Lectionary: Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22; Psalm 54; James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
Last Sunday the subject was Wisdom as a principle that should guide how we use our words. Today, Wisdom is defined even further by making it an important element of our daily life-style.
The Proverbs reading in the Lectionary is the classic ‘Proverbs 31 Woman’ as she is often referred to – a woman who is industrious, smart, innovative, loving, wise. But it is more than just a list of qualities that enforce traditional gender roles or a reason for women to feel insecure or a checklist for a strong woman. It is all of those but the truth is, it is a list of human qualities that are timeless and beneficial.
The Psalm in today’s reading below describes still another quality of wisdom: abstaining from negative influences and delighting ourselves in good things like righteousness and God himself.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. – Psalm 1 (NLT)
I sometimes wonder how to draw the line. I try to be humble, kind, a friend to all, but it is so easy to be influenced by negative people when we spend time with them.
Negative thinkers, users, complainers will eventually cause the same qualities to come to the surface in us when we are exposed to them continually. It’s only natural that we become affected (infected?) by the relentless barrage and slowly become someone more self-centred .
But I also think we know when we are being influenced – the trick is to be willing and able to change. Experiencing God, resting well, relaxing activities and time spent with healthy people – these all contribute to keeping us in a balanced place in the world.
By limiting the polluted air and prioritizing the fresh air, we cultivate healthy humility in our own lives.
Take some time to simply reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ words in this story from Mark 9 and how you can apply them to your life.
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen. (Reinhold Neibuhr & unknown)