Loving Lord, I'll stop trying to tame You and control You. Instead, I will let You teach me about Your will and Your ways.
Consider: To love a person means to accept them as they are, not to wait until they have gotten rid of all their faults.
I traverse this chapter again and again, slowly. It seems so aptly described by George Herbert as "a box where sweets compacted lie." I savor this twinkling wisdom: "Here comes Trouble bringing (not a peace-offering but) a strife-offering!" I note the other verses which touch on strife, quarrels, offense (4,9,11,13,19) and especially verse 14 which Derek Kidner described as: "Opening such a sluice lets loose more than one can predict, control or retrieve."
I ponder the words on the heart (3,20,22); on words (4,7,9,10); on wealth (8,16,18) and the many verses on the fool, especially in the family; and the proverbs that highlight perversity, lies and deceit (4,7,11,15,20,23,26). Clearly the writer is well aware that we live in a crooked and broken world: while I want to be generous and compassionate, I also need to walk around with my eyes wide open. It is against the dark background of the two practices that God loathes in verse 15 that the good news of Romans 3:26 and 4:5 stands out with transcendent brightness.
Finally, I note the wisdom of this chapter on relationships, considering simultaneously my own relationships: the unworthy person (2); my attitude to the poor (5); the joy of family life (6), not to be taken for granted (21,25); the fire-extinguishing friendship (9); bureaucrats (11); the vengeful (13); the importance of attentiveness (24); and especially the friend or brother who is always there in the hardest times (17). The warp and woof of friendship requires threads going at right angles, making a strong weave. I pray that I may have and be a strong, true friend.
In what ways can you identify with the author's experience of family strife (1), grief (21,25), disgrace (2) and pride (6)? How have those experiences played out for you?
Father, show me new ways to strengthen the relationships in my life. I ask for great friends and the ability to be a great friend.
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