RAF: Sweetness of speech is not flattery, lying or failing to deal in complete truthfulness. It is rather the attitude in which our communication is carried out. Would we persuade, or simply hammer our view home? Would we win or keep a friend, or are we simply after stating the case? Jesus never shrunk back from delivering the whole truth – but He was no man’s enemy, even though they were His. Father, teach me this holy skill. How I would rather thunder out my way, than persuade by a heart set on blessing the other. How I want to be right, more than righteous. Deliver me. See: Verses 23 & 24.
2 – “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31, ESV)
RAF: Experience is valuable.
3 – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33, ESV)
RAF: There is a form of randomness on our level, but not on God’s.
4 – “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3, ESV)
RAF: It is in the heat, in the furnace that our hearts reveal the dross still in them. That the impurities rise to the surface that they may be removed. We do not enjoy the fire. We would rather remain un-assaulted by the trials. But then our sins remain hidden, and still dangerous to our own souls as well as to other’s.
5 – “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, guard my lips in this matter. Make me compassionate over the sins and failings of others, rather than indulging my flesh in repeating their errors to others. Let me love them better. Let me learn to cover their sin. Let me obtain your heart – you, who keeps our confessions in the deepest of confidences, and though you witness my sins a thousand times a day, do not run off to tell others, but cover it in love.
6 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1, ESV)
RAF: Isolation is a sign of selfishness, not service to the Kingdom. Those who isolate themselves demonstrate they do not want to wrestle with the give & take & accommodation of love. It is a lack of sound judgment.
7 – “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2, ESV)
RAF: If you enter conflict or debate, without truly attempting to understand where the other person is coming from – you’re a fool. You’re just there to speak your own mind, and assume you have all understanding already. Father, keep me back from a prejudging mind. From thinking I know it all before I’ve even heard the other views.
8 – “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4, ESV)
RAF: Discerning what a man means by the words he speaks can be a task that requires us to go very deep before we arrive at understanding. Wise men speak with their meaning as close to the surface as possible. Father, teach me to speak with the utmost clarity. Your Gospel deserves nothing less. As your ambassadors, we must seek absolute clarity at all times. See: Col. 4:3-4.
9 – “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Proverbs 18:8, ESV)
RAF: Oh how we love gossip. The feeling of superiority over the dirt of others.
10 – “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination.” (Proverbs 18:11, ESV)
RAF: Wealth gives imaginary security.
11 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13, ESV)
RAF: Father, forgive me. How very often I have been just this foolish, just this shameful. Help me to listen, listen, LISTEN!
12 – “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19, ESV)
RAF: We will not let go of offenses. And wherever we will not let go, that will be our prison, for we can go no further.
13 – “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22, ESV)
RAF: If this is true (and it is) then I must conclude that I must be favored by God above all living men.
14 – “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 20:10, ESV)
RAF: Dishonesty comes many different ways. Placing more weight upon our own works and word and character than is right, or measuring others with a less than objective eye. Either one is an abomination. Father, keep me back from it. Please.
15 – “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” (Proverbs 20:12, ESV)
RAF: So use them both!
16 – “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” (Proverbs 20:27, ESV)
RAF: Failing to examine ourselves, to inquire into our own interior life, our thoughts, motives and desires – is to live in darkness. God has given us this faculty that we might know ourselves, and seek His work deep within, not just on the surface. Many a man knows his actions need mending. Few take the time or effort to find what is behind their own actions. To use God’s provided lamp in shedding light there. That we might expose all things to Him – for His cleansing and correcting work.
17 – “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1, ESV)
RAF: Troubled by leadership – civil or ecclesiastical? Pray. It is not an idle exercise like complaining is. Go to where something can actually be done. Pray.
18 – “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” (Proverbs 21:4, ESV)
RAF: Oh, how we need to understand the lenses through which we view things. Father, so often I have no idea of my own presuppositions, prejudices, constructs, experiences, cultures and slants. I have no idea that the light I am shining on things is one that has the filter of my haughtiness over it. Let me see things through your eyes – through your truth, through your word. Lest I color everything with the film of my sin, and assume that is truth.
19 – “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9, ESV)
RAF: Sometimes, men withdraw for this very reason. Many a wife would do well to consider whether or not the distance that has grown between she and her husband may not be owing directly to this. See: Verse 19.
And too, precious Jesus, are there times when you seem to withdraw, because your people have become contentious and quarrelsome? Does the dew of your Spirit’s presence lay far from us because we are a churning people, at rest neither with your truth, your people, your providence or your agenda. Forgive us. Please return in the fullest intimacy. We are lonely for your closeness. You’ve not left the house – but we’ve stopped seeking you out.
20 – “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21, ESV)
RAF: Righteousness sought apart from kindness will result in hardness, legalism, intractability, and frustrated anger with self and others. Father, never let me separate the two. Never let me think that there is a true righteousness apart from kindness. How I fail at this so often.
21 – “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.” (Proverbs 21:27, ESV)
RAF: Woe to us when we try to bribe God. When we enter into the right duties of religion in an effort to manipulate Him or buy His favors. He will treat it as an abomination.
22 – “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4-5, ESV)
RAF: The accumulation of material wealth is not a right goal. It is purely temporal. You are not.
Father, how easily I go down this path, and make the possession of temporal, earthly goods something to consume my time and effort. Free me from it. Make me to pour all that I have and am into the advancement of your kingdom, within myself and others. Show me the way of true wisdom in this regard.
23 – “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” (Proverbs 24:11, ESV)
RAF: What a paradigm for evangelism!
24 – “What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end.” (Proverbs 25:7b-10, ESV)
RAF: In conflict with another: a. Don’t assume what you’ve seen is necessarily the entire truth. Investigate. Question, before you accuse. b. Try to resolve things privately first. c. Do not be quick to reveal other’s secrets, to expose what others have said or done – because if you were wrong, you’ll bear it for a long, long time. Even if you were right, who will trust you in the future?
25 – “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” (Proverbs 25:17, ESV)
RAF: Over-familiarity can kill a friendship.
26 – “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” (Proverbs 25:20, ESV)
RAF: Beware of applying trite remedies to deep sorrows. Pat answers are often felt like insults.