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By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW
Wise people control hunger and desire for life to be good.
There are a bunch of clan members under one roof the day after Serena’s wedding, so I’m up this morning before chaos reigns. I’ll fix the coffee and, in this brief moment of quiet before the rest get up, get into this idea of being wise again. After that, we all get breakfast.
This is from Solomon, the wise king of Israel and his book of wisdom in the Bible called Proverbs. I am in chapter ten.
Proverbs 10:3 “The Lord will not let the upright be in need of food, but he puts far from him the desire (or cravings, other versions) of the evil-doers.”
Some scholars also translate the Hebrew word for “desire” as the “substance” of what was achieved through evil desire.
Solomon draws a helpful line between desire and just needing food. A normal stomach feels hunger. “Desire” is a heart and soul thing. It can trap me when I crave wrong things and I think of it as normal. It can fool me when I eat to fill an empty, hurting place in the heart. Desire can also get me off my rear, out the door and into the world to do something good, travel mug in hand. So it can be a good thing too.
A quick search of the terms “food” and “desire” in the rest of the Proverbs comes up with this:
Proverbs 13:25 “The upright man has food to the full measure of his desire, (or to the satisfying of the soul, other versions) but there will be no food for the stomach of evil-doers.”
It is easy to see in this verse that the upright will eat and that the evil doer, with time, is meant to go hungry. Note that the upright fills the soul while the one who does wrong deals only with the belly. Jesus said, “My food is to do the pleasure of him who sent me and to make his work complete (John 4:34).” He knew that there was food for the soul and food for the body and ate at both tables often.
Proverbs 15:27 “He whose desires are fixed on profit is a cause of trouble to his family; but he who has no desire for offerings (or bribes, other versions) will have life.”
So if the family is troubled and I am not sure where it comes from, I can check on my greed factor. Is it up or down today? Wanting to have what I can’t afford (and being willing to cheat to get it) makes me crabby. If I practice being content, keep my ethics and they do the same, it cools things down and saves money too.
Here’s a big issue around this idea. Up until 2,000 years ago, it was the common pagan custom throughout the world to go to a temple, worship a statue of one of many gods and pay to give in to some very sordid desires with the men and women who served there. They offered drugs as part of this worship, and one could even get an abortion done should the need arise. No wonder the Jews thought of the gentiles as “unclean.”
Those who turned to Jesus and the Apostles embraced a Jewish kind of worship. It offered one, unseen God who required people to control their sex lives and be righteous. Soon vast numbers of pagan gentiles embraced it, having found a better way of living. Even if that life only lasted five more minutes, which in some cases it did, the change was worth it. With time, the higher ethics won over the older, awful ones, and the western pagan world collapsed.
We seem to be on the front end of a return of some of these ancient, bad ideas. We want to think of them as normal and okay. Those who lived on the back end of them would tell us that if we want a better life, to think again.
World class cinnamon rolls are on the menu this morning. I could sneak one out of the freezer, but will wait for the happy crowd to join me. There will be more than just good food at the table in a moment or two.
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