A gang of cynics can upset a whole city; a group of sages can calm everyone down.
Have yoiu ever noticed just how many cynical people there are in this world? I caught a commercial the other night in which it displayed one of those support groups that meet in circles. The 'members' of the group were those who were 'cynical' about all those promises made by those 'shopper programs'. The purpose was to show shopping with one particular online 'add on' would actually 'ay off'. Their cynicism only ended when she showed them the rebate check. 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, and if we never see proof otherwise. 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 - in times when evidence really has to be discovered because it isn't just staring us right in the face.
A cynic has several characteristics, but the most prevalent is that they believe that there is an obvious selfishness motivating every human action. In other words, nobody does a nice thing for no reason at all - there must be an ulterior motive - an underlying benefit to the individual who is doing the good action. The cynic needs to see proof. They won't change the cycle of thinking until they see something that tells them their way of thinking is wrong. 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 - they don't believe things could be other than how they perceive them to be.
With this in mind, it becomes quite apparent how a gang of cynics (and they usually do manage to congregate together at some point as though some magnetic force brought them 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 congregation, pastoral board, deacons, and pastor himself be scrutinized to death! It is a contagious attitude of one that feeds on negativity and is well-fed when there is a multitude of negative people to help keep them cynical.
Our writer reminds us that the antidote to cynicism running rampant is to introduce the 'sage' into the mix - like the lady that recounts her positive shopping experience and then holds up the check as proof. A sage person is one who has incorporated sound judgment into their way of thinking - they have taken what they have experienced in life and filtered it through the truth God reveals in his Word. In the end, they have 'proof positive'. A sage individual acts as a "calming" agent in the midst of the cynical unrest of the masses. 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. Even with the ups and downs of today's issues, they remain fixed on the 'proof positive' they have discovered in placing their trust in God, his truth, and his protection.
In scripture, a sage person is a wise person. As you read through the Proverbs, you can observe repeated times where there is 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-sayers who abound all around them. The best way out of a pit of mire for the one caught in that pit 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! Just sayin!
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