I whizzed through Proverbs. I’ve read this book many times before, so I felt that I had permission to plow straight through the familiar words of wisdom from King Solomon. Anyways, because of this whizzing, I noticed that some phrases kept repeating themselves this time through. Whether we’re meant to or not, we attach importance to repetitions. So I give you those phrases now:
The desire of a man is kindness . . .
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. . .
And last, but not least, the multiple warnings that it is better to live in a (corner of a roof, desert, wilderness, etc., essentially anywhere else) than to share a large house with a contentious woman. He also compared vexing women to a constant dripping on a day of steady rain.
Geez, Solomon, why did you take on SO MANY wives if they could potentially be a cause of such annoyment to your majesty?
But I’d like to comment on those other statements. They work as a pair in my mind.
First up, “Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes”. He’s got that right. These days, we’ve given it a fancy term: post-modernism. But it’s nothing new. Questioning authority and testing social norms goes back to the Garden of Eden.
No matter how hard post-modernists resist, it’s true that the law is written upon their hearts. How do I know this? People may say that there are no moral absolutes, yet they subscribe to their own set of rights and wrongs. They’ve created their own absolutes, even though they say there are none. They may disagree with the law and gospel explained in the holy scriptures, but they still operate in law and gospel-like systems.
The current example that springs to my mind is the issue of climate change. First, activists put their faith in the research that reports that it is indeed at a crisis stage. Next, there is an end times prophecy. Last I heard, we’ve got twelve years left to live on this earth as we know it. Shaming and guilting regarding our personal carbon footprints is seen as a worthy pastime. There’s even a system of indulgences to pay for the sin of the aforementioned carbon footprint with carbon offset donations. But, unfortunately their gospel falls short. They cannot offer the hope that comes with the good news of ultimate forgiveness and redemption. They’re stuck under their law with no gospel to offer relief. What a burden!
Now to pair up the other repeating phrase: the desire of a man is kindness. We are all just trying to get it right as we walk through this life. We all have our belief systems, and some are more right than others. But extending patience goes a long way in the learning process. Simple acts of kindness make a difference. It can be as small as choosing to say nothing at all if I can’t say something nice on social media sites. It can be as magnificent as sharing the gospel of hope and eternal life with others. Like Martin Luther said, “I’m just a hungry beggar showing you where I found bread”. (I think he actually said, “we are beggars, this is true”.)
And like Jewel sang, “In the end, only kindness matters”.