Proverbs 22:1-16: Practical Wisdom!
September 8, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Isaiah 21-23, Proverbs 22:1-16, Luke 22:24-30, Hebrews 5
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (22:1).
A reputation ruined is very hard, but by God’s grace, to rebuild. Therefore, do not focus on getting rich; focus on being faithful.
“Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all” (22:2).
Sometimes rich and poor seem like they live in different universes. But there is one who is Lord of them all: God. And before him, all—powerful and powerless, rich and poor—must one day bow.
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (22:3).
It is wise to see danger ahead down the road of life and avoid it. It is not being unspiritual to plan to avoid difficulties.
“Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life” (22:4).
Where does real humility come from and what is real humility? Humility in essence is fearing God. And the result of such a fear of God is fruitfulness. The fear of God does not always lead to material prosperity in this life, but in the perspective of eternity it is riches and honor and life.
“In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them” (22:5).
Giving in to sin, in small and large ways, can sometimes seem attractive. If sin was not pleasant, it would not tempt us. Remember then the consequences to help you fight in the day of temptation: with wickedness come snares and pitfalls. If you’re interested in preserving your life, stay away, with all the power that God gives you, from sin.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (22:6).
Again, Proverbs is generalizing a principle that is normally true in most circumstances. Train a child when he is young and when he is old, he will stick to the same pattern. Therefore, the most strategic long-term ministry in the church is children’s ministries. And the most strategic investment you can make, if you are a parent, is in your children.
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (22:7).
Sadly, this often the case. Therefore, do what you can to avoid going into debt!
“Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken” (22:8).
We can bemoan those who act with injustice in the way they seem to “get away with it.” But the truth is that, long term, the very unjust rod they wield will be broken. God will not be mocked. Judge by the clock of eternity.
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” (22:9).
When people ask you to give, it is easy to feel annoyed. Why are they asking me for money? But the right way to think about it is that to be able to give is a great blessing to the giver. Therefore, be generous!
“Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended” (22:10).
How true this is! If you see conflict, difficulty, and relational friction, likely as not there is someone or some people in the background mocking and spreading nastiness. How to deal with it? Warn a divisive person once, then warn him again, and after that have nothing to do with him (Titus 3:10).
“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend” (22:11).
How do you get on the good side of those in authority or power? It is not by lying or buttering them up. It is by speaking the truth but with good intentions and using gracious words.
“The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful” (22:12).
Knowledge and wisdom are from God; he keeps watch over it. One of the signs of a society under judgment is increasing lack of common sense about what is true. Those who are unfaithful to God and each other will find that even their words become frustrated. What a comment on some forms of postmodernism today!
“The sluggard says, ‘There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!’” (22:13).
Laziness reasons like this! I can’t do such-and-such because it is too dangerous or too difficult. There is always a reason not to do something. “There’s a lion outside!”
“The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit; a man who is under the LORD’s wrath falls into it” (22:14).
Beware of adultery; flee from adultery. It is a deep pit. If you have committed adultery, humble yourself under God’s hand and earnestly seek his forgiveness.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away” (22:15).
This proverb should not be misused to condone child brutality, of course, but still it should be said. On the other hand, behind this is a biblical view of personhood which should be underlined. We are not born innocent and gradually corrupted. We are born depraved and need the grace of God and training in godliness. Discipline is good for children, and for us all.
“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty” (22:16).
So many people assume that the way to get rich is to cheat and connive. It is not so, or at least not normally so. Oppressing the poor and giving gifts to the rich to try to buy their favor will only lead to poverty. Instead, work hard, do all your work as for the Lord, and trust him with the results.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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