On Mother’s Day in 1995, when our kiddos were young and we were serving at Antioch Baptist Church in North Carolina, all the moms at church received a beautiful scroll inscribed with the last few verses from the thirty-first Proverb. The godly woman that we encounter in the last proverb recorded in God’s Story intimidates many women. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” This godly woman could have disheartened, overwhelmed, and intimidated me. She appears to be somewhat of a Christian Superwoman. But instead she encouraged me, and she should encourage you too because it is wonderful to learn from a role model like this.
Back then, my kiddos were too young to know or use the word “blessed” but I certainly felt blessed by their hugs and hand-drawn cards. God does not call mothers to be super-women but daughters of the King, and He wants us to know our true identity in Him. In the joy and strength that God supplies, we serve our family faithfully, loving our Lord without reserve. How thankful I am to the women in my life, including my own mom, who continually model this kind of beauty.
Proverbs 31:27-29 ESV
Even though some people are like those described in Proverbs 30:11-14, it is wise not to be like them. There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind.
It is better for us to be wise and to bless instead of curse the loving parents and others who care for us throughout life. We can think that we are doing okay, living life according to our own standards, but it is what God thinks that really matters. Are we “clean” on the outside but inside do we have a big mess? Do we seek to raise ourselves up by cutting others down? Agur, the author of Proverbs 30, shares these valuable lessons by using contrasts, and he leaves the choice up to us. Let’s not trick ourselves into believing that everything is all right. Instead let’s take our needs to Jesus who is faithful to cleanse us from everything in our lives that is not right. With fresh joy of being clean we can live to bless and encourage rather than go with the world’s flow of faultfinding and cursing.
Proverbs 30:11-14 ESV
A faithful, wisdom-heeding, do-righter is a blessed person. We can choose however, to be a stubborn, money-grubber who throws off restraint. If we do, we then also choose not to be blessed by God. Choices (good or bad) form our habits, and consequences (good or bad) follow our habits. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble… A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished… Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. Solomon was a very wise man and he chose to share his wisdom by writing many proverbs. God, may we too be wise people, learning from what Solomon wrote under Your inspiration. Amen.
Proverbs 28:14 NLT; Proverbs 28:20 NIV; Proverbs 29:18 NIV
Have you ever heard the saying, “too much of a good thing is not a good thing”? Well, Proverbs 27 says that too loud of a good thing (especially before noon) is not a good thing. If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. I learned this wise saying when we began our married life in an apartment in 1989 in Dallas. Our upstairs neighbor played the drums and even though he was part of a Christian band, when we heard the creative sounds from his drums too early in the morning (or late at night) it did not fall upon us like a blessing! A few years later we moved into our next apartment with three babies under three years old. I have a feeling that our “little blessings” who cried at various times of the day and night might not have always been a sweet sound to our new neighbors’ ears. But still, it is good to share goodness, so go ahead and bless your neighbors, just not too early or too loudly!
Proverbs 27:14 NIV
Every four years in the US it is a big election year. 2012 was one of those years, so whether I wanted it or not, the talk was of politics. Signs were posted for months, bumper stickers promoted or demoted nominees in clever ways, and speeches were written, evaluated and then debated. There were many candidates for various offices including the position of judge. Proverbs 24 has this to say about the person who holds that office: “A judge who says to the wicked, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations. But it will go well for those who convict the guilty; rich blessings will be showered on them.” May God give wisdom to those who hold political power to serve responsibly. And may our nation’s judges keep in mind that one day everything will be evaluated by the Judge who rules over all. God will not be bribed. He is not on any rung of the ladder of success, and He is not in need of anyone’s help to climb up. His judgment is right, and He will have the final say.
Proverbs 24:25 NLT
Several of the blessings found in God’s Story pertain to a specific person, like Abraham, or a certain nation, like Israel. But in the Book of Proverbs we read of how blessings follow choices and these have an impact on our lives and those of future generations. God desires right relationships. His insight is helpful and His ways can be learned. May we see things the way God does and live with uprightness of heart, making good choices, especially when it comes to the interactions within our families. The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them… If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness. An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. Understanding healthy family structures, including the importance of respect and honesty, can go a long way if one desires peaceful relationships. God-centered building blocks found in healthy families are much needed foundations for the growth of future generations. May our children be blessed as they follow in our ways as we walk humbly with God and honorably before them.
Proverbs 20:7, 20-21 NLT
Seeking good instruction, practicing trust in God, valuing discernment, are all healthy choices – decisions that lead to blessings and to living a blessed life. There is another way for us to choose but it is the path of folly (recklessness, senselessness, stupidity) and in the end there will be punishment. Fools go down that road. Sometimes we need to see the opposite to realize that going God’s way really is best. Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. God does not preprogram us; we get to choose. It is good to know not only what the choices are but also the consequences of those choices. Wisdom is a good teacher and the diligent student will often have an overflow of blessings.
As a new driver I made a lot of mistakes and our family car showed it with several dents and scratches. But I have never been more scared than on a Thursday night in 1982 when my friend and I were driving home from volunteering at Saginaw General Hospital. Midway across a large bridge we realized that I was driving the wrong way, against traffic. Although I had received a lot of driving instruction, I still needed more opportunities for practical application, and thanks be to God, He spared us that night from a serious accident. Experience is a very good teacher and in the more than thirty years of driving since then, I have not made that mistake again. I was an immature driver, but that night I grew up and matured real fast. In other non-driving areas of my life, I’ve learned from the same types of middle-of-the-bridge experiences. Jesus wants us to learn from our errors, not to relive them over and over. He offers us a way to go forward through God’s mercy. Let’s be wise to trust God’s ways.
Proverbs 16:20-22 NIV
Jesus says that whenever we feed those who are hungry it is as if we are feeding Him. When we are hungry and someone gives us some of their food then blessings flow. When we see someone who is hungry and we share with them, we both are blessed. The early church shared their meals with each other and the Book of Proverbs indicates that this is a good way to live life. Proverbs 14:21 encourages us to ask and identify, “Who is my neighbor?” It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor. Another way to say it is, “A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Want to be blessed? Share.
This simple concept can become a joyful way of life and all it takes is a little awareness of the needs of those around us in our local community and the needs of people all over the world. That is step one. Step two is to intentionally practice generosity. By trusting in the Lord, listening and obeying what He says, we are better equipped to know how and what to give. This life-style pattern can help us remain focused on the One who blesses us with the desire, the ability, and the means by which we can share.
Proverbs 14:21 NLT; Proverbs 22:9 HCSB
Wisdom calls out to all who will heed her counsel. “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor (another word for blessing) from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
That is pretty straightforward. If we choose to hate wisdom by going our own way, we hurt ourselves, and often those who care about us. One of the saddest things is the death of a relationship. God desires for our relationships to be restored and whole, including our relationship with Him. When we seek to live outside of God, the paths take us from full life and lead us to death. To live beyond the world’s wisdom, we need God’s wisdom. When we intentionally listen to instruction and actively apply it, we can live blessed. The Book of Proverbs is full of useful, relevant information that can guide us in God’s ways. We can be blessed physically, relationally, and spiritually. Healthy truths are not hidden from us, but are made available to us when we look. God wants our lives to succeed.
Proverbs 8:32-36 NIV
By comparing immoral relationships and healthy marriage, a lot of good practical advice is revealed in the fifth chapter of Proverbs. When it all gets boiled down, what comes up is one negative command – Do not commit adultery, and one positive command – Be faithful to your spouse. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Faithfulness leads to blessing, and blessing leads to rejoicing. God’s plan for fidelity within the husband and wife union is even better than we can imagine.
One of the most complex relationships is marriage, and a good marriage takes attention, effort, thought, time, and consideration – what some would call hard work. For a healthy, happy, and growing Christian marriage, mutual commitment to God and to each other is essential. Love like this is patient and kind. There is no room for rudeness and selfishness. If we add stubborn pride to the unhealthy mix of self-centeredness, we can create damaging barriers that can block the fountain of blessing from flowing. Respect and forgiveness are key factors in a blessed marriage. But even in the best relationship, misunderstandings will come, so it is wise to get good at making peace. Proverbs 5 suggests that there is no better gift than to grow old with the marriage partner of our youth. We can’t help but rejoice with a gift like this.
Proverbs 5:18 NLT
Proverbs are succinct statements that can bring about a change in thinking. Frequently, opposing views are presented so the informed reader can make decisions with more awareness of potential outcomes. Who other than Solomon could be better suited to be the primary author of the Book of Proverbs? I love how, at this point, God’s Story is divided into thirty-one chapters, a whole month’s worth of daily wisdom just waiting for us! Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold…She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed…The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
It is interesting that blessing often comes after wisdom is applied. God, Your Word is rich and You are so generous to give us truth that remains stable no matter if the economy rises or falls. Rather than anxiously looking at the stock market every day, we can look to Your Word and live a life that is profitable, alive like a healthy tree, and blessed. Wisdom and blessings go hand-in-hand. May we seek both like we are hunting for treasure. Amen.
Proverbs 3:13-14, 18, 33 ESV