1 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.
3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
8 Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.
9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth does not betray justice.
11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag are of his making.
12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
for a throne is established through righteousness.
13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
but the wise will appease it.
15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
than to share plunder with the proud.
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,[a]
and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
and gracious words promote instruction.[b]
22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
but folly brings punishment to fools.
23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.[c]
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
their hunger drives them on.
27 A scoundrel plots evil,
and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
and a gossip separates close friends.
29 A violent person entices their neighbor
and leads them down a path that is not good.
30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.
31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
Sixteen days into a book for men, we’re just now focusing on work. Perhaps there is something to that. Long before you can ever truly be effective in your job, you need to set your heart into a posture that honors God, ask Him to repair the broken relationships in your life, change the way you speak, and hone your attention on His glory instead of your own.
We were all designed to work. From Adam’s hands to yours, all of us were intended to cultivate, curate, and create in some form or fashion. Your work is important to God. He cares about what you are doing, how you do it, and most importantly, why you are doing it.
Proverbs 16 begins with a promise that, should you do your work for the glory of God, your plans will be “established.”
This word – in Hebrew, ‘galal’ – is used to describe how the moon was set in place by God or how a tree is firmly rooted into the ground beneath it. How reaffirming is that imagery?! If you live your life with the mission statement: “My work is for God, not for man,” your welfare and functioning will be as consistent as the moon’s reliability and as steady as a firmly rooted tree.
As with all of Scripture, this is not a guarantee that your life will be without setback or difficulty, but it is a promise that God will be with you when the struggles come.
Proverbs 16 is a beautiful reminder that our work and plans are only sacred when we commit them to the Lord. Solomon tells us that the Lord is the only one who can work everything out to its proper end. He encourages us that the Lord can take pleasure in the way we go about our lives and warns us against allowing our pride to fool us into taking matters into our own hands.
It’s that feeling of trying to work your way into a conversation that wasn’t for you or sacrificing a bit of integrity so that you can position yourself where God has not. It’s taking the easy way out of a difficult conversation, going along with gossip or slander, cheating, stealing, or lying.
“Better is a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”
Do your best not to confuse your calling with your current assignment. You were made to honor and glorify God; that is the calling on your life. You do this every day through your thoughts, your actions, how you treat others, and even how you work. Whether it is your dream job or a temp job, your current assignment is an opportunity to live out that calling. Whatever you have been given today, do it to the best of your abilities and let God work out what comes next.
God, You know better than I do just what I desire. I may think it is one thing, but Your knowledge of me is so deep that You can provide what I am truly after. Help my ambitions to correspond with Yours so that I might be genuinely content. I commit my work to You today so that we might walk in step. I work for You, not for man. Amen.