A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
If we rank proverbs by brevity, wisdom, value, and clarity, this is one of the best. Let us delight in these ten words and the wisdom they give both women and men.
Dear woman, do others love and praise you? If so, you are gracious. If not, you are odious (Pr 30:21-23). The rule is simple. To have a good name and be held in loving favour by others, you need to zealously pursue graciousness. See the comments on 22:1.
Graciousness will cause people to love and esteem you. They will mark your person, enjoy your company, desire your friendship, praise your spirit, and use you as an example of virtue. A lack of graciousness will steal these things from you. The rule is simple.
Dear man, have your assets grown over the years? If so, you are strong. If not, you are weak. The rule is simple. If you need better financial growth, you need to correct your financial weaknesses, which are taught in this short book. See the comments on 12:11.
Strength keeps men from the temptations to waste and lose money. A strong man is not vulnerable to financial foolishness. It is weakness that causes men to spend too much, chase vanity, not save, and pursue foolish ideas that bring loss. The rule is simple.
If you quickly read this proverb without assessing your life, you are foolish, rebellious, and arrogant. This is God's Word! If you flunk the rule for your sex, you must make whatever changes are needed to obey the wisdom given here. This is God's Word!
Dear reader, a woman is that wonderful creature God made for Adam (Gen 2:18). Well behaved, she is his most desirable possession (Pr 12:4; 18:22; 19:14). Poorly behaved, she is more bitter than death (Eccl 7:26), the world cannot stand her (Pr 30:21-23), and her stench cannot be hid (Pr 27:15-16). Even beauty cannot cover an odious woman (Pr 11:22). So a woman of average looks without graciousness is a pain to humanity indeed!
A gracious woman is "a lovely person." Her warm and gentle virtue wins others. She is never offensive or haughty, always discreet and modest, and delightfully charming in every way. She is never disagreeable or critical. She is always kind and makes others feel safe and accepted. There is never tenseness, coldness, or harshness with this woman.
She has no haughty thoughts about herself and would swear she is not gracious. She limits her speech to kind and gentle words, and then only when they add significant value. She is submissive and cheerful. She never thinks she is owed anything by anyone. She is a wonderful hostess and never does anything questionable. She is most excellent. Every wise woman will learn all there is about this trait and diligently seek to acquire it.
An odious woman is the opposite. Her abrasive and offensive manners annoy others. She is haughty, indiscreet, and irritating in many ways. She is contrary and wants to give her opinion. She makes others feel uncomfortable. There is no warmth and pleasantness with this woman. Most everyone avoids her. Wise women will hate this creature.
A woman's honour is her respect and esteem by others. Her family or spouse's opinion matters little. What do other good men and women think of her? Here is the rule. Do they treasure her company? Do they use her as an example of virtue? Do they praise her? Do they love her instantly and permanently? This is the goal of a holy woman.
Graciousness earns honour and keeps honour. The rule is simple. Gracious women are always esteemed. If you are not highly regarded by others, you lack graciousness. By the mirror of God's word, you must identify and cover your blemishes (Jas 1:21-25).
Do not deceive yourself by thinking you are gracious, for only others can measure it by how you affect them. You can know it by the number, the quality, the affection, and the depth of your friends. Do not run and hide in your conceit and self-righteousness.
Dear Christian lady, God's word and this book of proverbs can teach you more about graciousness. If you humbly seek the Lord, He will give you the wisdom and strength to acquire this glorious trait of David and Jesus (Pr 22:11; I Sam 18:1-4; Ps 45:2; Luke 4:22).
What about the man? God gave him dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26; 2:15; 3:17-19). From his position of authority, he works to acquire assets for his family (Pr 19:14; Eph 4:28; I Thess 4:11-12; I Tim 5:8). A good man will leave an inheritance to his family (Pr 13:22).
Strength is the power to do things and the force to repel attacks. A strong man has the ability to make wise choices, do the right thing, and resist temptations. He is able to rule his financial spirit (Pr 16:32). He can see potential evil and avoid it by wise measures.
Think financially. A strong man is not vulnerable to vain financial ideas. He is disciplined. He is patient. He is persistent. He works hard at a boring job and does not waste precious capital chasing dreams. He rejects all talk about easy income or high-return investments. He knows that increase comes by labor. See the comments on 12:11.
Read and consider. He locks down spending when necessary. He takes two jobs, if that is necessary. He saves money away from even his own use. He hates risk; he cuts losses short before they hurt him; and he invests in secure things. He is scrupulously honest. He pays all his taxes. He knows how to use his wife and family for financial gain.
A weak man cannot do these things, for he is vulnerable to financial foolishness. He listens to harebrained schemes. He thinks there are shortcuts to success. He cannot stop spending, for he is too weak. He does not save, for he always has something else to buy. Money burns in his pockets. He takes risks; he holds losing ventures too long; he invests in vain ideas. He chases dreams.
Strength will keep riches. Strong men will have them in the end. It is weakness of character that lets them get away. There is more financial wisdom in Proverbs than in a Harvard M.B.A. Have you learned that wisdom? Have you applied that wisdom?
America is the land of opportunity. Never has it been possible to make more with less effort than in America the last fifty years. And strong men will have something to show for it. If you are not getting ahead, there are resources from God's word to show your weak areas, and you need to eliminate them. Strong men keep riches. The rule is simple.
But what of true riches, the spiritual blessings we have in Jesus Christ? Strong men will retain them, for only weak men let the things they have heard slip away (I Thess 5:21). It is our duty as men in the house of God to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). Let us make sure we show greater strength maintaining the pillar and ground of the truth than we do keeping our savings accounts and balance sheets (I Tim 3:15).
Christian man! Here is your calling. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (I Cor 16:13). Let us retain the grace of God and the apostolic faith until the Lord returns without losing any of either.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was the ultimate Man in graciousness and strength, and it is our high privilege and duty to learn of Him and follow His glorious example. Lord, help us.