July26Hello, Friend!  It is my hope that you have gained in wisdom through this study, and that you have been given some things to think about as well as having perhaps seen some new ways in which to apply the biblical standards for living given in the book of Proverbs.  Thinking back over the past year of taking part in this discipline of reading a chapter of Proverbs each day has brought a renewed sense of those things that God values (honesty, integrity, kindness, faithfulness, persistence, compassion, etc.) and what God rejects (wickedness, foolishness, cruelty, lying, cheating, deception, etc.).  The other thing that has stood out to me when reading this are the many ways in which we can excuse ourselves from seeing our own partaking of those things which God rejects.  We can easily think of ourselves as a “good” person, yet find ourselves lying in “little” ways or practicing deception in socially acceptable ways or situations among other things.  I have been reminded of the necessity of total honesty within myself through this!  Are you willing this morning to be honest with yourself, Friend?  Perhaps willing to admit that there may be things that need to be faced, repented of, confessed if necessary, and then changed with God’s help?  Making that decision to open ourselves to conviction of needed change before we even start reading God’s Word is crucial to being able to prayerfully hear God’s voice when we do so.

Today, we are reading in Proverbs, chapter 26, looking for the wisdom we will need for this specific day.  I encourage you to read it prayerfully, asking for God’s involvement and instruction as you do so and then to expect that there will be a new insight or piece of instruction given!

Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.” (verse 23)

The phrase “smooth words” was translated as “burning lips” in several other translations as I dug a little more into this verse this morning, so as my interest was piqued as to the exact meaning behind this phrase, I also looked up the meaning behind the word “smooth”.  It is given as “to burn or hotly pursue” and also to “kindle or inflame”.  Genesius’ Lexicon (www.blueletterbible.org) gave a little more of an explanation as it said this refers to “speeches which show or feign the warmest love”.  Who has never been deceived by someone who knew how to use their words, tone of voice and body language to convey something that they did not mean?  It can sometimes be a difficult thing to correctly discern between someone who is manipulating us for their own gain and someone who genuinely cares for us.  This verse is telling us not to base our discernment upon words alone.  A person can say all of the right things and can even go so far as to manipulate the atmosphere surrounding themselves, so that one is unaware of their true intentions, but “feels” that everything is ok.  How often do we base our decisions, at least in part, upon our “gut instinct” about someone?  While the words and atmosphere surrounding someone are definitely to be considered, their actions, consistency, and integrity displayed need to be constantly taken into account as well.

Verses 24-25 go on to say, “People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils.”  Hatred?  While the person who is acting deceptively may not even be completely aware of their own deceptive behavior in some cases, the self-absorption displayed when one is intent on getting their own way is characterized here as “hatred”.  They are displaying a love of self that takes not into account another person’s needs, feelings, or preferences.

Has the experience of talking to a co-worker regarding a project taken place for you, Friend, only to have that same co-worker abandon you in a meeting to side with the perceived majority?  Has your compassion, even love or care for someone been used to their advantage, so that you are the one who is constantly giving out of yourself in the relationship and the other person is more often than not the one taking?  We are not to depend on words that can be manipulated for discernment in these situations, but we are to take into account all aspects of the situation, carefully evaluating the other person’s track record of actions and character before placing our trust in that person.  Even as Jesus sent his disciples out to spread the news that the Savior had come in Matthew 10:16, he tells them in this verse “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

My Response Today:  Thank You Heavenly Father for giving us the wisdom and discernment necessary so that we will know who we should trust and who we should be wary of in this verse today.  I ask also that You would point out to me any situation today in which I need to have this discernment.