For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you.Proverbs 23:7(NASB)
There is an entire section within the book of Proverbs that deals with a collection of sayings which were uttered by certain wise men. It covers a number of chapters and here in the middle of chapter 23, we discover the 8th profound saying from this group of learned elders:
"Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten and waste your compliments."
Earlier in the chapter, we are warned of the consequences of being too greedy and piggish when food, drink, or any other delicacy are offered to us by a generous person. We are advised to consider carefully what is set before us, in case we are tempted towards covetousness or gluttony OR lest we fall into some pre-arranged trap. The warning is that the motive of the host may not be consistent with his apparent good-heartedness.
Here in verses 6-8, we receive more wise advice. We are discouraged from eating food or accepting gifts from a mean-spirited and miserly man, and advised to examine the motive of such a giver - lest his apparent generosity is dishonest and his compliments are capricious and swathed in some ulterior motive.
The warning from this wise sage is to be cautious of certain social situations and to be warned that being the guest of a miserly man or ungenerous woman is very likely to blow up in your face, because their apparent generosity is hidden behind a hypocritical attitude or some deceptive motive.
Jeremiah asked the question, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard change his spots?" And the wise advice from this learned sage follows the same logic - be careful not to accept the offerings of a selfish man, and do not hanker after his choice food or costly possessions, for his outer conduct and magnanimous gestures, may be hidden behind a mean and miserly streak.
Although such a man may offer lavish delicacies or provide generous gifts, we are warned that if his heart is not with you, his attitude may turn on you and become sour... for even though his superficial conduct may appear to be sweet, such a relationship can easily turn bitter.
May we exhibit wisdom in situations where we are confronted with hypocritical people who display an apparently generous spirit while hiding behind a mean and miserly streak - or we may become the unsuspecting victim of a mean, miserly man or fall into the trap of someone who displays apparent kindness, while concealing some ulterior motive.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the words of wisdom in this book of Proverbs and for the warning to be cautious of hypocritical people who put on a show of generosity, but are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Give me wisdom and discernment as I travel through life so that I am prevented from falling into a trap. I know that as a man thinks, so is he. Purify my thoughts, I pray, and may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart, reflect the grace and truth of Christ Jesus my Lord. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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