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Proverbs 19-21The Message (MSG)

If You Quit Listening

19 Better to be poor and honest
    than a rich person no one can trust.

Ignorant zeal is worthless;
    haste makes waste.

People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
    so why does God always get blamed?

Wealth attracts friends as honey draws flies,
    but poor people are avoided like a plague.

Perjury won’t go unpunished.
    Would you let a liar go free?

Lots of people flock around a generous person;
    everyone’s a friend to the philanthropist.

When you’re down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
    yes, even your best friends wish you’d get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way—
    out of sight, out of mind.

Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
    keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.

The person who tells lies gets caught;
    the person who spreads rumors is ruined.

10 Blockheads shouldn’t live on easy street
    any more than workers should give orders to their boss.

11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
    their grandeur is to forgive and forget.

12 Mean-tempered leaders are like mad dogs;
    the good-natured are like fresh morning dew.

13 A parent is worn to a frazzle by a stupid child;
    a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet.

14 House and land are handed down from parents,
    but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.

15 Life collapses on loafers;
    lazybones go hungry.

16 Keep the rules and keep your life;
    careless living kills.

17 Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,
    and God pays back those loans in full.

18 Discipline your children while you still have the chance;
    indulging them destroys them.

19 Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
    if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.

20 Take good counsel and accept correction—
    that’s the way to live wisely and well.

21 We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
    but God’s purpose prevails.

22 It’s only human to want to make a buck,
    but it’s better to be poor than a liar.

23 Fear-of-God is life itself,
    a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.

24 Some people dig a fork into the pie
    but are too lazy to raise it to their mouth.

25 Punish the insolent—make an example of them.
    Who knows? Somebody might learn a good lesson.

26 Kids who lash out against their parents
    are an embarrassment and disgrace.

27 If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
    you’ll soon be out of your depth.

28 An unprincipled witness desecrates justice;
    the mouths of the wicked spew malice.

29 The irreverent have to learn reverence the hard way;
    only a slap in the face brings fools to attention.

Deep Water in the Heart

20 Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome—
    a staggering drunk is not much fun.

Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs—
    cross them and they bite your head off.

It’s a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
    but fools love to pick fights.

A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring
    has nothing to harvest in the fall.

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
    a wise person draws from the well within.

Lots of people claim to be loyal and loving,
    but where on earth can you find one?

God-loyal people, living honest lives,
    make it much easier for their children.

8-9 Leaders who know their business and care
    keep a sharp eye out for the shoddy and cheap,
For who among us can be trusted
    to be always diligent and honest?

10 Switching price tags and padding the expense account
    are two things God hates.

11 Young people eventually reveal by their actions
    if their motives are on the up and up.

Drinking from the Chalice of Knowledge

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
    we get our basic equipment from God!

13 Don’t be too fond of sleep; you’ll end up in the poorhouse.
    Wake up and get up; then there’ll be food on the table.

14 The shopper says, “That’s junk—I’ll take it off your hands,”
    then goes off boasting of the bargain.

15 Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge
    is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.

16 Hold tight to collateral on any loan to a stranger;
    beware of accepting what a transient has pawned.

17 Stolen bread tastes sweet,
    but soon your mouth is full of gravel.

18 Form your purpose by asking for counsel,
    then carry it out using all the help you can get.

19 Gossips can’t keep secrets,
    so never confide in blabbermouths.

20 Anyone who curses father and mother
    extinguishes light and exists benighted.

The Very Steps We Take

21 A bonanza at the beginning
    is no guarantee of blessing at the end.

22 Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!”
    Wait for God; he’ll settle the score.

23 God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    rigged scales are an outrage.

24 The very steps we take come from God;
    otherwise how would we know where we’re going?

25 An impulsive vow is a trap;
    later you’ll wish you could get out of it.

26 After careful scrutiny, a wise leader
    makes a clean sweep of rebels and dolts.

27 God is in charge of human life,
    watching and examining us inside and out.

28 Love and truth form a good leader;
    sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.

29 Youth may be admired for vigor,
    but gray hair gives prestige to old age.

30 A good thrashing purges evil;
    punishment goes deep within us.

God Examines Our Motives

21 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
    he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.

We justify our actions by appearances;
    God examines our motives.

Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
    mean far more to God than religious performance.

Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
    are just plain sin.

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
    hurry and scurry puts you further behind.

Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
    get paid with smoke and a promotion—to death!

The wicked get buried alive by their loot
    because they refuse to use it to help others.

Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
    pure motives take you straight down the road.

Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst

Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
    than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

10 Wicked souls love to make trouble;
    they feel nothing for friends and neighbors.

11 Simpletons only learn the hard way,
    but the wise learn by listening.

12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked
    and undo the evil they’ve planned.

13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor,
    your cries will go unheard, unanswered.

14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
    a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs,
    but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.

16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow
    ends up in a congregation of ghosts.

17 You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
    The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs;
    the plotter gets it in the end.

19 Better to live in a tent in the wild
    than with a cross and petulant spouse.

20 Valuables are safe in a wise person’s home;
    fools put it all out for yard sales.

21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
    finds life itself—glorious life!

22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers—
    their trusted defenses fell to pieces!

23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
    you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

24 You know their names—Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer—
    intemperate hotheads, every one.

25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
    because they won’t get up and go to work.

26 Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have;
    the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.

27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks;
    it’s even worse when they use it to get ahead.

28 A lying witness is unconvincing;
    a person who speaks truth is respected.

29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot;
    honest people are sure of their steps.

30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
    can get the better of God.

31 Do your best, prepare for the worst—
    then trust God to bring victory.

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Corinthians 7The Message (MSG)

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.

More Passionate, More Responsible

2-4 Trust us. We’ve never hurt a soul, never exploited or taken advantage of anyone. Don’t think I’m finding fault with you. I told you earlier that I’m with you all the way, no matter what. I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles.

5-7 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!

8-9 I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.

10 Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.

11-13 And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great.

13-16 And then, when we saw how Titus felt—his exuberance over your response—our joy doubled. It was wonderful to see how revived and refreshed he was by everything you did. If I went out on a limb in telling Titus how great I thought you were, you didn’t cut off that limb. As it turned out, I hadn’t exaggerated one bit. Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you.

The Message (MSG)

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

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