The first nine chapters of Proverbs are concerned with showing the difference between Wisdom and Foolishness – and an exhortation to a child to follow the first and avoid the second. After that, there are hundreds of pithy one-liners, practical advice offered in catchy phrases. Some of them still apply to life, even a couple of thousand years after they were written. Let’s take a look at a few in the coming posts…
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12, NRSV
Words that demean and embarrass are everywhere, so much so that it’s barely noticeable when they fill the comments of judges in any number of reality shows. Getting a negative reaction or bringing someone to tears makes for good ratings, or so it seems. I have to wonder: is an imperfectly prepared omelet really an insult to the judge’s delicate palate, or is it a common mistake made by someone doing their best? Verbal attacks may not be hateful in intent, but they are hurtful enough to elicit an equally damaging response that begins an ongoing exchange that damages and divides. Harsh judgement and verbal punishment don’t lead to positive and sustained growth – they lead to ongoing judgement and punishment.
Love isn’t a warm emotion in this proverb, it’s the willingness to work for the good of others in an honest and intentional manner. It’s possible to tell a cook that the omelet wasn’t perfect by teaching the technique to fix it. Honesty that transforms the world honors everyone involved, leading to better relationships and improved performance. No offense offered means no offence taken. Everyone walks away better for the exchange.