26 An honest answer
is like a kiss on the lips.
27 Put your outdoor work in order
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house.
28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause—
would you use your lips to mislead?
29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;
I’ll pay them back for what they did.”
Today’s first verse highlights the connection between honesty and intimacy. We show our love with a kiss on the lips, and truthfulness is also an expression of love. But it is honesty, and not kisses, with which relationships are cultivated. All sin has consequences on the self, which alone are not worth the trouble, but we must also remember the effect that sin has on those around us. What can a dishonest answer be likened to? Is it a cold shoulder, a door slammed shut, an irksome mask? However we see it in the moment, in hindsight it is always regrettable.
“Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Prudence shows us the importance of planning, which enables us to enjoy what we have. The one who establishes his house before ensuring his income can support it is a fool, bound to loathe both the house and the work. The fields may show great potential, but the only way to measure it is with experience. The human tendency is to overestimate income and underestimate expenses, which without prudence is a sure path to servitude.
“Do not testify against your neighbor without cause— would you use your lips to mislead? Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” These verses echo the famous commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” which begins with “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone.” The right thing to do may not always be clear, but the wrong things certainly are – and we would do well to avoid them. No conflict has ever been resolved with slander and revenge, which only make things worse, “but those who promote peace have joy.”