proverbs-12

Exodus 36, Proverbs 12, Psalm 84

Today we’re scheduled to read Exodus 36, Proverbs 12, and Psalm 84.

This devotional is about Proverbs 12:6: “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.”

This cryptic little proverb takes some thinking to make sense of. The first part of the proverb says, “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood....” What could that possibly mean? to “lie in wait for blood” evokes the image of a hunter. The goal of a hunter or trapper is to take the life of his prey. He goes out looking for prey and hides, lying “in wait” until that animal arrives. Unaware of the danger nearby, the animal walks into the crosshairs of the hunter’s rifle or trots into the trapper’s trap. In that moment, his life ends and he becomes the trophy of the man who plotted against him. When Solomon wrote, “the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,” he described someone who lays a trap for someone else and waits. This is a way to describe dishonest speech. It might be speech that misleads for a purpose or lies that entrap someone else. Either way, it is dishonesty that is deliberately calculated to take advantage of someone else.

What saves someone from this kind of verbal trap? The truth: “but the speech of the upright rescues them” (v. 6b). The truth leaves clues most of the time. The person whose words make the best sense of those clues is most likely to be believed. When we are dishonest, we maybe be playing into the hands of someone wicked who wants to trap us. When we tell the truth, we can escape those traps, even when we walk right to them unaware.

It is a sobering thought that there are people out there trying to use words to entrap us, but there are. Instead of being cynical about others, or becoming defensive and hyper-vigilant, just tell the truth in every situation in life. When we are always truthful, we not only save ourselves from traps, we mirror the glory of our God who IS truth. Protect yourself and glorify God by speaking the truth always and never lying.

Proverbs 12:15-28

Today we’re reading Proverbs 12:15-28.

Two of the verses in today’s passage speak about laziness (vv. 24, 27). Verse 27 says that, “The lazy do not roast any game....” Picture the setting. A man goes out to hunt food for his family. He checks his bow, his arrows, his spear, his knife, and anything else he needs to be sure they are in good working order, sharpens all the blades and arrows, and repairs anything that needs to be repaired in his gear. He packs his clothes, blankets, and tent as well as plenty of bread and water. Then he sets out to hunt, walking out into the wilderness where he sets up camp. Each morning he rises early before the dawn to find a good place to hide and... he waits. Eventually he sees a nice large buck and, with a swift shot from his bow, takes it down. He then begins field dressing his kill, just like his father taught him to do. He drags the carcass home and then... it just rots. He never gets around to actually cooking the meat he worked so hard to get.

What a waste! But this is one way in which laziness costs us. We make money in our jobs but are undisciplined in how it is spent, so it doesn’t grow and nourish us financially; instead, it just fades away in frivolous spending. Or we advertise and find new prospects for our business, but don’t follow up on them. Or we take a class or a seminar and learn a bunch of new things but never implement any of them. These are just a few ways in which laziness--an inability to do something we don’t want to do even though it would help us achieve a result we want to get--costs us bigly. By contrast, verse 27b says, “...but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.” Sometimes just a little extra work is the difference between success and failure.

Why do we get lazy? Sometimes it is just the lure of the immediate pleasure of a nap or entertainment. Sometimes it is fear of failure or not really knowing how to do what needs to be done next. Regardless, laziness is something we identify in others but justify in ourselves. Justified or not, there is a high price to paid for laziness. According to verse 24, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” If you can’t manage yourself and push through your lazy inclinations, you’ll end up working for someone else who won’t care about your excuses.

Look, we all suffer from laziness at times and it’s easy to beat yourself up when you see the waste and loss that comes from it. These passages are about the long-term affects of laziness, not isolated incidents of it. Still, it is helpful for us to remember that part of being Christians is learning to be diligent managers of all that God has given us and enabled us to do. So think about areas where laziness may be costing you and change the way you work.

Proverbs 12:1-14

Happy Saturday, read Proverbs 12:1-14 if you’re keeping up with our weekend reading schedule.

Some of the greatest fortunes in world history have been created by great ideas. The idea that a person should be able to use a computer by looking at icons on a screen and clicking on them with the mouse was a great idea. Bill Gates made a product called Windows based on that great idea. By selling Windows to the world, Gates went from being a very successful, very wealthy man to being the wealthiest man on earth.

It’s important to realize, though, that Bill Gates did not come up with the idea of Windows. Apple had created the Macintosh which used the same concept and even introduced the mouse to the mass market for the first time. But Steve Jobs and the Macintosh team did not create that idea either. They licensed the idea from Xerox, the copier company, who had computer engineers researching and prototyping all kinds of technologies that Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, and other technology companies have used to create wealth. Xerox missed out on all that wealth because they had great ideas but did not put the work into making those ideas into products.

The point of this story is that ideas are powerful but only if they are translated into successful products through hard work. By themselves, ideas--even great ideas--are worthless. That’s right, worthless. Patents and licensing have been created by lawyers to give ideas some value, but licensing a good idea to a company is difficult and not nearly as productive as making a successful product from a good or great idea.

Here in Proverbs 12:11 the Bible teaches us this lesson in proverbial form. It says in verse 11b, “...those who chase fantasies have no sense.” These are the dreamers, the “crazy ones”* who have lots of interesting ideas, even some innovate and useful ideas, but they never do the work involved in making that idea into a product. By contrast, according to verse 11a, “Those who work their land will have abundant food.” Who gets the benefit of a great idea? Someone who is willing to put the work into making something productive.

Maybe you have a great idea or you think that you will prosper because you’re a Christian or because you’re a nice person or because you are brilliant, or whatever. All of those things can help, but nothing can substitute for the power of dedicated, applied effort that we call work. So, if you have a great idea, do what it takes to turn it into a great product. Even if you have an OK idea or no idea at all, working faithfully and productively on someone else’s ideas can help provide for you. That’s what you do when you take a job, so be the kind of employee who “works their land” (v. 11a).