I discovered that one of my favorite Bible passages is from the Book of Proverbs:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)
Then recently at daily Mass, the first reading was from Proverbs. During the homily, the deacon said it was uncommon to have a reading from Proverbs, and that it was too bad because the book holds so much common sense that people can use in their everyday living.
It was a good example that morning:
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it to you tomorrow’ – when you now have it with you.” (Proverbs 3: 27-28)
I thought of the rows of “self-help” books at my home on my shelves. Truthfully, I’ve been slowly weeding out the ones that no longer serve me well. I seek out inspiration and motivation that move me closer to God and to serve Him, rather than toward worldly ideals of a happy and perfect life.
I have many parenting books that have helped me along this motherhood journey. I asked myself, what if anything, could I find in Proverbs that could provide me with more wisdom as a mother and wife. I discovered quite a few verses, and even more I want to return to and ponder.
Wisdom is the foundation for the Book of Proverbs, but please keep in mind I’m not a biblical scholar. The first four chapters discuss the great importance of embracing wisdom and its moral benefits. We are all called to seek wisdom and knowledge, not from the world’s narrow view but from the Lord’s wider plan and will for our lives.
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 8, 10-11)
Many verses instruct us to discipline our kids, and reveal the tragic results if we do not. Probably the most popular verse is one we’ve all heard many times,
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22, 6)
By including these next verses, I am not advocating hitting your child with a rod, much less spanking. The rod can be substituted for modern discipline tools, such as giving your child consequences for negative behavior. The point is – consequences help your children in the long run.
“The rod of corrections imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will delight to your soul.” (Proverbs 29, 15-17)
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” (Proverbs 23, 13-14)
Watch your Words.
How often have we heard the importance for positive words toward our loved ones – and everyone we meet? Proverbs seem to place these at even a higher level.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12, 25)
“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13, 3)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15, 1-4)
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16, 24)
“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” (Proverbs 24, 26)
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 25, 24)
It seems so simple to be kind to others and to role model this for our children, but there are those days, when it seems out of reach. Humility is an even a tougher practice, but well worth the efforts.
“When pride comes, then disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom…A kindhearted woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth…Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Proverbs 11, 2, 16, 27)
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” (Proverbs 12, 4)
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14, 30)
The end of Proverbs brings us to the well-known 31st Chapter, of which numerous ministries and writings are based upon. The words give us a picture of the ideal Christian woman, one we can all strive to become with God’s grace.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31, 25-30)
Copyright 2014, Kim Seidel