Monday, July 31, 2017

Loving Wounds, Kisses that Kill

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6

Who could forget the kiss with which Judas betrayed the Lord?  It was the final act in a long relationship of an unfaithful heart.  There are many questions that we have about the life of Judas, but there is no question that there was definite cruelty in the kiss with which the disciple betrayed the Master.  In contrast to this we could think of the wounding of Peter’s betrayal in the temple courtyard – where he denied even knowing Jesus (John 18:15-18).  While that failure was dealt with when Peter saw Jesus on the beach the faithful wounding of a friend was given by Jesus.  As Jesus repeatedly asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than these three times Peter is grieved.  At that moment Peter was restored, having faced his own shortcoming as a blustery big talker this faithful wound was critical in transforming Peter from a big talker into a pillar of the early church.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Eight-Legged Pride

Let another man praise you,
And not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 27:2

In his classic work The Metamorphosis, Ovid tells the story of Arachne.  This mythical tale concerns a woman who believes she is go good at weaving that she boasts herself to be even better than the goddess Athena.  This arrogance ultimately ends in Arachne being turned into a spider and made to weave for the rest of her days (along with all or her creepy offspring).  It is absolutely amazing how infrequently a person needs to tell others how good they are at something.  It is amazing because that does not stop people from taking the opportunity to tell others how good they think they are at something.  Interestingly arrogance is becoming an absolute cultural ethic!  If the story of Arachne were to be made a fresh today it would surely be a story of how Arachne boasted and then finally defeated Athena – yet the old wisdom is the best.  A person can render a wonderful talent, beauty or ability utterly worthless with just a touch of arrogance.  Yet, interestingly, no assessment needs to be made of one’s own abilities to continue to strive to improve and appreciate them.

Monday, July 17, 2017

"JK! I'm Crazy!"

Like a madman who throws fire brands, arrows and death,
Is the man who deceives his neighbor
And says, “I was only joking!”
Proverbs 26:18-19

Having a truly crazy person is a great liability.  A person who fully and completely lacks all sense of sanity becomes a danger to himself and others in very short order.  That person may become even more dangerous should he be supplied with weapons.  Imagine going into battle with a person who is meant to be on your side, only to find that person firing indiscriminately and taking out his own men.  This is the image which the Bible uses to explain a person who lies for a joke.  C.S. Lewis pointed out in the Screwtape Letters what a marvelous tool this is on the part of the Satanic influence upon earth.  A person can be cruel, a person can be selfish, a person can be dishonest but if it is framed as a joke it is supposed to be just fine.  There is a great place for humor, but there is also a way to use humor as a weapon of destruction.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Slave to Everything

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls.
Proverbs 25:28

Modern psychology has been baffled by anger.  There was a thought that anger had to be expressed…that once it was out it wouldn’t be “in” any more.  But this proved not to be the case.  The people who express the most anger seem to have more anger to express!  It turns out that a person who is controlled by their feelings is more likely to do something that is deeply unwise.  Furthermore, our feelings are rarely indicative of the truth.  As an example, how many times have the words “I hate you!” and “I love you!” been spoken and been absolutely lies except for that the person “felt that way” at a certain time.  Emotions are, of course, a vital part of what God made us to be as humans.  They are NOT, however, to be the governing force in our thoughts, behaviors attitudes and actions.  That leaves us as vulnerable as a city without walls to a world that would use our very own emotions to control and destroy us.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Good Boundaries

Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.
Proverbs 25:17

I grew up in the great days of the 80’s and 90’s sitcoms.  In Full House Kimmie Gibbler was the example of this proverb.  In Family Matters it was Steve Urkel.  This is the person that would be a bit of an oddball if they showed up in the house occasionally.  The may even have been endearing, but because they showed up every single episode for a good portion of the time they “wore out their welcome” and became the butt of most of the jokes.  In the context of a sitcom this is funny.  It is funny because one of the main characters is usually deeply bothered by this person, but it is also funny because their violation of this simple principle causes the audience to think that there is almost no end to the abuse that can be heaped upon that person.  There are, of course, those special relationships in life that really are “closer than a brother” as Solomon put it.  Most of the time, however, we must be very careful not to insert ourselves into other people homes or even their private space.  Just as a relationship can die because by in attention a relationship can be killed by smothering as well.  And like everything in life – a relationship needs space to breath.