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The Magic Stone

A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers.  Proverbs 17:8     Though set in Japan, Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous Mikado was actually a satire on British politics—which helps explain the character “Pooh-Bah,” the self-important holder of numerous offices (“Lord High Everything Else”) who offers all his services for a price.  So when Nanki-Po (the Emperor’s son in disguise) asks about the woman he loves, Pooh-Bah calls it a “state secret.”  Nanki-Po takes the hint and pays the bribe to learn about his beloved.   Whether in Britain or Japan, or anywhere else on...

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A Name That Rots

The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. Proverbs 10:7     For any number of reasons, I suppose, we don’t give much thought to our legacy.  We should.  The writer of Hebrews, e. g., commends the heroes of the faith as worthy examples (Heb. 11:2).  And Scripture is full of encouragements to live so that others honor our lives: A good name is better than precious ointment (Eccl. 7:1).   Whether it matters to us or not, we will certainly leave a legacy—for good or ill: The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of...

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Iron Sharpens Iron

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.  A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.  Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:14-17     These verses describe three very different ways of relating to people.  Take your pick.  First the Idle Flatterer (v. 14), who seeks favor for himself by oiling his relationships with compliments, flattery, and ostentatious friendliness (rather than genuine good will or caring good works).  He...

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