Priority One: Look to The Inner Man
In the opening verses, we are shown a picture of the poor (v.1-7) They are treated harshly, neglected and seen as lesser members of society. Yet, in the first verse of the Proverb, we are told that it is better to be poor with integrity than to be perverse and a fool. The term integrity means to be complete within one's self. We can't judge somebody just because of their standing. We have to examine the inner man. If we want to be great soul winners and build our churches both qualitatively and quantitatively, we must have inner man vision. We can only get that when we take off the superficial shade of the world and put on the clear vision of God.
Priority Two: Reaction Matters
The next few verses shows several types of reaction man faces (v.8-12). It discusses honesty, discretion and mercy. We must speak truth in everything we do. This has been covered in several Activations, but it is still important to note that there are severe consequences when we decide to hide or hinder the truth from being expressed. When we are challenged on what we believe, we must stand firm regardless of the consequences. We must also be willing to consider each matter that comes are way. When we are wronged, it's easy to want immediate justice. However, by taking time to examine and pray about the situation, sometimes mercy and grace are the answer above judgment and wrath. It may be what saves a soul or keeps someone from ruining their life.
Priority Three: Follow God's Way
Skipping down, we find a statement on the commandments (v. 16). It is fairly simple: keep God's commandments and prosper, don't and suffer. If we want to prosper in the Kingdom of God and to grow in wisdom and His ways, we must follow the teachings of God's Word. We cannot abandon his Word when it inconveniences us. It is in those times we must embrace it all the more. For when we can keep a commandment when it inconveniences or tries us, God will honor that sacrifice. This thought of following God is echoed in v. 22. We can have a lot of plans in life, but in the end it must be God's way that leads us.
Priority Four: Instruct The Next Generation
The final priority we find is very important. We must instruct and bring the next generation into understanding of God's Word. This cannot just be the priority of the Pastors and Sunday School Teachers, but it must be for the parents, the mentors and even peers of greater understanding. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. It takes the God-inspired Body to raise up a new generation. We cannot miss out on any opportunity we get to speak into a young person's life. Whether it is our child, grandchild, nephew, niece, younger sibling or cousin, or just someone who looks up to us; if we aren't taking every opportunity to bring young people along, our churches will dwindle and the move of God will go to others who will accept His calling. If we will reach out and develop this next generation, though, we will establish a lineage that will move forward even after we are gone.
*If they are a minor, you should always get the permission of the parent before meeting with them. Always meet in public spaces with them or in the parents home in the living room or kitchen area.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.