I have read Proverbs over 48 times in my life. You’re probably asking why the figure 48? I do have an answer to that. I was challenged in 1970 as a college student when I was going to a rural church in Eaton, Colorado to read through the bible that year. I love challenges and took up the challenge. I had tried several times before but got stuck on Leviticus. Genesis was great with all the stories of people of biblical renown. Exodus was the story of the Israelites escaping from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt and all the plagues that ensued before they left. Then you come to the third book of the bible. Leviticus. It is a ritual book of do’s and don’ts. Celebrations. How to wash. How do deal with infections. Boring. BORING.
Well 1970 was the year I finally read the whole bible from cover to cover in one year. It so changed my life that I have been doing it ever since. That’s why I know it is 48 times. Well, I have decided to pluck some words of relational wisdom from the writings of Solomon and others whom have spoken about how to have effective relationships with others.
I remember as a little lad my folks decided it was time for me to have a dog for my birthday. I was five at the time and they brought home a puppy we called Rusty. He was a cocker spaniel that was rusty-red, therefore the name. As a little 4-5 year old I loved his ears and one time decided to pull his ears. I only did that once as he reached around and bit my hand. I learned my lesson that putting my hand in the wrong place has severe and negative consequences.
I read in Proverbs that placing yourself in the wrong place also has negative and wrong consequences as well. Take for instance Proverbs 26:17. “A person who is passing by and meddles in a quarrel that’s not his is like one who grabs a dog by the ears.” When two family members are having a conflict that has nothing to do with you, it says to stay out of the argument. It is a no win situation. If you side with one person, the other person will become adversarial with you and vice versa. Wisdom says to let them work it out. Period.
What if you are a peace maker and have a difficult time with conflict? Let them work it out especially if they haven’t let you into the conversation. You can pray for them. You can be available to offer wisdom if they ask for it. But stay out of the conversation if you aren’t invited. Doing so lowers your own stress level and might I add your blood pressure. You won’t get bit by the dog as it were.
On this journey there are all kinds of pieces of relational wisdom that if taken to heart can save you from a lot of teeth marks.