A few thoughts from Proverbs 17:
"The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts." (3)
Don't you just love tests? Tests of the heart burn; they refine. They bring into the light the junk that doesn't belong, so they embarrass us. They make us feel guilty. But they are a necessary part of the purification process.
"A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers." (8) Hmm. This is one of those proverbs that I wonder about. Is the writer promoting the use of bribes? Did bribes have both positive and negative connotations in those days? Verse 23 talks about accepting a "bribe from the bosom" or a bribe given in secret--are bribes okay if they are done with full disclosure?
And finally, this gem for personal obedience: "The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out." (13) We have seen in the past few years what damage water can do when it gets let out of its boundaries. Just ask folks in New Orleans or Galveston (actually, don't ask them. Just pray for them and serve their needs!) Quarreling has similar effects on relationships. So I'm making a resolution today--I don't need to win arguments, especially with my wife. And I don't even need to always feel the need to make a point. Or to rub in a point. Or to hammer in a point until those with lesser points agree with me.
Yikes, the proverbs can be convicting...