A Lesson from Shouting Good Morning

Some proverbs are funny. They make sense, and you can just picture their truth in action. Here is one.

Proverbs 27:14 – Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.

The proverb makes total sense. If you tell your neighbor good morning, with a really loud voice, early in the morning, it will not be something he receives well. As the proverb tells us, it will be taken as a curse.

So is all we are to learn from this verse the fact that yelling at somebody when the sun is barely up is not a good idea? No, I do not think so. I think, behind this text, is a more important life principle. If you wish to show someone kindness, it is wise to learn what they can receive from you as kindness.

Husbands, what does your wife love? If your wife is into flowers and pretty things, and you give her a gift of a new power saw, it is likely that your gift will not be well-received. At the same time, it may be that your wife would far rather you mop the floor and load the dishwasher than buy her a plant. The point is to learn to show love and kindness in what she will appreciate. And it does not take much imagination to turn the tables and ask wives to think about what their husbands actually receive well.

The big principle here is one of love and others-centeredness. When you wish to love another person well, do them good. When you wish to bless them, do so in a way that they are actually likely to take as a blessing. To give to another person, but to only do so in ways that you like and they do not, is not often loving. Of course, love requires that we correct each other and confront each other, and none of us enjoys that. But, when you are trying for kindness and graciousness, think about the other person’s desires first.

Shouting at me at 4:00 in the morning is not something I will enjoy, even if you are saying something nice. Neither will I be overly grateful if you tell me that I’ve just won a nice basket of mushrooms—I don’t like them. Let us learn from such things to love one another well by learning to care for one another with what is best received.

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