Note from Team LO: Thank you so much for joining in our Proverbs study that we’ve been going through as a community! This post is packed with goodness and biblical truth. If you want more from this study, or want to start from the beginning, click HERE to get started. Enjoy today’s post!
Have you ever heard the phrase, “I don’t know what I don’t know”? This saying is often used for people who lack experience in a certain areas of expertise, or even sometimes used by the humble to say that they’re just doing their best with the tools they’ve been given. To be honest, it really is a valid excuse… but an excuse, nonetheless.
As we continue in our Proverbs study, one thing is certain: “I don’t know what I don’t know” isn’t going to be as believable as an excuse as it once was. Packed with detailed instruction, the breakdown of wisdom v. foolishness, and the un-deniability of what stirs up evil and what brings about good in friendship, Proverbs 17 will leave you with a mindset of “I DO know what I DO know.” We’re excited for this one, friends! Let’s dive in.
Verse 4: An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
Have you ever had those friends that have “selective listening”? Sometimes it’s funny because those friends will ask the exact question or repeat the exact phrase that someone just said, and if you’re close enough, you get to call them out and have a good laugh (lovingly, of course). But in verse 4, this is referring to people who have selective listening only for the words that don’t lead to unity, but instead lead to strife. Here’s the truth: Your flesh is always going to pay attention to words of flesh, and the spirit is always going to pay attention to words of the spirit. So which ones are you drawn to? This will tell you which “self” you’re living out of.
For further study of the new self v. the flesh: Colossians 3
Verse 9: Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
THIS ONE GETS REAL! Friend, are you quick to want people to know the mistakes of others? It’s like a game of telephone, gossip gets passed further and further down the pipeline, and by the end of it, everyone’s heard something, but it gets further and further away from what’s actually true.
There is SUCH a blessing for those who honor others by working to cover an offense of a friend. This doesn’t mean that you help a friend hide sin, it means that you don’t take it further outside of the circle of the ones who witnessed it. That way, your friend can focus of repenting to God and those who he/she hurt without having to further their shame. What a beautiful thing it is when you work to honor your friends by holding back your tongue.
Verse 14: The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Do you ever just need someone to grab your face and say “quit!” Quit stirring things up, stop repeating what was told to you in privacy, stop sacrificing others on the altar of your own insecurities.
This verse references water seeping out of a dam in the beginning phases. The way it works is once a dam has been breached, there is no holding back the water – there’s no turning back once it’s cracked.
Same way with our words: once we’ve started down the path of stirring up conflict with our words, it’s like the dam that will eventually completely erupt.
This causes division, brokenness in relationships, and a lack of peace. Let’s be people who won’t even entertain the beginning stages of gossip. Let’s not fool ourselves to think we can start and then just stop whenever we’d like. Jesus commands holiness, and when we let divisiveness in, we aren’t strong enough to hold it back. Seek his ways, his words, and his walk.
On further study on the impact on our words: James 3
Verse 22: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
The “good medicine” of our culture are things like Netflix, binging on ice-cream, online shopping, scrolling on Insta, and any other way of distraction. But this scripture says that the OG good medicine was and still is a “joyful heart”. And isn’t it true?! When you’re looking for what can sooth your soul, you’re never going to find it through someone’s IG story or in your favorite Home Edit episode (although all good things in their rightful place!), you’re going to find it in restoring your joy in the Lord. Don’t hand over your fragile, crushed spirit to what can’t actually mend your heart. Let the One who was crushed for you restore to you a joy in your salvation.
For further study on a joyful heart: Psalm 51:7-12
Verse 28: Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise, when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
This verse sums up this chapter so well. To paraphrase: YOUR WORDS MATTER, FRIEND.
It’s so easy to live in our own world, thinking we know best, and that we’re always right, or that we can say things flippantly without consequence. But Jesus says that we will be held accountable one day for every word we say (Matthew 12:36). It would be a shame to interpret this verse as saying that we shouldn’t ever speak, but it a charge to make sure that the words we speak are ones filled with the power and truth of the Holy Spirit in us. We have a helper to give us words, and his words are perfect, why would we not choose words in the Spirit? And yes, we will mess up, but even our words of repentance are just as powerful as saying all the right things.
Above all, let’s be people who love, are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry with one another. If this Proverb shows us anything, is that the abundant life is seen through a life of honoring one another, living in unity, and being quick to learn the ways of righteousness.
Let’s turn away from being people who don’t know what they don’t know to people who know that we know that we know how to love God and love people.
And that’s Proverbs 17! We hope you loved it and have loved this study! For more proverbs, click HERE and check out the study as a whole.
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