Don’t set foot too frequently in your neighbor’s house,
lest he become weary of you and hate you.
We all think it would be awesome. You know you wanted to do it too. When you watched Friends, you thought how cool it would be to have great friends who live right across the hall and always came over to hang out. The kind where you didn’t have to knock, you could just walk in, plop down on the couch and just hang out.
The truth is, we all think we’d want it, but the reality is it wouldn’t take long for that to become a problem. You’d find yourself sharing parts of your life that you never wanted to share. You’d inevitably find yourself in situations where you couldn’t do something you really wanted to do because someone might walk in. And no, that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about dancing to Taylor Swift.
This can be a temptation for us though. And it’s something we need to be cautious of. However, I don’t think we’re really every going to be in danger of what this proverb warns.
We live in a very different time. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that this proverb is talking about a daily, several time a day kind of a thing. We wouldn’t really do that. The chances of us going to our neighbor’s house two days in a row aren’t real high, let alone many times in one day.
Perhaps this proverb should serve as something we ought to aim for. Maybe we need to try to get close enough to someone that we get close to the point of them wanting us to leave because we come over too often. Maybe it’s such a foreign concept for us that what we really need isn’t motivation to stay away from people. What we really need is permission to try to get close enough that we might be in danger of having this happen. This was a warning for that time. Maybe it’s a goal for us.
Don’t worry, I won’t be stopping by unannounced any time soon.
When you find honey, eat only what is sufficient for you,
lest you become stuffed with it and vomit it up.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was. But, I remember the events of this evening very clearly. We had some company over. Which was always a big deal as a kid. I remember getting excited every time someone was coming over. I don’t know why, but I always loved it. I can’t really remember who was there, I just remember there were guests at our house.
I think mom might have made some kind of gross adult food like stir fry, so she made hot dogs for the kids. I had one. Then I had another. Then I had another. And on my way to my third, fourth or fifth hot dog my mom told me, “you’re going to make yourself sick.” That couldn’t possibly be true. How can eating too much food make you sick. But she let me eat it anyway, probably knowing I would get sick. I think she even made me stay in the bathroom or close to it.
And sure enough. She was right. I had too many hot dogs. And my body was not happy with me. So it forced me to do what I wasn’t able to do myself, keep too much of the hot dogs out of me.
Mom proved her point. And I remember her being very unsympathetic to me afterwards. “Mom, I just threw up, don’t you even care?!?” I’m sure she cared, but she had a point to make.
Many of us spend our lives pushing our bodies to take in more and more of the stuff we weren’t supposed to have that much of. And our bodies force us to deal with those things in ways that we don’t always enjoy. For some of us, it’s just being overweight. For others we get diseases and other forms of sickness.
The point isn’t about the sickness. That’s the repercussion. The point is, we need to know how to control the food before it gets into our body and creates problems. When you get the treats, eat only what is sufficient for you. A whole case of Little Debbies is not necessary when one will do. Half a pumpkin pie is not needed when a slice will do.
Notice, it doesn’t say not to eat honey. This isn’t a proverb telling us not to eat treats. It’s telling us to be balanced in our approach to them. To use moderation.
What this means untraining ourselves. For some, we’ve taught ourselves that 14 chocolate chip cookies is a portion. For others, we’ve bought into the lie that we aren’t ever supposed to indulge in sweets. Neither are accurate. Take only what is sufficient.
Three hot dogs is too much.
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a soft tongue can break a bone.
“It’s not a no, it’s a not now.” I know you’ve heard that from time to time in your life. You ask for a raise from your boss and it’s not a no, it’s just not a right now. You want to get that new house or new car and it’s not a no, it’s just not now. There are probably a thousand things you could think of in your life where you haven’t been told no, you’ve just been told not right now.
I tell my kids that all the time. I guess that could make a bad dad. Lazy at times. I say not right now because I don’t want to get up off the couch. But there are other times when it’s a good thing. For instance, when the kids want to use power tools, it’s not a no, but it is a not right now. They need to grow up a little bit before I’m going to let them pull the trigger on something that could cut off their ability to pull triggers.
Sometimes, not right now is exactly what we need. Even if we don’t know it yet. We want something really bad, but we’re not ready to have it in our lives. Or we want something for our business really bad, but truth be told, if we had it right now, it would ruin us because we’re not ready to handle it.
But with patience the not right now can be turned into an okay. Sometimes with those who are over you, they just need to see evidence that you’re able to handle what you’re asking for. Your leader, your parent, your boss, your spouse, whoever it is you’re asking for something, they just need to see that what you’re asking for is something you can actually deal with in a good way.
And it’s because they care about you and want to see you succeed. They don’t want to give you something that will crush you. They want to give you something that will help you grow.
At other times, the person your asking might need to work through something in order to be able to let go of what you’re asking them for. Perhaps you’re asking for a responsibility that the other has had for a long time and they’re not quite willing to give it up yet. It’s not a no, it’s a not right now. And the not right now has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.
The point of all this is, be patient. Patience is rewarded. You might not see the reward for some time, but patience brings rewards.
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest,
so is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
for he refreshes the heart of his masters.
Like cloudy skies and wind that produce no rain,
so is the one who boasts of a gift not given.
I absolutely love snow. There is no other natural thing that I love more than snow. A good thunderstorm comes in a close second, but snow lives alone in the #1 spot on my chart. #3 is Volcanoes and # 4 is earthquakes. I know you think I’m a freak, but it’s all good.
Snow is amazing. It covers everything. It shows no discretion as to what it falls on, it just falls on everything. And it covers everything in white. Everything looks so nice and clean. And it all looks like it belongs because it all looks the same. It bring unity to things that don’t seem like they should be unified, but because they are both covered in snow, they are. And it makes everything so quiet. It’s like padding the face of the planet with sound absorbing material. Sounds don’t travel as far, and it seems that peace and silence abound. Plus you can have snow ball fights, make forts and snow angels and even make a few extra bucks shoveling the neighbors driveway.
And there are other benefits of snow. When you get an early snow and it stays for a while, it can help keep the ground from freezing real hard. It helps insulate the soil so that there aren’t drastic changes in soil temperature. When the soil isn’t frozen, earthworms and other organisms are able to continue their work.
So, you can see, snow is a good thing. And while you may enjoy cloudy skies with wind that produce no rain, there is absolutely no benefit to that weather system. It blocks the sun from the earth. The wind doesn’t do much besides damage the trees and plants. There just isn’t much benefit.
This is the case for messengers. Imagine a day without phones and email. In a world without those conveniences, it becomes very necessary to have a reliable messenger. Can you imagine how chaotic things would get if you wrote your email and sent it, but then before it got to the person you sent it to, someone changed the content of your message. That could be rather problematic.
That is one scenario this proverb is speaking about. But I think it is also applicable to us today, because we are all asked from time to time to carry a message to someone. Sometimes it’s just as simple as, “tell your mom I said hi.” But, there might be other messages you’re asked to deliver that are very important. You might have to pass on a tough word to another employee. You might have to deliver a confrontational message for someone who can’t. Whatever the message you might be asked to carry, it’s very important that you are faithful to the message your were told to deliver. Don’t change it, don’t soften it, don’t complicate it. Deliver the message you were given.
If you do this, you’ll be refreshing to the one who asked you to send it.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver,
so is a word skillfully spoken.
Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold,
so is a wise reprover to the ear of the one who listens.
Yesterday, we talked about how we ought to solve our problems for ourselves instead of taking people to court. And how we live in a society that tends to neglect face to face confrontation and takes the easy way out.
I’ve always heard this proverb in the context of sharing wise words. And while I can easily see how it can be used that way, I don’t necessarily think that’s the specific aim of this proverb. I think it ties into the idea of correcting an issue in a wise manner. And it may be speaking quite literally in it’s metaphor. You might be saving your gold by using wise words to reprove.
You’ve seen the scene a thousand times in movies and TV shows. It’s the one where someone says what everyone watching the show knows. And that character who says the wise thing that we all know should be said, is usually berated by the one doing the stupid thing. But then, somewhere at the end of the show the stupid person realizes their stupidity and that the other person was right and they apologize. Usually after they’ve made a big mess of things.
So, how about us? None of us like to hear the things we need to hear. And probably fewer of us like to say the things that need to be said. But, what if you knew that saying the words or hearing them would save you far more than if you do what you don’t want to do. It almost always would save us a lot wouldn’t it? It would save us a lot of pain in relationships, a lot of money and a lot of regret.
So, let me give you a challenge. If you need to hear the words, and someone is brave enough to speak them, listen. If you need to speak the words to someone who desperately needs to hear them, speak them.
The words you speak or hear could be worth more than anything else.
Do not go out hastily to litigation,
or what will you do afterward
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
When you argue a case with your neighbor,
do not reveal the secret of another person,
lest the one who hears it put you to shame
and your infamy will never go away.
In our society, I think there’s a tendency to rush to the courts a little too quickly. If you spend anytime at home during the day and you turn on your TV, you see there are now 4 or 5 or 6 different courtroom TV shows that now air. Every channel has their own version, and some have more than one. There’s Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, The People’s court, Divorce Court, Judge Judy, Judge Hatchett, Judge Lane, Judge Maria Lopez, Judge David Young, and I’m sure I’m still missing some.
You don’t have to watch these shows for very long to realize that people go to court over really ridiculous things. If you want to be depressed about our culture, watch courtroom TV. If you need to be convinced of the depravity of man, watch courtroom TV. I thought I’d turn on the TV to see what case might be on at the moment, just to prove my case. And I can. On Divorce court, there is a couple wanting to get divorced. The wife is convinced the husband has been unfaithful. And he just admitted to have four one year olds. And they’re not quadruplets.
The problem is, we are too afraid to deal with the problem on our own. I imagine it’s because we’re afraid of confrontation and it’s easier to talk poorly about someone to a third person than it is to their face. So, because we’re not man enough to deal with the problem the right way, we’ve filled the courts with trivial cases that should have and probably could have been solved with a simple conversation and an apology.
These people most surely go down in infamy. Among their circle of friends, I’m sure they are now known as the “People’s court couple.” I’m sure they’re known for their stupidity and the ridiculous things they said on the show. That’s not the kind of fame you want.
Instead, let’s be adults and solve our problems face to face. Start by talking to the person. Then if that doesn’t work, find a non-partial third party to bring in to help. Going to court shouldn’t be the first option. It should be the last option.