The Better Way

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 12:17-28 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Vivian Wyatt):

I have a friend who keeps a small spiral notebook in his shirt pocket, and when he hears something that he thinks is profound or at least thought provoking he jots it down. He and I were talking one day about God and life and I quoted something that I had read somewhere. “If God hates the same people you do, then you have created God in your own image.” Out came the pen and notebook and he wrote it down.

This is what most of Proverbs reminds me of: a collection of truisms, or what today we would call sound bites, that the writer has amassed through the years and finally decided to write down for posterity.

Today’s passage falls in the section of Proverbs called The Wisdom of Solomon; a sort of ancient Poor Richard’s Almanac. Just like Poor Richard’s Almanac, this section is filled with clever sayings that give practical guides to navigating life. While Ben Franklin’s Almanac tends to deal with everyday things — A penny saved is a penny earned. Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead — the adages of Proverbs tend to deal with character building: Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. The lazy do not roast their game, but the diligent obtain precious wealth.

It first appeared that the author was a lot like my friend; just write it down, it doesn’t matter if the sayings are categorized or even related to each other. However, on a closer reading, there is a decided point of view: the better way. It is better to be honest than to tell lies; it is better to be diligent about your tasks than lazy; and it is better to be wise than a fool. This passage teaches us the better way to behave.

I find that it’s nice to have sound bites — little snippets of wisdom that can come to mind when needed to remind us that there is a better way. Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. That’ll make you think twice when you’re about to fly off the handle; thoughtless words can be like stabbing someone.

I would like to see my friend’s notebook to see what sound bites he thought were worth preserving, were worth living his life by. I need to write mine down, not because I’d forget them, but sometimes we need a reminder. That’s what the author(s) of Proverbs was doing, reminding us of the better way.

Thought for the day: Do you have any passages that guide your life? Perhaps it time to bring them out, dust them off and remind yourself that there is a better way.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.