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Proverbs 21 (The Message)

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1 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God; he directs it to whatever ends he chooses. 2 We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives. 3 Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance. 4 Arrogance and pride - distinguishing marks in the wicked - are just plain sin. 5 Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind. 6 Make it to the top by lying and cheating; get paid with smoke and a promotion - to death! 7 The wicked get buried alive by their loot because they refuse to use it to help others. 8 Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road. Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst 9 Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse. 10 Wicked souls love to make trouble; they feel nothing for friends and neighbors. 11 Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening. 12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked and undo the evil they've planned. 13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor, your cries will go unheard, unanswered. 14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person; a heartfelt present cools a hot temper. 15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs, but for the workers of evil it's a bad day. 16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow ends up in a congregation of ghosts. 17 You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied. 18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs; the plotter gets it in the end. 19 Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse. 20 Valuables are safe in a wise person's home; fools put it all out for yard sales. 21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself - glorious life! 22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers - their trusted defenses fell to pieces! 23 Watch your words and hold your tongue; you'll save yourself a lot of grief. 24 You know their names - Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer - intemperate hotheads, every one. 25 Lazy people finally die of hunger because they won't get up and go to work. 26 Sinners are always wanting what they don't have; the God-loyal are always giving what they do have. 27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks; it's even worse when they use it to get ahead. 28 A lying witness is unconvincing; a person who speaks truth is respected. 29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot; honest people are sure of their steps. 30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived, can get the better of God. 31 Do your best, prepare for the worst - then trust God to bring victory.
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