A devotion on PROVERBS 27
17 Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.
Below are 6 highlights from this wonderful chapter:
A. LORD WILLING
1 Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring.
Even talking about plans for tomorrow can disclose a boastful way of thinking that we are in charge of the times. James picks up the sentiment from this passage and teaches us a humbling discipline, “Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:15. Practice that in your life.
B. PRAISE WHERE PRAISE IS DUE
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth— a stranger, and not your own lips.
21 A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and a man for the words of his praise.
19 As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.
If you are prone to praising yourself, this passage asks you to cease forthwith. If there is the stuff of praise in you, people will see it and the Lord will ensure that you get it. Do not grovel for it. Do not work for it. Moreover, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1.
When you do receive praise from men, say a simple thank you and practice turning it around to praise to God. Say a simple thank you and then immediately pull him into the conversation and lay that praise at his feet. What might that look like? If someone praises you for a talent, say “Thank you, isn’t it amazing that he deposits talents in each of us?” or “Thank you, yet he is the master painter, gardener, etc.” Drop the habit of responding to a compliment with, “well, actually I’m not that really good,” or whatever other lame response you might have. That false humility sounds like you’re groveling for further praise. Say a simple thank you and move along.
C. GROUND FOOL, ANYONE?
3 A stone is heavy and sand, a burden,
but aggravation from a fool outweighs them both.
22 Though you grind a fool
in a mortar with a pestle along with grain,
you will not separate his foolishness from him.
A fool is foolish through and through. Every aspect of his soul – his will, his affections, his mind, his passions, his emotions, and his desires – betrays that. Minimize your dealings with such a one. You would be equally foolish to engage him in life’s affairs and more so if you think you can change him. Trust God, he knows – you will never separate his foolishness from him and the aggravation he serves is bottomless.
D. THE OBESE SOUL
7 A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.
My friend Laura would literally practice this when feeding dinner to her picky family. She would wait and wait till they were so hungry they could eat a boot. Then she wouldn’t have to listen to griping about dinner.
There is no doubt that we live in affluent cultures where there is abundance of stuff. Aptly, my friend Mick used to call it cargo. This can cause obesity of the soul where our will, our intellect and our emotions sit around unchallenged as we gorge ourselves and our bottomless appetites. In this case, familiarity breeds contempt and waste abounds as the cargo keeps coming at us and we receive it. We end up being brats and raising brats who also want to consume, consume, consume. That mentality has landed us in a financial situation whereby people would rather stay home and collect “free” money from the government than go to work. We have a workplace crisis and employers and businesses are hurting for employees.
Overcoming this mindset calls for personal discipline and self-control to swim upstream in a culture where the sludge is flowing swiftly downstream. Help us, Holy Spirit.
E. NO INBREEDING
10 Don’t abandon your friend or your father’s friend,
and don’t go to your brother’s house in your time of calamity;
better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
God frequently calls us to leave the comfort zone of family. This is in preparation for life in heaven. There will be no families there as we know them. Imagine that your precious deceased mother will be as special to you in heaven as Benaiah in the Old Testament, and as your Christian brother from Bengal. That makes you bristle, doesn’t it. There will be no marriage and no giving in marriage. Your spouse won’t even be your spouse in heaven. I posit that sure you’ll be happy to see them but not any more than you’ll be happy to meet and live with brothers and sisters from throughout the generations from all over the world. What you’ll be really happy to see is your God. That’s what your heart pines for.
In the meantime, he calls you to be a brother or sister to a stranger here on earth and to learn to nurture friendship. How are you doing in that department? How can you improve? Abundant blessings await you there.
18 Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and whoever looks after his master will be honored.
23 Know well the condition of your flock, and pay attention to your herds,
24 for wealth is not forever; not even a crown lasts for all time.
25 When hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grain from the hills is gathered in,
26 lambs will provide your clothing, and goats, the price of a field;
27 there will be enough goat’s milk for your food—
food for your household and nourishment for your female servants.
This wonderful passage calls us to prioritize our work and to ensure that it is in good condition. If you’re a farmer, ensure all your livestock are healthy and safe. Every day. If you’re a doctor or a teacher, ensure your continuing education is up to date so you are current and relevant. If you are a stay at home mum, make sure your home is well kept and your children are being raised in the ways of the Lord. Work put in now ensures future dividends that will continue to pay out in the future and sustain your home life. This is not a passage to neglect your home life at the expense of your very important work. It is one that teaches you to get your work life in order before you comfy up at home.