Today we glean some more wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Here are a few thoughts from Proverbs 14 in the Message Bible.
Vs.1. A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.
If you are wise you will build something solid, strong and lasting. A fool tears down whatever they end up building. This is a good leadership challenge. Am I a wise or a foolish leader?
Vs.2. Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.
When you do what is right you show that you fear God. When you choose to do what is wrong you are despising God – thinking lightly of him or mocking his judgment. No wonder the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (see vs.26-27).
He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him.
Have a healthy fear of God by avoiding evil and walking in integrity. The fear of the Lord provides security, safety and life.
Vs.3. The talk of fools is a rod for their backs, but the words of the wise keep them out of trouble.
Your mouth will either get you in trouble or keep you from it. Be slow to speak!
Vs.4. An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable.
Where there is productivity there will be messes to clean up. You can’t have it both ways (no problems/messes and productivity).
Vs.6. A mocker seeks wisdom and never finds it, but knowledge comes easily to those with understanding.
Your attitude often determines how much wisdom you will acquire.
Vs.8. The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves.
Wise people think and look ahead. They don’t just live for the moment. Anticipate the future before it comes. Fools don’t and often end up being trapped or deceived by their short-sightedness.
Vs.9. Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.
Wise people listen to their conscience and respond to guilt appropriately. Fools ignore this important emotion.
Vs.10. Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.
Only you alone know the full extent of what’s happening inside of you – whether it is bitterness or joy.
Vs.11. The house of the wicked will perish, but the tent of the godly will flourish.
In the longer term, the godly will flourish and the wicked will be destroyed.
Vs.12. There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
The right path isn’t always the obvious one. Often it is the path ‘less travelled’ by others. Take the high road, the narrow road and the road less travelled. In the end it will make all the difference in the world! What path are you on – the easy path? Our own heart is deceptive. What often seems right to the natural mind can lead to death.
Vs.15-16. Only simpletons believe everything they are told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence.
Don’t be so gullible! Not everything you are told is true or right. Carefully consider everything you hear and think about each step you take. Wise people are cautious. They don’t plunge ahead foolishly. Give thought - careful planning, consideration and contemplation - to everything you do and every direction you take. This is wisdom and prudence.
Vs.17. Those who are short-tempered do foolish things, and schemers are hated.
Be slow to become angry and you’ll avoid doing foolish things.
A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.
Anger and foolishness go together.
Vs.21. It is sin to despise one's neighbors; blessed are those who help the poor.
Be someone who helps the poor and needy. Reach out and do them good.
Vs.22. If you plot evil, you will be lost; but if you plan good, you will be granted unfailing love and faithfulness.
Makes plans to do good! You will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.
Vs.23. Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!
Be a diligent worker not a busy talker! Don't just talk or think about it. Do it. Hard work brings profit and reward.
Vs.26-27. Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a place of refuge for their children. Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.
Fear God. It will be to you a life-giving fountain (giving you true and satisfying ‘life’) and help you escape from the snares of death (the allurements of sin).
Vs.28. A growing population is a king's glory; a dwindling nation is his doom.
Here is a good leadership proverb – the glory of a leader is a growing group of followers. In contrast, if they are dwindling, it becomes his doom. Leaders are measured by fruitfulness not just faithfulness.
Vs.29. Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.
Here it is again – be slow to become angry (see vs.17)!
Vs.30. A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away.
Relax and don’t be so uptight. Chill! It does your life good. Don’t be so intense.
Vs.31. Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who help the poor honour him.
When we help the poor and needy we honour God.
Vs.34. Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Influence your nation to become godly. Don’t allow it to become a disgrace.