Thursday

gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise rebuke to a listening ear. (vs 11-12)

Proverbs 25:11-22 Thursday 22 September 2022

Psalm 63:1-8

Background

In today’s reading from Proverbs we are being encouraged to guard our tongues especially if we are likely to use words which, rather than lighten the load, will bring greater darkness to other people. We are encouraged to be patient, rather than jump in with solutions for a problem, to walk with our neighbour, rather than speak out against them without reason.

The words, as in so many places in Proverbs are harsh and critical of the way people relate to one another. The later verses speak of he hurt that can occur through the use of bitter words or trusting someone who turns out to be disloyal. The  vivid words: 'vinegar in wounds' or 'toothache' speak loudly in such circumstances. However, for me the most important words in this particular passage come in verses 21 and 22. Here, the writer speaks of how we should react to those we might regard as our enemies. We should not ignore them or stay out of their way, but be good to them. Giving them food to eat and water to drink is the illustration provided, but simply it is being prepared to regard them not as enemies in whatever way we might think suitable in the circumstances.

Often we might feel hurt by the attitude of someone with whom we work, either in our employment, or within voluntary roles within the church. These words challenge us to react not by just putting up with the 'toothache' but by doing our best to help the person concerned to fulfil the work we are called  to do, encouraging them to see ourselves not as people to be cast aside or despised, but as someone to walk alongside and seek to undertake God’s will. We are reminded of Jesus' words about loving our neighbours. We are not called just to live alongside people we find difficult and ignore any hurt we might receive, but to encourage all our neighbours, whoever they might be. It will also perhaps encourage the person concerned to look more closely at the motive for such love and bring them back into acknowledging their creator for themselves.

To Ponder:

  • How often do we analyse the words we speak, write or text, to see whether they will encourage or hurt the person to whom they are spoken or written?
  • How often do we, instead of taking the hurt, 'the toothache' as being inevitable, do something to cure it by thinking of the person who is making us hurt, and seek to understand why they feel that way?
  • Do we often speak too hastily without any thought of whether we are drawing the person into a knowledge of God’s love, or driving them away from God's presence?

Prayer

Lord give us the words we need to draw more and more people into your love rather than alienating them from your presence. Help us to willingly feed our enemies or those alienated from us by race or other social forces, so that they might truly know that they, despite any difficulties they might face, are loved as part of your family. Amen.

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