Attitude

 

4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Remember that for the Jew, the heart refers to what we call “the mind.” What we refer to as “the heart” they call “the bowels.” So in the Bible, particularly in the OT, the heart is the seat of thought and decision (as in “the fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God’”) and the bowels are the seat of emotion (as in “bowels of compassion”). So this passage agrees with 2 Corinthians 10:5 in that we are to bring every thought into captivity. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34) and “as a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Prov. 23:7).

 

10:24 The fears of the wicked will all come true; so will the hopes of the godly.

A godly person’s hopes are for righteousness. A godly person’s hopes are not for material things or necessarily personal physical well-being. A godly person prays for the betterment of others and “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” (James 3:16)

 

12:25 Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

When we see someone who’s “down” we need to make the extra effort to encourage them. This is part of our philosophy of Loving God – Loving your neighbor as yourself.

 

13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.

Dreams are a two-edged sword. They can bring us hope and aspiration. But if they are slow to come about, they can bring us down. That is why we must “seek first the kingdom of God.” We are allowed to dream – but we must not allow even our hopes rule over us.

 

14:10 Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

Be very careful in counseling someone that you do not say foolish things like “I understand” or “I know what you are going through.” Even if you have gone through extremely similar circumstances, you have not gone through them with their particular mindset, temperament or background. Only One truly knows the human heart and can fully empathize – and you are not He.

 

14:13 Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

Look beyond the exterior. Many times suicidal people are the most cheerful or calm when they have settled in their minds when and where they will do the deed. Don’t be fooled by people’s attempts to cover their true intent (whether positive or negative).

 

14:30 A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away.

Our pride will drive us to be discontent with our lot. “Why couldn’t I look like her?” “Why couldn’t I be as smart as him?” “Why won’t everybody respect me like him?” But the very jealousy that is eating away at our hearts is removing every possibility of overcoming those handicaps. Now not only are you not physically attractive – you are also morally repugnant. Now not only do you not have the inherent IQ of such and such – you are also a fool. Now not only do they not respect you as much as the other person but they never will!

 

15:4 Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Notice the strange contrast? Gentle words contrasted with deceitfulness? That would not be the ordinary contraposition I would make. But the Teacher is telling us that in order to bring life and health to each other there must inevitably be words. We must speak the truth to each other – but gently. It is when we try to deceive each other saying “I’m fine” or “We’re fine” when it’s not true that we are truly committing violence to each other’s spirits.

 

15:13 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

Be keenly aware of body language. Though some may seek to deceive you as to their true state of mind, it will inevitably be posted somewhere on their bodies. The human body and especially the human face was specifically designed to reflect the human soul. One who can read the one will gain tremendous insight into the other.

 

15:15 For the poor, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

Again, a strange contrast: Poverty versus happiness. Apples and oranges. But as we will see in other passages, the Teacher is not contrasting material poverty with emotional wealth. He is referring to the impoverished mind and spirit. Someone who fails to feed their soul and spirit will be in trouble every day regardless of their material circumstances. Someone who allows their hearts and minds to feast will discover joy.

 

15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

Look at someone today and smile. It is a nonverbal compliment. When you look at someone and smile you are saying “I saw you; I noticed you; and it made me glad.” Now that’s good news!

 

17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

How many studies have to be conducted demonstrating the mind/body relationship before we start listening to what the Bible has been saying for millennia? Have a cheerful attitude. Learn some new jokes. Share them with someone. Share a laugh and watch your blood pressure drop.

 

17:25 A foolish child brings grief to a father and bitterness to a mother.

Nobody has the power to change our attitudes like our family. If you want to help everyone around you have a good attitude – quit doing foolish things. People in proximity to a wise person tend to be calm and cheerful. People around a fool tend to be arguing or upset. So look around! How’s everyone’s attitude in your neighborhood?

 

18:1 A recluse is self-indulgent, snarling at every sound principle of conduct.

Those who withdraw from everyone else are compounding their problems. Not only have their feelings been hurt, but their pride and self-indulgence is keeping them hurt. When you are feeling down – DO NOT WITHDRAW!

 

18:4 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?

A strong, cheerful person can take on just about any difficult physical challenge. But a person with a bad attitude will turn even anthills into mountains!

 

18:15 Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact, they look for them.

Have an open, inquisitive, curious and positive mindset. Look for wisdom everywhere! You can even find wisdom in the lives of fools if you know how to look. You can learn “Wow! Don’t do that!”

 

19:8 To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.

Want to give yourself the gift that keeps on giving? Get some wisdom. A proverb a day will start accumulating and like limestone become something solid and foundational. Learn a little every day and you will find yourself suddenly with a good attitude and with everyone respectfully looking to you as a leader.

 

21:9 It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.

Contentious people always whine about being alone. “No one likes me.” “No one will stay around me!” They’ve accurately diagnosed the “what” but have not discovered the “why”. A sweet, calm and wise spirit is the ultimate attraction.

 

21:19 It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife.

Go ahead, keep whining about your problem and then withdraw from everyone to boot. See if it gets you what you want. People would rather live in solitary confinement than with a crabby, complaining person. Think of what the opposite of crabby, complaining and contentious is; become that – and you will suddenly find yourself in the middle of crowds of friends.

 

23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you.

There is nothing more important than getting our attitudes straight. With the wrong attitude we cannot approach God because He draws near to the humble and resists the proud. What we are deep down we will inevitably become skin deep.

 

23:17-18 Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed.

We are easily distracted by Ferraris and Yves St. Laurent ties. We start wishing we had such nice things and forget the glories that await those who place their hope in Christ. Make sure you build reminders into each day lest you forget. Read your Bible, pray, meditate, fast, journal, attend church, disciple a young Christian.

 

24:17-18 Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.

Remember there was a time when YOU were God’s enemy. You were fortunate enough in that while you were still a sinner, Christ came and died for you. But Christ also died for your enemy. Therefore do not rejoice in his demise. Have the same humble mindset that Christ had (Philippians 2).

 

25:20 Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone’s jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.

Sing with those who are upbeat. Cry with those who are sad. Stand in confusion with those who are confused. Be aware of the emotional state of those who surround you and respond appropriately.

 

27:3 A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is heavier than both.

If you keep doing foolish things why are you surprised that there is resentment against you? If you keep allowing a fool to get away with his or her foolishness, why are you shocked that others are aggravated. We need to either navigate away from fools or thrust them from our presence. Everyone does something foolish once in a while so we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about those intractable, incorrigible, unteachable, intransigent people who just won’t smarten up.

 

29:25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety.

Fearing people will lead you astray every time. If you allow the fear of people to control your behavior you will end up completely locked up and useless because everyone wants different things. God is single minded in His purpose. And according to Romans 12:2 His will is perfect. He is the ultimate solution for the double minded, nervous soul.

 

29:27 The godly despise the wicked; the wicked despise the godly.

This is a fundamental truth that often goes unrecognized by Christians. We want everyone to like us. But we were never called to be liked. We were called to be loved by God. We were called to love others. And sometimes love is not particularly likeable. I do not like it when my wife tells me my clothes clash but I recognize that her love for me drives her to say so. We are in a spiritual war. Sin does not mix well with righteousness. Evil and good are not easy going neighbors.

 

31:4-7 And it is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave liquor. For if they drink, they may forget their duties and be unable to give justice to those who are oppressed. Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

It is a poor spirit indeed that has to turn to alcohol for an emotional lift. A king, a leader, a ruler is self-disciplined enough, has gained enough wisdom and life experience to not have to lean on such potentially addictive crutches. So what are you? A king or a knave?