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Proverbs 13

<Link to Proverbs 13>

Solomon dispenses more sage advice to help us live right before God:

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
    but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
(Proverbs 13:3 NIV)

Solomon reminds us to guard what comes out of our mouths (our speech).  if we talk too much, we will bring destruction to ourselves.  Similarly, James chapter 3 tells us to tame our tongue.  Easier said than done!

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”
(Proverbs 13:7 NIV)

At first glance, we might assume that this proverb seems to be saying that it’s wrong to live beyond our means to impress others, and we should live below our means as a way to save.  The thought in this assumption is a true statement; however, that his not what Solomon is teaching here.

Starting with chapter 10 in Proverbs, Solomon uses a familiar two line contrasting truth format to get his point across (truth #1, but [contrasted to] truth #2).  The contrast is separated by the word “but”.  In this proverb, however, there is no separator, no “but” to signify a contrast.  Thus, these two truths convey a single message.

Enough of the grammar / sentence constructs lesson.  Let’s get to the point.  Solomon’s message in this proverb is focused on our being truthful, and not pretending to be what we’re not, either for rich or for poor.  Both deceptions deny the work of God’s grace in our lives.

While this proverb focuses on our material / financial condition, the same truth also applies to our spiritual condition.  When we go around and put on our “happy face” and pretend all is well when we’re hurting inside, or we go around with our “Eeyore” depressed, “woe-is-me” face on all the time, we’re not being truthful with God, with ourselves, or with others.

Yes, before we come to Christ, we were wretched and despicable in God’s sight.  But when we humbly come before God and accept His gracious gift of eternal life through His son Jesus, we are transformed and now called His sons and daughters.  That does not mean our lives are free of worry and problems.  It simply means God gives us a new heart and hope.  We can live authentically and truthfully in God’s grace.  Thank God that we are not what we once were, and by God’s grace, we are growing into what God desires us to be.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
(Proverbs 13:12 NIV)

Failure to see our hopes realized can be discouraging, causing us to want to give up.  When our dreams are realized, however, it gives us new energy for life.  We must be careful, however, that we measure time on God’s scale, not ours.  In our society of instant gratification, we tend to give up on God and take matters into our own hands way too fast, and do not give God time to work in His way and in His time.  When we run ahead of God, we miss His blessings and bring unnecessary pain and conflict upon ourselves.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,
    but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
(Proverbs 13:22 NIV)

Solomon once again uses a financial illustration, but a spiritual parallel is also true.  In Solomon’s day in ancient Israel, leaving an inheritance to children and grandchildren was a sign of God’s blessing.  In the same way, men of God, before they died, gathered their children together and gave each of them a spiritual blessing.  This spiritual legacy had nothing to do with their salvation, but everything to do with their encouragement to walk in God’s paths of righteousness after their father was gone, and to pass along that spiritual legacy to the next generations.

What spiritual legacy has been handed down to you?  What spiritual legacy will you leave behind?


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