22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. 23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. 24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labour. 25 Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. 26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. 27 The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt. 28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. (Prov. 12:22-28 NIV)
22 The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
We see in this proverb what the Lord detests and what the Lord delights in. It is not just the lies that the Lord detests, He detests lying lips. He detests the person who lies. The lies come from an evil heart. Liars will be excluded from the New Jerusalem.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:27 NIV)
Those who are faithful to the truth are the Lord’s delight. Because the Lord is trustworthy, He expects His people to be trustworthy.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
This proverb discourages hasty judgements. It is better to take time to reflect on an incident rather than pronounce an instant judgement. When you are informed about what has happened to a person by a third party and you have a responsibility to speak to that person, it is best not to have a preconceived assessment based on what you have been told. If you assume you already understand the problem, you are likely to attempt to deal with the wrong issue. It is best to hear the issue from the person concerned. Even then the presenting problem may not be the real problem. So it is prudent to take time and listen carefully because issues are usually much more complicated than they first appear. In contrast the fool blurts out folly. They make snap decisions and pronounce judgements and assessments on others. Those who take a weekend course on counselling need to be careful to avoid feeling that they have a clear grasp of the human mind and soul. When counselling it is good practice to know what your limitations are and know when to ask for help from those who are more skilled to deal with the issue. We can foolishly blurt out assessments and recovery plans when we don’t have the skills to deal with some complex issues.
24 Diligent hands will rule,
but laziness ends in forced labour.
Diligence leads to freedom and a self-directed life. Through diligence the wise will rule their own lives. Someone who is diligent in their work will often become their own boss. If there is a manager, they will not feel the need to constantly supervise the diligent person. The lazy person will need constant supervision. Self-rule and forced labour are the extreme outcomes of these two categories.
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
This proverb shows us the benefit that words can bring to others. Worry mingled with fear causes anxiety. We should not be anxious but rather we should cast all our worries on God because He cares for us. Some people are more prone to anxiety than others. I have witnessed some anxious people being bullied by those who are not so anxious. People lose patience with the anxious person because they feel that they just go from one anxious event to the next, and that they need to just ‘grow up’ and shake themselves out of the problem. However, that is not such an easy thing to do. If we were not prone to be anxious, then we would not need the verses in the Bible that tell us not to be anxious. Words carefully crafted can help lift the person out of anxiety. A lack of understanding and an unsympathetic response can make the problem worse. Sometimes people will also need medical intervention in the form of anti-depressants to help them cope through a difficult time. There is a stigma attached to the use of anti-depressants in the evangelical world. This should not be. When we break a leg, we need a plaster cast to support the leg while it heals. When something goes wrong in our mind, we may need medical support while we heal. In the context of this proverb, the kind word includes are sympathy, support and acceptance of the medical treatment that a person might need.
26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Because of the influence relationships can have upon us we should be wise in the friends we choose. If a person is always critical of other people, or always negative, it is best to limit your time with that person. If you find yourself always coming away from a person feeling deflated and discouraged, then that person is having a very bad effect upon you. It is good to have friends. We are designed to be social beings and we can learn so much from each other and we can enjoy each other’s company. CS Lewis’s book, ‘The Four Loves’ has some very helpful comments on friendships. In contrast to the righteous, the wicked are laid astray. They rush into relationships and this course leads to their ruin. They lack discrimination and probably also lack real friends. A bit like the Prodigal son who had many friends while he had money to spend, but when the money was gone so were the friends, and he was left alone to suffer the consequences.
27 The lazy do not roast any game,
but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.
This is a difficult verse to translate and at first glance the reaction is, ‘what is this verse doing here?’ The idea is that the project remains unfinished. The lazy person has gone out and caught the game, but he doesn’t benefit from it by roasting it and eating it. A further point is that a life of the animal has been taken, but it is wasted because the game was not eaten. Many small holders and subsistence hunters will try and use as much of the animal as possible so that there is no waste. The lazy person doesn’t care and doesn’t benefit. The diligent person completes the task, cooks and eats the riches of the hunt. When I was a child, my grandfather always brought home what he had shot. We had rabbit and pigeon quite often to eat. When my parents were children quite often they had to depend on what they could hunt in order to have meat to eat. This seems so foreign to us now.
28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
along that path is immortality.
The Teacher reminds us of the outcome of righteousness and wisdom. The outcome is life and immortality. The wise way is the good way to live and gives us a better life and that life will lead to eternal joy in the presence of God.
Lord help us when we are anxious to bring those anxious thoughts into Your presence. Relieve us from our anxiety by helping us to see and feel that You are in control of all things. Help to have in our minds that there are no surprise outcomes with You. Lord help us to be patient with others who are anxious and to support them with kind and understanding attitudes and words. Help us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn, because we ask these things in the name of our Saviour. Amen.