Who's coming to dinner?
“Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. A servant who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers. The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” Proverbs 17:1 - 3 (ESV)
Have you ever been to a terrible family dinner? Maybe the thought of Thanksgiving dinner with your family immediately increases your blood pressure. Even the most incredible feast with turkey, macaroni and cheese, and pumpkin pie can't save a gathering full of strife and conflict. Solomon says it's better to eat scraps and old food than to the feast with strife. This life is filled with strife and getting through difficult situations takes longer than any of us would like.
Through life’s pressures, when we ‘feel the heat’, who we are inside is revealed. Gold is put into a furnace to be purified; our hearts are tested by heat and struggle. Gold is not created in the fire, it is refined. In this same way, God is refining us to be more like Himself - removing those things that do not line up with the ways of wisdom and light. Darkness, hatred, and strife will be burnt away and what will emerge (hopefully) is a heart full of love and wisdom.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice. The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” Proverbs 17:22 - 24 (ESV)
Do you realize that the way we live our lives affects our reality? We are not just robots walking around in a shell. Rather, we are human beings (some say human becomings) with a soul that has the power to transform how we live. Is your heart full of joy? A joyful heart is literally good medicine. The inverse is true as well. A spirit that is crushed and a heart that is hard dries up your bones. While it doesn’t just happen in a day, over time those negative and crushed feelings will dry up our insides.
We are full of potential with the daily opportunity to speak life and growth into our future selves. We also have the power to speak death and decay. Speak life, live with joy, and let that good medicine flow from you to other people today.
A Cool Spirit
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:27 - 28 (ESV)
Calm under pressure. It's hard to stay calm when all eyes are on you to make the big play, hit a home run, or nail that guitar solo. Have you ever been in a moment of heightened emotion and needed to perform a difficult task? Adrenaline is flowing, people are watching, and you need to make the right choice. The best athletes and performers can stay cool under pressure; they can perform at their peak level without becoming overwhelmed with emotion. We have that same opportunity to stay cool under pressure by watching what we say. In fact, knowledge knows when to share information and when to be quiet. In most situations, deciding not to speak takes an incredible amount of restraint.
Imagine that someone posts something online that you disagree with and you have articles, facts, all the information you need to take them down a few notches. Is it right to do that? Is a public website the best place to display your knowledge? Solomon says here in chapter 17 that even fools can appear wise by watching their words. Wisdom knows when to speak and when to exercise a cool spirit and walk away. If we are going to walk in wisdom, we need to start considering how we engage and interact with other people, both in the digital world and in the physical world. Sometimes the best thing we can do when tempted to put someone in their place is just to walk away.
Reflect and Respond
Are you one who has to have the last word? Or, can you "restrain your words?" How do you respond under pressure? Reflect on a stressful situation you’ve found yourself in - how did you respond in that moment? In hindsight, could you have handled the situation better? After reading today’s devotion, take a moment and think about how you will react in the future. Hide away some of Solomon’s words to draw from when you’re in stressful situations.