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Fightin' Words

A soft answer turns away wrath,  but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1     On June 6, 1966, civil rights leader James Meredith was shot dead in Hernando, Mississippi.  Hearing the news in far off New York, a man named Sydney Street took to the street with Old Glory—which he publicly set afire, shouting, “we don’t need an American flag.”  As the saying goes, “them’s fightin’ words” —and sure enough, Sydney Street was arrested for disturbing the public peace: a harsh word stirs up anger.    But a soft answer turns away wrath.  The word for wrath is different than the word for...

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Hatred of Sin

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil (Prov. 8:13).   The “fear of the Lord” runs like a golden thread through the Proverbs.  The fear of the Lord, of course, is the beginning of wisdom (1:7; 9:10), and in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence (14:26).  The fear of the Lord prolongs life (10:27), and leads to life (19:23), and the reward for humility and the fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life (22:4).   But among all the positives, the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. We’re fine with that in theory, of...

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The Longing to Belong

Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse. Proverbs 1:14     Some years ago, I attended a conference in a major city.  Early one morning I awoke to loud voices on the street below—it was a gang fight.  West Side Story without singing or dancing.    To middle-class suburbanites, gang life looks like Milton’s “hell broke loose,” but for a down and out kid it can feel like home.  Here he belongs.  Here he matters.  Here he counts.  The human heart longs to belong, so the words of this proverb strike a chord, don’t they?  Throw in your lot with...

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Slinking from First Class

Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. Proverbs 25:6-7     We had boarded the plane.  When the boarding door closed, a man behind me slipped up to an empty first class seat.  Flight attendants are trained to spot guerilla tactics.  No sooner had he buckled his first class seat belt and pretended to read than he had her stern and courteous presence in his face: “Sir, what is your seat assignment?” ...

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