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A Way That Leads to Hell
[1-13] Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.
An honest life shows respect for God;
a degenerate life is a slap in his face.
Frivolous talk provokes a derisive smile;
wise speech evokes nothing but respect.
No cattle, no crops;
a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow.
A true witness never lies;
a false witness makes a business of it.
Cynics look high and low for wisdom—and never find it;
the open-minded find it right on their doorstep!
Escape quickly from the company of fools;
they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words.
The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track;
the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.
The stupid ridicule right and wrong,
but a moral life is a favored life.
The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.
Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks;
holy living builds soaring cathedrals.
There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.
Sift and Weigh Every Word
[14-23] A mean person gets paid back in meanness,
a gracious person in grace.
The gullible believe anything they’re told;
the prudent sift and weigh every word.
The wise watch their steps and avoid evil;
fools are headstrong and reckless.
The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret;
the coldhearted get the cold shoulder.
Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion;
wise realists plant their feet on the ground.
Eventually, evil will pay tribute to good;
the wicked will respect God-loyal people.
An unlucky loser is shunned by all,
but everyone loves a winner.
It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need,
but compassion for the poor—what a blessing!
Isn’t it obvious that conspirators lose out,
while the thoughtful win love and trust?
Hard work always pays off;
mere talk puts no bread on the table.
[24-35] The wise accumulate wisdom;
fools get stupider by the day.
Souls are saved by truthful witness
and betrayed by the spread of lies.
The Fear-of-God builds up confidence,
and makes a world safe for your children.
The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water
so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.
The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.
Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding;
a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.
A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones.
You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.
The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold;
the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living.
Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
fools never even get to say hello.
God-devotion makes a country strong;
God-avoidance leaves people weak.
Diligent work gets a warm commendation;
shiftless work earns an angry rebuke.
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.