Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.

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Here is one of the best proverbs. It has a simple rule for women to be great and a simple rule for men to be great, in just a few words. If you rank proverbs by brevity, wisdom, value, and clarity, this is one of the best. Love these ten words and the wisdom they give.

Dear woman, do others love and praise you? If so, you are gracious. If they do 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 learn graciousness and diligently practice it (Pr 22:1,11).

Graciousness will cause people to love and respect you. They will mark you as charming, enjoy your company, desire your friendship, praise your spirit, and use you as an example of virtue. A lack of graciousness will keep these traits 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 book of Proverbs (Pr 12:11; 13:4; 21:20).

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, neglect saving, 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 holy 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 holy 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 terrible pain to humanity.

A gracious woman is called “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 offensive. 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 various ways. She is contrary and often wants to give her opinion. She makes others 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’s 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 quickly and permanently? This is the goal of a holy and virtuous 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 odious 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; Lu 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 Thes 4:11-12; I Tim 5:8). A strong man works hard every day to make a good income (Pr 10:4; 21:5), and he leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren (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 (Pr 22:3). He is not intimidated by difficult assignments like other men (Pr 20:4; 22:13).

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. He is not easily distracted.

Read and consider. He locks down spending when necessary. He takes two jobs, if that is necessary. He puts 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 prudently 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. He is impulsive and cannot stick with a long-term goal.

Strength will keep riches. Strong men will have assets in the end. Many men make a lot of money during their lives, but many do not have very much in the end. It is weakness of character that lets riches get away. There is more financial wisdom in Proverbs than in Harvard’s MBA program. Have you learned its wisdom? Have you applied its wisdom?

America is the land of opportunity. Never has it been possible to make more with less effort than in America during the last fifty years. Strong men will have something to show for it. If you are not getting ahead, there is wisdom in 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 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 your duty as a man in the house of God to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). Make sure you show greater strength maintaining the pillar and ground of the truth than you do keeping your savings account and balance sheet (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). Jesus Christ’s religion is not for foolish men or for the faint of heart. Apply yourself diligently to retain and display the grace of God in word and deed and to defend the apostolic faith until Jesus Christ returns, without losing any of either.

The Lord Jesus Christ was the ultimate Man in both graciousness and strength. No other man ever spoke with the graciousness He did (Ps 45:2; Lu 4:22; Jn 7:46), and He did not lose a single sinner given by God to Him to save (Jn 6:39; 10:28-29; Heb 2:13). It is your high privilege and duty to learn of Him and follow His glorious and prosperous example.