Proverbs 14:12-31 (NRSV)
Oppressing the poor
There is a way that seems right to a person,
but its end is the way to death.
Even in laughter the heart is sad,
and the end of joy is grief.
The perverse get what their ways deserve,
and the good, what their deeds deserve.
The simple believe everything,
but the clever consider their steps.
The wise are cautious and turn away from evil,
but the fool throws off restraint and is careless.
One who is quick-tempered acts foolishly,
and the schemer is hated.
The simple are adorned with folly,
but the clever are crowned with knowledge.
The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
The poor are disliked even by their neighbors,
but the rich have many friends.
Those who despise their neighbors are sinners,
but happy are those who are kind to the poor.
Do they not err that plan evil?
Those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness.
In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
The crown of the wise is their wisdom,
but folly is the garland of fools.
A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who utters lies is a betrayer.
In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and one's children will have a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
so that one may avoid the snares of death.
The glory of a king is a multitude of people;
without people a prince is ruined.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh,
but passion makes the bones rot.
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but those who are kind to the needy honor him.
I love today's scripture because it truly is a reminder of the importance of living life in the Spirit. Galatians 5 says that the fruit of the spirit are these: love, peace, faithfulness, joy, goodness, joyfulness, patience, self-control and kindness!
Although each of these virtues is not explicitly mentioned in Proverbs 14, we hear echoes of them.
Be good, wise, clever, knowledgeable, kind, loyal, faithful, tranquil and truthful. Furthermore, we are to fear the Lord, be slow to anger, care for the poor and oppressed and honor God!
Obviously, the reality of sin makes it difficult to always discharge our commitments to God and neighbor.
But, let us do our best to let the Light of Jesus shine in and through us, showing people with love!
As we become the hands, feet, and smile of Jesus in the lives of others, we will find that the fruit of the Spirit produces an abundant harvest that will remain eternally!
Now, ain'ta that good news?!