Paul's Letter to the Romans

Bad Attitudes

Text: Proverbs 18:1-19

Self-Willed

(Proverbs 18:1-3)

            A person who isolates himself does so because of his selfishness and anger. He doesn’t want to deal with contradictory desires and thoughts, so he separates himself where there is no one to disagree with what he wants. Reasoning with such a person doesn’t work because he quarrels with everything that he doesn’t agree with, even the truth.

            A fool doesn’t enjoy reasoning or understanding other people (Proverbs 1:7). His delight comes from telling everyone what he thinks, which unfortunately doesn’t have much content. This serves as a corollary to Proverbs 17:27-28.

            The wicked have contempt for other people and people without honor scorn others. Thus, this answers the reason for why the wicked are so cruel – they don’t care about other people.

Words Reveal the Inner Man

(Proverbs 18:4-8)

            People generally have plenty to say, but like a well, you sometimes have to put effort into drawing them out. A man of wisdom is a well that spills out to naturally give of what he has to other people (Psalms 78:2). Similar proverbs are Proverbs 10:11; 13:14; 16:22.

            Giving the wicked special favor or to reject the righteous in judgment is never good (Isaiah 5:23). A similar proverb is Proverbs 17:15.

            A fool is often quick to quarrel and call for violence. More times than not he brings trouble upon himself by his own words and traps himself. Similar proverbs are Proverbs 10:14; 12:13; 13:3; 14:3,16; 16:17.

            When a person brings slander, they are like dainties to be gobbled up by those who listen (Psalms 55:21), but once in, they can’t be removed – they end up becoming a part of a person. Sometimes we refer to gossip as juicy tidbits, but we need to realize that the things we listen to affect and color our thinking from that point forward. This passage explains how friendships can be damaged by slander (Proverbs 16:28).

Destructive

(Proverbs 18:9-12)

            A lazy person is a destructive person. A similar proverb is Proverbs 10:4.

            God’s reputation and authority protects the righteous who seek it (Psalms 56:3-5). The idea of running to it invokes the image of the cities of refuge where someone who accidentally killed another would flee to for safety and judgment. In contrast, the rich have a tendency to trust in his wealth to protect him (Proverbs 10:15). Yet, that protection is only imaginary (Proverbs 11:4; Psalms 52:7-8).

            Pride leads the way to destruction, while humility leads the way to honor. The arrogant trust only himself and doesn’t seek help from others. The true path to honor involves humbleness to listen to others, most especially God. Similar proverbs are Proverbs 11:2; 14:16; 16:18.

Judgmental

(Proverbs 18:13-15)

            People who make decisions before they gather the facts are both foolish and will embarrass themselves. A fast answer is rarely the best answer.

            It is easier to endure a physical ailment than a spiritual problem. The spirit of a person can sustain a person, but if that spirit is broken then there is no support.

            Contrasting with Proverbs 18:13, verse 15 tells us that a person who thinks ahead and the wise gathers knowledge. Thus, their decisions are based on facts.

Conflict

(Proverbs 18:16-19)

            A well-considered gift makes others look at you favorably. It can open doors that might otherwise remain closed to you. Examples would be Jacob’s use of gifts to soften his brother’s disposition toward him (Genesis 32:20-21) or Abigail’s gift of food to prevent David from killing her husband (I Samuel 25:18-35).

            We have a strong desire to believe what someone tells us, unless there is contrary evidence. Thus, we hear something we tend to believe it, forgetting that there are different viewpoints to any story. We should avoid drawing conclusions until we gather all the information that we can (Proverbs 13:16). Sometimes it takes a third person, asking the right questions, to reveal what is truly going on. Truth stands up to careful examination.

            Sometimes the best way to settle a disagreement, or to avoid strife, is to use a random choice. For example, when two men were equally qualified to be apostles were found, a lot was cast, along with a prayer to the Lord for aid, to determine which man would replace Judas (Acts 1:26). When the land of Canaan was divided, lots were used to assign ownership (Joshua 18:10). When duties were assigned in the temple, lots were used to determine the assignments (I Chronicles 25:8).

            Generally brothers are someone you can rely most on when things are difficult, but if a brother is offended, he is also the hardest to win back. He resists any efforts to settle the dispute. Thus, care should be taken to avoid letting disagreements between brethren to get out of hand.

For discussion:

1.         Why isn’t the gift in Proverbs 18:16 considered a bribe, such as in Proverbs 17:23?

2.         Why is would a offended brother be harder to win back than an offended stranger?