“A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.”
There are bad people in the world who “plot evil,” and they use their words to cause trouble and do malign people. This can be true among small social groups, large organizations, and even entire nations.
The evil plots and toxic rhetoric of foolish people can tear apart a society. We are witnessing this very thing in our time, as people use social media like a scorching fire in an attempt to denounce those with whom they disagree.
And it isn’t isolated to social media, as this kind of “speech like a scorching fire” finds its way into the mainstream. Listen to some of the heated rhetoric on college campus today, and there are groups of people whose only goal is to shout down and shut out anyone who disagrees with them.
“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
Dishonest people are deceitful, divisive, and destructive. They don’t seek unity, they seek division. They don’t bring people together, they pull people apart. They don’t seek common ground, they focus on differences.
I read something this week that describes much of the social strife we see today: “Today’s social environment favors outrage. A world of being perpetually offended is a world of snitches, informants, and tattletales. Its an attitude of endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense."
What is really sad is that dishonest, deceitful people sometimes even create conflict and division among friends … and even family. That is heartbreaking.
“A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good.”
Violent people are not combative by themselves. They attempt to recruit those around them into their violent ways. Indeed, most of the violence in the world is people acting against other people.
We must stay away from violent people. This was the instruction earlier in the book of Proverbs. “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence.” (Proverbs 3.31-32)
There are people in the world who use violence as a strategy to get what they want. Organized crime uses violence; gangs use violence; the “antifa” movement uses violence. There are men who perpetrate violence against women. There are parents who perpetrate violence against their children. Bullies on school campuses use violence to make fun of other kids, and the bullying extends to social media.
Not all violence is physical. It can also be verbal and emotional.
Solomon admonishes us: Stay away from people of violence in all its forms. He warns us that people of violence are also devious: they deceive and lie. Have nothing to do with those people, have nothing to do with what they do and how they do it. They are deceptive and dangerous.
The practical action step here is to be careful not to give in to your impulses. Everyone has impulses to speak-out or strike-out against people who frustrate you or make you angry. If you are a follower of Jesus, when you feel the impulse … press pause, be clear about God’s standards, get your mind right, and respond in obedience.
James 1.19-20 says it this way: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”