September 14 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” ~Proverbs 27:5

OLD TESTAMENT

The sage on making assumptions. We all know what happens when we assume! “What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?” (Prov. 25:8). Getting all the facts before making conclusions applies to the courtroom, the boardroom, or the bedroom. You better be sure you know your stuff before you open your mouth. And when someone spreads his hastily formed assumptions about you, don’t get too upset. Like a bird that pauses on your deck handrail and then flutters away, his attempts to tarnish your reputation will not last (Prov. 26:2).

The sage on the power of words. The sage praises the beauty of a well-timed word. He likens the proper use of words to “apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11). When we say the right thing in the right way at the right time, our words are like a perfectly framed piece of art. Beautiful.

Strong leaders find this approach irresistible. They recoil at stern rebukes, but patience and gentleness will win the king over. Keep this in mind especially when you are unhappy. Fools rush in, but a wise person waits for the right time and expresses his concerns with care.

The sage on quarrelsome women. Before you tie the knot, make sure you are not getting into a lifelong relationship with someone who fights over every little thing. It would be better to live in a small corner of the attic than to live with a woman who nags and picks and argues (Prov. 25:24). Some arguments are to be expected, but there are women who don’t know when to turn it off. “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day” (Prov. 27:15-16). Marry a woman who knows how to work through disagreements in a healthy way, or life will be miserable!

The sage on sharp-tongued men and smooth talkers. Watch out for the guy who makes cutting, sarcastic comments, and then says, “I was only joking” (Prov. 26:18-19). He is like a madman setting fields and forests on fire and laughing at the destruction. His protestations are a ruse; he does intend to be malicious! Also beware the smooth-talker who charms people with a wink and a smile.  His lips won’t reveal the deceit he harbors in his heart, but just because he is charming doesn’t mean he can be trusted (Prov. 25:25).

The sage on dealing with a fool. In a word, what you need to deal with a fool is wisdom. Sometimes the best way to deal with a fool is by curbing your annoyance and letting his foolishness pass (Prov. 27:4). And then, there are times when foolish remarks require a clever response that puts the fellow in his place (Prov. 27:5). These two verses aren’t the contradiction they first seem. Knowing which one to employ is a matter of discernment, which is a matter of wisdom. Decisions that don’t require discernment are these: don’t hire a fool, don’t try to change one, and don’t hang around one. You are only asking for trouble.

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul is reeling from a strained relationship with the Corinthian church. He is trying his best to convince them of his love for them and his transparency in ministering to them over the years. However, the Corinthians are proud (see 1 Corinthians 13), and they have been “yoking up” with people who impugn Paul’s motives. People that Paul flat out names as unbelievers (if they were true believers they would believe his message!). Do not be “unequally yoked” with them, the apostle tells the Corinthian believers.

This passage has been pulled out of context to condemn all kinds of things from marrying unbelievers to business partnerships with unbelievers. But the primary lesson is that sometimes unbelievers within the Christian community may sway others from following Christ. The biggest clue that you might associated with a person of this kind is his or her clever attempts to drive a wedge between you and those who are responsible before God for shepherding His church. True believers believe the Word, believe those who proclaim the Word, and fear the awful consequences of sedition.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.