Right words, Right time
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give." Proverbs 25:11-14
We have spent a good deal of time talking about the need for speaking truth and how to deal with scoffers and liars (short answer - run away!). But there is another aspect of truth-speaking that we have not talked about, and that is saying the right thing at the right time. Wisdom is not just having the right information or facts, but rather about using that information at the right time in the right way. There is some nuance here that can be hard to quantify, but when it's right you can tell it's right.
Words of wisdom, spoken at the correct moment, can have an incredible impact on those who would hear what is spoken. Can you remember a time when someone shared something with you and you thought, "Wow! How did they know that I needed to hear that today?" It’s because someone is listening to wisdom and responding when prompted. In the age of technology and social connection, it is easier than ever to offer someone encouragement and speak words of wisdom. I can recall several times in the past when I have been overwhelmed and struggling when someone would reach out with a text, phone call, or email and provide the perfect word that I needed in the moment. Don't discount the power of words spoken at the right moment!
Give Him Bread
"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." Proverbs 25:21-22
Here is another section of Proverbs that is easier said than done. The reality is that caring for someone who we consider an enemy is difficult. Sometimes it's hard to care for the people we love the most, so the thought of caring for an enemy may feel impossible. The good news is that God is with us and will help guide us as we care for others (even our enemies).
God's economy is so different from that way the world works, and these Proverbs serve as good reminders for that change in focus. In the economy of the world, we use others to get ahead, keep everything we make, and we make sure that we are taken care of. In God's economy, we are called to give up things for the good of others, live a life of generosity, and consider how we could serve others even when we don't gain anything in return. There is no immediate gain for feeding your enemy. In fact, it might be one of the most confusing things you could do to reach out in hospitality to someone who hates you. But God will reward you for your faithfulness and that will always be more than enough, even if that reward comes much later.
No Glory in Your Own Glory
“It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:27-28
I remember hearing a pastor share about the importance of having people around you who can speak truth into your life and offer insight and encouragement. He said, "make sure you have people around you who don't drink your kool-aid. And, please don't drink your own kool-aid." That thought has stuck with me as I look online and see people (myself included) sharing a virtual highlight reel of their own lives for others to like, love, and comment on a daily basis. We share status updates to feel validated by a circle of friends who have the same thoughts. Or, maybe you share something controversial just to show how intelligent you are or to ruffle a few feathers.
When we seek our own glory, we miss blind spots in our lives. Those blind spots, left unchecked, will only grow and one day they just might be your downfall. Surrounding yourself with friends who are willing to have honest conversations with you is a gift (even if it hurts). Honey is wonderful! Too much honey is a stomach ache. Knowing when to stop eating honey is a skill that we learn from time and failure. But that failure is not in vain if we learn from our mistakes and make changes in our lives.
Reflect and Respond
Are you eating too much of the honey of your own glory? Are you sick with selfishness? Take a few minutes today in prayer asking God to reveal those blind spots in your life. Ask God to show you the places where your internal city walls are broken and in need or repair. Then, find some friends that you trust and consider sharing what's going on in your life. Your honesty just might give that person a chance to offer a word of wisdom that could make a difference in your life.