Family, Bible Studies

Practicing Self-ControlPremium Content

Proverbs 17:27-28 NRSV
One who spares words is knowledgeable;
one who is cool in spirit has understanding.
Even fools who keep silent are considered wise;
when they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent.


A truly wise person uses few words;
a person with understanding is even-tempered.
NLT

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." - Mark Twain

We talk too much and we feel too much. Period. End of story. Somewhere, somehow, in our culture, the idea began to permeate that one who says a lot knows a lot. But you only have to listen to people through the media to know that's not true.

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Presenting Our Children with ChoicesPremium Content

The one who begets a fool gets trouble;
the parent of a fool has no joy.
Proverbs 17:21NRSV

Foolish children aren't born, they're made... by their parents. As Americans, we are so brainwashed with certain ideas, often we aren't even aware that we are allowing our children to raise themselves, rather than taking the constant responsibility to teach them as we should. Recently, on the Wrightslaw web page (a service for parents who have children with disabilities), an Indian child specialist commented about how American parents ask their children, rather than simply telling them (or compelling them). In other words, we give our children choices, as if somehow having options is a teaching tool. (In fact, there are teachers that teach that way in the classroom, often to the downfall of education.)

Presenting options to a person assumes that the person can

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Family Doesn't Come Easily

Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.


These days everything is throw-away. We love our fast food disposable society. Our cars break down; we buy new ones. Our homes need remodeling; we buy bigger ones. Our relationships sour; we find new "families." We've lost an important sense of investment in life. Rather than invest, we throw out. And we fail to learn many important lessons when we live like this. We also may find ourselves on the short end of the stick when adversity strikes because we won't have established the kind of relationships and skills that are necessary to persevere through the hard times.

Getting My Eyes Off of Myself

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 NRSV

We visited a church with our kids on Sunday. The pastor, in trying to make a point about honesty, addressed the dynamic that occurs when friends meet together: "How are you?" "I'm fine." He concluded that often the "I'm fine" is actually a lie because we aren't fine.

But are we?

As Christians should we have any opportunity for griping or complaining, moaning or groaning? Or are we actually stating a truth when we say "I'm fine," a truth that perhaps we really don't embrace but which is a truth nonetheless? Paul wrote:

Is My Way Always Right?

Proverbs 17:19 NRSV
One who loves transgression loves strife;
one who builds a high threshold invites broken bones.

I have a terrible tendency to want, to need to be right. And if my opinions, my way is always right, then I am likely going to be in contention with those around me who see and perceive the world differently than I do. Psalm 94:4 equates arrogance (the need to be right): They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. (NRSV) Demanding that only our way is right is the same as boasting. And arrogance isn't the way of the believer. The believer is called to be humble. In fact, when we are humble, we are obedient, but when we are not humble -- when we are arrogant and self-seeking -- we are living in strife with those around us and are in sin. In fact, it is impossible to please God unless we are humble: Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67 NRSV

What Kind of Friend Am I ?

Proverbs 17:17 NRSV
A friend loves at all times,
and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

Prior to the giving of the Holy Spirit (in the New Testament), those who followed the Lord (predominantly Israelites) had only the capacity for earthly love, not for heavenly or agape love since they loved out of their own ability and not through the spiritual ability of the Spirit. However, there were still higher standards of behavior given. In the Law, the Lord required:

"You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:17-18 NRSV


You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It was this law that was discussed by the lawyer and the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:

Honesty: Telling It Like It IsPremium Content

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 RSV
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you.


Scripture talks a lot about not judging others. And then, Paul comes along and commands us to judge others. It seems to contradict itself. This isn't the kind of judgment that brings condemnation or punishment, but rather is the kind of judgment that calls into question. It is, in fact, the judgment that is done in love and demands that another believer turn away from their sin.

Matthew Henry says:

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Listening More and Talking Less

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.


Proverbs talks a lot about, well, talking! I think that we often confirm who we are (whether we want to be that person or not) when we talk. Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." And yet, we still talk. We talk in person. We talk (and text) on cell phones. We talk on the Internet. We talk, talk, talk. And a great deal of the time, we are "expressing personal opinion."

Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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Problems with Our ParentsPremium Content

Proverbs 17:6 NRSV
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents.

My grandmother became a Christian in her 60's. I still have the Bible my mom gave her, her cramped notes in the margins. I can remember her telling my mom her regret for waiting so long before she surrendered to the Lord.

It's never too late.

It seems that the number of people my age (and younger) who have "problems" with their parents has risen dramatically. Even before my grandmother was saved, my parents (both of them) had a wonderful relationship with her and a decent relationship with my grandfather (who probably was never saved). It wasn't an easy relationship, but both sides worked at it and made it work. Sometimes I think, particularly those of us who are believers, that we demand too much and forgive too little. And we are the losers because we need our families!

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