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Proverbs 22-24The Message (MSG)

The Cure Comes Through Discipline

22 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
    a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.

The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
    God made them both!

A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
    a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
    is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.

The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
    if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it.

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost.

The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
    so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.

Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
    and bullying anger sputters into nothing.

Generous hands are blessed hands
    because they give bread to the poor.

10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
    you need a break from bickering and griping!

11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
    good leaders also delight in their friendship.

12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
    but he’ll have nothing to do with deception.

13 The loafer says, “There’s a lion on the loose!
    If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!”

14 The mouth of a whore is a bottomless pit;
    you’ll fall in that pit if you’re on the outs with God.

15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
    the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.

16 Exploit the poor or glad-hand the rich—whichever,
    you’ll end up the poorer for it.

The Thirty Precepts of the Sages

Don’t Move Back the Boundary Lines

17-21 Listen carefully to my wisdom;
    take to heart what I can teach you.
You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within;
    you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.
To make sure your foundation is trust in God,
    I’m laying it all out right now just for you.
I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
    tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
    and will keep you accountable
    to those who sent you.

1

22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
    and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
    the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.

2

24-25 Don’t hang out with angry people;
    don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
    don’t get infected.

3

26-27 Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,
    hocking your house against a lucky chance.
The time will come when you have to pay up;
    you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.

4

28 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
    staked out long ago by your ancestors.

5

29 Observe people who are good at their work—
    skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
    they don’t take a backseat to anyone.

Restrain Yourself

6

23 1-3 When you go out to dinner with an influential person,
    mind your manners:
Don’t gobble your food,
    don’t talk with your mouth full.
And don’t stuff yourself;
    bridle your appetite.

7

4-5 Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich;
    restrain yourself!
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye;
    wealth sprouts wings
    and flies off into the wild blue yonder.

8

6-8 Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad;
    don’t expect anything special.
He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself;
    he’ll say, “Eat! Drink!” but won’t mean a word of it.
His miserly serving will turn your stomach
    when you realize the meal’s a sham.

9

Don’t bother talking sense to fools;
    they’ll only poke fun at your words.

10

10-11 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
    or cheat orphans out of their property,
For they have a powerful Advocate
    who will go to bat for them.

11

12 Give yourselves to disciplined instruction;
    open your ears to tested knowledge.

12

13-14 Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones;
    a spanking won’t kill them.
A good spanking, in fact, might save them
    from something worse than death.

13

15-16 Dear child, if you become wise,
    I’ll be one happy parent.
My heart will dance and sing
    to the tuneful truth you’ll speak.

14

17-18 Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels;
    soak yourself in the Fear-of-God
That’s where your future lies.
    Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.

15

19-21 Oh listen, dear child—become wise;
    point your life in the right direction.
Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk;
    don’t eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
    in a stupor and dressed in rags.

Buy Wisdom, Education, Insight

16

22-25 Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
    and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her.
Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money;
    buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
    wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
    Make your mother proud!

17

26 Dear child, I want your full attention;
    please do what I show you.

27-28 A whore is a bottomless pit;
    a loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast.
She’ll take you for all you’ve got;
    she’s worse than a pack of thieves.

18

29-35 Who are the people who are always crying the blues?
    Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all?
    Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot?
It’s those who spend the night with a bottle,
    for whom drinking is serious business.
Don’t judge wine by its label,
    or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor.
Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—
    the splitting headache, the queasy stomach.
Do you really prefer seeing double,
    with your speech all slurred,
Reeling and seasick,
    drunk as a sailor?
“They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt;
    they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing.
When I’m sober enough to manage it,
    bring me another drink!”

Intelligence Outranks Muscle

19

24 1-2 Don’t envy bad people;
    don’t even want to be around them.
All they think about is causing a disturbance;
    all they talk about is making trouble.

20

3-4 It takes wisdom to build a house,
    and understanding to set it on a firm foundation;
It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms
    with fine furniture and beautiful draperies.

21

5-6 It’s better to be wise than strong;
    intelligence outranks muscle any day.
Strategic planning is the key to warfare;
    to win, you need a lot of good counsel.

22

Wise conversation is way over the head of fools;
    in a serious discussion they haven’t a clue.

23

8-9 The person who’s always cooking up some evil
    soon gets a reputation as prince of rogues.
Fools incubate sin;
    cynics desecrate beauty.

Rescue the Perishing

24

10 If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
    there wasn’t much to you in the first place.

25

11-12 Rescue the perishing;
    don’t hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,”
    will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
    Someone not impressed with weak excuses.

26

13-14 Eat honey, dear child—it’s good for you—
    and delicacies that melt in your mouth.
Likewise knowledge,
    and wisdom for your soul—
Get that and your future’s secured,
    your hope is on solid rock.

27

15-16 Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
    don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
    God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
    while the wicked end up flat on their faces.

28

17-18 Don’t laugh when your enemy falls;
    don’t crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
    and then take pity on his plight.

29

19-20 Don’t bother your head with braggarts
    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
Those people have no future at all;
    they’re headed down a dead-end street.

30

21-22 Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders;
    don’t be defiant or mutinous.
Without warning your life can turn upside down,
    and who knows how or when it might happen?

More Sayings of the Wise

An Honest Answer

23 It’s wrong, very wrong,
    to go along with injustice.

24-25 Whoever whitewashes the wicked
    gets a black mark in the history books,
But whoever exposes the wicked
    will be thanked and rewarded.

26 An honest answer
    is like a warm hug.

27 First plant your fields;
    then build your barn.

28-29 Don’t talk about your neighbors behind their backs—
    no slander or gossip, please.
Don’t say to anyone, “I’ll get back at you for what you did to me.
    I’ll make you pay for what you did!”

30-34 One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones,
    and then passed the vineyard of a lout;
They were overgrown with weeds,
    thick with thistles, all the fences broken down.
I took a long look and pondered what I saw;
    the fields preached me a sermon and I listened:
“A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    with poverty as your permanent houseguest!”

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Corinthians 8The Message (MSG)

The Offering

1-4 Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.

5-7 This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.

8-9 I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.

10-20 So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written,

Nothing left over to the one with the most,
Nothing lacking to the one with the least.

I thank God for giving Titus the same devoted concern for you that I have. He was most considerate of how we felt, but his eagerness to go to you and help out with this relief offering is his own idea. We’re sending a companion along with him, someone very popular in the churches for his preaching of the Message. But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solid trustworthy. The churches handpicked him to go with us as we travel about doing this work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, taking every precaution against scandal.

20-22 We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves. We’re being as careful in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with God. That’s why we’re sending another trusted friend along. He’s proved his dependability many times over, and carries on as energetically as the day he started. He’s heard much about you, and liked what he’s heard—so much so that he can’t wait to get there.

23-24 I don’t need to say anything further about Titus. We’ve been close associates in this work of serving you for a long time. The brothers who travel with him are delegates from churches, a real credit to Christ. Show them what you’re made of, the love I’ve been talking up in the churches. Let them see it for themselves!

The Message (MSG)

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

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