“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…”
Life is complex. Human relationships are thorny at best. Maybe you have thrown in the towel on both life and people. We are beginning a series in our church entitled, “How to get along with people.” I had a church member tell me that the way he gets along is to stay away from them. I think there’s a better solution.
The Proverbs, found in the Old Testament, is a collection of wise sayings which, if followed, give us a path toward success in life. It has been said that they are “short sayings” drawn from “long living.” Written mostly by Solomon, they offer us a map through the minefield of human relationships. The benefit of reading the Proverbs is that in the push and shove of life, they seem to “pop up” when we need them most. When we encounter a difficult person or situation, the Proverbs give strong and steady advice. Solomon, who made more mistakes than most, penned “rubber meets the road” wisdom to help us avoid the heartaches that he encountered.
Here are some of my favorites. “In the multitude of counselors, there is safety,” (24:6) which means get lots of advice before making a tough decision. “Cast the scorner out and strife will go with them.” (22:10) This is a “go to” verse for me, and one that any teacher would appreciate. How about Proverbs 26:4: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be just like him.” Following that good advice would save us a lot of wasted verbiage on people whose ears are slammed shut. And of course, there is, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (13:24) I can see someone calling the child protective services even as I write out this verse.
The Proverbs are known as wisdom literature, but they are certainly not the only game in town. The Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims all have wisdom literature in their holy books. Growing up, we loved to quote Confucius but starting out, “Ah Confucius say…” The Proverbs are not unlike these other books of wisdom, except for one important element. Solomon’s book of wisdom includes a truth in its first few chapters that the others do not.
At the doorway of the Proverbs, the truth that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (9:10) stands guide like a sentinel, as if the say, successful human relationships begin with a vertical relationship with God. Notice that Solomon ties together our relationship with God, along with our understanding of life and people.
In “Fearing the Lord,” we listen to Him and receive His view of life. It is only when we see our true value in Christ that we can truly value others. It is only when we understand His unconditional love for us that we can offer that kind of love. One more important point to make. Sometimes tough things need to be done and said in relationships. It is only when we are secure in Christ that we can do these things.