Sometimes, the things that the Bible has to say aren’t easy on the eyes or the heart. However, it doesn’t make the Bible any less true or relevant to our lives today:
These verses challenge me because I strive to get along with most people. In fact, I am challenged because I can tend toward approval-seeking and trying to please people; the Lord is working with me on this – revealing some painful patterns in my life that need to be broken. I’m in this season currently, and I’m trying to create new and healthier life patterns now. It’s definitely a process – one that requires patience and ongoing self-care, too.
Anyway, back to the verses in Proverbs 26. They remind me of a painful, obvious truth: there will be people in the world who do not like you, despite your best efforts to prove otherwise. Some people may feel threatened by the peace and assurance that you possess – usually because they lack such peace and assurance in themselves.
Whatever the cause, there will be people who cross your path in life, and have already decided against you. Often, we think, “Well, if the person really got to know me, she’d feel differently!”
I understand now that this is a very subtle form of pride. It’s really not about us trying to genuinely connect with another person, but is instead about our need to be liked and affirmed by others. It’s a very subtle trap.
So the Bible speaks to this issue here in Proverbs 26 and in other places. It’s very clear that we should not delude ourselves: when we know someone dislikes us, yet that person pretends [and this is the key word here] to be our friend, we are unwise if we continue to trust that person. After all, it’s just a matter of time before her true intentions surface.
How do I know this painful truth? Simple: I’ve gone through it. I’ve been the person who disregarded the red flags being waved around me, thinking “Oh, if I just give it more time, things will be different.” Folks, this is denial. Barring divine intervention, these situations are unlikely to change over time; consequently, God desires us to be wise and discerning, so that we can respond appropriately [and while I learned a lot from the situation, I certainly could’ve saved myself a lot of pain if I simply had heeded the warning signs].
So, while I love the heart-warming encouragement that is often found in Scripture, I also have to be thankful for the “tough love” verses, too. Passages just like this one from Proverbs remind me that the Bible doesn’t exist to simply make me feel good about myself – it also contains some really hard truths that are designed to help me make better (and wiser) life choices. However, I first must heed the warning signs.
Here’s my prayer for today: Dear Lord, thank You for placing warning signs all throughout the Bible. While Scripture certainly contains abundant words of encouragement, inspiration, and comfort, it also holds a few hard truths that aren’t always easy for us to receive and apply in our lives. However, these important principles are still true and are highly relevant in every aspect of our lives. Thank You for loving us enougg to show us the right way forward, so we can avoid (or substantially minimize) the pitfalls of pain and wells of worry in our lives.
Help me to remember that – just as the warning signs help to keep me safe when I’m driving my car – Your spiritual warning signs serve a similar purpose: They’re there so that I can anticipate danger ahead and respond appropriately.
Remind me to read a chapter of Proverbs each day, so that I can better recognize and respond to the spiritual warning signs in my own life, and how to make wiser decisions in Your eyes. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.