Cultural overlaps are always fascinating to me. What are those things across diverse people groups that most people practice? What are the common values varied communities esteem?
Where are those pockets and places in which people groups we typically distinguish most by their differences, actually — maybe unknowingly, intentionally or even unintentionally — where do they actually agree? … where does commonality exist?
I stumbled across a huge one this week. As a very informal student of history, I noticed that among other books, the book of Proverbs has been quoted for centuries by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. What could be so significant? I wondered. What truths are there? Why would three distinct, diverse groups — seemingly most often identified by their differences — admire and adhere to like thinking? And not just thinking, but everyday, wise kind of living.
In my fairly awkward stumble, I found this rich nugget… “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
Things. God. Hates. Let’s be honest; if there are things stated that the great big God of the universe actually hates, it would be wise to know what they are.
Much of the above, no doubt, makes immediate sense…
haughty | ˈhôdē | adj. – disdainfully proud; scornfully arrogant; snobbish.
lying | ˈlīiNG | adj. – telling or containing lies; deliberately untruthful; deceitful.
shed | SHed | v. – to pour out, spill (blood).
wicked | ˈwikid | adj. – evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful; iniquitous.
evil | ˈēvəl | n. – profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity.
false witness | fôls | adj. – not according with truth or fact; | ˈwitnəs | n. – evidence, testimony; a person who sees an event.
And then there’s that last one…
A person who stirs up conflict in the community.
I had to pause there.
I’m not really one who wrestles with feeling evil. I am by no means perfect, and I have a zillion areas to grow and improve upon. But I know I’m God’s kid and strive to move forward in a way that honors him daily — imperfect and all.
Sure, I can be arrogant. I can even be mean or insensitive sometimes… even on a seemingly good day, although I pray for humility, knowing how incredibly wise, good, contagious and attractive that is.
Lying? Nope. As a parent, few things get my goat more. That is unacceptable.
But a person who stirs up conflict in the community…
stir up | stər əp | v. – to cause; spread.
conflict | ˈkänˌflikt | n. – strife, contention; controversy.
community | kəˈmyo͞onədē | n. – a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; a feeling of fellowship with others.
There lay the question I can’t ignore.
Where have I intentionally stirred up controversy? Where — in this thing that multiple cultures acknowledge — this thing that God reportedly hates — where have I justified disrupting community and spreading strife? Where, too, have I cheered on another when they did the same? In other words, where have I ignored wisdom?
Only questions this day, friends… and a few unsettling ones at that.