The nineteenth chapter of proverbs begins by speaking to us of how it is better to live a life of integrity. The chapter goes on to speak to us concerning what it means to walk out this integrity speaking to us of how we blame God.. of how we are attracted to money.. of foolish living.. and of the glory of forgiveness, generosity, love and the fear of the Lord.
"Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool." (v1)
Is there a better thing to aspire to than integrity.. living an external life that is consistent with our innermost being challenges and inspires me.
"When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord." (v3)
Interesting how this verse speaks of God being blamed for a thing He had no part in. I think God has been blamed by so much of our folly. Sometimes we err when we confuse God with life.
"Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts. All a poor man's brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him!" (v6-7)
Verses like these teach us about the nature of wealth, popularity and influence and seem to be more reflective of those high school cliques that only the popular kids belonged to. So good to remember that Jesus hung out with those who were not popular, rich or influential.
"It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury, much less for a slave to rule over princes." (v10)
Not sure that I fall into this same category but I once dreamed of managing a large software team.. in 2000 the dream came true when I was promoted and began managing 70 people.. then the dream turned into a nightmare.. I was not a good fit for the position.. be careful what you wish for.. some of our dreams can be a bit foolish
"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." (v11)
It can be so hard to forgive when someone offends you. This verse turns forgiveness inside out and shows us how we can model Christ-likeness when we simply overlook an offense.
"A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord." (v13-14)
This verse speaks deeply to me of the impact that our family has on us.. there is nothing more precious to us than our spouses and children.. it tears us up when they hurt. One of the hardest things I have ever experienced was watching my children grieve when their mother died.
"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." (v17)
This verse to me says so much about giving.. it says to be generous.. it gives the poor as our focus of giving.. it equates this kind of giving as unto the Lord.. and it says that God sees and repays us when we do it. So much of Christian giving these days is focused on everything but the poor.. take this verse to heart and be generous when you tip the poor waitress.. and find a local food pantry to lavishly donate to.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." (v21)
It is good to have plans as long as we are flexible in living them out. Comforting to know that God will adjust our plans to conform to His purposes of making us like Jesus.
"What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar." (v22)
These days much is made of macho men.. we adore them on the football field and love to watch them in the movies. This verse tells us that the hallmark of a real man is love.
"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm." (v24)
Much has been said of the fear of the Lord.. the way that I think of it is someone who factors the Lord into every part of their life because the the overwhelming awe they have towards Him.
Please click here to catch some of my other ponderings on the book of Proverbs.