The word “relationship” is at the heart of almost everything the Lord does in our world. A relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ saves us, relationships with other Christians encourage us and hold us accountable, and we even minister to others and the Good News of Jesus is best shared over the bridges of relationship.
Our scripture reading for today is all about relationships. We are advised to be friendly, to be encouraging, to be honest, to listen before speaking, and to settle disputes quickly. Having great friends, marriage, and family relationships is important, but the most important relationship of all is with God through Jesus Christ. He is truly a strong tower…a friend that sticks closer than a brother!
1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
and so deprive the innocent of justice.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
9 One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes
and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.
23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.