It sounds easy

The Proverbs are full of great one liners.  Great sayings that hit you right between the eyes.  For example, how about “It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife” or “If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it and you will vomit.”  Great practical word pictures, huh!  (Yes, I know I pulled those out of the context of the whole chapter and in the bigger context their meaning may not seem as unusual as it sounds pulled out.  But, allow me literary leniency simply for making the point that Proverbs are practical and useful, even if a little strange at times.)

I recently came across the below verse in Proverbs and at first glance, thought “oh yep – that’s easy.”

“{She} who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious, will have the king for {her} friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

Pure heart – check… and then I watched a sitcom that is way over the top of being “culturally acceptable, but Biblicaly wrong” and those images, sounds, voices are in my head, weaving into my heart.  Pure heart – check … and then one of my children decides today is the day to ask more questions than any human being would have the patience to answer and my speech turns to frustration in her questions, and I follow the path of “why don’t you just ask your father” and then we go from a great conversation to the pettiness of my own selfishness.

Woman-Screaming

Okay – so maybe “pure heart” is a little hard.  But, what about gracious speech?  If I just hold my tongue and monitor what I say, won’t that work?  For me, that works for about 2 minutes or until I encounter a situation in which I think I know better (and that happens only once a day, right???  :))  If I go on the defense in proving myself, my speech goes from kindness and encouragement to sarcasm and this underlying tone of arrogance.  And the worst part?  I don’t even know I have gone there until it is too late.  It is usually hours later when I am thinking of my day and replay the situation in my head.  I am often struck by the words I said or the tone I said it and how UN-gracious it was.  And, I didn’t even know it at the time.

So – maybe I won’t ever be friends with the king, as the Proverb indicates?  Or, maybe it is that until I am friends with the One true King that I even have a chance to be friends with any of our earthly leaders, or as some versions put it – to have the respect of a good leader.   An even bigger idea, though, is that we truly don’t have control of ourselves, no matter how hard we try. We might get it for a time, but by now, most of us know of at least one person in our lives who we thought “had it all under control” until it all came unraveled.  What are we to do, then?

My only hope is releasing myself- emotions and all – to our Lord who knew my ways would never work and gave me the grace to bring that to Him (long before I ever thought I would need that grace).  Then, I take His Word that says if I abide in Him, He will abide in me.  Abide – to obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, uphold, heed, accept, go along.  I abide in His Word, I abide by His Words (even if I don’t understand it all), and trust that He will abide in me.  And, the most amazing thing happens.  When I look back on my days and moments that usually were tainted with sarcasm, unkind words, and frustrations, I begin to see grace and kindness in my speech that I wasn’t even trying to do.  I see the grace and kindness leading to a conflict free conversation or situation which leads to contentment, peace, and a pureness of heart.  It all had nothing to do with my own effort, except the effort to choose to abide in Him in every moment of every day.

So abiding…maybe that is easier?  How about we get rid of the easy and just simply do it?  Yes, I think that will work.

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