Have you ever known anyone who barely treads water in life, who always seems to be awash in a tempest, yet wishes to give everyone the impression that he or she is the captain of a cruise ship, and it’s smooth sailing all the way? It’s as if pretending will make it so. They live deluding themselves and others – for awhile.
Sometimes I think these folks are our best “teachers”. Why? Because they show us what doesn’t work, and also why it doesn’t work – if we care to do a little sleuthing, especially in light of the many axioms found in Proverbs.
At the outset let me be clear – what we all need is to be a “Truth Sleuth”! No exceptions.
So today’s bullet point in our trek through Solomon’s collection is Proverbs 3:3,4,33 – 35 KJV. Strung together these verses seem to form a singular idea – one which is profoundly simply and simply profound. So here we go:
“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the tablet of thine heart: for thou shalt find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man… The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely He scorneth scorners: but He giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”
Let’s begin with both mercy and truth – both equally important.
Some folks like to talk only about mercy. Yet if the balance of truth comes into the conversation, often where morality and integrity are concerned, they cannot find the door fast enough. These are the “feel good” people who would rather not consider a God Who says there’s right and wrong, and involvement in either one has its outcome. No, we have to stick with the “feel goods”, because it’s just too “negative” to consider that there could be such a thing as sin, Satan, rebellious angels and Humans, the need for salvation, or the possibility of a none too pleasant afterlife. These people love to discuss “The Secret” but refuse to grapple with the metaphysical reality that this also has a dark side.
Then there are the folks who perceive only sin, wickedness, and punishment. They live in a harsh and unbalanced mindset which they call truth. Yet there’s little mercy, compassion, or grace in their cruel judgmental attitudes. There may be an emphasis on truth, but it’s seen from the standpoint of hell fire and brimstone almost exclusively.
What Proverbs is talking about here is a balance of mercy and truth, amounting to what an astronomer might call the “Goldie Locks Zone” when he’s talking about a planet – a life supporting attitude which creates a world that is “just right”! Mercy and truth meld and marry to form such a world, and they are fruitful and multiply.
Souls who embrace this balance of mercy and truth attract the Good that is God’s will for His children to enjoy in life. They find blessing from God and are of good repute in the sight of man. Their attitudes, thought, words, and deeds are largely characterized by a balance of mercy and truth.
There is no self delusion, no pretense in being something you are not with those who walk in the balance of mercy and truth. There is no need for pretense, because what people see is what they get. They can be trusted when no one is looking to do the right thing.
I like how clearly the New Century Version puts it – they wear mercy and truth as if it is a necklace; they write them on their hearts as if on a tablet.
Sometimes we wear a necklace as a symbol or medallion, not to show off, but instead to remind us of what is dear to our hearts. In the ancient world, and also in current times, meaningful words, phrases, memorials, or names are written in stone monuments, or as an epitaph on someone’s gravestone.
The question is, are we “wearing” mercy and truth in balance and genuine integrity as spiritual insignia, as the real deal? Or are we still dabbling in the darkness of obfuscation, half truths, and self delusion?
How would our epitaph read if we departed this life today?
Would it say “Fool who fooled himself and others but who got fooled in the end”?
Or might it read, “Beloved of God and man, who lived wisely and died well?”
The answer to that question says a lot about how the future looks – not your zodiacal sign, the stars in the heavens, which moon is in which house, or whether Mercury is retrograde, and so forth. No, the answers are found in the single-hearted, single-minded devotion to God and the pursuit of Godly Wisdom and understanding! These determine where life will go and how it will flow.
These verses are basic clues as to why you may have the blues. Take them to heart. Take them into the inner rooms of your innermost being, bring them before God, asking Him what he’d like to show you about yourself, and be willing to make course corrections. Ask for His help, and it will be given!
“…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” [1Peter 5:5b]
It really is His good and gracious will that we no longer tread water in a tempest but arrive safely at the other shore… and have a blessed voyage all the way across!