Proverbs – Life Skills
“Just because you think it doesn’t mean you always have to say it”, said my mom many years ago…more than once. She didn’t always follow her own advice when it came to some issues. When it came to protecting her faith, she spoke up. But she would soon realize that actions spoke louder than words. Walking in the Light of God showed love and respect for those seeking a better way. We can all learn from choosing our words wisely.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
This is, perhaps, the best known and most commonly quoted statement made by St. Francis of Assisi. It might surprise some to discover that he did not, in fact, say this. At least not as far as we know. Whether he said it or not, the idea has taken hold of the imagination of many, some who embrace it as great wisdom and some who reject it as compromise. While Francis never made the statement, it does reflect something of a Franciscan quality. However, the saint’s actual words were far more nuanced:
“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
The example of St. Francis of Assisi in these respects stand as a challenge to Christians today. In the face of our increasingly post-Christian context, we must resist the temptation to fight to sustain our place of power and privilege. In truth, such a position has largely compromised our authority and credibility before a watching world.
Instead, let us rediscover the radical life of peace, grace and love that was characterized by Christ and seek to live it. Perhaps then, in the light of a community of believers known for humility and love (rather than self-righteousness and bigotry), the words we proclaim will carry the credibility and authority worthy of the Christ we follow.
Our wisdom for today in this proverb gives us the details of quiet, peaceful living with each other while showing love and respect for all.
Note all the relational nuggets of life skills! Allow me to get you started;
“A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense
does more than a whack on the head of a fool.”
“Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!
“Those who return evil for good
will meet their own evil returning.”
“The one who knows much says little;
an understanding person remains calm.”
Proverbs 17, The Message
A Whack on the Head of a Fool
A meal of bread and water in contented peace
is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.
2 A wise servant takes charge of an unruly child
and is honored as one of the family.
3 As silver in a crucible and gold in a pan,
so our lives are assayed by God.
4 Evil people relish malicious conversation;
the ears of liars itch for dirty gossip.
5 Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator;
gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.
6 Old people are distinguished by grandchildren;
children take pride in their parents.
7 We don’t expect eloquence from fools,
nor do we expect lies from our leaders.
8 Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone;
any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.
9 Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!
10 A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense
does more than a whack on the head of a fool.
11 Criminals out looking for nothing but trouble
won’t have to wait long—they’ll meet it coming and going!
12 Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs
than a fool hellbent on folly.
13 Those who return evil for good
will meet their own evil returning.
14 The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam,
so stop it before it bursts.
15 Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
are equally abhorrent to God.
16 What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!
One Who Knows Much Says Little
17 Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
18 It’s stupid to try to get something for nothing,
or run up huge bills you can never pay.
19 The person who courts sin marries trouble;
build a wall, invite a burglar.
20 A bad motive can’t achieve a good end;
double-talk brings you double trouble.
21 Having a fool for a child is misery;
it’s no fun being the parent of a dolt.
22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
23 The wicked take bribes under the table;
they show nothing but contempt for justice.
24 The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
fools look for it everywhere but right here.
25 A surly, stupid child is sheer pain to a father,
a bitter pill for a mother to swallow.
26 It’s wrong to penalize good behavior,
or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others.
27 The one who knows much says little;
an understanding person remains calm.
28 Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.
HOW WISE ARE WE NOW? ARE WE THERE YET?
The more we learn the more we realize we need to learn.
Thank you, Lord, for your words of wisdom that teach us to use these words wisely. Help us to say only what is led by your Holy Spirit to say at the right time, right place and in the right spirit of love and respect for your created. All else is, well, foolish and self-driven that boomerangs back in grief and disrespect. That’s not what you want. So, help us.
In Jesus Name, Amen