The violence…

The wicked will be swept away by their own violence, according to this verse. God must have a big broom!

The New International Version says, “The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.” But that broom will overlook every person the Lord considers righteous! 

Why will the wicked be cleaned away like cobwebs? It’s really simple. They refuse to do the just thing. Which means they – the wicked – would rather do the unjust thing!

Keep this verse in mind the next time you have an important decision to make. And do the right thing.

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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 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.

Never put off ’till tomorrow…

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you. ~Proverbs 3:27-28 NASB

mark twain 2Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Never put off ’till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well,” by American humorist Mark Twain. 

While clever, it doesn’t mean quite the same thing as our verses from Proverbs. That’s because the wording is (intentionally) quite different. And words, they say, have meaning.

When you’re with a person who deserves good things, that’s the time to do them! Whether it is your brother or sister, or mother or father, doesn’t matter. Only your obedience to the Word of God does.

How are you doing today? Obeying the Word, or neglecting it?

Your ways are in full view of the Lord

Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. ~Proverbs 5:20-23 NIV

adultery2Proverbs 5 is a warning against getting involved in adultery, as is the following chapter. What is “adultery?” It’s typically defined as sexual relations between people who are not married.

The first Biblical prohibition of sexual activity outside of marriage is found in Exodus 20:14, which says clearly, “You shall not commit adultery.” That command is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:18.

Leviticus 20:10 lists adultery as a sin with serious consequences. Note here that both the man and the woman involved were to be punished equally for their disobedience to God’s law:

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife — with the wife of his neighbor — both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

Throughout the book of Jeremiah, the Lord accuses the Israelites of adultery. In Jeremiah 5:7-8, God contrasts his faithfulness with the unfaithfulness of his people:

Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife.

When Jesus speaks to this issue in Matthew 5:27-28, he raises the bar significantly:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So according to Jesus, adultery isn’t just a behavior. It’s actually a condition of the heart that leads to the behavior. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 15:19 when he says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

Whether you have adulterous thoughts or behavior, God can and will forgive you when you turn to him in humility. Ask him to remove such thoughts from you. Pray that he will give you the self-discipline to refrain from acting on such thoughts. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises that God is faithful in this, and every other regard:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Give me just enough

O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. ~Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT

Man PrayingThis chapter in the book of Proverbs begins by explaining that Agur, son of Jakeh, is the author of these sayings. He is also known as Agur ben Jakeh. Many Bible scholars conclude that because his name, Agur, actually means “gatherer” or “collector,” he may only have compiled these verses from other sources.

Agur’s prayer asks the Lord to help him strike a delicate balance in life: He wants integrity. And he wants just enough: Not too little, and not too much. Interestingly, he worries that having too much could lead him to deny God’s true role in his life.

Agur isn’t so concerned that having too little would put him in a bad position. Having too little might lead him to steal, which could have a negative effect on how others see the Lord.

Reflect on the lesson of Agur’s example today. It may cause you to re-examine your priorities. As you spend time in the word today and pray, what are you asking the Lord to do in your life? Are you asking for too much? Too little? Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the life balance he desires for you.

What to remove?

Take away the dross from silver, And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry. Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness. ~Proverbs 25:4-5 NKJV

DrossThe word “dross” derives from the Old English word “dros,” used to describe the scum produced when smelting metals, including silver. By the 15th century the term was commonly used to refer to rubbish in general. Dross is typically seen as a mass of solid impurities floating on top of molten metal.

These two verses give examples of situations where something must be removed before the desired result can be achieved. In the case of silver, it must be smelted and the dross removed before the silversmith can use it to make something valuable. With respect to a leader, only when wicked influences are removed can his/her leadership can be righteous and effective.

You cannot have a pure silver vessel till you have purified the silver; and no nation can have a king a public blessing till the wicked — all bad counsellors, wicked and interested ministers, and sycophants — are banished from the court and cabinet. When the wise and good only are the king‘s ministers and advisers, then the throne will be established in righteousness, and his administration be a universal blessing.
~Adam Clarke

What needs to be removed from your life to make you useful for service in God’s kingdom? As you spend time with the Lord in prayer and studying his word, ask your heavenly father to reveal to you things that should be taken away: sinful habits, disobedient thoughts or actions, unhealthy relationships. Determine to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading.