Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
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
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
Like a madman who throws fire brands, arrows and death,
Is the man who deceives his neighbor
And says, “I was only joking!”
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.
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city
broken down without walls.
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.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.
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.