Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor meet together:
The Lord is maker of them all.
Proverbs 22:5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
Whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man,
Lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in his snare.
These three verses stood out to me this morning because of their intense description of how we should relate to one another.
There is such a vivid contrast.
Verse 2 says “meet together”.
Verse 5 says “keep far from them”.
Verse 24 is even more stark saying “make no friendship with”!
So, how can we make sense of relating to people in such different ways?
We look to internal conditions of a person, not external conditions.
God say “the rich and the poor” shall meet together, but warns us to avoid “the wicked”, “the angry”, & “the wrathful”.
Why? To “guard our soul”! This is God’s concern.
Yet, He also shows concern for the condition of our life, when he warns we may be “caught in their snares”.
God wants us to live free, not burdened by the traps of this world.
So often I have the overwhelming thought, “We’re all God’s children! Can’t we all just get along?!” And then I remember there are times when my own children don’t get along! Naive, I know.
But I just don’t like the idea of picking and choosing, especially among people.
God loves all. Offers grace to all.
But it’s inevitable. We all do it. What I need to be cautious of is what is setting the parameters of my relationships. Are they external? … Or are they internal?
Am I choosing my relationships based on the condition of their lifestyle or the condition of their heart?
A phrase often heard around my house is, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future” & “You are who your friends are”.
Why? I know how easy it is for my kids to get “ensnared”, hurt by the “thorns” of crooked, angry, or wrathful ways.
Verse 25 says “you learn his ways” of the wrathful & become “entangled”.
Oh how contagious evil is.
“Viral” is a word used nowadays to mean something positive.
Throughout all of human history “viral” often meant death.
Did Jesus show us these ways of relating to people?
I recall him being questioned for partying with “sinners”.
He answered that the sick need a doctor. And he stayed in relationship, allowing all there to enjoy his hospitality.
I also recall a man wanting eternal life who questioned Jesus. Jesus told him to get rid of everything holding him back from walking with Jesus.
The young man walked away. And Jesus let him.
The people many others avoided, Jesus clung to.
The people many wanted to cling to, Jesus let go.
This is hard.
The relationships I have will determine the direction and quality of my life.
But I must allow God’s definition of “quality” to be my standard. What’s the condition of the soul, the heart.
God, you are a good Father. You are holy. And yet you still love me like a father. Thank you for your grace.
Allow me to see people the way you see them.
Let me see their hearts.
Don’t let me be swayed by external circumstances.
Give me the strength and wisdom to avoid the snares and entanglements of this world.
Let me be guided by the Holy Spirit!