Read Proverbs 23:1-12
Here are the next 6 of the 30 Sayings of the Wise.
We begin with Saying 7.
The proverb first speaks of manners. When you are a guest at a fine dinner, don’t make a pig or a fool of yourself. This is just etiquette 101. The whole knife to your throat business just says, “This is important,” in a metaphor of the table service.
But there is also the trap of fine dining. Just because the King can afford ribeye steak and cheesecake at every meal doesn’t mean that we can. If it is not in your budget then don’t get an appetite for it.
If it is in your budget, then kings or their modern day equivalent are probably dining with you.
There is a finer point to be made here as well. When you go to a fancy meal with important people, the meal isn’t really about the meal, it is about the company. In many social settings that involve a meal, greater care is given to the seating arrangement than the menu.
A meal in such a setting has little to do with the fine food. It is a time of fellowship with those gathered on a special occasion.
Jesus also counseled us to store up our riches in heaven because they will rust and tarnish and not endure here.
The proverb says don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. It doesn’t say there is anything wrong with wealth but that it should not be the pursuit of your life’s effort.
There is a supplemental piece of counsel embedded in this proverb as well. It says don’t trust your own cleverness. Don’t try to outwit the system.
Hard work and persistence pay dividends. A something for nothing scheme—a too good to be true business proposition—probably is too good to be true.
Saying 9 talks about the begrudging host and the one who warms up to him. There is no relationship to be had here. This host is only thinking of the cost to him.
The true quality of the host is hospitality—the desire to share what he or she has with guests.
We are reminded not forgo taking in strangers for some have entertained angels unaware.
So if God’s way tells us to be good even to strangers, should we not be a good host to our invited guests as well?
If someone is hosting an “event” because they feel like they “have to,” you are better off sending your regrets that you will not attend instead of regretting that you did.
Saying 10 should sound familiar. Any conversation that you have with a fool—one who has rejected wisdom and doesn’t care—is a waste of your time.
You seek God’s wisdom and invest time. You don’t spend it or waste it.
You can still share the good news with them, but for these people who prefer their state of contented ignorance to the truth, leave the good news as an invitation and then leave.
Saying 11 once again involves a boundary stone. In this case, that stone probably does refer to the actual boundary. It says don’t take advantage of others, especially the fatherless.
We have been down this road before. Don’t take advantage of the poor, or the helpless, or those that need to harvest from the corners of your field.
We count our blessings that we are not numbered among the fatherless.
Saying 12 again brings us to wisdom and knowledge. It describes what we might call a teachable spirit. We don’t begrudgingly make it through the school day or even through the day’s experiences at home or at work.
We lean into them desiring wisdom and knowledge.
This is the condition of the heart and mind that says, “I am hungry to learn God’s ways.”
So what did we find in this second half dozen sayings?
· We should mind our manners, not crave things we can’t afford, and enjoy the company of those at the meal as much as we enjoy the food.
· He who dies with the most money and toys wins. Not!
· Don’t be a host if you are not going to be hospitable and send your regrets if you will regret attending.
· Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it talking to those who reject wisdom. Share the gospel but don’t hang around for idle conversation. When these people are hungry for the truth instead of controversy, you will know it.
· Don’t take advantage of the disadvantaged. You will answer to God for such actions. Just count your blessings.
· Become a teachable spirit—one who desires to learn God’s ways with heart, soul, body, mind, and spirit. This is a good thing.
We are not quite halfway through these sayings; 12 down, 18 to go.