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Proverbs: The original self-help book

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We are addicted -- especially this time of year -- to self-help books. We read these books to seek advice on how to live fuller, better and richer lives. If there was one book to read this year that would help you evaluate your life, where you are and who you want to be, it would be the book of Proverbs.

The beauty of the proverbs, of their own confession, is that they demand the reader ponder their meaning while he or she examines his or her own life. Proverbs 1:3 delivers what the reader is to look for; the proverbs' purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just and fair.

Throughout the proverbs you will find discipline and success in all relationships. Dating, marriage, parenting and being parented are all addressed within these chapters and verses. Work, study, play and finances are addressed. No stone is left unturned in these verses.

They speak not only of discipline and success, but of how noble traits reveal themselves through conduct -- doing what is right, just and fair. The proverbs present verse upon verse of instruction. In a corporate world still dealing with the effects of Enron, lead-tainted toys and other scandals, the proverbs provide a wealth of ancient wisdom.

There is a subtle confession found in the beginning of Proverbs. Seeking out, pondering upon and adopting the wisdom of this verse alone will profit the soul. Yet reading the proverbs as if they are a fortune in a fortune cookie will only create an army of moralists, soldiers who carry out the ancient wisdom only through a sense of duty and obligation.

While the proverbs are profitable alone, they are rich when rooted in the respect of the Lord. Rooted in a conviction that is founded in the desire to know and honor him. The Lord did not deliver to us the proverbs so we would only learn how to succeed in business, raise children, have happy marriages and win the Super Bowl. These words are delivered so that his character would flow out through our conduct. Proverbs contains a world of wealth and are waiting for you to mine them. Take up and read.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father and serves as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Jackson.


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