13 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.
2 From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.
3 Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
4 A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
5 The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked make themselves a stench
and bring shame on themselves.
6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 A person’s riches may ransom their life,
but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
A rebuke is wasted on somebody who cannot hear it. Too often and too easily a rebuke can come out of frustration or anger but a rebuke is to be a controlled expression of love.
There is something about speech and communication in the first few verses. Guarding what comes from our lips. Being slow to speak and quick to listen. I am trying to practice five questions before I answer or comment. It’s not easy but it’s a good discipline.
Verse 4 is about the unquenchable thirst for more or the easy win. I want to be content with what I have and don’t have. Today I am but there is something about living in London that triggers the lust for more.
Authenticity is what matters. In the end it is the only thing that truly matters. It is the only thing that can provide peace in the soul.
Riches and poverty are irrelevant to my peace. The only thing that matters is living in the light.
I originally wrote this on a camping trip in Kent, July 2016. Kent is sometimes referred to as “the garden of England”. I love the slowed down pace that we find in the countryside. To drive into a small town at 10pm and find no corner shops open. Only a kebab house, a pub and an Indian restaurant. I love this pace of life . It speaks volumes about what is important.
Unfortunately you can feel pressure closing in all around you in London. I am learning to live outside of the pressure but I love the peace and quiet of where we are at the moment and the simplicity of staying in a tent.
10 Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.
15 Good judgment wins favour, but the way of the unfaithful leads to their destruction.
Pride is destructive. Wherever there is strife there is pride. Asserting our will over God’s will, our own judgments about wrong and right and the mistrust that it brings is at the root of our sin problem. It’s easy to naively think that sin is the breaking of a code of conduct when in fact it is about the breaking of relationship.
More words about dishonest money and how it dwindles away and in verse 12 one of my favourite Proverbs about unfulfilled promises. “Hope deferred does indeed make the heart sick”
The final verses in this section are about instruction, wisdom, God’s commands and the truth of his word. Sound judgment based on what is right and true not on what is our opinion or our whims. These have been hard lessons and stark reminders of my waywardness and yet today I can feel peace deep in my soul because once again I have chosen to be in step with the spirit.
All who are prudent act with knowledge,
but fools expose their folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honoured.
19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.
20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
21 Trouble pursues the sinner,
but the righteous are rewarded with good things.
22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
The fool makes rash decisions, impulsive decisions and does things on a whim. A wise person will assess a situation and act accordingly.
Decision making is perhaps our most spiritual activity. Not everything is black and white or a choice between right and wrong in fact the vast majority of decisions are about what is beneficial or what is not so beneficial. My decision making process has been impulsive, rash and indulgent. Now I try to first of all think about what’s right or wrong and then what is good for my family, what do I really want to do and why. Of course not every decision is taken this way and I am still selfish but I try to have a greater awareness of how my decisions will impact others.
The proverb about the messenger got me thinking about speech and how important our words are. Whenever we communicate news it’s important to keep emotive words and phrases out of the conversation and stick with facts.
Emotive words are triggers and create spin and exaggeration. Even exaggerated good news can be toxic. The message must be truth and the tone must be respect for the hearer which means not adding gloss and not making it more barbed than it should be. A placating or pacifying message is as destructive as an aggressive message.
There is a sense where the discipline of life is God’s most powerful agent of change. Few of us (if any) will undergo a radical repentance on the basis of words alone. We are people who need to feel the necessity of change. Words are alarm bells only. We hit the snooze button and carry on in our slumbered state. When life jolts us we wake up and act with urgency. A sermon never changed me. A good value sermon is one that inspires me about who is God?. A discipleship conversation never changed me. A good discipleship conversation helped me to see God. A life jolt was always the catalyst of change.
A fool wants everything now. The man of God understands the premise of waiting on God and a longing fulfilled. Yesterday whilst packing the tent away I had a longing thirst. I delayed drinking water until towards the end but it tasted like the most wonderful nectar when I sipped the ice cold water. To wait for something, to delay gratification heightens the experience.
Walk with the wise. Today I choose carefully who I listen to. I choose people who understand me and my life and I respect as wise men. In my old life I allowed myself to be pulled from pillar to post by every seemingly wise morsel in my best moments and every personal whim in my worst. It’s a toxic combination. A breeding ground for resentment, frustration and deceit. It bears the fruit of bitterness.
In the same way, a friend of fools can suffer their troubles. Bringing God’s message to our friends is a vital Christian responsibility. To connect a hurting world with our God is our calling and mission but religious words do not achieve this. Quoting some Bible or having a self righteous attitude turns people off from God and pushes them away. Our lives must do the talking. Not perfect lives but visibly flawed lives underpinned by integrity, faith and authenticity. I know I need faithful, authentic people around me to support me in this too.
Trouble is not a problem when I meet it with faith. My favourite Bible verse Jesus speaking to his disciples promises us that we will have trouble but we can take heart because he overcame the world (John 16:33).
A man of faith will benefit his children and his children’s children. I want to leave a spiritual legacy where I will be known by those I leave behind not for what happened that caused me to fall but what happened after I fell. That’s what I am building today.
23 An unploughed field produces food for the poor,
but injustice sweeps it away.
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
God has made it that there is enough to go round. There is enough food, water and natural resources and there is enough global wealth. Unfortunately human greed and the thirst for power or control is the real cause of poverty.To feed the world and eliminate hunger, costs about the same as America spends annually on ice cream.
The following verse about discipline and child rearing has been a mantra of many parenting classes. Loving discipline is essential in raising children. The entitlement of my generation and subsequent generations I am quite certain is a result of a lack of love and a lack of discipline from parents.
Verse 25 reminds me of my and our constant thirst for more. More food, more money, more possessions, more experiences, more success, more fame, more power, more market share, more sex …more. This insatiable unquenchable thirst for more leaves us empty.
The words of Jesus …I will give you living water and you will no longer be thirsty. We are thirsty people. God has wired us that way but the presence of God in our life is what quenches the thirst. Everything else increases our thirst like peanuts at the bar !!! Paul’s words “I have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances” …I want to learn that secret. I am trying to.