Stay out of trouble

Daily Proverbs

He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears. ~Proverbs 26:17 NKJV

If you’re a dog owner, you know one of the best ways to irritate your pet is to grab them by the ears. Gentle rubbing behind the ears is usually welcome, but most dogs truly hate having their ears roughed up.

Solomon’s recommendation in Proverbs 26:17 is that you choose to stay out of trouble whenever you can avoid it. You may be tempted to intervene in someone else’s quarrel. And once in a while, it may be necessary. But be smart: Deciding to grab a dog by the ears often means your fingers will be bitten.

Every person faces life situations that are stressful, challenging, difficult – even dangerous. The Lord promises Christians grace and wisdom in great measure to navigate these troubles.

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The listening ear

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. ~Proverbs 25:11-12 NIV

JudgeThere is only one kind of gold. But there are two ways of receiving it.

First, there are “apples of gold in settings of silver.” That seems short for a really fancy kind of jewelry. More importantly, it parallels a just ruling.

Imagine the satisfaction of learning that a judge rules in your favor. That means that he really listened to you, and respected your argument.

The second is a liittle less satisfying, and a lot more difficult to do. Consider what “the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear” means. Again, it ends up being beautiful jewelry. But the circumstances are very different.

Merriam-Webster defines a rebuke as “to speak in an angry and critical way to someone.” Listening to a judge speak to you in this manner could be humiliating. But the difference here is the wise judge, and the listening ear. That’s a rare combination!

Are you listening – really listening – when someone gives you solid advice? If you are, it could be just what you need to hear.

Don’t falter!

If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? ~Proverbs 24:10-12 NIV

evangelism“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

~Charles H. Spurgeon

This passage is aimed squarely at you. And it’s promising great reward to those who obey. The Lord promises here to repay you, no matter what you’ve invested. No matter how much it cost.

Have you learned how to share the Gospel? There are several reputable organizations that will train you. Some will even take you out and show you how it works.

Maybe you’re one of the few Christians who is comfortable sharing your faith. If that’s true, good for you!

Learn to “give a defense for the hope that is within you.” Others may be counting on it.

 

Don’t wear youself out getting rich

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. ~Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV

Get Rich QuickThis passage caused us a great deal of trouble, until we understood it properly.

It says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich…” and “do not trust your own cleverness.” More importantly, look what it does not say: “Do not get rich.”

These verses don’t prohibit you – or anyone else – from becoming truly wealthy. After all, the Bible is full of references to people of great riches: Solomon, Abraham, and others. Scripture doesn’t prohibit gaining personal wealth. In fact, your talent may well be making money.

What this passage does prevent is wasting your time, going after something that’s unlikely to happen. 

Chasing after money isn’t worth it. It’s something that all too easily disappears.

Keep your good name

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. ~Proverbs 22:1 NIV

Business NamesHosting a domain, starting a new business, or having a baby are all situations that require thought. When beginning a business, the owner should spend some time thinking about the name. After all, a business is only as good as its name, they say.

The same idea goes for your personal name. Your parents may have had something in mind when they selected your birth name. But even if they didn’t, you still have a reputation in your community or among members of your church.

The New Living Translation renders this as, “Choose a good reputation over great riches…” The implication is that one should actively think about the logical possible outcomes of a decision. Will this idea to make money affect your good reputation, or not?

Secondly, this verse offers insight on wealth creation versus your own value. Will chasing that silver or gold cause someone to think differently about you?

There is nothing wrong with creating wealth. The Bible is full of accounts of men and women who’ve earned their share along the way. But there are many traps to be aware of, too.

This is an important question – especially if you’re young. Are you thoughtfully choosing to maintain your reputation? Once it’s lost, a good name may be very difficult to find.

Don’t shut your ears

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. ~Proverbs 21:13 NIV

Not ListeningWhen you shut your ears, you’re not listening. And if you listen just for a moment, you can hear the cry of the poor.

One sure way to provide assistance is to send your money to a reputable group or organization that is working with them. Another is to pray for those less fortunate than you.

But the real danger here is having God not listen to us. Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.” Maybe not today, but at some point in the future, you’ll cry out to God. And you’ll wonder why he’s not listening.

The poor will always cry. Are you listening?

Don’t be led astray

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. ~Proverbs 20:1 NIV

water splash in a glassThis verse is a simple reminder that wine and beer are dangerous.

They’re described as a mocker and a brawler. Just let them get out of hand, and both will pick fights with you, whether or not you want one.

“Mock” and “brawl” both have specific meanings:

Mock: to laugh at or make fun of (someone or something), especially by copying an action or a way of behaving or speaking, or to criticize and laugh at (someone or something) for being bad, worthless, or unimportant.

Brawl: to fight noisily, usually in a public place.

Sounds like a person asking for trouble, doesn’t it?

But this verse doesn’t strictly prohibit drinking. The second half of the passage says, “whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” If we are seeking wisdom, we won’t be “led astray” by them.

The Bible is full of examples for us on the subject of drinking. They have been used both for and against it. But Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”

Regardless of your intentions, beer, wine, and other hard liquor does present challenges. Face them wisely.