My kids giggle as I read from Proverbs 30.
“If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.” (verses 32-33)
I love it when my kids hear something that will stay in their mind because it made them giggle. I giggled a bit too but not for long because what I really needed to do was to put my hand over my mouth.
So after the giggle we talk about the serious side of these words.
It’s absurd when Christ-followers exalt themselves, act foolish or devise evil. So absurd that we should indeed slap our hands over our mouths if we find that we are in the midst of this behavior. The imagery can make us giggle a bit but it is the first step in a humble turn toward the Lord. That first step can feel almost impossible if we have been foolish, but it’s not.
The stopping and the turning is more powerful than continuing on in the wrong direction.
This seemingly small mindless foolishness…it can sneak up on us. Like pressing milk produces curds. Last fall, the kids and I sat around the dining room table and shook baby food jars filled with cream to make butter. An experiment in patience more than anything. Just when my preschooler couldn’t take it anymore and I had to take over shaking her jar too, it happened. The cream started to thicken and produce curds. Our long struggle and tiring movements produced something. It snuck up on us though. We almost gave up and then the moment happened unexpectedly. We drained the whey and retrieved the yummy chunk of butter.
Repetitive foolish behavior does have a result. Never is it tasty.
Sometimes foolish behavior doesn’t sneak up. It’s quite deliberate. Like walking up to someone and deliberately pinching their nose to the point of producing blood. We humans can be outright rude and nasty like that. I just unleashed the nastiness this morning on my husband. Although I felt justified at the time, I wasn’t. Nothing justifies rude with the people we love. But isn’t that where it often happens? I find it the easiest to love those outside my home. It is more challenging here in this place that is to be a refuge for those I love the most.
Since this foolish behavior is based in unchecked anger, I must recognize that it will always produce strife. As sure as the pressing of the nose makes blood and the pressing of the milk makes curds. It will happen either slowly through unchecked attitudes of the heart and passive aggressive behavior or quickly due to thoughtless and rude words or actions.
So what to do besides slap my hand over my mouth?
I must acknowledge it and seek forgiveness from my husband and rest in the Lord’s.
Just like I can always count on my family’s quick forgiveness and acceptance of an apology, I can also rest quickly in the Lord’s provision of grace through Christ.
I never have to stop and wonder if I’ve gone to far this time.
Grace is always there and through it God provides…
Forgiveness, wisdom, and strength in order to resist temptation now and in the future.
By His grace He examines, convicts and transforms our hearts and heals the hearts of those who have been hurt by us.
And just as repetitive rude actions can create strife, repetitive loving actions can create peace.
May that be so in all of our homes and churches with the people we love.
Image source: Healthkicker.com
This post was featured at Richella Parham’s lovely blog, Imparting Grace:
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