale. Too much “stuff” has accumulated along the outer areas of the temple grounds. Can you say XXL?

me with potatoOne of the reasons I am not in the best shape is my desire for certain kinds of foods – the kinds with flavor. It’s not that I eat a whole lot, but the types of food I do eat might be considered unhealthy.

However, now that I’ve witnessed my little girls turn into young ladies, healthier foods are becoming more important to me. I want to be around for their weddings; to see my grandchildren; and to play all those games only a grandfather can play. Only a fool would continue to eat bad things, never considering the future.

Contrasting Appetites

In this proverb Solomon contrasts a man that has a desire for knowledge with a man who wants to keep shoveling in foolishness. It reminds me of the difference between someone who understands the need for healthy foods and the one who devours pizza, cup cakes, and sugary drinks every day. One understands what is needful, the other only cares about pleasure.

A man of understanding knows what he needs – knowledge and wisdom. A foolish man feeds on what continues to make him a fool.

A wise man will seek those things which will make him wiser. A fool will satisfy his appetite with worthless information and stimulation.

A wise man will read and study. A fool will watch movies and play video games.

What are you feeding on? 


Don’t Speak Too Soon

Proverbs 14:33 

“Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.”

Keep Quiet

One thing I learned from my father was to keep my mouth shut. No, not in the way that you may think…he didn’t tell me to be quiet…he just told me to watch my number of words.

My dad used to say, “You always appear smarter when you don’t tell all you know.” In other words, as long as your mouth is shut, people will never know how much or how little you actually know. They may just assume you are the wisest in the room. The one who runs off at the mouth is the one who exposes his ignorance.

Exposing One’s Ignorance

This proverb is about being quiet and letting things settle. It’s about knowing you have an answer, but waiting for others to share their mind. It’s about patience.

The man with understanding knows that the longer he listens to an argument, the better the response he can make when the moment is right. The fool jumps into the fray before he knows all the facts, exposing his ignorance too soon.

Watching Words

Did your parents ever tell you to “watch your mouth?” Mine did. They would also tell me to “think before you speak.” I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in the middle of a group of people without saying a word. When it did come time to say something, what I said stood out as something worth hearing, as opposed to more of the same.

Lord, help us to be prudent with our words, and may they always be a reflection of godly wisdom.


Bittersweet Testimony

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
    and no one else can share its joy.”

Know Thy Self

The only person who knows your heart better than God is you. You know how it feels to be you. You know what what it feels like to hurt like you hurt. You and God are the only ones who know the depth of the bitterness contained in your own heart. Other people might have been through similar things, they might have some level of understanding but the only other person to know the full picture is God.

All by Myself

So is this proverb suggesting we should shut up shop, keeping our bitterness and joy to ourselves? I would like to suggest not. This proverb isn’t saying no one should share it’s joy, it is just making the observation that the natural state of play is that no one knows what is truly going on in someone’s heart (except God) unless we learn to share our hearts with others.

Grieving and Rejoicing Together

Romans 12:15 tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This is only possible if we open our hearts to others. Now I am not saying we should share our intimate secrets with all and sundry but it is healthy to have a few trusted confidants to open our hearts to.

Extended Family

When we first found out that I had a low sperm count we had to decide whether to keep this news to ourselves or share it with our church family. When I got up and told our church I said something like this: “I tell you this now not for your pity, but so that as you grieve with us presently you will rejoice with us when we have our children.”


Walk Away from Stupid

Proverbs 14:7

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”

Product Labels

Some proverbs, such as this one, are pretty simple and straightforward. But on the other hand, as some product warning labels make abundantly clear, what should be obvious to most needs to be spelled out to others. Here are some examples:

  • “Don’t drive with shade in place” (warning on inside of cardboard sunscreen).
  • “Not for drying pets” (warning for microwave).
  • “Surface may be hot when turned on” (stove instruction manual).
  • “May cause a fire” (warning on box of matches).

If there were no stupid people in the world, the above warnings would be unnecessary. However, I am sure there have been people amazed when their hands were burned on a stove eye or by a match. I am positive that someone tried to sue a company because the microwave killed her wet cat.

Stupid People

In this proverb God has placed a warning label on stupid people. Yes, I said “stupid” people, for that is what the word translated “foolish” (סִיל kesil) actually implies.[1] The Lord wants us to know that it is not good to just stand and listen to what fools have to say, especially when you realize that what they are saying is void of any knowledge.

So, to put this proverb another way, “When you find yourself in the presence of a stupid idiot, don’t bother listening to what he has to say; walk away.”

Now, it may seem ridiculous to make such a statement, but consider why it is important to not listen to what a fool has to say:

  • A fool does not accept instruction, so arguing with him is pointless.
  • A fool would love to frustrate you and make you angry as you try to argue your point.
  • If you listen to a fool long enough you might begin to believe the stupidity he preaches.

A Prayer

Lord, we need wisdom to be discerning. Help us to recognize those who lack words of knowledge. Help us to know when to contend and when to walk away. Help us to know the difference between a fool and someone who is open to the truth.


[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 493.


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?