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Proverbs 22The 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.

The Message (MSG)

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

Proverbs 23The Message (MSG)

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!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Proverbs 24The Message (MSG)

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

Romans 14The Message (MSG)

Cultivating Good Relationships

14 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

The Message (MSG)

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

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