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Proverbs 16-18The Message (MSG)

Everything with a Place and a Purpose

16 Mortals make elaborate plans,
    but God has the last word.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
    God probes for what is good.

Put God in charge of your work,
    then what you’ve planned will take place.

God made everything with a place and purpose;
    even the wicked are included—but for judgment.

God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense;
    believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place.

Guilt is banished through love and truth;
    Fear-of-God deflects evil.

When God approves of your life,
    even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.

Far better to be right and poor
    than to be wrong and rich.

We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it.

It Pays to Take Life Seriously

10 A good leader motivates,
    doesn’t mislead, doesn’t exploit.

11 God cares about honesty in the workplace;
    your business is his business.

12 Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds;
    sound leadership has a moral foundation.

13 Good leaders cultivate honest speech;
    they love advisors who tell them the truth.

14 An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives;
    you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that.

15 Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives;
    they’re like spring rain and sunshine.

16 Get wisdom—it’s worth more than money;
    choose insight over income every time.

17 The road of right living bypasses evil;
    watch your step and save your life.

18 First pride, then the crash—
    the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

19 It’s better to live humbly among the poor
    than to live it up among the rich and famous.

20 It pays to take life seriously;
    things work out when you trust in God.

21 A wise person gets known for insight;
    gracious words add to one’s reputation.

22 True intelligence is a spring of fresh water,
    while fools sweat it out the hard way.

23 They make a lot of sense, these wise folks;
    whenever they speak, their reputation increases.

24 Gracious speech is like clover honey—
    good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.

25 There’s a way that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.

26 Appetite is an incentive to work;
    hunger makes you work all the harder.

27 Mean people spread mean gossip;
    their words smart and burn.

28 Troublemakers start fights;
    gossips break up friendships.

29 Calloused climbers betray their very own friends;
    they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.

30 A shifty eye betrays an evil intention;
    a clenched jaw signals trouble ahead.

31 Gray hair is a mark of distinction,
    the award for a God-loyal life.

32 Moderation is better than muscle,
    self-control better than political power.

33 Make your motions and cast your votes,
    but God has the final say.

A Whack on the Head of a Fool

17 A meal of bread and water in contented peace
    is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

A wise servant takes charge of an unruly child
    and is honored as one of the family.

As silver in a crucible and gold in a pan,
    so our lives are assayed by God.

Evil people relish malicious conversation;
    the ears of liars itch for dirty gossip.

Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator;
    gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.

Old people are distinguished by grandchildren;
    children take pride in their parents.

We don’t expect eloquence from fools,
    nor do we expect lies from our leaders.

Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone;
    any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
    fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!

10 A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense
    does more than a whack on the head of a fool.

11 Criminals out looking for nothing but trouble
    won’t have to wait long—they’ll meet it coming and going!

12 Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs
    than a fool hellbent on folly.

13 Those who return evil for good
    will meet their own evil returning.

14 The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam,
    so stop it before it bursts.

15 Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
    are equally abhorrent to God.

16 What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
    They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!

One Who Knows Much Says Little

17 Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

18 It’s stupid to try to get something for nothing,
    or run up huge bills you can never pay.

19 The person who courts sin marries trouble;
    build a wall, invite a burglar.

20 A bad motive can’t achieve a good end;
    double-talk brings you double trouble.

21 Having a fool for a child is misery;
    it’s no fun being the parent of a dolt.

22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
    gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

23 The wicked take bribes under the table;
    they show nothing but contempt for justice.

24 The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

25 A surly, stupid child is sheer pain to a father,
    a bitter pill for a mother to swallow.

26 It’s wrong to penalize good behavior,
    or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others.

27 The one who knows much says little;
    an understanding person remains calm.

28 Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.

Words Kill, Words Give Life

18 Loners who care only for themselves
    spit on the common good.

Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse;
    all they do is run off at the mouth.

When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind;
    contempt for life is contemptible.

Many words rush along like rivers in flood,
    but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.

It’s not right to go easy on the guilty,
    or come down hard on the innocent.

The words of a fool start fights;
    do him a favor and gag him.

Fools are undone by their big mouths;
    their souls are crushed by their words.

Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
    do you really want junk like that in your belly?

Slack habits and sloppy work
    are as bad as vandalism.

10 God’s name is a place of protection—
    good people can run there and be safe.

11 The rich think their wealth protects them;
    they imagine themselves safe behind it.

12 Pride first, then the crash,
    but humility is precursor to honor.

13 Answering before listening
    is both stupid and rude.

14 A healthy spirit conquers adversity,
    but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?

15 Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

16 A gift gets attention;
    it buys the attention of eminent people.

17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing—
    until the cross-examination starts!

18 You may have to draw straws
    when faced with a tough decision.

19 Do a favor and win a friend forever;
    nothing can untie that bond.

20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
    good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.

21 Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

22 Find a good spouse, you find a good life—
    and even more: the favor of God!

23 The poor speak in soft supplications;
    the rich bark out answers.

24 Friends come and friends go,
    but a true friend sticks by you like family.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

2 Corinthians 6The Message (MSG)

Staying at Our Post

1-10 Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

14-18 Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

“I’ll live in them, move into them;
    I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
    leave it for good,” says God.
“Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
    I want you all for myself.
I’ll be a Father to you;
    you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”
The Word of the Master, God.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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