Proverbs 10:19-23

In Proverbs 10:19-23 Solomon continues teaching us about the difference between righteousness and wickedness.  He begins by reminding us that our words can get us into trouble.  “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” For many people, the more they talk the more they will sin. There is much more potential sin in talking than in listening. It is hard to control our words.  But words matter, they matter a lot.  And we have to figure out how to keep them in check.  Our mother’s advice – ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything’ – certainly does align with Solomon’s advice.

What we say to one another is very important. “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” The words that the righteous one speaks are full of goodness and benefit, like choice silver. For many people, the greatest riches they treasure in their heart are the kind and encouraging things others have said to them.  I’m sure you, like me, can think of some of those precious things that others have said that made your day.  But the other side is true as well.  A heart filled with wickedness often speaks words that cut down and destroy.  And the impact on the fool is severe.

There are many who have been blessed with riches and are wise enough to receive those riches as God’s blessing. They understand that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes from the One who is owner of all, and designer of the world we live in.  We are a little part of God’s economy – it is His world and His plans are what happen “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.“ To receive riches from God is to be blessed; to have riches without the sorrow that often come with them is an even greater blessing.  Riches, and in particular money, can be a root of evil.  So being blessed must be balanced with the responsibility to recognize the source and keep it in perspective.

Solomon tells us that the fool regards evil as entertainment, or as sport. Not only does he do it for enjoyment, but there is also a competitive aspect to evil among fools, with each trying to outdo the other. “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” The man or woman of wisdom sees evil for what it is and avoids it. A wise person puts his efforts into understanding and sharing that with those in his patch.  Fools destroy those around them with evil, but the wise build up and encourage those they touch with God’s wisdom which leads to blessing and righteousness.  What a stark contrast.

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