The Proverbs are a Blueprint for Christian Living

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The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is one of the wisdom books (along with others like Job, Sirach, and the Book of Wisdom) and contains many simple adages for living a godly life. However, these are often not as easy to put into practice as it is to read them! Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. comes to the rescue with his book The Proverbs Explained: A Blueprint for Christian Livinghttps://www.sophiainstitute.com/products/item/proverbs-explained?utm_source=epicpew&utm_medium=proverbs&utm_campaign=epicpewproverbs in which he disseminates the proverbs for practical truth and action in your particular state of life and spiritual journey.

 

On Family

A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. (Proverbs. 27:15)

Why do the writers of Proverbs compare constant nagging and nitpicking to “dripping on a rainy day”? Picture an ancient Israelite house, which had a roof made of flimsy boards topped with packed soil and straw. When it rained, the water would eventually go through the straw, pick up some mud and dirt, and drip through the cracks between the boards of the ceiling. You can just imagine how annoying and frustrating (and messy) that would be. This constant, noisy, muddy drip is what unresolved quarreling is like.

 

And now, my child, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house. (Prov. 5:7-8)

A great fruit of wisdom with regard to sexuality is understanding oneself enough to know when temptation is near, followed by the ability to summon the strength and self-control to get out of the situation before it’s too late. It takes the wisdom that comes from a relationship with the Lord to be able to resist not just sexual sin itself but the occasions of sin that might seem fun and innocent at first. No fun is worth risking mortal sin over.

 

On Justice

Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but he who gathers little by little will increase it….An inheritance gotten hastily in the beginning will in the end not be blessed. (Prov. 13:11; 20:21)

On one level these two proverbs simply state common sense. We have all seen get-rich-quick schemes on television, the Internet, and so on. Most people know, even if they are sometimes a bit tempted, that these schemes are usually scams, as the secular proverb states, “If it seems too good to e true, it probably is.” These proverbs remind us of the phenomenon of lottery winners who go bankrupt and experience other personal problems, such as drug abuse. Nearly three out of every four jackpot winners go broke within a decade of their windfall. Why is that the case? Why is quick wealth not blessed “in the end,” while steady earning tends to grow over time? The answer is that managing money is a discipline that requires virtues such as prudence and self-control. Like all virtues, they are developed through habits.

 

On Virtue

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘”I am only joking!”  (Prov. 26: 18-19)

Even if the intent is not to hurt others with deceit—for example, even if a person really was only joking—it is still reckless behavior, like throwing matches around an oil refinery. The great insight of this proverb stems from the idea that the liar—the “madman who throws firebrands”—might really not intend to hurt anybody. That does not, however, change the fact, that his recklessness is dangerous. It is impossible to undo the first deceit, and as a result its consequences, like a flung arrow or a thrown match, are out f our control. The initial deceiver is still responsible for those consequences, since he so carelessly let loose risky lies to begin with.

 

He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who utters slander is a fool. (Prov. 10:18)

Wisdom frequently means remaining silent about things we know concerning another person. When it is prudent, we may go to the person ourselves and address the issue in a conversation. This can clear up the false elements of slander and may help the person change the direction of his or her life for the better. Cruel rumors usually harden hearts and do little good for anyone involved. This saying is a warning against harboring hatred in our hearts and expressing it in our speech. Hatred in our hearts tempts a person either to deceive others about it, or to commit the sins of slander or detraction. The solution is to be careful about our words, certainly, but first of all the lesson is to guard against the interior attitudes that breed hatred in our hearts.

 

 

For even more wisdom and insight on the Proverbs and of living an authentically Christian life, pick up a copy of Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s book The Proverbs Explained: A Blueprint for Christian Living.

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