Saturday In The Proverbs—Backfire! (Proverbs 26)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…honor is not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

However well-intentioned, there are some things guaranteed to backfire. Things like…

… honoring a fool (vv. 1, 8)

… trying to curse or bring down a good man (v. 2)

… letting a fool roam without restraint (v. 3)

… trying to reason with a fool (vv. 4, 5)

… trusting an untrustworthy man to deliver a message accurately (v. 6)

… allowing a fool to teach others (vv. 7, 9)

… not letting a fool learn from the consequences of his foolishness (vv. 10-12)

… entrusting a lazy man with an important task (vv. 13-16)

… meddling in someone else’s quarrel (v. 17)

… inappropriate joking (vv. 18, 19)

… gossiping (vv. 20-22)

… judging by outward appearances (vv. 23-26)

… trying to entrap someone (v. 27)

… lying and flattery (v. 28)

Stay clear of these guaranteed-to-backfire traps! 

Choice Four-Letter Words

Have you ever been “cursed out” by someone? I mean had a stream of four-letter obscenities hurled at you? What happens inside you? Isn’t your natural reaction to strike back? To begin to a counter-attack with a few choice four-letter words of your own?

It’s natural to feel this way; it’s a very human response.

On the other hand, have you ever been “blessed out” by someone? Had someone shower you with niceties and accolades and compliments? What happens inside you this time? Isn’t your natural reaction the complete opposite? Don’t you want to say, “Well, I think you’re pretty special, too”?

It’s natural to feel this way; it’s a very human response.

But Jesus commanded us to do something counter-cultural, something which requires a spiritual response: “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28). Paul amplified this thought: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).

These words curse and bless are challenging for me. Curse means to hope for someone’s downfall; bless means to say good words to or about someone. Cursing can be done internally or verbally; blessing has to be done verbally. Eugene Peterson captures the essence of this in his paraphrase of Romans 12:14—”Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.

If my natural response is to match curse for curse, obscenity for obscenity, then to respond in a Christ-like fashion is going to take a change of character. To respond with the right four-letter words, I have to do the opposite of my natural response.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for bless carried the understanding that it all hinged on God—He is the focal point. All of the definitions of this word involve a close relationship with God: (a) bless God; (b) bless men in the name of God; (c) ask for divine favor for persons or things created by God; or (d) salute someone because we know God has saluted us.

In the New Testament the Greek word for bless makes it clear that this has to be done verbally, out loud. It is impossible to bless under your breath. In the Greek, bless is the compound word eulogeo = eu- (good) + –logos (words) → saying good words out loud.

Only God is good. So only a closer relationship with our good God will help us say good words to others; especially to those who curse us.

The right four-letter words to use—the un-natural words to use—are: Good words.

I’m challenging myself today to bless others, especially those who curse me. I only want to say good to and about others today. I’m attempting to live out Ephesians 4:29—

  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up (New International Version)
  • Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others (Amplified Bible)
  • Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift (The Message)
  • When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger (New Century Version).

How have you learned to say the right four-letter words to others? What challenges you about this?

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