Sunday, March 13, 2005


Inherit the Wind


Another installment of Proverbs, this time Proverbs 11:

Proverbs 11:29-30 (New King James Version)

29He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind,
And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.

I would take note of this passage if only because it reminds me of one of the best titles in English language literature, of the play Inherit the Wind, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. (This is the fictionalized account of the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ argued by Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan over the teaching of evolution (at the time illegal in a state-funded school in Tennesee).

The verse is richer in meaning than any intended application for the purposes of literature in the play and movie.

Needless strife within families is like wind, an ill-wind at that. Usually the object of contention is to try and change the minds or attitudes of others. Often, if the end is achieved at all, the “victory” turns out to be as empty as air, and may only mean that the other persons involved have done little more than quit arguing. Like a heavy sighed, “whatever,” is the wind that’s inherited.

The “righteous” here defined is he who places connection and relation above the petty contentions of the day. The fruit they enjoy is a tree of life because it is life-sustaining, and does not favor one branch to the detriment of others. It is human nature that we are attracted by kindness and sympathy with our troubles, and react sometimes defensively to challenge and criticism. Implicit in Proverbs is the requirement that the “righteous” be righteous in word and deed; not that sin or bad behavior be condoned, but that the righteous would show compassion first and offer correction to a willing heart when invited.

Jesus demonstrated this truth in his dealing with the adulteress in John Chapter 8. The scribes and Pharisees sought to stone her for her behavior. Jesus challenged her accusers to consider her sin in the light of their own. This had the effect of forestalling their judgment and preventing the execution of their intended punishment. How much better off our relations would be if we could meditate upon our own weaknesses and shortcomings before so quickly rendering “justice” against our loved ones!

And it is not about “enabling” these shortcomings, but about a demonstration about how God wants us to seek righteousness for its own sake, and being a vessel of God’s love to our friends and family who may need our compassion and empathy more than they need our indignation and judgment. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (Phil 2:12-15):

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

A gentle reminder in Proverbs 12:25 that continues the refrain:

25Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.

I chased down a reference in the concordance to Isaiah 50:4-6, that brings the idea full circle from words of kindness spoken, to being that living sacrifice, Jesus being the first and best example which we might follow:

4"The Lord GOD has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
5The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
6I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

This reminds us of the Christ, the long suffering servant fortold in Isaiah, but it also provides the model for what I touched upon in the earlier post. If we let Him, He can awaken us and renew us morning by morning. He can give us the tongue of the learned, he can awaken our ear to hear as the learned.

And if we can give our backs to those who strike us, and turn that cheek in pain towards they who strike us, He can awaken our eyes to see one another with the broken-hearted love that He feels toward every one of His creations.

Another day, another blessing.

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