3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
but the lips of the wise protect them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.
5 An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.
The fool has pride in his heart and does nothing to restrain it. It comes out in his speech as boasting and disrespect, and in his actions as aggression and vanity. The wise person may also have pride in his heart, but he fights it. There are many flaws in the world around him, but he focuses first on the flaws within. He opposes his pride with expressions of humility, he tempers his aggression with kindness. Because he disciplines himself, he is protected from the punishment of others.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.” This proverb is about teamwork. An empty manger is much easier to keep clean – there are no animals to feed, no waste to attend to. But those who avoid the trouble of teamwork have much more work to do in the field. It’s better to employ the strengths of others, even though it can be messy, than to try and do everything yourself. Take care of your team, and they will bless you.
“An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.” Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues, on which all moral actions depend. It is the determination to honor others, to be honest in your dealings with them and not hold back what they are due. Why do you lie? Is it because you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings? Is it because you don’t want to be inconvenienced? When you bend justice in favor of someone else, when you skew it for your own gain, you only create more problems for yourself. “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” You will be glad you did.