Proverbs 23:6-7

Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
    do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
    “Eat and drink!” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.

Proverbs 23:6-7 ESV

Beware of transactional relationships. In this scenario, the stingy man is offering his food and drink, “but his heart is not with you.” He is “inwardly calculating” what he can get out of offering you food and drink. He is not generous, he’s manipulative.

The warning should be considered bi-directional. In other words, don’t be the perpetrator or the victim in this type of scenario. When you offer your resources to others, do you generally do it for the sake of what you can get in return? If others offer you their resources, are you so greedy to get stuff that you can’t recognize that you are being manipulated for the other person’s gain?

Beware of the transactional relationship.

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

    and favor is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1 ESV

This verse challenges our cultural norms. A culture that is given to riches (a materialism) has a difficult time grasping the idea that something immaterial, like a good name, is more valuable. Unless that good name can create some material benefit, i.e., more riches.

Here, the reader stands at a crossroad, examining two worldviews; one says materialism is most important (e.g., “He who dies with the most toys wins.”), and the other says immaterial things like character and integrity and holiness and love are most important. This junction seems to be ever-present in Proverbs. For example,

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity,

than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Proverbs 28:6 ESV

Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,

or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Proverbs 22:6

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity

than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Proverbs 19:1 ESV

Each of us must choose this day, and every day, which path we will travel. Proverbs offers a clear picture of what lies at the end of each path. So, … which path will you choose today?

Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,

    and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1 ESV

The book of Proverbs is the book of wisdom. The challenge presented throughout the book is discerning between the path of wisdom and the path of folly. Here, the writer erects a very clear road sign: “whoever is led astray by [alcohol] is not wise.” Read the sign. Heed the warning.

Proverbs 19:5

A false witness will not go unpunished,

    and he who breathes out lies will not escape.

Proverbs 19:5 ESV

This verse requires us to “believe in the dark what we know to be true in the light.” In other words, this verse requires great trust in the Lord to do what is right because so frequently it appears that false witnesses do go unpunished. In other words, they get away with it! Sometimes we have stories like Jezebel who was punished for suborning false witnesses against Naboth (1 Kings 21). But so often, we are left asking “when is their punishment coming?”

Once again, the writer presses us to recognize that not all of God’s actions are plainly visible to all, nor do they all occur in this life. The latter will seem like a cop-out for those who do not believe in God’s ultimate justice in the life to come. I get that. But disbelief doesn’t make it less true. The naturalist is left with frustration that justice isn’t served. Those who believe in a supernatural life can rest, knowing that ultimately God will mete out justice in a perfect way.

Proverbs 15:2

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,

    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Proverbs 15:2 ESV

Here’s another take home test from Proverbs. Spend a day or two simply listening to what comes out of your mouth. Do the results of your research suggest you are wise or a fool?

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