No we are not asking you to become any of the above, in fact foolish lazy gossips need not apply. We’ll delve into hope these behaviors are contrary to not only our ongoing search for wisdom, but also to our overall shared path here on “Becoming Today”.
I really do want to thank each and everyone of you for joining us here. Whether you have been following this series for the past nearly four weeks or if you have just found us.
We are involved in a 31-day study of wisdom as taught in the Book of Proverbs. If you’d like to know more about The Passion Translation and why we are using it for this undertaking, you can find a recap near the end of today’s conversation.
We are continuing forward as we have now arrived at day 26 , as we head into the final week of our extended odyssey; our search and rescue mission for wisdom.
Understanding that enlightenment is within our reach we shall seek and find the knowledge and inspiration necessary to uplift, support and enhance our collective journeys as well as our own personal paths.
Last Wednesday our discussion involved “Self Control”.
As I mentioned I was surprised when I realized we hadn’t looked at this subject before.
So on the occasion of our 258th meeting of this year it was the first in which we looked into the many ways self control is both important and very wise.
So what exactly do we mean by self control? You can share your definitions below as we’ll begin to formulate a common understanding.
The dictionary offers this explanation: “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations’.
Psychologists define it as, the ability to manage one’s impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals, and Psychology Today adds it is quote, “what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom”.
Hmm…so busy trying to figure out how their own minds work, or don’t; I guess they haven’t spent much time with animals.
Many animals, birds and even insects not only exhibit self control, but also even in the tiniest of cases like bees and ants, they live their lives with motivation, determination and patience. Even exhibiting a willingness to be of service for the good of the colony…. We need more people like that.
Anyway self-control as we look at will include parts of both definitions plus more.
Let’s agree to accept self control as the ability to maintain balance of our emotions, impulses, thoughts and behaviors in such a manner that serves not only ourselves but the interests of all involved while maintaining an attitude of moderation while doing it.
Verse 15 notes, “Use patience and kindness when you want to persuade leaders and watch them change their minds right in front of you. For your gentle wisdom will quell the strongest resistance”.
It does not say to yell,scream, refuse to listen, point fingers or say our side is right, na- na hey hey!
Exercising our virtues can truly effect change. Being kind, compassionate, respectful when dealing with others and patiently listening is the best way to have a conversation, not coming in with pre-planned attack points that you’ve emailed to 400 people and ordering them to repeat word for word.
Always approach dealings with integrity, and you will see results that are mutually beneficial and right.
This is also pointed to in verse 19, “You can’t depend on an unreliable person when you really need help. It can be compared to biting down on an abscessed tooth or walking with a sprained ankle.”
Don’t cripple yourself by going along with those who are less than virtuous, pretend to be something they are not or simply are liars. The unfaithful and dishonest will not get you anywhere… well at least not anywhere you really want to be.
Next we’ll press ahead to Proverbs 26.
Today our reading is divided into three sections, each with their own distinct message. You just might have received some insights into what those are, by reading today’s headline. We’ll delve into those in a few moments, but first let’s read this chapter together, beginning with this wise instruction:
Don’t Be a Fool
It is totally out of place to promote and honor a fool,
just like it’s out of place to have snow in the summer
and rain at harvest time.[a]
An undeserved curse will be powerless to harm you.
It may flutter over you like a bird,
but it will find no place to land.[b]
Guide a horse with a whip,
direct a donkey with a bridle,
and lead a rebellious fool with a beating on his backside!
Don’t respond to the words of a fool with more foolish words,
or you will become as foolish as he is!
Instead, if you’re asked a silly question,
answer it with words of wisdom[c]
so the fool doesn’t think he’s so clever.
If you choose a fool to represent you,
you’re asking for trouble.
It will be as bad for you as cutting off your own feet!
You can never trust the words of a fool,
just like a crippled man can’t trust his legs to support him.[d]
Give honor to a fool and watch it backfire—
like a stone tied to a slingshot.
The statements of a fool will hurt others[e]
like a thorn bush brandished by a drunk.
Like a reckless archer shooting arrows at random
is the impatient employer
who hires just any fool who comes along—
someone’s going to get hurt![f]
Fools are famous for repeating their errors,
like dogs are known to return to their vomit.
There’s only one thing worse than a fool,
and that’s the smug, conceited man
always in love with his own opinions.
Don’t Be Lazy
The lazy loafer says,
“I can’t go out and look for a job—
there may be a lion out there roaming wild in the streets!”
As a door is hinged to the wall,
so the lazy man keeps turning over, hinged to his bed!
There are some people so lazy
they won’t even work to feed themselves.
A self-righteous person[g] is convinced he’s smarter
than seven wise counselors who tell him the truth.
It’s better to grab a stray dog by its ears
than to meddle in a quarrel[h]
that’s none of your business.
Watch Your Words
The one who is caught lying to his friend,
who says, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,”
can be compared to a madman
randomly shooting off deadly weapons.
It takes fuel to have a fire—
a fire dies down when you run out of fuel.
So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends.
Add fuel to the fire and the blaze goes on.
So add an argumentative man to the mix,
and you’ll keep strife alive.
Gossip is so delicious, and how we love to swallow it!
For slander[i] is easily absorbed into our innermost being.
Smooth talk[j] can hide a corrupt heart
just like a pretty glaze covers a cheap clay pot.
Kind words can be a cover to conceal hatred of others,
for hypocrisy loves to hide behind flattery.
So don’t be drawn in by the hypocrite,
for his gracious speech is a charade,
nothing but a masquerade covering his hatred and evil on parade.[k]
Don’t worry—he can’t keep the mask on for long.
One day his hypocrisy will be exposed before all the world.
Go ahead, set a trap for others—
and then watch as it snaps back on you!
Start a landslide and you’ll be the one who gets crushed.
Hatred is the root of slander[l]
and insecurity the root of flattery.[m]
Take a moment to reflect and then we’ll continue our conversation on some of these wise ideas.
We began today by saying that Foolish Lazy Gossips need not apply.
So let’s pull our hair back,
Go inside and ask him “why’?
I have taken some poetic license here, but the prose certainly fits and I promise I’m not galloping off course, I’m simply reading the Signs.
And the first sign read, “Don’t Be a Fool”.
Verse one also began on a somewhat humorous note.
“It is totally out of place to promote and honor a fool, just like it’s out of place to have snow in the summer and rain at harvest time.”
The N I V expresses it as, “honor is not fitting for a fool”. Some concise common sense advice.
Pressing ahead to verse four it’s noted, “Don’t respond to the words of a fool with more foolish words, or you will become as foolish as he is”!
You don’t have to respond to outrageous claims or even attacks. Not every ridiculous comment on Facebook or Twitter is worthy of or presents a need to be responded to. Or shared for that matter.
Just see it. Reject it and move on, releasing it into cyberspace whence it came. This is also true for face to face communications.
We do not have to defend ourselves or attempt to justify ourselves for those just looking for a fight. Keep this in mind as we head into the holiday season (this year sooner than ever it seems).
“Instead,” as the next passage continues, “… if you’re asked a silly question, answer it with words of wisdom so the fool doesn’t think he’s so clever”.
Our second subheading is another brief recommendation, “Don’t Be Lazy”.
I’m tempted to stop right there and say. Okay makes perfect sense, however apparently for some they still face this challenge though I hope it’s not as severe (giggle) as it was in Solomon’s time, The lazy loafer says, “I can’t go out and look for a job— there may be a lion out there roaming wild in the streets!”
While our culture today might suggest that it’s still a very real threat, even the advertising agencies agree, it shouldn’t stop their clients from getting a pizza from their door to the curb outside their store. Still some locations find this very challenging, if not impossible to complete so perhaps we better read more about why being lazy is not a desired behavior.
The next four verses beginning with number 14 offer some fun tidbits of advice that perhaps could be shared as an alternative to yelling back during those anticipated holiday quarrels.
Instead of taking their bait when they push your buttons, submit this for their consideration. Just say, “As a door is hinged to the wall, so the lazy man keeps turning over, hinged to his bed!”
Then walk away secretly smiling in the confusion on their face, remembering what we are taught in verse 16, “A self-righteous person[ is convinced he’s smarter than seven wise counselors who tell him the truth.”
The final passage in this section is then the perfect transition to our third area of focus. As we read, “It’s better to grab a stray dog by its ear than to meddle in a quarrel that’s none of your business”.
Which brings us to the warning, “Watch Your Words”. Which is what I termed early as not being a gossip.
As verses 18 through 20 will remind us, honesty is the best policy, so do not intentionally attempt to deceive and be careful not to inadvertently pass along misinformation:
The one who is caught lying to his friend, who says, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,”can be compared to a madman randomly shooting off deadly weapons.
It takes fuel to have a fire—a fire dies down when you run out of fuel. So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends.
Words have power. We have the ability to create or destroy based upon the choices we make when expressing ourselves. Choose wisely.
As we recently discussed in Proverbs 18:21, “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life, and the talkative person will reap the consequences”.
Everyday it seems we find more and more people who need to consider verse two of today’s reading. “Senseless people find no pleasure in acquiring true wisdom, for all they want to do is impress you with what they know.”
Constantly we are bombarded with messages from self-proclaimed experts who want to fill our heads with their so-called beliefs, whether or not they actually believe them.
As proverbs 18:2 is translated in the N I V, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions”.
Too often the talking heads are just spouting off for a ratings point, a click, another faceless follower or a random thumbs up regardless of what the potential impacts of their rants may be.
It’s our responsibility to be aware of that and remain vigilant. To guard our minds and hearts from their manipulative, divisive chatter and focus on true enlightening wisdom. It’s our choice what we choose to accept or not.
To gossip or not is a choice. One we have free will and the self discipline to avoid “Becoming” involved in “Today” or any other time.
You may recall the lesson taught in Proverbs 16:28, “A twisted person spreads rumors; a whispering gossip ruins good friendships”.
Plus it’s also brought up in Proverbs 11:13, “You can’t trust gossipers with a secret; they’ll just go blab it all”. Then the verse ends on a very “Becoming” note, so I hope and pray you’ll choose to accept and activate this thought, “Put your confidence instead in a trusted friend,for he will be faithful to keep it in confidence”.
Truth, understanding, enlightenment and wisdom are all very “Becoming” traits. They empower us to grow and learn to be who we truly were intended to be. Which in turn enables us to continue moving on, with our momentum fully powered forward and upward.
I hope you have enjoyed the first 26 weeks, yes 26 already of this odyssey. Plus in the final five weeks, there is still much more to come.
As always I encourage you to actively participate. Please post your comments, questions, suggestions or concerns below. This is a safe space to share and there are protections in place to keep spammers out. I will respond to all who choose to participate.
If you do not feel comfortable sharing below, remember you can always reach out privately through the easy to use form on our Contact page.
I pray each and every one of you enjoys a safe and blessed day. Then join us tomorrow as we continue our proverbial search here along this shared journey we call “Becoming Today”.
For those that have been here for a while I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts is not too distracting. Not only are some of these points to remind us of our focus this month, it is also designed to also be welcoming.
We never know when a fellow traveler may walk along with us, or need to take a diversion.
This is especially true since I have no idea what algorithm directed you, what search method may have pointed in our direction or how many of you find us on any given day. Therefore it’s necessary to recap some of the outline for our combined purposes.
I appreciate your patience and understanding, so I’ll now mention we’ve come to that point in this conversation and if you’ve already heard this, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and pick up with the next image.
Now for those of you listening to the podcast I know that makes no sense, since you can’t hear any of the beautiful graphics we create each day, so you’ll just have to listen along; again… (insert audible giggle here) understanding that I’m laughing with you not at you.
As I am apt to do, even if you have studied Proverbs before, our undertaking may be a bit different, as we’ll be adding some passion to it.
I am being called to focus this teaching around the The Passion Translation® book of Isaiah and New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.
Done so by Dr. Brian Simmons who believes the”message of God’s story is timeless; the Word of God doesn’t change. But the methods by which that story is communicated should be timely; the vessels that steward God’s Word can and should change.
Thank you again for joining us on this edition of “Becoming Today”.
Also I’ll remind you that the footnotes referred to above are available here and include underlined study links:
a. 26:1 Both snow and rain are good in their proper season but harmful in the wrong season. So is it harmful to the fool if you promote and honor him prematurely.
b. 26:2 There is an implication in some Hebrew manuscripts that the curse will go back and land on the one who wrongly spoke it, like a bird going back to its nest.
c. 26:5 As translated from the Aramaic.
d. 26:7 As translated from the Aramaic.
e. 26:9 As translated from the Aramaic.
f. 26:10 Implied in the context. This is a difficult verse to translate, and it reads quite differently in the Aramaic and the Septuagint. The Aramaic is “A fool suffers much, like a drunkard crossing the sea.” The Septuagint reads “Every fool endures much hardship and his fury comes to nothing.”
g. 26:16 Or “sluggard.” This speaks of a person who lives in fantasy and not reality
h. 26:17 Or “to become furious because of a quarrel that’s not yours.”
i. 26:22 Or “complaining.”
j. 26:23 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “Burning words.”
k. 26:25 The Hebrew is “seven abominations hide in his heart.” This is a figure of speech for the fullness of evil, a heart filled to the brim with darkness.
l. 26:28 Or “A slanderer hates his victims.”
m. 26:28 Or “A flattering mouth works ruin.” The Aramaic is “Malicious words work trouble.”
The Passion Translation®.
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