Now we’re getting somewhere…..I am truly enjoying and being inspired by the book of Proverbs. To me, it is one of the most practical books of the Bible. Why? Because it is Pro-Verbs – providing us with positive actions that will help us live a Godly life! Is it easy to do? Not all the time, but the rewards when we do are tremendous! How do I know? The Bible tells me so!
Some people feel as if Proverbs reads as a very convicting book and makes them feel guilty and condemned. I can understand that, but there is no confusion in what these chapters are saying; and it is God-breathed, so if it hurts when we read it, maybe we have some work to do! Be encouraged that these words are a gift to us, to help us each and every day.
I am going to highlight a personal “takeaway” from each of these chapters.
Chapter 16: What we say can make or break relationships! In the past year or so I have been aware that my words didn’t seem that important to people. I was noticing that people weren’t listening to my answers (after they asked me a question), or interrupting me before I was finished with a response, etc. I am a self-reflective person, so if something comes up repeatedly in my life, I strive to find a different way of doing things. Many of you have heard me say, “Wherever you go, there you are!” If the same issues come to my attention more than once, then I choose to look at myself. For this issue, I decided that it was an opportunity for me to talk less and listen more! Maybe I was talking too much, or what I was saying was not relevant, etc. God and I are still working on it – I want my words to be gracious, encouraging, honest, uplifting, necessary and most importantly – God-honoring. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Chapter 17: Foolishness causes destruction to others and ourselves! One of my husband’s favorite quotes is, “Undisciplined people are a headache to themselves, a heartache to those who love them and a burden to society.” I truly feel that this could be a verse in Proverbs! We are all fools and we all partake in foolishness at times! The good news is that we don’t have to live this way. We are children of the Living God, who ordains each of our steps. I grew up with 5 brothers and 3 sisters, raised by a God-fearing, faithful single mother. With 9 children, the household was chaotic from sheer human numbers alone, but the usual sibling rivalries and shenanigans I know were difficult and trying for my mother. I am certain that our collective foolishness throughout our childhood brought her grief and sadness at times. Proverbs 17 describes fool(s) as bringing folly, being godless, lacking understanding, bringing grief to others, etc. I don’t want that to be me!
Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” I guess a good place to start is by holding our tongues!
Chapter 18: Caring for others is our calling as Christians! Anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ should be really good at this, it should come naturally, right? “Others before self”, right? Sounds good on paper, but in a culture that promotes “me first”, this is not easily cultivated. The world says to stockpile our finances and our “stuff” – “the one who dies with the most toys wins”…..wins what, exactly? Proverbs 18 tells us that people who are selfish start quarrels, they are unreliable, they bring strife and their words are a snare to their own lives. Sounds like a “me-focused” person! Proverbs 18:24 in The Message version says, “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Let’s truly be like family to those in our community. As I again reflect on my childhood, God placed our family in a small community of BIG believers in Jesus. Even though our family was most likely considered “from the wrong side of the tracks”, the church community in our town always found ways to provide for us. When my mother didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, there would be groceries on our porch. Every year we were blessed at Christmastime with food baskets and presents. My 3rd grade teacher took me under her wing and gave me free music lessons. These are just a few of the MANY ways we were cared for by this community who didn’t turn their eyes from the family literally living in the middle of town who were struggling. That community let God use them in ways that maybe didn’t make sense to them at the time, but they have sure impacted our family for generations to come! I know this,
The Proverbs are instructions for living the life God wants for us. Let’s get to it!