The Causes of Wealth and Poverty


  Why are some people wealthy while other people are poor?   There are several possible answers to that question, but the Book of Proverbs emphasizes this insight: Hard work leads to wealth, but laziness leads to poverty. Consider in this matter the following proverbs:   Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son (10:4-5).   He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment (12:11).   Diligent hands will … Continue reading The Causes of Wealth and Poverty

Laziness vs. Hard Work


  My dad is the hardest working man I know. He’s 66 years old, but he can work men half his age under the table. Like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going and going from dawn till dusk. Some people work hard, others work smart; my dad does both. I get tired just watching him.   I’ve never asked dad why he’s so hard working, but I think it has to do with his childhood. My grandparents were godly people. They labored hard in the fields of the Lord as missionaries and pastors of small churches. But they … Continue reading Laziness vs. Hard Work

Leadership and Self-Leadership (Proverbs 31:1-9)


  The Book of Proverbs typically presents itself as a father giving advice to his son about how to live the truly good life.[*] But in Proverbs 31:1-9, it is a mother who speaks to her son. She is no ordinary woman, however; and he is no ordinary man. She is the queen mother, and he is the king. Let’s take a close look at what she says, for she teaches him (and us) several important lessons about leadership and self-leadership.   The sayings of King Lemuel — an oracle his mother taught him:   “O my son, O son … Continue reading Leadership and Self-Leadership (Proverbs 31:1-9)

Citizenship


  What does the Book of Proverbs teach us about being good citizens?   It teaches us, first of all, that good citizens have good hearts.   He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend (22:11).   A citizen with a pure heart is a person of integrity. He or she is guided by the highest values and motivated by the best intentions. This integrity overflows into action, specifically speech but also action. The pure-hearted person speaks graciously about and to the people God has placed in positions of political … Continue reading Citizenship

Bad Government


  There is only one way for a government to go right: by doing justice. There are many ways for a government to go wrong, however. The Book of Proverbs offers an illustrative list of the practices of bad government.   The first practice is dishonesty.   Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool — how much worse lying lips to a ruler! (17:7)   In this proverb, “arrogant lips” are parallel to “lying lips.” And since kings should not be fools, they should neither speak arrogantly nor dishonestly. Unfortunately, on the campaign trail, politicians are apt to both overstate … Continue reading Bad Government

Good Government


  The test of good government is justice. A government that makes and enforces just laws passes the test. A government that does not does not.   In modern America, the federal government is composed of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch enforces them, and the judicial branch judges their application. In ancient Israel, however, the king embodied all three functions of government. He was legislator, executive, and judge. Because he was invested with such heavy responsibilities, the king had a unique responsibility to act justly.   According to Proverbs 16:10, … Continue reading Good Government

God and Government


  Because 2008 is a presidential election year, it seems prudent to study what the Book of Proverbs teaches about government.[*] Here is an outline of my topics for the next five devotionals:   God and Government Good Government Bad Government Good Citizenship Government and Self-Government   What role should the Christian religion play in American politics? The Book of Proverbs does not explicitly answer that question, of course. But it does provide some broad guidelines about that should guide our thinking.   The first guideline is divine wisdom is the basis of just law. Consider, in this regard, Proverbs … Continue reading God and Government

Healthy Decisions


  This January, I resolved to eat right and exercise. I’ve been resolving to do so every January since I can remember, but this January was different. I finally admitted that I am not getting any younger and that my health is largely my decision. Eating cheeseburgers daily and sitting on the couch watching TV nightly are not the kind of decisions that make for a long or healthy life.   The Book of Proverbs outlines several decisions each of us must make that also contribute to healthy living.[*] These don’t fall into the realm of eat right and exercise, … Continue reading Healthy Decisions

Seven Principles of Good Planning, Part 2


  Yesterday, we examined the first four of Proverbs’ principles of good planning:   Who you are and what you plan form a continuum. Different plans have different outcomes. Good plans are built on sound advice. Good plans utilize processes.   Today, I’d like to look at three other principles:   The best plans take into account God’s moral law.   Proverbs 29:18 contrast godless plans with godly plans:   Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.   God’s moral law, which is revealed in nature but most clearly … Continue reading Seven Principles of Good Planning, Part 2

Seven Principles of Good Planning


   A few weeks before New Year’s Day, I bought myself a Franklin/Covey day planner. At the end of 2007, I realized that I had not accomplished as much as I had wanted to, and I chalked up this failure to bad planning and time management. I determined that the same thing would not happen to me in 2008. My day planner helps keep me on track.   The Book of Proverbs teaches us quite a bit about planning, whether for your day or for your life. Consider these principles:   First, who you are and what you plan form … Continue reading Seven Principles of Good Planning