A good name is to be chosen over great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord made them both. Proverbs 22:1-2 HCSB
There are some fathers who have told their sons, “Remember you represent our family name.” The implication is that the son should act appropriately and do what is right because his actions are a reflection on the whole family and its reputation. The same is true of Christians. We represent Jesus Christ and should conduct ourselves accordingly.
This proverb reminds us that we should seek a good name and favor over silver and gold. Both the rich and poor have the opportunity to be persons of honorable reputation and good character. Being a person who exemplifies graciousness and kindness is much more valuable than having great wealth.
Challenge: Would others say you are a person who has a good name and favor? Do you have a good reputation? How would others describe you? Pray that God would help you represent Christ’s name well and do what is right as you interact with others.
The one who gives to the poor will not be in need, but one who turns his eyes away will receive many curses. Proverbs 28:27 HCSB
I have shared this story before in a devotional, but it bears sharing again. Our family had gone on a mission trip/vacation to New York City. As a family we were walking down the crowded sidewalk. There were several people sitting on the sidewalk begging for money. I tried not to make eye contact with them and kept on walking. Turning around to make sure all my children were safe and coming along, I found my oldest daughter, Bethany, stopping at each person and putting a little change out of her own money in each person’s cup or hat who was begging. Bethany has always had a compassionate heart and has always been willing to go without so she could help others. I learned a valuable lesson from my daughter that day.
This Proverb encourages us to give to the poor and not turn our eyes away. Those who turn their eyes away are intentionally ignoring the needs of the poor. We need to be willing to share our resources and help others who are in need, trusting God to take care of our needs. This verse is not encouraging us to give away everything we have, but rather to be willing to give away what we do not need so that others may have what they need. If God has richly blessed us with resources, we should be willing to share with others.
Challenge: Look around your house and in your garage. I am sure you are like me and have a lot of “stuff” that you do not need. Are there people around you who are in need? Could you meet their needs with some of the resources you have? Give to the poor and trust God to provide for your needs.
One person gives freely, yet gains more, another withholds what is right, only to become poor. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water. Proverbs 11:24-25 HCSB
I can personally attest to the fact that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Over the years when I have been willing to give, even when I did not think I had the money or resources, I have always been blessed. Sometimes it has been monetarily, but more often I have been blessed because God has allowed me to be a part of His plan to bless someone else. I have also experienced times when I have not given because I did not think I had the resources, only to find that I had even less resources and struggled to make ends meet. It is important to learn God’s principle of giving.
God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. There is no greater gift than what God has given to us. We should have that same spirit of giving. When we have an opportunity to give and bless others we should do so as the Holy Spirit gives us direction. As we give we will be blessed and enriched in many different ways. To give generously means to give without expecting anything in return and without concern for personal blessings. To withhold what is right means to be stingy and to keep what could be given to someone in need.
Challenge: Look for a way to give of your time, talents, and resources to help someone this week. Would others consider you to be a generous person? The more you give, the more you will get. It may not be financially, but you will receive many blessings as you take your eyes off of yourself and focus on meeting the needs of others.
Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8 HCSB
Dr. O. S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources, an agency that provides insurance and retirement plans for Southern Baptist ministers, has written a book entitled, “Antology”. He begins his book by asking, “What on earth is “antology” and what does it have to do with the issue of retirement? Solomon addressed this subject in a unique way when he challenged us to go to the ant … consider her ways and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6-8). The ant “stores” her provisions in the summer and “gathers” her provisions in harvest for a very important reason. Winter is coming! King Solomon reminds us that much can be learned from studying the ant as it particularly applies to our own winter season of life.”
I have heard it said that one should tithe at least 10% of his income to the church, save at least 10%, put at least 15% into a retirement account, and live on the other 65%. Solomon uses the illustration of an ant to help people realize the importance of making preparation for the future. Many individuals have not been paid well and have not been able to set money aside for retirement. Consequently, they find it difficult to make ends meet in retirement because they did not save money incrementally for the winter season of life.
Challenge: Be wise and plan for the future. Some would say that we must only trust God, however we must also follow God’s Word and His Word clearly encourages us to plan for the future. Trusting God does not mean to be idle. He expects us to do what we can, to work hard, and to save. Have you begun to make provision for the future and retirement? Go to the ant…consider her ways and be wise.
There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 HCSB
My first job was being a paperboy for the Gainesville Sun in Gainesville, Florida. After the papers were delivered to my house, I then had to fold the papers and put a rubber band around each one. If it was raining I placed them in plastic bags. I would then load up my papers in the big basket mounted on the front of my bike. Riding down the street, I would throw the papers in the driveways. Once a month I had to walk house to house and collect the money from my customers. It was hard work but very fulfilling as I saved money to buy a ping pong table.
This Proverb reminds us that we all profit from hard work. Many times hard work will test our physical and emotional abilities. Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Famous Football coach Vince Lombardi said, “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.”
Challenge: If you want to succeed, pray for God’s guidance and then work hard to accomplish your dreams. To be known as a hard worker is a great compliment. Pray that God will always give you work that will allow you to live out your faith and share the good news of Jesus Christ with those in your circle of influence.
The slacker craves yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4 HCSB
I recently watched a television show on one of the news networks in which the show host was interviewing a person who had been receiving unemployment checks from the government for a year an half. The show host asked the person, “Why don’t you get a job?”, to which he responded, “I want to pursue my dream of becoming a musician in a band”. Pressing further, the show host asked, “If you were offered a job making $80,000 a year would you take it?”, to which he responded, “No”. This person might be described as a slacker who seemingly wanted hard-working tax payers to pay his salary so he could pursue his dream. A diligent person would work hard to earn the necessary funds to pursue his dream.
The writer of this proverb reminds us that even in Old Testament times there were people who were slackers. A slacker is someone who perhaps has a burning desire but is unwilling to exert the energy to accomplish his goal. In contrast, the person who is diligent is willing to labor and work hard. The diligent person does not like idleness or get-rich-quick schemes. There is a sense of satisfaction when one works hard and accomplishes his goal.
Challenge: Don’t be a slacker. If you are physically and mentally able, work hard and earn the money needed to support you and your family. God is pleased when one works hard and uses his God-given talents to earn a living and to help others.
Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9 HCSB
My wife is a volunteer for A Woman’s Choice, an agency dedicated to helping women who are considering an abortion to make a wise choice to instead choose life. This organization is not only helping women to preserve life, it also helps them pursue educational goals and teaches them good parenting skills.
A Woman’s Choice serves as a voice for those who have no voice. They are speaking up for the unborn. There are many who do not seem to have a voice in our culture, including the homeless, those who are down and out, the destitute, the working poor, those who are afflicted or uneducated, immigrants, those in prison, minorities, senior adults, and those with handicaps. These words of wisdom from Solomon encourage us to speak up for those who need someone to take a stand for them. Too many times there are people who prey on people who have no voice and take advantage of them.
Challenge: What are you doing to take a stand to speak up for those who do not have a voice? Consider volunteering at a homeless shelter or with another ministry that is speaking up for those who have no voice. Pray for those who are less fortunate and need someone to be their advocate. Check out A Women’s Choice at www.awomanschoice.org.
Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue, only a moment. Proverbs 12:17-19 HCSB
Dr. James Dobson tells a story of a little boy who had ears that stuck out from the side of his head. This little boy came to Sunday School as a guest and one of the other boys made the comment, “Look, his ears look like Jeep fenders.” The boy laughed along with all the other boys, but he never returned to Sunday School.
It is good to speak the truth but not at the expense of hurting other people. The words the little boy said about the other little boy were spoken rashly. What was said was reckless and inconsiderate. Even though the ridiculed boy may have laughed, deep inside those words hurt like a piercing sword. Our words have the power and ability to hurt or to bring healing and encouragement. It is right to tell the truth, but sometimes it is best to remain silent.
Challenge: Be careful what you say. Too many times there are false and accusing words said about and to other people. Telling lies will always bring wrath and punishment. It is important to always tell the truth. God is Truth and truth will endure forever.
A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence. Proverbs 11:13 HCSB
One might assume that a church might be immune from gossip, but over my 40 years in ministry I have overheard far too much gossip. Just recently a man came to my office and told me that someone had said they had heard me say something and he wanted to know if it was true. I quickly told him that what he had heard was not the truth. He said he didn’t think it was true and wanted to go to the source and determine the truth. People often hear a portion of a conversation and then tell someone else, who then tells someone else, and before too long what is being told is not even close to what was originally said.
Gossip is defined as finding joy in spreading false information. Gossip always causes damage. It reveals secrets and harms reputations. Gossip can also cause an argument to intensify and get worse. Believers should eliminate gossip and walk away when they hear others gossiping. Those who habitually gossip seem to have a desire and hunger to get the latest news on others and then share it. Believers can help defuse and disarm those who like to gossip by refusing to listen.
Challenge: Think of specific ways you can take a stand against gossip. Are you enabling others to gossip when you eagerly listen to the latest gossip? Make a commit to eliminate and defuse gossip about others. Always make sure you have permission to share the truth from its source before repeating information.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 HCSB
I usually look for ways to encourage others and build them up. My parents always said, “If you can not say something good about someone, then do not say anything at all.” There is a generous selection of cards in my office; birthday cards, anniversary cards, sympathy cards, words of encouragement cards, get well cards, and even ministry appreciation cards. I like to send cards, Facebook birthday messages, and text messages to bring a good word to encourage others. There are many who seem to look for the negative in others and never have anything positive to say.
When we hear the words “Life and Death,” they evoke visions and thoughts of what is vibrant and non-productive. The tongue has the power of good and bad; life and death. Fruit is what is produced by the tree or plant. Life and death are the fruits of the tongue. The tongue has the power to encourage and bring life to others, but it can also bring cruel words that tend to destroy and bring death to others.
Challenge: What fruit are you producing? Life or death? How are you using the power of your tongue for good or to harm those in your realm of influence? Use your tongue to bring positive words and encouragement to others.