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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pit-Dwellers or Wisdom-Walkers?

 8 A gang of cynics can upset a whole city;
   a group of sages can calm everyone down. 
(Proverbs 29:8)

There are times when it seems like there are a lot of cynical people trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom about the things that life deals us.  It is easy to follow along with their perceptions of gloom, if we allow our minds to drift there.  In order to counteract them, we need to become strategic in our thinking, understanding in our interpretation of life, and dependent on God to give us insight in times of darkness.

A cynic has several characteristics, but the most prevalent is that they believe that selfishness motivates every human action - in other words, nobody does a nice thing for no reason at all - there must be an ulterior motive.  The cynic tends to be bitter about life - interpreting everything through the eyes of pessimism.  They are skeptical - sometimes unwilling to take a chance on life because they don't really trust.

With this in mind, it becomes quite apparent how a gang of cynics (and they usually do manage to congregate together) can upset a whole city.  Get a couple nay-sayers together in a workplace and see what havoc they can create in just a short time.  Allow a group of cynics to congregate in your church and watch every action of the pastoral board, deacons, and pastor himself be scrutinized to death!  It is a contagious attitude that feeds on negativity.

Our writer reminds us that the antidote to cynicism running rampant is to introduce the 'sage' into the mix.  A sage person is one who has incorporated sound judgment into their way of thinking - they have taken what they experienced in life and filtered it through the truth God reveals in his Word.  A sage individual acts as a "calming" agent in the midst of cynical unrest.  Sage individuals have an inner peace - they are not swayed by the ups and downs of life today because they are assured of their anchor.

In scripture, a sage person is a wise person.  As you read through the Proverbs, you often will see the comparison between the fool and the wise.  The fool runs head-long into the trouble ahead - the wise waits for God's direction and then moves with purpose and understanding.  Our world, our workplace, and even our church, need sage (wise) individuals who will stand against the doom and gloom nay-sayer.  The best way out of a pit of mire is to reach for the hand of someone who has already been delivered from the pit!

Let's become sage in our counsel and our behavior - there are enough pit-dwellers in that miry pit already!