10 September 2016Proverbs 10:1-11
“Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, but the one who rebukes boldly makes peace.” (v. 10)
Psalm: Psalm 2:1-8
The book of Proverbs makes some strong associations between folly and trouble. With its cognates 'fool' and 'foolish', it must be the most common expression in Proverbs. At its worst, involving others, a conspiratorial wink can cause a whole lot of trouble (look out for them in your church or workplace) for many people. It seems obvious, especially in the context of Proverbs, but there is no benefit in causing trouble (it is one of the big sins of the Qur'an), and the sneaky wink only does harm. It is offered as fun but folly blooms into chaos. The alternative is much more difficult.
It is a consistent theme in Proverbs that the foolish path is the easy way out. This was Jesus' message too - "the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it" (Matthew 7:13): the line of least resistance, who will take the risk of being different? At times the wise course of action is to challenge, object, even denounce, as Jesus did (with the money lenders in the temple (Matthew 21:12-16) and, yes, it did kill him in the end. He, and the writer of Proverbs, expects the wise person to do the same, and they might be outside his regular followers, in order to bring peace, as he did. Jesus couldn't live for peace, and bring it into the world, without dying for it, so it could be risky! Peace is difficult, war (and winking) is easy, so the writer is asking - would you rather create rumour and suspicion, which can lead to hostility, war and genocide, or challenge hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, in order to begin creating peace from the heart? Depending on where you are this may be a simple or a stark choice, placing demands on your outlook, thinking, actions or even theology. We do not always choose well or wisely, but the wise choice leads to life, in many different ways.
- How can you challenge hatred, prejudice and bigotry?
- What might it be like if religion really was promoting peace?