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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 18
18 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
and so deprive the innocent of justice.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
9 One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes
and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.
23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Often we use nuggets of wisdom from Proverbs in our daily conversations and interactions with others. King Solomon in his early reign is given credit for most of these wise sayings of how to live a godly life with prudence and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 sets the tone by telling us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The writer of Proverbs toggles back and forth between the foolish and the wise, comparing the choices and outcomes of each. Let’s take a look at three areas addressed in this chapter: words, work, and wealth.
Regarding words, verse 4 tells us, “The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” What is in our heart will make its way out of our mouths. Our words will either build up or tear down; they will edify or destroy. Matthew, in his gospel, said it this way, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). What marks our words? Does quarreling, gossip, and negativity mark our speech, or do our words nourish and satisfy the soul? For the Christ-follower, we’ve been given a divine filter through the Holy Spirit Who teaches us all things, including how to use our words to make life-giving, eternal deposits into the lives of others.
With regard to work, Proverbs 18:9 declares, “A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things” (NLT). It is easy to fall into lazy patterns of living. In the workplace, laziness can spread like cancer. On-the-job slothfulness is evidence of selfishness and entitlement, but God’s Word compares it to one who brings destruction. 2 Timothy 2:15 encourages us to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Christians should show up with the best attitudes, be the hardest workers on the job, all while incorporating quality in their efforts to edify Christ. Do you add value to your workplace?
As to the Proverbs’ commentary on wealth, verse 11 observes, “The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety” (NLT). The Enduring Word Bible Commentary explains, “Wealth does afford a measure of protection, but the danger of wealth is precisely that it gives its possessor the illusion of greater security than it can provide” (Garrett). Instead of trusting in wealth, the wise trust that “the name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (v.10). Our trinkets and treasures often reveal where our heart is. Wealth is fleeting; God is eternal. Matthew 6:24 states, “You cannot serve both God and money.” In the end, how we live generously and use our resources to further God’s kingdom will be all that matters.
- If someone were to peek into your life and habits, would you be known for generosity and selflessness or for accumulating wealth?
- Is the gospel made more attractive to a hurting world by the way you live your life and show up in your workplace?
- After reading Proverbs 18, which area—your words, your work habits, or your attitude about wealth—needs the most work? Share your conviction with a trusted friend or life group member for accountability.
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