By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
The last sentence of yesterday’s daily encouragement quoted Moses’ prayer: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Plasms 90:12)
Today’s Our Daily Bread devotion also reflects on wisdom, and a way of life and behavior that brings peace, even in a heated situation. I believe that striving for right relationship with our Creator God and with one another is the life that satisfies our longing and provides us the ‘shalom’, which is way much more than a lack of trouble and unrest. It expresses the harmony and wholeness which we were originally created for.
But gaining real wisdom doesn’t happen overnight, or with a quick solution. Just as we are not able to develop a good mass of muscles just with a 30-minute exercise once in a while. We have to do regular workouts with persistence if we want to get stronger. Similarly, we can find this advice in the Proverbs: “… if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3-5) As we can get the hint from this passage, gaining wisdom requires efforts and time, as we spend time on searching for hidden or desired things.
On the Friday before this year’s Thanksgiving long weekend I can see another wisdom that is able to bring us joy and can shift our attitude into the positive scale. This wisdom is gratefulness and the ability to notice all the events and gifts that we can be thankful for.
Even in hardships, grief and difficult circumstances we are offered our Creator’s supportive presence with us and around us. It is not by accident that Apostle Paul, – whose life was far from easy towards its end – put down these words to his beloved Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
I pray that at this Thanksgiving we will be able to count all our blessings; to acknowledge that despite of all the challenges of 2020 we are still beloved children of God, who have received precious gifts and support from their Heavenly Father. That we may joyfully remember the refrain of our hymn VU # 520: “All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; we thank you, God, O holy God, for all your love.”
Grace and Peace to You All,
A Critical Reaction
The one who is patient calms a quarrel.
Tough words hurt. So, my friend—an award-winning author—struggled with how to respond to the criticism he received. His new book had earned five-star reviews plus a major award. Then a respected magazine reviewer gave him a backhanded compliment, describing his book as well-written yet still criticizing it harshly. Turning to friends, he asked, “How should I reply?”
One friend advised, “Let it go.” I shared advice from writing magazines, including tips to ignore such criticism or learn from it even while continuing to work and write.
Finally, however, I decided to see what Scripture—which has the best advice of all—has to say about how to react to strong criticism. The book of James advises, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). The apostle Paul counsels us to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).
An entire chapter of Proverbs, however, offers extended wisdom on reacting to disputes. “A gentle answer turns away wrath,” says Proverbs 15:1. “The one who is patient calms a quarrel” (v. 18). Also, “The one who heeds correction gains understanding” (v. 32). Considering such wisdom, may God help us hold our tongues, as my friend did. More than all, however, wisdom instructs us to “fear the Lord” because “humility comes before honor” (v. 33). – By Patricia Raybon
REFLECT & PRAY
Dear God, when criticism strikes or a dispute hurts, guard my tongue in humble honor of You. Amen.
What’s your typical reaction when you’re criticized? In a dispute, what’s a humble way you can guard your tongue?
The wisdom found in the book of Proverbs has similarities to the New Testament book of James, which has been referred to as the “Proverbs of the New Testament.” The words of Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs anger” reflect the wise words of James 1:19-20. From the first to the last chapter of James, allusions to or quotes from the book of Proverbs can’t be missed. Both Proverbs 2:6 and James 1:5 note that God is the source of wisdom. The wisdom of Proverbs 10:12 is heard in James’ final words about “cover[ing] over a multitude of sins” (5:20). And, as with many places in the book of Proverbs, James 3 reminds us that wise living includes the careful use of our words.
Learn more about the book of James. – By Arthur Jackson
Used with permission