The Way Things Are?
Wise and Patient God, You are truth. Penetrate my life with truth from Your Word. Purify and cleanse me.
Read Proverbs 25:1-28
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27 English Standard Version – UK).
I hope we’ll smile now and againﾗperhaps ruefullyﾗat these snapshots of life: the tactless troubadour (20) who hasn’t learned to weep with those who weep; the zealous neighbor who doesn’t understand wise boundaries (17); the modest guest celebrated by Jesus himself (6,7; Luke 14:7-11). As we reflect on these vignettes, we can pray imaginatively and honestly about where we may find ourselves in this text. Might that tactless troubadour be me? Have I learned the value of silently keeping company with someone who is suffering, or do I always feel the need to say something positive?
Lying behind many of these instructions is the call to moral courage. Don’t we all feel the pull to comment or complain about our “neighbor” (colleague, fellow church member, family member) rather than seek an opportunity to talk through the offense face to face (9), while remembering Jesus’ demanding standards (Matt. 7:1-5)? What courage it demands both to offer a “wise rebuke” and to be willing to listen and accept one (12). Perhaps we remember friendships that have foundered because hearing the truth was too painful. In fact true faithfulness in communication is as rare as snow in August (13)!
Women come in for quite a lot of “sermonic thunder” in Proverbs (24; cf. 19:13; 21:9, 19; 27:15,16), perhaps evidence of a largely male perspective! Other, more inclusive sayings against quarrelsomeness somewhat redress the balance (e.g., 17:9; 19:11). Ellen Davis quotes the wisdom of an elderly woman with 65 years of happy marriage behind her: “We figured out pretty early that it’s not so important to be right.”
Reflect on these proverbs in the light of these words by John Townsend: “We need honest, caring, perceptive people who love us enough to correct us when we stray.”
Lord, please deal with any impurity in my life and shape me into something beautiful and useful to You (4).
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