Honor or Riches

Reading the Word

Proverbs 11:16–17 (ESV)
16 A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.
17 A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.

Understanding and Applying the Word

At first glance these verses may seem strange. It may seem verse 16 contradicts verse 17. This is the beauty of proverbs. They make us stop and think. We have to consider carefully each word if we are going to understand their message.

In the first verse, we are told that being gracious brings honor while violence brings riches. It may seem that both the gracious and the violent are receiving good things until we read the next verse. In verse 17, we are told that being kind is beneficial, but being cruel will come back to hurt you. How do we make sense of this?

Honor is far better than riches. The gracious person receives honor, which is the respect and love of others, whereas the violent gain only material wealth. They do not receive honor. The one who is kind helps himself because others will like him and help him if need arises. The cruel man hurts himself because no one will come to his aid. He will be on his own. It is far better to live our lives in grace than in pursuit of riches because honor is far more valuable than material wealth.

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Willing to Learn

Reading the Word

Proverbs 9:7–9 (ESV)
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

Understanding the Word

A person who wants to grow in wisdom and understanding must be willing to receive correction and instruction from others. This is a difficult thing for many. Instead of seeing a chance to learn and grow, correction is often seen as offensive and threatening. Have you ever felt angry when someone showed you that you were wrong? Maybe the other person was abrasive or rude, but it may be that you are like many others. You do not like to be corrected.

The wise person understands what it takes to grow in wisdom. It takes having a learner’s spirit. It takes wanting to learn and not eliminating sources of instruction. Even those who are not very tactful in how they give instruction often have much to teach us. We need to learn to find the truth and use it to continue to grow.

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Seven Things the Lord Hates

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 6:16–19 (ESV)

16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

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Always Planning Evil

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I am unable to include devotional thoughts today, but this passage is an interesting one to ponder. It tells us that the wicked person’s words and actions are untrustworthy. The worthless person is always plotting and scheming and cannot be trusted. Be sure that God knows their every thought and action and they will be held accountable.

Reading the Word

Proverbs 6:12–15 (ESV)

12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

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Consider the Ant, O Sluggard!

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 6:6–11 (ESV)

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Understanding the Word

Today’s verses address the issue of laziness. We are told that we should observe the way the ant works. Even without leadership, the ant prepares for the year ahead. We must always be in preparation for what the future holds.

The sluggard, or the lazy person, is not like the ant. Instead of looking ahead and preparing, the lazy person is always a step or more behind. Priority is given to leisure rather than to work and preparation. Suddenly, without warning, the lazy person finds himself in poverty because he has fallen so far behind in the necessary work.

Life is about finding the proper balance of work and leisure. There is a time for both. We must work to provide for the present and future. And we must take time from work to appreciate all that God has given us. Both work and leisure can become idols and ruin lives. Let us strive to find the right balance.

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Made for Wisdom

thoughtful young bearded ethnic man with globe sitting at table in modern room

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:19–20 (ESV)

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It was by wisdom that God established all of creation. The idea of these verses is that a person who rejects wisdom and understanding rejects what the Lord has built into the world. To do so goes against the way things were designed to be and will result in hardship and struggle. This message is developed more fully in Proverbs 8:22-31.

Growth in wisdom is part of the created order. God has created us to seek understanding because it helps us thrive in life, but more importantly, because it leads us to Him, the beginning of wisdom.

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The Father’s Discipline

happy dad looking at toddler on sandy beach

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Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:11–12 (ESV)

11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Proverbs is about growing in wisdom. One of the primary ways we do that is through failure and discipline. We have the choice to learn from such correction or become hardened and unteachable.

In today’s reading, we see that the Lord is compared to a father who disciplines his children. As the father uses such correction out of love and wanting what is best for his children, so also the Lord. We should not think that God’s discipline is for our pain and misery. It is from love. It is for our benefit in order that we might learn and grow in wisdom. Praise our Father who loves us enough to correct us when we go astray.

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Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 35–6 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Proverbs 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We all want to be our own authority. We want to make our own decisions about right and wrong and what is best for us. This is the very reason Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. They wanted to be “like God” and know good and evil for themselves. In other words, they wanted to make their own decisions rather than listen to God.

The problem with us being in authority is we are not God. We do not have a full understanding of all things and what is best for us in each and every situation. God, on the other hand, is the all-knowing, loving Creator. He made us and placed us in the world he designed and has told us how to live. This is the same God who loves us and wants the very best for us. The wise thing to do is to listen to him.

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I Will Rejoice in the Lord

Habakkuk 317–18 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Habakkuk 3:17–19 (ESV)

17Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

18yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

19God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

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Lady Wisdom Calls Out

Proverbs 120 169

Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:20–23 (ESV)

20  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23  If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out to all. If they will go to her, they can learn from her. She will teach them. With this invitation there are two questions: How long will the simple (unwise) love being so? And how long will scoffers continue to scoff and hate knowledge?

No one chooses to be a fool. Some just think they are already wise and have no need for a teacher. Instead of learning, they scoff at others. Instead of receiving wisdom and knowledge, they reject it and turn from it. Such a mindset sets a person up for many difficulties down the road. Wisdom is a willing teacher if only we are also willing students. Learning requires a willingness to admit being wrong and also to change, which can be hard, but worth it in the end.

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