Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers. Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don’t go along with them... Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look; don’t listen to them for a minute. They’re racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on... When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
As I was growing up, I remember that time around my teen years when I began to think I knew more than my parents. Somewhere around the age of 21 or so, magically my parents became the smartest people on the planet again! How did that happen? My parents didn't get 'magically smarter' - they were pretty doggone smart all along - I was the goofy one thinking I didn't need their advice and wisdom. The advice and wisdom they possessed wasn't 'book-learned' - it was experience bred. They had been down the road already and had looked back at some of their own misadventures, knowing exactly where they should have avoided the potholes! Both are gone from this earth now, but their wisdom lives on in my heart, escaping from time to time in tiny tears of memory as my heart hurts to no longer be able to hear that wise counsel. If I could tell teenagers something I learned along the way, I'd have to say it was the intensity of the love and grace of a loving parent outweighs any thrill we will ever enjoy by following our own devices!
As we consider our passage this morning, I want to call our attention to the last statement: "When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are." This was the one lesson it took me the longest to learn, despite all the warning my parents gave and encouragement to avoid those potholes. Grab all you can get - it is a pretty common philosophy of our culture, isn't it? Get more - even when you don't really need it. The more you get - the less you ARE. That is the lesson that took me the longest to learn - you actually become LESS by getting more. The word 'are' really describes the state of 'being'. We 'become' what we go after, but if the things we pursue are empty and vain promises, we will actually become less in the end. If the thing we pursue is Christ, the 'are' that we become will be 'more', but it will also be 'less'.
We become less self-centered, more other-centered. We become less needy, more willing to bless than be blessed. We become less bitter, more willing to let go of a debt we think we are owed. We become less discontent with life, more content with Christ being our all in all. As we become less, Christ becomes more. My parents' counsel? Follow the right companion in life and your path will become 'more' in your pursuit of actually becoming 'less'. Just sayin!