Today’s selected proverbs:
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.”
(Proverbs 27:1 NIV)
Solomon knew well the unpredictability of each day’s events. We can’t control the future, so therefore, we should not act as if we can. When we do presume on the future, our overconfidence looks like practical atheism, where we don’t even consider God in our planning and preparation. James 4:13-17 talks about this very issue; here is a link to our previous study of that passage.
Likewise, we are also not to be consumed with fear or worry about the future. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus tells us to seek God’s righteousness and kingdom first, and God will take care of our needs. Jesus also tells us not to worry about the future, as He is in control. I don’t know about you, but that is a very comforting reminder, and helps me focus on each day.
“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.”
(Proverbs 27:2 NIV)
Solomon warns us against pride, against boasting, or “tooting our own horn”, as some would say. So what else is Solomon saying in this proverb? Who is “an outsider”, and what is their role and purpose?
Solomon is not talking about our reputation; that is established over time by those who know us, and measures our character and integrity. Instead, Solomon is talking about measuring our expertise or skill or talent in a certain area, such as a trade, or in music, physics, writing, engineering, botany, etc. Solomon is saying we might be the best at something and have a tendency to want to brag about it; we may even be humble and our friends may brag about our skills, and we start to believe their hype.
What Solomon is saying is to bring in someone from the outside, someone who could speak objectively about our skills and accomplishments, someone who knows the subject matter at hand and can offer an informed analysis. The point of inviting someone else to look at our work is not pride or seeking praise, but having a teachable spirit, being humble and wanting to grow and learn and pursue excellence in all we do.
“If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.”
(Proverbs 27:14 NIV)
Whether you’re a morning person and love the quiet and stillness of the start of the day, or a night owl, and cherish your sleep, no one likes a noisy neighbor early in the morning, even if they are all positive and perky.
“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.”
(Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
This is one of my favorite proverbs, reminding me of God’s design for us to live in community. Just as Solomon infers, sharpening involves contact with one another. This contact is not fighting or arguing or trying to hurt one another. Instead, this contact is helpful, positive, and makes us better people.
This sharpening can occur in many aspects of our life. A few examples to ponder:
- in our faith, learning how to trust and love the Lord and live for Him
- in our families, learning how to love our spouses and kids better
- In our jobs, learning how to do something new or different
- In our communities, learning how to give back and help others
- In our churches, learning how to teach and lead others
As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 22:34-40, our greatest commands are to love God first, living in communion with Him, and love our neighbors second, living in community with them. Both involve contact to carry out.
Let the sharpening begin.
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.”
(Proverbs 27:23-24 NIV)
This proverb actually continues through verse 27; the main thought is here in verses 23-24. Solomon is telling us to be good stewards of what God has given us, and to work hard with the time that God provides us. We are to be stewards of what He provides, realizing that it won’t last forever, and we should not take for granted we will always have abundant provision. This does not mean we worry or start hoarding; it means we trust the Lord, and work hard with what we have so as to provide for ourselves, our families, and if we are responsible for others, for our employees as well.