A wise king separates out the wicked;
he turns the threshing wheel over them.
The human spirit is like the lamp of the Lord,
searching all his innermost parts.
We don’t know much about sifting flour now-a-days. But I remember my mom sifting flower pretty regularly while growing up. I guess there is the possibility that reasons for sifting have been gradually addressed over time in the mills that produce our flour. Or, we could just be eating a lot of bugs and not knowing it.
In the time of this writing, they would have likely used a machine that had rollers on it with metal teeth. The driver would sit on top of this while oxen pulled it forward. The little teeth would chop the grain and straw up in to small bit. It would crush the grain and make it all small enough that it could then be sifted. There would be stuff you wanted to eat and stuff you didn’t want to eat.
In this proverb, we see that a wise king does this with people. However, I don’t think this proverb applies just to kings. First of all, we don’t have many kings anymore. Second, I think it definitely applies to leaders and the people they lead. Thirdly, I think it applies to all of us. I think we should all be in the process of sifting the people around us. We should be very careful who we let have influence in our lives. If we choose the wrong people, we could end up in a very wrong spot.
I do want to say though, just how important it to do this when you are a leader. If you don’t sift out the wicked people, you will find yourself in a very frustrating situation. You will also never grow your organization. Specifically for the church, I think this is one issue where we’ve really missed the mark as leaders.
I don’t know whether it’s our democratic nation or our offend no one/politically correct society, but we’ve stopped trying to correct people. Let alone trying to keep ‘wicked’ people out of circles of influence. We just hope that they won’t cause too much damage or that they’ll eventually get so frustrated that they move on. Whatever our means, we just hope that the problem will take care of itself on its own – and it never does.
We’ve believed a lie if we think that being a leader means we only deal with the fun things like vision and dreaming, rallying people behind a cause and getting people excited about the mission we have been given. In fact, it could very well be that one of the greatest tasks of leadership is sifting out the wicked. The people we let speak into the system will be the ones that have great influence and power over the system. If the system isn’t working, then we’re probably letting the wrong people influence it.
Could it be that one of the best decisions you could make as a leader is who ISN’T allowed to have influence?