Saturday, 13 September 2014

(257) September 14: Proverbs 26-27 & 2 Corinthians 6

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read consider what lessons strike you most forcefully.

To ponder:
Some lessons from Proverbs 26: Like unseasonable weather, honour isn’t fitting for fools. Undeserved curses (ie. prayers that God would act against an individual) never come to rest. Fools need punishment to spur and guide them like a horse or donkey. Do not respond to foolish talk with the same sort of foolish talk or you will be a fool; but do respond in that way if to show the fool how foolish his speech sounds, and so keep him from thinking himself wise. Sending a message by a fool is like harming oneself, no doubt because he will get it wrong and bring a problematic response. A proverb spoken by a fool is useless, probably because none will listen to it. It is also liable to bring harm by being mishandled, like the thornbush in the drunk’s hand. Honouring a fool is as nonsensical as trying a stone in a sling – it is the exact opposite of what should be done. A fool can harm any around them, and repeats the same mistakes and mess. Yet there is more hope for the fool to do well than those who assume they are wise, as at least the fool sees his lack.
            Like the door on hinges, all the lazy person does is turn forever on his bed. And he considers himself wiser than seven (many) people who can give careful answers to those who question them. Rushing into another’s quarrel can lead to harm against oneself. And deceiving others as a joke can lead them to death. Quarrels die down without gossip which can only fuel them. But quarrelling people ignite strife. Fervent speech with an evil heart gives a fake appearance of uprightness, like silver coating on earthenware pottery. Likewise, enemies despise themselves by their speech, which may be charming but is not to be believed, as evil and deceit fills their hearts. They may conceal their evil intent, but it will be exposed amongst God’s people – perhaps by formal testimony or at final judgement. If you seek to trap or harm others it will return on you. Lying and flattery displays hatred towards others and ends in their ruin.
            Some lessons from Proverbs 27: Don’t boast about what you’ll do tomorrow, as you don’t know what will happen. Don’t praise yourself; let others do it. When a fool provokes someone it is heavy in that it is hard to shake off the feeling it brings. Jealousy can be more destructive than anger, no doubt, because it perseveres in its intent rather than sometimes being momentary. It is better for a friend to rebuke us and so turn us from wrong, than for them to care but not show it. And such wounds from a friend can be trusted; but an enemy forever flatters and displays love, whilst of course being against us in their heart. Those who are full (or have much) hate even good food (or things), but those who have little will find even bitter food (or things) sweet. To glibly run from one’s home is to forfeit one’s place of safety and rest like the bird that flees its nest. Sincere advice from friends is pleasant like a sweet smell. When disaster strikes it is better to rely on a friend that lives close than a relative far away, no doubt because the friend is more tested, and so may care more. The father who has joy because his son is wise can answer the contempt of others, presumably because his uprightness has been proved by how his son has turned out. The sensible take refuge from danger, whilst the simple ignore it and suffer the consequences. We need to speak in the appropriate manner, as a loud blessing to a friend early in the morning is taken as a curse, no doubt because it annoys them by waking them up. A quarrelsome wife can’t be stopped or restrained. Our interactions with others sharpen us in our understanding. Those who protect their master will benefit like the one who protects a fruit tree and can eat its fruit. This applies to any who serve their employer well. A person’s life (ie. what they do) reflects their heart. Human beings are never satisfied, always seeing and desiring more. Just as silver and gold is proved genuine by fire, so character is revealed by whether someone responds to praise with arrogance or humility. And no matter how much hardship the fool faces, their foolishness will never be removed. Pay careful attention to your business, as wealth doesn’t endure, but needs to be renewed as time passes.

Praying it home:       
Praise God for whatever he has most brought home to you. Pray that he would help you live according to that wisdom.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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