Proverbs 22:28-23:9

Here are more nuggets of wisdom from the book of ‘Proverbs’. We are continuing to listen to the ‘sayings of the wise’:

(28; see also 15:25 and 23:10). This was about justice and protecting property rights. But I am also mindful that we keep moving moral ‘’boundary’’ stones in our society. It is both foolish and dangerous to defy God in this way. We must inevitably pay for doing so.

(29) Here is a principle that is generally true: a good, skilled worker will gain recognition and promotion. When you want to employ someone for a particular role, you look for the best qualified person you can find. You take up references. You are hardly likely to give a job and a salary to someone who is lazy and unproductive, and shoddy in their approach. ‘’Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don’t take a back seat to anyone.’’ The Message.

(23: 1-3) The point here is that if a ‘’ruler’’ or other important figure asks you out for a meal, take care. He may be testing you with a view to asking you to do some service for him. So, be self-controlled and don’t lose the opportunity of advancement through careless over-indulgence. ‘’When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite.’’ The Message. (There is also a time to ask, ‘Why is this person being so generous and friendly to me?’ Don’t switch off your ‘discernment antennae’. Someone may be setting you up in some way.)

(4, 5) The goal of your life should not be to become rich. If wealth comes your way, then steward it wisely. But money is transient. It can easily be lost, and you can’t take it with you. It’s not something to build your life on. ‘’Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder.’’ The Message.

(6-8) These verses are, again, well expressed in The Message: ‘’Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special. He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself; he’ll say, ‘’Eat! Drink!’’ but won’t mean a word of it. His miserly serving will turn your stomach when you realize the meal’s a sham.’’ In terms of hospitality, the spirit of the person communicates something powerful, and not just what they put in front of you on the table. Someone who isn’t truly generous-hearted won’t be much joy to be around.

(9) There is a need for discernment in speaking to people; in knowing when to speak and when to be silent. Wise words will be wasted on some. It will be ‘casting pearls’ before ‘swine’. The precious words won’t be wanted or heeded. They will be trampled underfoot. People who will not receive feedback impoverish themselves. They cut themselves off from the possibility of growth and improvement.

Prayer: Lord I recognise that, more than cleverness, I need to have the gift of your wisdom in order to navigate my life through all the dangers of this sin-cursed world. Please give me in plentiful supply what I so obviously lack and desperately need.