Wise words, one cup at a time


By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW

I’m going through the book of Proverbs in the Bible, which is one of the wisdom scriptures.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what “wisdom” is, but I do enjoy it.

In the morning, with a cup of Joe in hand, it is fun to sit down with the writings of the wisest of all, Solomon. Every day, I get to get a little smarter.

The most common way to define being wise is, “the right use of knowledge.” I like that because I’m sure I don’t know enough. I may compete with those who have had more learning, so I have a better chance in the match if I use well, what little I know. But as I read the Bible’s wisdom scriptures further, Solomon also helps to manage money, friends, family, work. So being wise is also about how I manage what I have. That will have to be good enough for now.

Right now, I am in chapter eight. This is the voice of lady wisdom telling us that what makes any speech wise is it’s deep honesty:

“Give ear, for my words are true, and my lips are open to give out what is upright.

For good faith (or truth-most translations) goes out of my mouth, and false lips are disgusting to me. All the words of my mouth are righteousness; there is nothing false or twisted in them. They are all true to him whose mind is awake, and straightforward to those who get knowledge.” Proverbs 8:6-9

It is easy to forget that those kinds of words are out there — words that are truthful, hating lies, nothing false or twisted, no hidden agendas, no half-truths. I don’t hear them much, so it is tempting to assume that these kinds of words just don’t exist. I could believe that all of us have our own twisted, hidden reasons behind whatever we say. That way, I can have my own bias and not care that it is self-serving.

A wiser person knows better. That person listens for the truths that are without a trace of bias or falsehood. He can also say them, and the belief that these kinds of words are within his grasp can raise the level of any debate. This is not just a nice thing to do, it is also smart. It connects with those whose minds are awake. It resolves conflicts by going higher up on the moral ladder, rather than staying on the lower rungs.

An instance of this occurred when I was 14, when my very stern father said he was sorry for the way I had been treated.

I knew Dad was a tough guy, raised in a home marred by alcohol. I had heard the story of how he slugged his dad, my grandfather, knocking him down a flight of steps and that his parents divorced long before it was cool to do so.

He told me he did not know how to show affection.

Then he asked me to forgive him.

Selfless words like that carry great power.

His changed us both.

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