Everything Beautiful

The other day, a friend of mine posted on Facebook this quotation by the father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, and for some reason, I felt compelled to reply – the post and reply follow:

The Post;

jung

The reply;

Sally Mitschke Then feed your soul, love yourself and forgive yourself as you would do for all of these, for we are all imperfect beings striving to grow into the best versions of ourselves.

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This is not to say, go ahead and make excuses for yourself, but to understand that even though we make mistakes, take a wrong turn, or do things that, in retrospect, we’re not too proud of, we still need to nourish our souls, to feed them with wisdom and truth, with compassion and faith, with “good vibes” and friendship. We need, also, to give ourselves the gift of forgiveness, to recognize that we all have value, and that what we must do is “love” (as in accept) ourselves, everything about ourselves, the great and the not so great.

I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:11, which states,   “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  We are each a beautiful work of art; an abstract painting that changes with distance and light, a piece of clay being molded by the loving hands of a master potter, a woven cloth of individual threads, our strengths and weaknesses, embroidered together in such a way as to produce an exquisite tapestry of life, of kindness, of fallibility, and of love.

~SLM

Be Kind…, tenderhearted, forgiving…, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

forgiveness1

A Grateful Heart: My Prayer

Gratitude is on my mind today. I’ve been wondering why we find it so hard to just be thankful. When did gratitude go out of style, become so uncool? Every day we are so “ate up” with what we think is wrong in our lives, with what we think is insulting or offensive, that we can’t see past the negatives to the abundance of positives.

We obscure our lives with so much wanting, confusing desire with need, that sometimes, it seems, we forget this uncomplicated truth: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” We live in a time that is unprecedented in all of recorded history. We literally have almost anything we desire at our fingertips, at any given moment, and while there seems to be great disparity between those who “have” and those who “have not,” even the poorest among us still enjoy a standard of living greater than all but a handful of other countries.

We are blessed, more than any other people at any other time, and the simple act of counting your blessings makes all the difference in the world to your attitude about life, turning your attention away from the “don’t” haves and toward the “do” haves. Even on our worst days, when we we’ve gotten a rotten diagnosis, or we don’t know how we’re ever going make it another day, we still have more than we came with. We can still “count it all joy, when we meet trials of various kinds, for we know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness,  letting steadfastness have its full effect, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  And, we can still “give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.”

So, here’s a prayer for a grateful heart:

Instill in me a grateful heart that I may know Your ways and live by them. That I may be thankful for all Your gifts, even when those gifts appear to me as trials, for it is through adversity that You draw me nearest to You, that You teach me of Your faithfulness and love, that You show me the meaning of perseverance, of trust, of faith.

Instill in me a grateful heart that I may see humanity through Your eyes. That I may be thankful for Your love, Your compassion, even when that love feels miles away and I cannot see it, knowing that each person I see faces the same fears, insecurities, and battles as I, for it is Your love which connects us all, which teaches us of hope, of tolerance, of compassion.

Instill in me and grateful heart that I may walk with you in love and joy. That I may be thankful for the tranquility of Your presence, even when I’m surrounded by chaos, and strife is the theme of the day, trusting that Your yoke is easy, that Your guidance will see me through, that I may find solace with a prayer on my lips and peace in my heart.

Amen

~ SLM

1 Timothy 6:7, James 1:2-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What Love is: A Litmus Test

It seems that the world is upside down right now, that everything is wrong side out and backwards. We want the madness to stop, but we’re at a loss as to how. We say we want to get along, that we want peace and love, but from the virulence and frequency of the bombastic and self-righteous screeds that are posted every day to facebook, twitter and any number of “social” forums, it is clear that most of us have no idea of what we’re doing or why. We want desperately for things to go differently, to head in a new direction, the direction of unity, but it seems we’ve lost our way. We don’t know anything about kindness, tolerance and love, or if we had ever learned, we’ve forgotten, developed a collective case of CRS (can’t remember shit), as if modern life has divorced us from knowing, understanding exactly what it means to love.

So how do we know what love is? It sounds like a simplistic question, but is it really? We think we know what it is; we think love is about the sentiments reflected in a popular song, quotes by the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa, a warm and fuzzy feeling about our friends and family, or a heart shaped emoji we use to react to our friend’s posts. But, love is so much more than these, greater than our trivialities. It is the one thing that never fails, and is perhaps the most challenging feet we could attempt in our lives. And, we do know what it looks like, because we’ve been given a litmus test for love, a laundry list by which to check our actions. The test goes like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

We must test everything against this standard, continually asking ourselves; is it patience or is it pride, is it kindness or cattiness, is it truth or rumor parading as truth, does it persistently hope for the best or is it flip and conceited, is if faith-filled or self-filled? If the words we speak (or type) cannot pass this test, if they are unkind, conceited, ill-mannered, selfish, proud, a diatribe of what’s wrong, we are not speaking from a place of love.

Here’s what else we’ve been told about love:

Forget about the wrong things people do to you, and do not try to get even. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Leviticus 19:18

But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45

If we are jealous, act impatiently, are brutish, or delight in situations that prompt us to say “ain’t karma a bitch,” we do not know love. If we take it upon ourselves to “get even” with those who would do us harm, we are not coming from a place of love, but of darkness and hate. What then, do we do with hate? There is no reasoning with it, any brute force or mighty action that can stop it, because hate is not the cure for itself. There is only one antidote to hate, only one power mighty enough to stop it in its tracks: Love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

If we love one another, we don’t give up on each other. We aren’t gleeful or smug when evil things happen to others, even when they are our enemies. We continue to hope for the very best with all the patience in the universe, because that is what we have been called to do, what we’ve been commanded to do,  and the example we are expected to set as a follower of Christ.

~SLM

I heard this on the radio this morning and thought it appropriate for this post – thank you Danny Gokey for this beautiful song!

Do as I Say…

Funny how this seeking for a higher meaning works, just when you think you’ve got something figured out, your turn your perspective a fraction of a degree, and suddenly it’s a whole new landscape.  There are certain verses that seem to return again and again, to show you that what you thought you knew was, in reality, only a small sampling of a greater truth, a greater equation, and that’s why I’ve landed back on Isaiah 29:13, which states, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,”  It’s not just about being estranged from God, but also about duplicity; about our persistent habit of commingling words and actions, our false logic of substitution in which we assume our words and actions are interchangeable, and our expectation that others do what we cannot ourselves do.

We can say all the right things in flowery prose and elegant verse. We can talk our fool heads off about what is right, what is fair, what we think others should do, or be willing to do. We can be as socially acceptable and politically correct as the best little soldier out there, but the true test of where we live is in the heart, and while we can say anything, and oft times we actually do, our actions are the reflection of our thoughts and beliefs. The heart is where action resides. If we say we are against bullying, but bully others in order to prove they are bullies, then we become what we call, we use our lips to prove our “rightness” while showing what lives in our hearts: a bully. We can talk of peace and cooperation, we can take others to task for what they say or don’t say, but if our actions don’t back up our lips, we are nothing but liars, hypocrites.  We can talk a big game, but when it comes right down to it, our hearts reveal our true intent, our true thoughts and feelings, our true core beliefs, and how we act speaks to what is in our hearts.

Words and actions are not the same; they do not bear the same weight. While words can be illuminating, clarifying, and insightful, they can also be deceiving, misguided and false. Actions on the other hand, are like a mirror; they merely reveal and reflect who we are in our heart of hearts.

“Do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:5)

~SLM

Sticks and Stones: The Wisdom of Minding Your Mouth

Sticks and stones may break my bones…but do we really believe names can’t hurt us? Our words, the things we say, can affect our lives in ways we can never imagine. Regardless of what the old adage claims, broken bones, though they be painful, eventually heal. But, careless or misplaced words, whether single syllabled or compound, are another story altogether. They can leave deep and life-long wounds, and as we are reminded in James 3:5-6 (MSG), “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it. It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.” Once the [word] genie is out, there’s no going back, you can’t recall it like a bad tweet, once it hits the air, the damage is done. Words are powerful tools that can open doors or lock them, unite nations or divide them, build up and encourage or tear down and destroy. “By our speech, we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke, and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell,” James continues.

Minding your mouth is a pretty big thing, when it comes to living a wisdom-filled life. In fact, shooting off our mouths is one of the biggest failings of humanity. We’re in love with idle talk and especially our own opinions. We prattle on and on without much thought about what we say, as if our words have no real meaning, and are only background noise that is easily dismissed.  We fail to see that the freeness with which we spew our every random thought, with which we are so righteous about having the “right” to say, is not always right. Instead, we throw it out there without consideration, getting so caught up in our “right to free speech” that we forget our words are alive, they have impact, force.

The unguarded tongue is more dangerous than any suicide bomber could ever be. While he may cause us physical pain, loss and suffering, an explosion of words can do far worse damage, it can break our spirit, can set us on a downward spiral of degradation and despair that only God can help and heal. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips,” says the Psalmist in Psalm 141:3, and rightly so, since it’s what we say that saves or convicts us, that matters most. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

~SLM

Proverbs 12: The 3 P’s of Discipline

Proverbs 12 starts with this simple thought:  “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Wow, if ever there was a mantra for the pursuit of Wisdom this would be it; the idea that accepting and even loving discipline produces knowledge, and those who cannot, or will exercise it are fools. It is knowledge and understanding that lead us to Wisdom, and it’s through discipline that we gain knowledge. Discipline is the key, and it occurs to me that discipline should be spelled with 3 P’s.

The first P is pretense, the act of deception. Fools pretend to know, they make up answers to sound more important, more impressive; they are sanctimonious in their opinions, clinging to them stubbornly. But, when we pretend, we lie, we give false testimony, we give bad advice and eventually we become trapped by our tongues. Luke 6:45 tells us, “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Discipline has no use for deception. Not knowing the truth of a situation doesn’t make us less, it doesn’t mean that we are not smart or that we are worthless. It simply means that we do not know, and all the nonsense in the world will not change the truth.

The second P is prudence, the act of discretion. Fools rush to judgment, and that rarely turns out well. When we are not judicious with a situation, our reckless words and deeds inflict pain and suffering that we cannot take back – once the thoughts are verbalized and the deeds are done, the words and actions are out there forever, and no amount of back-peddling, no amount of contrition can change it. Matthew 7:2 tells us, “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Discipline demands discretion, and if we approach life with humility, deliberation, and wisdom, when situations do arise, we can persevere, using the “measure” we would have given unto us.

P number 3 is patience, the act of imperturbability. Fools are easily annoyed – they over react and fly off the handle, act rashly and make snap judgments. In essence, they lack patience. Discipline requires patience, lots of patience, patience to wait for the right timing, to dig a little deeper, to contemplate our next move, to listen to the voice of God. We are wise when we look past the apparent, practicing forbearance and tolerance, looking behind the curtain with consideration and understanding, and acting judiciously.

Correction is a gift from God.  When we are so mired in our own self-righteousness, we are operating from a place of arrogance, a place where we are so filled with ourselves and our own opinions that there is literally no room for a divergent thought.  When we’re in that place we can’t even hear the wind blowing let alone the promptings of Spirit. Verse 14 says, “From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward,” and if our goal is to live life in His Wisdom, then we should welcome discipline, be thankful for it, realizing that sometimes fine-tuning is just what is needed for our growth and happiness.

~SLM

Proverbs 11 The Handbook for Life Part IV: Karma

Any handbook for life worth considering is bound to have a healthy chapter covering Karma. As defined by the dictionary, Karma is the concept of “action” or “deed” understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect. It’s the prevalent “hip” expression for payback, but, Karma is more than just “what goes around comes around,” it’s about the law of attraction, about actions; how we act and thereby live our lives dictates what we attract unto ourselves.

 

It’s funny to me how we like to pick and choose the attributes of Karma that suit us at any given time, and we are more apt to apply it to others than to ourselves. We are quick to point out how we think the actions of others are bound to return “bad Karma” to them, while completely ignoring our own actions. Saying things like, “well, maybe I’m so-and-so’s karma,” or “Karma’s a bitch, man. Maybe you should think about what you are saying [to me],” meaning that if what is said is egregious enough, we’d be justified in meeting out our own brand of Karma. When we take matters into our own hands, avenging a real or perceived wrong, then our revenge is met with further revenge, and the cycle continues to spiral downward until only hate and prejudice remain. And, if you think about it, the idea that we have the right to make someone pay for what we believe is wrong, is the height of arrogance. It’s the ego throwing a temper tantrum, because someone dared to be thoughtless, unkind, or unjust to us, and, in our own hubris, we are determined to punish the offender.

Karma is a concept that involves consciousness, the thoughtful awareness of one’s actions, and the realization of how we impact others, and to me, it is synonymous with the idea of turning the other cheek. Not reacting to a situation takes strength of will, it takes courage. It’s the ultimate state of being mindful of our actions and their consequences, allowing us the opportunity to treat others as we would be treated, no matter what the situation, creating a positive charge, and giving the responsibility of retribution to a power greater than us, which frees us from the cycle of cause and effect.

 

The law of attraction compels us to trust in spirit, to strive to do the right thing, even if doing so seems naive or foolish at the time, because it teaches us that we attract to ourselves those things which we seek. If we seek goodness, we find it, if we seek spirit, we find it, if we seek wisdom, we find it, and if we seek trouble, we find it. We are continually seeking every day of our lives, whether consciously or cavalierly, whether fully engaged or on auto-pilot, we usually find exactly what we seek, we reap what we have sown. Therefore we must guard our thoughts, our tongues, and our actions, being ever mindful of the fruit we bring to bear.

 

Luke 6:43-45 tells us “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

 

We eat the fruit of our own choosing, and if that fruit is bad, rotten, then it is we who shoulder the blame.

~SLM

Proverbs 11:1-16: Handbook for Life Part III

…and the interpretations continue…

1The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.

Treating everyone and everything with honesty and fairly is pleasing to the eyes of God.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.

Pride is the great downfall of mankind. When we let our pride get in the way, we cannot hear the voice of wisdom, but unpretentiousness opens our ears to God’s guidance.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Those who strive for decency have truth and authenticity to guide them, while the false and faithless will be ruined by their deceitfulness.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

The accumulated possessions of this world hold no value in times of disaster and crisis, but wisdom, knowledge and honesty provides safety.

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

The very act of living honestly and respectably simplifies our lives and makes them straight-forward, but if we scheme, our schemes become our undoing.

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

It is our integrity that carries us forward, that gives us rectitude and keeps us truthful, but the dishonest, the devious, the treacherous, are enslaved by their malicious desires.

Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Faith given over to humans is misplaced faith, because all of mankind’s promise and power comes to nothing, for men die and with them dies all their desires, all their prospects, all their hopes.

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.

An honest person is liberated from trouble, which falls on the despicable instead.

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.

With their words, godless people destroy others, but through wisdom and judiciousness the decent can escape the trap of gossip.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

When good triumphs over evil, or when the wicked are destroyed, we all celebrate it.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

Through their blessings, good people exalt others, and through their words, the malicious tear others down.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

Someone who put others down, ridiculing and disparaging them spreads ruin and destruction, while those who are wise do not judge.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

If a gossip will tell just one thing, he will tell all, but one who is trustworthy will hold his tounge.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.

It is best for leaders to listen to the points of view from all sides, to consider the advice of many in order to give wise counsel and provide for stability safety.

15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

Vouching for the credit of someone you do not know well is a fool’s errand, better to walk away than to suffer for a bad decision.

16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.

Honor and respect are given to a kind and gracious woman, while money only goes to heartless men.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

This section of Proverbs is clearly about how to treat others, about how to live our lives in conjunction with others. It instructs us to live our lives honestly and conscientiously, to think of how our actions, or lack of actions, affect others. Romans 12:17-18 advises us, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Proverbs 11:1-16 serves as a reminder of the laws of physics, which demand that for every action there is an equal and/or opposite reaction. Living consciously is the key; being aware of how our actions produce re-actions, of how our daily lives, and what we choose to do and say, influences all those with whom we interact. We should think of ourselves less and others more, remembering that community is as important as we are.

If we would simply hold our tongues, close our lips, open our eyes and ears, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, keeping His commands, we would see and understand many things we have never even thought it possible to know.

~SLM

Proverbs 10: The Handbook for Life Part I

So now we come to it, Solomon’s guidebook for living, an “owner’s manual” for life that compares and contrasts wisdom with foolishness, virtue with vice. In the next several posts on Proverbs, I will treat The Wise Sayings of Solomon as if they are a foreign language to be decoded, explained, translated into plain English.  These two-line Haiku style poems, found in chapters 10 through 22:16, and continuing in chapters 27 to 29, represent the wisdom of the ages, condensed and codified, divided into 16 parts (and for my purposes, 32, so as to keep any one posting from hitting the realm of a doctoral thesis!), and showing us how to lead a good life before the eyes of God.

Solomon’s Wise Sayings begin with a simple, yet profound observation;

1A wise son brings joy to his father,
 but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

If you make good choices in life, it’s your dad who is the proudest of you, but it’s a mother who feels it most, whose heart is broken when a child turns out wrong. Dads are more apt to cut their losses and distance themselves from a hurtful situation, but moms suffer for it. They’re the ones who hold out hope, even when all hope seems lost, that some good would come from a difficult situation. That’s why it’s such a joy when a prodigal child to return home, such a blessing when one realizes the error of one’s ways.

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.

The things that we hold most dear are those that we have to toil to achieve. If we don’t have to work for something, we have no concept of its worth, its true value. If we are dishonest, take short cuts or take advantage of others to get what we want, it usually doesn’t turn out very well.

3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

God takes care of those who follow his way, his instruction, yet he also frustrates the desires of the nefarious. He takes care of his own. Luke 12:24 tells us “consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.

We are keepers of our families, our homes, our communities, and productivity is the better part of good stewardship. There are things in life that simply need to be done, and when we neglect them, whether it’s our health, our finances, or our spirituality, we find ourselves in situations that can bring us to ruin.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 we are told that to all things there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Wisdom teaches us the practicality of taking action at the appropriate time, of “making hay while the sun is shining,” but if we are heedless or neglectful of our duties we dishonor ourselves.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

When we are honest and decent, living our lives respectably, and treating people with honor, the blessings we bestow upon others returns to us manifold.  But, if we let our mouths over load our backsides, disrespecting and demeaning others, causing them pain and anguish, then we can expect to reap vehemence and cruelty.

7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,
but the name of the wicked will rot.

We remember and honor virtuous folks, and we use them as examples to follow, to pattern ourselves after. But the wicked are reviled, detested and condemned, and they are irrevocably linked to corruption and perversion.

8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

The idea of attaining wisdom is connected to the notion of learning from our own or others’ mistakes, listening for and accepting instructions, taking responsibility for our actions and moving forward. But the foolish never listen, take responsibility, or accept directions. They blabber on, smugly believing they know it all, and their arrogance is their down fall.

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

If we take the high road, walking in truthfulness and decency, our road is protected, and we can feel confident in our dealings with others. But, if we are deceitful, telling half-truths and twisting the facts, it is our scheming that eventually exposes our falseness and dishonesty.

10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

When we are unkind, making fun and talking behind other’s backs; the consequences are pain and suffering for ourselves and others. When we chatter on without regard to what we are saying, we are the one who ends up with egg on our face, who is disgraced.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

When we speak honestly, have decency and are respectful of others, we become a source for understanding and inspiration to them, but the malicious and contemptuous, disguise their true intent with their words.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

Animosity always precedes conflict, and discord begets more hatred, but love, love is the answer. It erases all wrongs and understanding is its progeny.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

You can think whatever you want to, but it’s not very wise to say everything you think; discernment is the key to getting along with others, and those who show no sense inevitably suffer for their lack of judgment.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

To become wise, we must adopt the habit of listening. It’s through our ears that our knowledge builds upon itself, like a house is built from the foundation up, but those who are foolish attract ruin, because they are incessantly bragging of all they know, rather than listening.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

When we appreciate the blessings in our lives, we recognize God’s abundance, and our blessings become our fortification, but if we are never satisfied, and see only the thing we do not have, then our attitude of ingratitude becomes our ruin.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

When we live in an honest and virtuous manner, what we gain is character, spirit, life, but if we are corrupted, dishonest and malicious, then we are as zombies, we are dead inside.

And so ends my translation of The Handbook, Part I.        ~ SLM

Proverbs 9:7-12 Pearls Before Swine

To understand this section of Proverbs 9, we need a clear understanding of the word scoffer. So what is a scoffer?  The word means: to show contempt by derisive acts or language; to treat or address with derision. In other words, it’s about mocking, sneering, or rejecting with vigorous contempt. Scoffers feel compelled to scorn and ridicule others, especially when confronted with anything that opposes their own narrow and most times self-righteous view of things. Wisdom tells us that correcting a scoffer will only bring us dishonor, that it is vain for us to attempt chastisement in the face of contempt, and that it is best left to God.

 

Just the other day, I had the choice between censuring someone for their unacceptable behavior, or just leaving it to God. I choose to scold, and let me tell you, it did not turn out very well – it never does. It didn’t solve anything, and I can guarantee that NOBODY learned a flippin’ thing from it. I don’t know why it is that sometimes we feel the need to take matters into our own hands. Maybe it’s our less-than-perfect nature, or maybe it’s just that we are so busy telling God and everyone how things ought to be that we forget to stop and listen, we overlook wisdom’s warning. In Matthew 7:6, we are advised: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,” yet it seems that many times, we throw wisdom to the curb and run head-long into situations that are best left to God.

Many years ago, while I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I read somewhere that when you find yourself to be the object of derision, where you are constantly berated and belittled, you should find a quiet place to sit and contemplate this: If I were to find myself standing in front of my maker right now, would this be what He sees in me, would what so-and-so has said or done even matter, or change my relationship to Him? The answer is NO, of course it doesn’t, and maybe our benefit from learning wisdom’s way, our promise of a long and prosperous life, doesn’t have to involve giving ourselves a heart attack over fools who, in the end, really don’t matter in our lives!

It’s a comfort, the promise that Wisdom makes us; Wisdom rewards those who are wise, and those who scoff will suffer alone. Like a bee, extracting honey from every flower, learning begets more learning, and understanding creates more understanding. Proverbs 9:7-12 assures us that the old adage is true; what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, for every action, there’s a reaction. The common thread here is a singular train of thought: What you put out into the world, you will surely get back, and the one who seeks wisdom is rewarded with it.

 

~SLM