Do you know someone with an excellent reputation? What qualities do they have that lend to that? I have a friend whose reputation is well known in our community. When I mention his name to someone, their immediate response is, “Oh, John. He is a great guy!”
John is kind. John is fair. John is thoughtful in his speech. John is dedicated to helping people. John is faithful in his marriage. Because of his excellent reputation, John is a very successful lawyer. He is known to be honest, trustworthy, and smart. These qualities help him rise above the rest, and his success is based largely on his reputation.
The Book of Proverbs is filled with pithy little sayings about life in general. If you had to create fortune cookies based on Bible quotes, you would have more than you need in just this one book. Proverbs was written by King Solomon in an attempt to bring wisdom to the people. We are inundated with information in our culture today, but very little wisdom. These are life lessons that we need to not only follow, but to teach our children as well. Proverbs teaches us about God’s expectations of appropriate behavior for those who claim to be his children.
Proverbs 1 beautifully outlines the purpose of the book:
Purpose of Proverbs
1 The proverbs of Solomon, King David’s son, from Israel:
2 Their purpose is to teach wisdom and discipline,
to help one understand wise sayings.
3 They provide insightful instruction,
which is righteous, just, and full of integrity.
4 They make the naive mature,
the young knowledgeable and discreet.
5 The wise hear them and grow in wisdom;
those with understanding gain guidance.
6 They help one understand proverbs and difficult sayings,
the words of the wise, and their puzzles.
7 Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Today’s lectionary takes us to the 22nd chapter:
Proverbs 22 (Common English Bible)
The Value of a Good Reputation
22 A good reputation and respect
are worth much more
than silver and gold.
2 The rich and the poor
are all created
by the Lord.
8 Troublemakers get in trouble,
and their terrible anger
will get them nowhere.
9 The Lord blesses everyone
who freely gives food
to the poor.
22 Don’t take advantage
of the poor
or cheat them in court.
23 The Lord is their defender,
and what you do to them,
he will do to you.
When it comes to having a good reputation, terrible anger gets you nowhere. People should give freely to the poor, and not cheat people in court. God created everyone to be equal, rich and poor alike…so act like it.
Take a look again at the 23rd verse. It is a pretty challenging statement. God is the defender of the poor…whatever you do to harm them, God will do to you.
Do you think people would live differently if they took that to heart? More importantly for us, what change is God calling you to make today?
May we gain wisdom as we seek God’s truth in his scriptures every day, and may we learn from a king how to act like wisemen.