Compare and contrast

Continuing through the book of Proverbs in search of keys to having real joy, I stumbled just now across a couple more verses that are almost back-to-back in Proverbs 15. They stand in stark contrast to each other and are actually a pretty apt commentary for a great number of people and situations that we encounter every single day. In fact, considering that yesterday, I pulled something out of the same chapter, I suspect that the whole of the chapter may be pretty good stuff. Hmm. Who knew? (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). At any rate, I’m focusing today on verses 21 and 23, but there is a theme which threads through verses 20-24: stupid people take joy in things they probably shouldn’t, and smart people take joy in things that may well be tough.

Take a look at verse 21: “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, But a man of understanding walks straight” (HCSB).

I think it’s pretty plain, but it means that people who don’t know any better take joy in things they shouldn’t do. And people who take joy in things they shouldn’t do don’t know any better. I would submit, as I believe Solomon would (see Ecclesiastes), that such joy is short-lived.

And then there is verse 23, which in many ways, is the converse of verse 21: “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!”

Now, this one isn’t quite as easy to grasp, but I think that the meaning is that a real man takes joy in truth, real truth, even if that truth is contrary to what he is doing, thinking, or outright is.

To be honest, I find myself nodding up and down in ready agreement to this notion, but I am also compelled to recognize that, on more than one occasion, I have really not taken joy in such answers. I have not really been delighted with timely words. Indeed, more often than not, I find myself resenting advice – and advice-givers – which is contrary to what I think and want.

So I guess I have work to do.

Lord, help me to adjust my attitude and perspective so that I am eager to hear apt answers and timely words, even when they are contrary to my agenda. Help me to accept and celebrate Your wisdom.

 

While I’m here, here’s a bonus: Proverbs 15:24. “The path of life leads upward for the wise That they may keep away from Sheol below” (HCSB). It’s not easy to go upward. In fact, it can be downright hard. And sometimes, if the hill is steep enough, the path starts winding back and forth. Sometimes Quite often More often than not, I like to choose the easy way and/or the direct way. I like to get where I want to go without a lot of effort, detour, distraction, etc. But the path of life leads upward if I’m going to avoid spiritual death.

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