25 Here are more of Solomon’s proverbs. They were copied by the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah. 2 God is praised for being mysterious; rulers are praised for explaining mysteries. 3 Who can fully understand the thoughts of a ruler? They reach beyond the sky and go deep in the earth.
4 Silver must be purified before it can be used to make something of value. 5 Evil people must be removed before anyone can rule with justice.
6 Don’t try to seem important in the court of a ruler. 7 It’s better for the ruler to give you a high position than for you to be embarrassed in front of royal officials. Be sure you are right 8 before you sue someone, or you might lose your case and be embarrassed.
9 When you and someone else can’t get along, don’t gossip about it.[a] 10 Others will find out, and your reputation will then be ruined.
11 The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver. 12 Listening to good advice is worth much more than jewelry made of gold. 13 A messenger you can trust is just as refreshing as cool water in summer. 14 Broken promises are worse than rain clouds that don’t bring rain. 15 Patience and gentle talk can convince a ruler and overcome any problem.
16 Eating too much honey can make you sick. 17 Don’t visit friends too often, or they will get tired of it and start hating you. 18 Telling lies about friends is like attacking them with clubs and swords and sharp arrows. 19 A friend you can’t trust in times of trouble is like having a toothache or a sore foot. 20 Singing to someone in deep sorrow is like pouring vinegar in an open cut.[b]
21 If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. 22 This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads. And the Lord will reward you. 23 As surely as rain blows in from the north, anger is caused by cruel words. 24 It’s better to stay outside on the roof of your house than to live inside with a nagging wife.
25 Good news from far away refreshes like cold water when you are thirsty. 26 When a good person gives in to the wicked, it’s like dumping garbage in a stream of clear water. 27 Don’t eat too much honey or always want praise.[c] 28 Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall.
Don’t Be a Fool
26 Expecting snow in summer and rain in the dry season makes more sense than honoring a fool. 2 A curse you don’t deserve will take wings and fly away like a sparrow or a swallow. 3 Horses and donkeys must be beaten and bridled— and so must fools. 4 Don’t make a fool of yourself by answering a fool. 5 But if you answer any fools, show how foolish they are, so they won’t feel smart.
6 Sending a message by a fool is like chopping off your foot and drinking poison. 7 A fool with words of wisdom is like an athlete with legs that can’t move.[d] 8 Are you going to honor a fool? Why not shoot a slingshot with the rock tied tight? 9 A thornbush waved around in the hand of a drunkard is no worse than a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 It’s no smarter to shoot arrows at every passerby than it is to hire a bunch of worthless nobodies.[e] 11 Dogs return to eat their vomit, just as fools repeat their foolishness. 12 There is more hope for a fool than for someone who says, “I’m really smart!”
13 Don’t be lazy and keep saying, “There’s a lion outside!” 14 A door turns on its hinges, but a lazy person just turns over in bed. 15 Some of us are so lazy that we won’t lift a hand to feed ourselves. 16 A lazy person says, “I am smarter than everyone else.”
17 It’s better to take hold of a mad dog by the ears than to take part in someone else’s argument. 18 It’s no crazier to shoot sharp and flaming arrows 19 than to cheat someone and say, “I was only fooling!”
20 Where there is no fuel a fire goes out; where there is no gossip arguments come to an end. 21 Troublemakers start trouble, just as sparks and fuel start a fire. 22 There is nothing so delicious as the taste of gossip! It melts in your mouth.
23 Hiding hateful thoughts behind smooth[f] talk is like coating a clay pot with a cheap glaze. 24 The pleasant talk of an enemy hides more evil plans 25 than can be counted— so don’t believe a word! 26 Everyone will see through those evil plans. 27 If you dig a pit, you will fall in; if you start a stone rolling, it will roll back on you. 28 Watch out for anyone who tells lies and flatters— they are out to get you.
25.9When. . . it: Or “Settle a problem privately between you and your neighbor and don’t involve others.”
25.20cut: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 20.
25.27or. . . praise: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
26.7with. . . move: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
26.10nobodies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
26.23smooth: One ancient translation; Hebrew “hateful.”
9 I don’t need to write you about the money you plan to give for God’s people. 2 I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord’s followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. 3 That’s why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to brag about you.
4 Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don’t, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. 5 So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to.
6 Remember this saying,
“A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest.”
7 Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. 8 God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. 9 The Scriptures say,
“God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right.”
10 God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11 You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.
12 What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13 The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else. 14 Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15 Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words!
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