17 May A Proverbs A Day // Proverbs 17
The 17th // Proverbs 17
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” –Proverbs 17:1
In today’s world, everything is public knowledge. We post about our vacations, our meals, our visits to the park, the parties we attend [or throw], our outfits and our memories. We talk openly about our religious beliefs and our political affiliations [much to the dismay of our Facebook friends] and we share everything from recipes to cat memes to videos of a doctor who pops pimples… Ugh. But, the truth is, that behind the screen, we don’t truly know what people are going through… Their internal struggles, their conflicts or their pains.
The American family is much the same. From the outside, the picket fences look beautiful and clean and everyone, from the father down to the golden retriever seem picture perfect. Dressed in their Sunday best, the family waves at the neighbors and enters the front doors… From there, we don’t see what goes on. The perfection could continue as they sit down to a nice lunch or there could be a struggle that no one knows about… We like to keep it that way, too. We don’t want anyone to know that there’s any conflict at all behind our doors, because there’s a sense of a need to protect the image… A sense of a need to protect the family. We’ll figure it out ourselves…
As if Solomon couldn’t make us any more uncomfortable with his convicting wisdom, he takes his proverbs to a place even more vulnerable… Inside the family home.
All families have conflict. As embarrassing as it is to admit, it’s through conflict that the LORD can work in families. While He can use our struggles to make our dynamics stronger and more beautiful, Solomon tells us in chapter 17 that there is a right and a wrong way to handle family conflict.
He tells us fostering love is most important in our families [17:9] and that friendship is imperative and we must stand by each other in the midst of adversity [17:18]. He goes so far as to say that that it is our purpose to be there for our loved ones as they experience trying times. Accountability is key, too. Solomon tells us that those who are wise will be impressed by a rebuke [17:10] and that when we mess up, our families can hold us accountable, but it only works if we respond in humility and understanding. For me, I hate to say that that’s not always the case.
So often our families get to see and experience the worst of us. So often my pride keeps me from fully being able to utilize the support of the people who love me the most. I tend to become combative and I’ve even been known to yell or use mean words. Solomon has something to say about that as well. He starts the entire chapter off by telling us that it’s better to eat only the crust of a piece of dry bread, but have home that’s peaceful than it is to eat a feast in a home that’s full of quarreling [17:1]. He states that starting an argument is akin to allowing a flood into your home [17:14] [17:19]. Starting an argument could mean approaching someone or reacting poorly when someone comes to you with an issue… Either way, it shows an action that is void of humility and love. He tells us that the wise remain even-tempered [17:27] and hold their tongues when they want to start a quarrel [17:28]. Conflict can be used to glorify God. Conflict can be handled without arguing… I, especially, need to remember this.
He tells us to keep wisdom at the forefront and to pursue Christ in conflict. He reminds me that, as a child, I can bring my parents great joy or great grief, depending on how I choose to live [17:25]. He reminds me, as a parent, that our children watch how we handle conflict in our home, which is convicting for me as well. He says that gold and silver are a good inheritance, but the best thing for me to pass on to my children is a good heart [17:3].
The main point to take home is that family struggles will happen… They always do, but family is paramount, placed in our lives specifically by God to bless us in ways we cannot foresee. When times get tough, we can’t run away from the issues, we must face them head-on in love, wisdom and humility, seeking God first, and we will find that He uses our families to bring about some of life’s greatest blessings. Solomon tells us that among those blessings are seeing and knowing our grandchildren one day and being able to stand proud of our parents [17:6]!
The chapter is especially convicting for me. I’m so very blessed to have a family, both immediate and extended, that holds me accountable in love. I just need to remember that my reaction can be a source of beauty in my family or it can be something that opens the front doors of my home to a flood. I need to remember that my mom, my dad, my siblings, my husband and my child are all gifts given to me by my creator in order for me to fully experience the beauty this life has to offer, and that the stakes are high… My boy is watching me.
I’m thankful to know that they are by my side through thick and thin and I pray that I remember the advice that Solomon gives me in this chapter when conflict arises.
To my family, I love you all so very much and I am so thankful for the love that y’all pour into me!