Posts Tagged ‘proverbs project’

The last one!  Have you made it all the way?  Have you read a chapter every day?  If so, you’re up to Proverbs 31.  As I’ve written a lot on the Proverbs 31 woman, I won’t attempt to take the many postings and put it into one.  But feel free to read those posts.

But Proverbs 31 isn’t only about a woman.  The first 9 verses are instructions to him separate from finding a great wife.  My favorite instructions are found in verses 8 and 9.

Open your mouth for the mute,
   for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
   defend the rights of the poor and needy.  (Proverbs 31:8-9)

There are those who can’t speak for themselves in this world.  Some are deaf.  Some are handicapped.  Some are poor.  Some are unborn.  There can be a myriad of reasons that a group of people aren’t heard.  This mom is charging her son, a king, to be the person that speaks for them.  He isn’t supposed to just speak for the wealthy, the good looking, the popular.  He’s supposed to defend those that would otherwise be defenseless.

Who is defenseless in your world?  It might be the homeless.  It might be the poor. It might be the unborn.  But it might not be as obvious as that.  It might be the neighbor kid who everyone is picking on.  It might be the classmate that people tease.  It might be the co-worker that no one is listening to.  It might be the mom on the PTA committee that isn’t being heard.  There could be all kinds of people around you that you need to defend.

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I’m off work today!  I’m off work today!  I think I’ll read Proverbs 30.

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
   The man declares, I am weary, O God;
   I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
   I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
   nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
   Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
   Who has established all the ends of the earth?
 What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
   Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;
   he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  (Proverbs 30:1-5)

Can I re-write this?  Consider this the Jayme paraphrase version of these 5 verses.

The words of Jayme, daughter of Steve and Janet.  The Systems Analyst.
Dear God, I am tired.  I am tired and worn out.

I am too foolish to make it in this world.  I haven’t learned all that I need to.
I mess up.  I am wiser than I was when I was 15, but I haven’t come far enough.
I don’t know You well enough.  I haven’t learned enough to make great choices.

Who has been there?  Who has done that?  Who has mastered all this?  Who can I talk to? 
God, you have given me your Word and it’s right and true.  I will study Your word and learn.  I will find out what You have told me and follow it.  I will let Your wisdom rule my life and protect me from the evils of this world.

Two things I ask of you;
   deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
   give me neither poverty nor riches;
   feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
   and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
   and profane the name of my God.  (Proverbs 30:7-9)

The writer is saying that there are 2 things he doesn’t want to be: rich or poor.  Why would that be?  Being rich can cause us to be prideful in ourselves.  We could deny Who has given us the blessings.  Our attitude could be (doesn’t have to be, but could be) “I did this!”, not “Look what God has done!”

Being poor also has its own set of temptations.  We could be tempted to steal to make up for what we lack.  Or we could be tempted to shake our fist at God: “God, you have failed me and You are evil!”

Desire neither poorness or richness.

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Happy Memorial Day!  I’m gonna celebrate tomorrow by taking a day off work.  I’m gonna celebrate today by reading Proverbs 29.

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
   but a wise man quietly holds it back.  (Proverbs 29:11)

I might be wrong – this has just been my experience, but one thing that I’ve learned from working in Corporate America and from being married is that men handle anger differently than women.  It’s not that they get angry faster, but it seems to be more common to them than it is to women.

Women, on the other hand, seem to get emotional more often than men.  It’s not often that a situation (work or otherwise) brings me to tears, but it certainly happens.  It’s not often that a man in my path (work or otherwise) gets angry, but it certainly happens. It happens about as often as I get emotional!

Men can quickly get uncomfortable when a woman cries.  Women can quickly get uncomfortable when a man gets angry.

Just like a woman who gets teary when a conversation gets uncomfortable for her, a man can get angry when a conversation gets uncomfortable for him.  It’s not a bad thing.  It’s what we do with the emotions or the anger that matters.  If I use my tears as a cue to run out of the room and avoid the issue, that’s a bad thing.  If the man in question uses his anger to yell or hit, that’s a bad thing.

A wise person recognizes his feelings (emotions or anger) and deals appropriately with them.  Holds it back as needed, vents as needed.

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You know what the best accessory to wear with May 28th is?  Proverbs 28

Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way
    will fall into his own pit,
   but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (Proverbs 28:10)

When I was in grade school, the school had Kindergarten through 6th grade.  I think it was when I was in 4th grade, they moved 6th grade out of the elementary school and into the middle school.  My mom was watchful of this.  It meant that when I hit 6th grade, I’d be with 7th & 8th graders instead of with the kindergartners.

The potential was there for me to meet older kids that would be more than happy to lead me into an “evil way”.  In ways that 6 year-olds weren’t likely to do.  It didn’t happen.  Me and my group of girl friends made the transition to middle school quite successfully.

But the opportunity was there.  My mom was right to be watchful.  To make sure I kept friends that were a help and not a hindrance to me.

Other kids weren’t so lucky as we grew up.  I remember one classmate of mine in particular, David, who did a complete turn around.  The David he was in 8th grade isn’t the same David he was in high school.  The 8th grade David was a good student, in all honors classes, funny kid who, while not the most popular, got along well with others.  By the time senior year came, he had been transferred to an alternative school.  Habits of alcohol and drug use got the best of him.  He met some friends that pointed him to a bad path.  And he took it.  He didn’t have to.  He chose to.

Friends that enable others to choose a good path will have a goodly inheritance. Whoever influences others into evil will fall into a pit.

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Proverbs 27 is the bomb diggity!

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
   a stranger, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

There’s a guy that I used to know.  Some of his friends nicknamed him “Ace”.  Why?  Because for every story you had, he had one slightly better.  Just bought a new car?  He remembers the time where he owned a classic automobile.  Just got promoted?  He can tell you about the time where he got promoted.

He was great at tooting his own horn.  He was annoying.  Don’t praise yourself.  Let others do the work for you.  You’re too busy doing things that matter anyway.

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
   rising early in the morning,
   will be counted as cursing. (Proverbs 27:14)

I went to camp when I was in junior high.  There was a gal in my cabin that would wake up every morning and sing to us. In a really loud voice.  And an annoying voice.  “Good morning! Good morning sunshine!  You’re beautiful!”  I can tell you: that was a curse and not a blessing.  Tell me I’m beautiful at noon please!

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This chapter of Proverbs is just full of great word pictures.  Words that immediately put an image into your mind.  Some of my favorites:

Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool
   cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.

Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless,
   is a proverb in the mouth of fools.

Like one who binds the stone in the sling
   is one who gives honor to a fool.

Like an archer who wounds everyone
   is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.

Like a dog that returns to his vomit
   is a fool who repeats his folly.

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
   they go down into the inner parts of the body.  (Proverbs 26:6,7,8,10,11,22)

Can’t just picture some of these so perfectly?  Drinking violence?  Useless hanging legs?  A stone superglued in a sling?  An archer just shooting arrows everywhere?  It’s just great language!  Most of these verses highlight just how silly foolishness is.

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
   lest you be like him yourself. (Proverbs 26:4)

Guilty of this one!  Pee-Wee Herman comes to mind (which isn’t a good thing): “I know you are, but what am I?”  Ever stooped down to a fool’s level?  One foolish act or saying deserves another.

I hate when I do this, especially at work.  If someone says something snarky, my compulsion is to respond in kind. I’ll be snarky back.  Sometimes I control my tongue, sometimes not.  It just makes me as foolish as they are.  This happened to me yesterday.  A conference call got me all heated up (why is so much easier to be rude over the phone than in person?).  After the call, I realized how dumb I was and had to call my co-worker (not located in Omaha) and apologize. I’m glad I apologized, but I shouldn’t have gotten myself into that situation to begin with.

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor
   and says, “I am only joking!”  (Proverbs 26:18-19)

Me: “You’re a dumb head!”
You: “Hey, that hurt my feelings!”
Me: “I was just kidding!”

Sounds childish.  Sounds like most of us sometimes.  It’s why my husband and his then-roomates made the “We only edify” rule. Slamming others is particularly easy to do when playing games or sports.  “You’re going down!” can easily turn into “You’re no good!” or “My momma can throw better than you and she has arthritis!” or “You’re a loser!”  Not exactly what we really want to tell people.

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I like to read, read, read Proverbs 25.  Don’t you?

A man without self-control
   is like a city broken into and left without walls.  (Proverbs 25:28)

Imagine a group of thieves broke into a bank, busted up all the doors and walls and then left.  The security guards ran after them.  All the money is just there for the taking.  How quickly do you think the money would just sit there?  Not long at all.

Imagine a woman who doesn’t guard her heart, time and money.  Her heart is just there in the open.  She sees something she wants to do, she just does it, with no regard for how much time it will take or if she has more important things to do.  She has no restrictions on spending her money – you want her to spend money on something, she spends.  She sees something she wants?  She buys it.  My questions:

  • How long do you think it will be before her heart gets broken?
  • How long before she doesn’t have time for Bible study, quiet time or quality time with others?
  • How long til she’s out of money or in debt to others?

Not long.

I used to think that self-control was no fun.  It was thing that told me “no”, but I’ve come to realize that it’s really the thing that tells me “yes” and what to say “yes” to.  I’ve learned this mostly in the personal finance realm.

For me, getting on a budget a few years ago was incredibly freeing. Yes, there were things I had to say no to, but I knew that it was just freeing me up to say “yes” to so much more and better things.  I had to say “no” to spending money whenever I wanted, but I got to say “yes” to having a retirement account and money in a car fund for when I needed it.  It meant that when I spent $10 eating out with friends, I could afford it.  I didn’t have to worry if I was stealing from another category.  I can’t go out and spend $10 whenever I want to. I knew my boundaries and as long as I was working inside of them, I had such confidence!  Totally freeing!

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Just one more week left.  Are you enjoying Proverbs?  I am!  Proverbs 24 today.

Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
   and do not deceive with your lips.  (Proverbs 24:28)

Gossip.  Slander. Lying.  They all are similar things – although the law might disagree.  Why do we do this?  Why do we talk about other people negatively?  Why do we sometimes embellish the truth?  I suspect a couple of reasons:

1. Pride.
If we can make others look bad, we look better, maybe even good.  If we can emphasize how wrong the other person is, then it seems like we couldn’t help but do what we did.  Examples: You get mad at Sally Sue and decide to end the friendship.  When Betty Blue asks you about it, instead of just saying  “We’re not friends anymore” and leaving it at that, you detail out what Sally Sue did.  “Well, Sally Sue was just kind of mean to me.  I’m not sure entirely what’s going in her life, but she changed.  I don’t think she’s doing drugs or anything.  And I don’t think it was because she was depressed that Hunky Hank wasn’t interested in her, but maybe it was.”  See what you did there? You told Betty Blue all kinds of things that may or may not be true.  And even if they were true, they weren’t any of Betty Blue’s business.  You deceived with your lips.

2. Build a bond

If two or more of us can gather and find a topic in common, then we’re building a bond.  If the topic in common just happens to be someone else, well, then that’s okay, isn’t it?  No, it’s not okay.  But it’s true: if me, Mary, and Elizabeth are standing around and having a hard time finding something to talk about, it’s awkward.  If Mary then brings up about how Hannah was seen with Harry last week and ohmygoodness, do you think they’re dating?, then suddenly, we got a bond.  Better to not build a bond than to build one falsely.

I’ve recently been reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  At one point in his life, he ran a seminary-like training program for youth pastors.  It was a place where the men all stayed together, in a dormitory like building.  One of the rules of the group was that people weren’t allowed to talk about anyone who wasn’t present.  At all.  Positively or negatively.  I’m sure you could answer questions like “Does anyone know where Frank is?”, but the rule was NO talking about anyone when they weren’t present.  Sounds like a fantastic general rule doesn’t it?  If the topic of conversation isn’t present, don’t talk about them.

There are times to talk about someone, but it’s not in secret.  If you’re called as a witness in a murder trial, you need to be honest.  If you’re talking to that person, you need to be forthright.  But when you’re talking with someone who isn’t involved in the situation and doesn’t need to know, it’s best to remain silent.

I remember this saying – I don’t know where it came from – “If someone is willing to gossip with you, then they’re willing to gossip about you.”

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I’m in the mood for Proverbs 23…are you?

My son, if your heart is wise,
   my heart too will be glad.
My inmost being will exult
   when your lips speak what is right.

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
   he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
   let her who bore you rejoice.  (Proverbs 23:15,16,24,25)

I think there’s something in us that yearns to make our parents proud.  From our earliest days, we want this.  We draw pictures and show them to our parents.  We run home to show a good report card.  We tentatively tell them our “good” ideas and pray that they find our “good” idea a “great” one.  We bring home the guy or girl that we’re interested in, hoping that they think he or she is as great as we do.  On our graduation caps, we write “Hi Mom!”  When we win Super Bowls, we say “Thanks Mom!”  When we buy our first house, we make sure our parents also think it was a great purchase.

What makes parents proud?  I’m not a parent, but according to this passage, there are at least 2 things that children can do that would make their parents proud:

  • Showing wisdom when making choices (of all kinds from hobbies to spouses to study habits)
  • Speaking right things – the truth, speaking up for those that can’t speak for themselves.

If you have parents, let them see the right choices you’re making.  Don’t be afraid to get their advice. 

If you are a parent, commend your children on their right choices.  Tell them that you’re proud of them.  Children of all ages like that kind of affirmation!

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Proverbs 22 tells us to share the love!  Well, not share the love, but to share the wisdom!

Have I not written for you thirty sayings
   of counsel and knowledge,
to make you know what is right and true,
   that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?  (Proverbs 22:20-21)

When faced with a difficult decision, who do you see advice from?  A fool?  Of course not, you go to someone wise.  Someone you respect.  Someone who likely has had experience with the situation you’re in.  Fact is that when you’re known for being wise, you will probably have people seek after your opinion.  These two verses tell you that you’re supposed to advise people.  Those who have wisdom have been given it not only for God’s glory and not only for their own good, but to help others.

This passage also tells us how to advise people – with true answers.  It’s probably not likely that wise people would lie (that wouldn’t be wise, now would it?).  I think the bigger temptation would be to not help or be wary of getting involved.  It doesn’t mean that we have to be fully invested in everyone’s life, spending hours and hours with every person who asks.  The verse also tells us who we have to help – those that are sent to us.  That doesn’t mean everyone.  But it also doesn’t mean no one.  There will be people who God has sent to us to help. And those are the people we’re supposed to use the wisdom we’ve been given to give them right and true answers.

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