Ever-loving Lord, to You I bring my offering of praise. I long to see beyond the ordinary to a glorious You.
Consider: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797). It seems as if Burke had read Proverbs 11.
There are several verses on money in this chapter, especially on using it wisely and generously (4,15,24,25,26,28), and a famous verse on taking advice (14). The family comes into view in verse 29. There is a complimentary reference to a woman in verse 16 and an exceptionally blunt one in verse 22, whose apparent chauvinism grates in our age.
Over half the chapter, however, is taken up with the themes of good/evil, righteous/wicked, having integrity/being unfaithful. I retrace my way through the chapter, noting especially these 16 or more verses. Life is difficult and sometimes dangerous, but righteousness will see a person through. Through what? What is good and what pays may travel a long way together (e.g., Prov. 16:16), but when the paths diverge the wise will always turn to the good. I sit before these proverbs as before a mirror--what flaws in my behavior, my desires, my motivations, my hopes do they reveal? Do I delight the Lord by my honesty in business (shopping and salvation are connected in Lev. 19:36)? Have my decisions made honestly been profitable or costly? Is my integrity and that of other local Christians doing our community good (10-11)? The "green leaf" of verse 28 and the "tree of life" in verse 30 presuppose deep roots. I seek forgiveness for my sins, and I pray for God's cleansing and refreshment.
I travel through the chapter again, noting the evil fruit of the unrighteous, the demolition and destruction they cause, the selfishness, the alienation. The proverb's conclusion is that the evil a man does will rebound on his own head, now or later. It may be a long wait. Finally, I sit quietly under the "tree of life" (30) and taste its fruit. "Wins souls" could be translated "catches lives." Perhaps Jesus was thinking of this proverb when he called his disciples to such a ministry (Matt. 4:19).
Apply: Sit before these proverbs as before a mirror--what flaws in your behavior, desires, motivations and hopes do they reveal? Allow the Holy Spirit to press in on you. Bring the results to the Lord.
Jesus, Lord of life and love, help me to win souls, to catch lives. Empower me to live righteously, for You and for Your glory.
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