Staying 100% Honest (Proverbs 13:5-6)

Today’s reading from Proverbs is short but pointed. Godly people hate lies, says Proverbs 13:5a, but wicked people enjoy spreading falsehoods and bring shame upon themselves (Proverbs 13:5b). Those who follow the way of truth will be protected by their own good character and reputation (Proverbs 13:6a), while deceitful habits and traits end up ruining the lives of liars (Proverbs 13:6b). To summarize, God wants His people to stay “100% honest” with Him and with everyone else in our lives.

So how are you doing with truth and integrity this summer? As I said, today’s passage is simple but sharp. God wants His people to be truthful because He is the Truth. This means that we must also hate lies, which come from Satan, who is a liar and the father of lies. Listen to these strong words of Jesus directed at those who do not follow Him: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

If your life is marked by constant deception and dishonesty, you are in a bad place spiritually. I beg you to come clean with Jesus today about any standing lies or false behaviors and decisions in your life. Own up to your sin, confess it to the Lord, and agree to do what needs to be done to repair the damage of your lies. This could mean tough conversations with people whom you have deceived. This is called repentance and it is NOT FUN. But genuine repentance is the only way to find cleansing and peace for your heart and soul.

If your life is already marked by honesty and integrity, then keep on that path and don’t get proud. Little lies and deceptions can easily creep into our lives unnoticed. Our natural hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah. 17:9). Even the strongest, most mature Christians must still stay in God’s Word and prayer daily and remain sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in their consciences. We must be in close fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters who can hold us accountable for the integrity of our walks with the Lord. Stay close to the Lord and His people and stay clean before Him. Then you will enjoy God’s protection, presence, and favor. That’s what I want, and if you are reading this by choice this summer, than I bet that is what you want, too.

The Text (Proverbs 13:5-6)

5 A righteous man hates lying, But a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame.

6 Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, But wickedness overthrows the sinner.

Questions to Think About

  1. Is your life in the past six months marked more by honesty or lies? Would those who know you best agree with your answer?
  2. As you read this devotion, did any standing lies or deceptions come to your mind? In other words, are there any false statements or actions in your life that you need to confess and repent of today? What do you need to do be “100% honest” with God today?
  3. Who are you closest Christian mentors and friends who hold your accountable for your walk with the Lord? Have you been seeking out fellowship with them this summer or trying to avoid them? Explain.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Work and Stewardship (Proverbs 12:9-11)

In the Bible, “stewardship” is the wise management of the resources that God has entrusted to us. It existed way back in the Garden of Eden, before sin had entered the world. Adam and Eve were told “tend and keep” the Garden that was their home (Genesis 2:15). This was always pleasant work; only after the Fall did labor became difficult for people because of the corrupting effects of sin on our world. But work is still our calling, and it can still be a source of fulfillment for us even with its challenges. We must work to provide for ourselves and families. If we do it in a God-honoring way, He will bless our labors.

Today’s passage from Proverbs paints a picture of how biblical work and stewardship should look for our lives. First, work must provide for our needs. Being able to put food on the table and pay our bills is more important than having a job or title that sounds really cool but doesn’t cover our expenses (Proverbs 12:9). As middle and high school students thinking about future careers, you should be picking jobs that will earn enough money to live off. Likely income should not be the only consideration in choosing a career path, but it must be an important factor in your decision. For now, do your best in every school subject so that you will keep many doors open for you to choose between after high school. Second, Christians should be good stewards or managers of their abilities and resources (Proverbs 12:10). We should be careful and not wasteful with our skills, knowledge, time, and physical stuff. Learning to plan your time is an important skill that should be developed while you are still in school. You can also learn to take good care of your school supplies and your possessions at home. Learning not to buy everything that jumps out at you at the store, something called “impulse control” while shopping, is another valuable life skill that students should work on (so buying crazy, overpriced stuff at gift shops, for example – not a great idea). Finally, working hard consistently is the way to prosper in life; dreaming up schemes to get rich without hard work is foolish and will not pay off in the end (Proverbs 12:11). We should work smart, to be sure, but we must still work hard to provide for ourselves and others; there are no lazy shortcuts to success.

So this is the biblical model of work and stewardship, captured in just three short verses today. God has not left us without guidance in this big part of life. The question is: Are we willing to do what God’s Word says and become wise workers and stewards?

The Text (Proverbs 12:9-11)

9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.

10 A righteous man regards [even] the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity [silliness] is devoid of understanding.

Questions to Think About

  1. Have you thought about what career you want to pursue after high school? Do you know if your career choice will be able to provide enough money for you and your future family? This would be a good discussion topic with your parents!
  2. How are you doing at taking care of your stuff? Do you often have to throw things away because you didn’t take care of them? Do you replace things faster than they need to be replaced (always getting “new” items when the old ones are still fine)?
  3. If you have an allowance or get money from your parents to spend for events and occasions, how are you doing at managing and wisely spending your money?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Our Words Matter (Proverbs 11:9-12)

A wicked, evil heart will pour forth wicked, evil words. As Jesus said, trees are known by their fruit; by people’s words we see who they are. Today Proverbs shows us that hypocrites (false people) slander and destroy their neighbors with unkind, unhelpful criticism (Proverbs 11:9a, 12a). If they are not stopped, such gossips can ruin churches and Christian schools and organizations (v. 11b). These evil people enjoy revealing secrets and stirring up controversy and trouble (v. 13a). When they leave a church or school, either by choice or by death, the people who knew them actually celebrate (v. 10b). Ouch!

By contrast, the righteous person quietly gathers real knowledge and wisdom that they use to help and build others up (vv. 9b, 11a). Such godly people can be trusted to keep secrets (v. 13b). They have good self-control over what they say, using their words to spread peace (v. 12b). For these reasons, other people love them and celebrate their presence in churches and schools (v. 10a).

If you are like me, today’s passage will break you down and make you seek God’s forgiveness for your careless words. This is the work of God’s Word and Spirit. The Spirit convicts us of our sin as we read Scripture. We are humbled to think about the effects of things we have said, we pray for God’s forgiveness, and then we ask for His help in controlling our tongues better and using our words to help and build rather than hurt and destroy. May our hearts be clean and our words be kind and encouraging today.

The Text (Proverbs 11:9-13)

9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

12 He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace.

13 A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

Questions to Think About

  1. How are you doing with controlling your words this summer? Are you building people up or engaging in a lot of idle gossip?
  2. Do people celebrate when you show up at church, school, and other places? Or do they celebrate when you leave? Explain.
  3. Do you notice having better control over your tongue when you are spending more time in God’s Word? Why do you think this is the case?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Diligent or Disgraceful? (Proverbs 10:1-5)

Do your actions and words bring honor or shame to your family? Are you known as a hard worker or a lazy person? Proverbs 10:1-5 reminds us that our behavior affects other people, especially those who love and care about us the most. When we sin, we hurt not just ourselves but others like our family and friends. But when we obey the Lord, we bring honor and pleasure to others.

The particular area of focus for today’s passage is work habits. Sons and daughters who are diligent, or hard working, will prove themselves wise and make their parents, teachers, and later bosses and spouses happy (vv. 1, 5). The diligent will be blessed by God, who will not allow them to suffer starvation and failure (v. 3) but will prosper them in their labors (v. 4). They will earn success and money honestly and so honor the Lord Jesus and their families (v. 2).

On the other hand, lazy children bring sadness and shame to their parents, teachers, and future bosses and spouses (v. 1, 5). They will not prosper in life but suffer from poverty (v. 4) and unfulfilled desires (v. 3). They will be tempted to be dishonest and selfish in their attempts to acquire wealth, but ultimately fail because God is not with them (v. 2).

So, which kind of son or daughter are you: Diligent or disgraceful? Which kind of person do you want to be? The good news is that Jesus knows all about our weaknesses and past failures and loves us in spite of them. If you want to be diligent in your heart, call out to Jesus today and ask him to help you start changing your work habits. Honor and integrity await you as a great reward.

The Text (Proverbs 10:1-5)

10:1 The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, But righteousness delivers from death.

3 The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, But He casts away the desire of the wicked.

4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.

Questions to Think About

  1. How have your actions over the past year affected your family? Is your life a blessing or a sorrow to your parents and siblings right now? Explain.
  2. In what areas of life do you need God’s help in becoming more diligent? What can you do this summer to become more hard working in your mindset and your habits?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Wisdom’s Worthy Appeal (Proverbs 9:1-12)

Proverbs 9 is the last chapter of lengthy appeals to choose wisdom and reject foolishness. Chapters 10-31 contain collections of individual proverbs, or short wise sayings on how to live for God. As we we have seen with these true “proverbs,” many of them are grouped together around various topics like anger management, discipline and training of children, and the dangers of wealth and pride. But in Proverbs 1-9, we have broad appeals to the audience to devote their whole hearts to wanting God’s Word to motivate and guide them. These chapters are begging the reader and listener to seriously consider the main direction or path in which their life is headed, and to make a strong decision to go “all in” with wisdom.

So it is with Chapter 9, which personifies wisdom and foolishness as two different women calling out for travelers to hear and follow them. Woman Wisdom speaks first. She offers her followers a stable home life with plenty of good food and drink (vv. 1-2). She has sent out her ambassadors (like parents, teachers, pastors, and Bible study leaders) to call young, naive people like you to choose her path and find life, peace, knowledge, understanding, and hope (vv. 3-6). Wisdom knows that many people will reject her advice; such people sadly mock and hate God and His Word (vv. 7-8a). Yet Wisdom also knows that some people (hopefully you!) will accept the truths of God’s Word and allow them to correct and direct their hearts and lives (vv. 8b-9). To bring it all together, Woman Wisdom reminds her hearers of the theme verse for the whole book Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). To know God and walk humbly before Him is the truly happy or blessed life (vv. 11-12). How could we walk away from that?

The Text (Proverbs 9:1-12)

1 Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;

2 She has slaughtered her meat, She has mixed her wine, She has also furnished her table.

3 She has sent out her maidens, She cries out from the highest places of the city,

4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,

5 “Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed.

6 Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.

7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.

8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

11 For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.

12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

Questions to Think About

  1. If you look at the overall direction of your life in the past year, would you say that you are on God’s path of wisdom or the world’s path of sin and foolishness? Explain.
  2. Are you a teachable person who is open to receiving correction and guidance from God’s Word and other mature Christians? Why or why not?
  3. The picture of Woman Wisdom appealing to naive travelers is really just another way of saying that God Himself is calling out to people to follow Him and find life. How does imagining God calling out to people to love, listen, and follow Him teach us more about what He is like?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel