Proverbs 17:8

A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.

This proverb is translated in different ways, and this particular translation can be given two different interpretations: it is observing the way and perspective of the wicked briber but does not agree with him, or it is commenting on the effective use of gifts, another translation of the word.

Other proverbs will comment on the evil use of bribes, but consider for now the appropriate use of gifts that in a sense are bribes. A husband who has offended his wife comes home with flowers to smooth the way for his apology. A new boss – wanting to break the ice his first day – comes in with coffee and doughnuts for his staff. A mother helps her child break into the neighborhood circle by inviting the children over for ice cream. There is a difference between paying off someone with a bribe or manipulating him for favors, and using gifts to smooth transitions and win goodwill.

Someone may reply, “I shouldn’t have to give gifts to butter up anybody.” Such an attitude fails to recognize the need that we all have to be encouraged. And we will respond positively to those who encourage us, and we will be turned off by those who show no interest in how we feel. The person who appropriately gives gifts is giving attention to others. It is true that wicked people do this to manipulate, but wise and good people do this because they truly regard their neighbor and are desiring good results.

Who can you “bribe” today with cheer?

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