Daily thoughts from our minister.
Human beings make decisions before even we are aware of it. How we respond to various situations is a result of how our brains have been trained. It happens in microseconds. From a survival point of view this is a good thing. It is important to recognize danger or an enemy. It is important to be able to act in a way that will preserve our health and our life.
Those impulses must be disciplined. This is why we train our teachers, soldiers, pilots, doctors, and engineers. This is why we train anyone who works with tools and builds things. Our responses must be trained so that we can overcome fear or revulsion or confusion and move toward the trouble or the damage. We need the confidence to solve problems rather than walk away.
Doing hard things and making wise decisions requires us to have a ready arsenal that automatically kicks in and overwhelms everything else. The wisdom literature (often called poetry) in the Old Testament does this for us. Getting wisdom deep into our minds will help us make better decisions. It will help us be less anxious about the details of life and guide us through difficult times.
Here are a few sayings from Proverbs 10:8-12
The wise of heart will heed commandments,
but a prating fool will come to ruin.
He who walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who perverts his ways will be found out.
He who winks the eye causes trouble,
but he who boldly reproves makes peace.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
The road we travel is full of potholes, hairpin turns, and an occasional break in the pavement. There are times when we need to turn left and others when we need to turn right. If we don’t vary our speed, we will drive off into a ditch or off a cliff.
There are warnings in the Bible about speaking too soon. It doesn’t seem to stop us from sharing our ignorance – especially those with an audience who will exchange money for “secrets.” (I am talking to religious charlatans here.)
There is value in silence if we use it to listen and learn. There is value in speaking with humility and changing one’s view when we learn more. None of us know enough, but we do know the answer to the question of Agur in Proverbs 30:2-4.
“Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely you know!” (RSV)
June 29, 2022
Following wisdom requires wisdom. Wisdom in the hands of a foolish person is dangerous. Wise words brought into the service of ideologies leads to taking up good words for a flawed cause. We are in a much different world than we were in just four years ago. Do not be too quick to proclaim, “Amen.” Please stop spreading stupid, half-truth, hurtful, and logically flawed information because your position won or lost.
There are some situations in which there are no winners – divorce, war, unwanted pregnancies, abuse, addiction. In all these, human beings are faced with situations beyond our capacity to comprehend. In all these there are no outcomes that will make us feel good or satisfied. And in all these it is the voiceless, the children, and the powerless who are sacrificed. Too many of us are too quick to speak for them without ever listening, much less hearing their complaints. There is hope for healing – but it may take decades.
This is not a time for Christians to gloat. It is a time for prayer and reflection. It is a time to take compassion seriously.
Following wisdom requires wisdom. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the right of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9).