Daily Proverbial, 7 July 2011

Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline, and understanding. Proverbs 23, verse 23.

WOW! Powerful words of advice. If you read the full context of the verses around this one, it is smack in the middle of sayings that talk about parents and children. (If you remember) Yesterday’s verse talked about revering our parents; tomorrow’s will be about parents who rejoice because of their kids. This verse, however, sticks out because it works entirely on its own and because it is a unique thought contained in between two similar ones. I wonder why that is?

Perhaps the reason is irrelevant. It works on its own because it is a singularly powerful message about the fundamentals. Do you think we buy and sell the truth? I do. Think about it: a sale is nothing more than an exchange of one thing for another. We tender money in return for something. Isn’t a lie the same thing? We buy truth by exchanging truth; honesty begets honesty. We can sell it for a lie simply by lying. In doing so, we compromise ourselves. Bit by bit, white lies or big lies, we chip away at our integrity and sell the truth we once bought so dearly.

The other day, my son and I were watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies, and we were talking about the theme of the books and films. I said that it really wasn’t very complex, that it was a simple choice between good and evil. The forces of darkness represented evil; the forces of darkness represented lies. The Fellowship chose the hard path of good, choosing to buy back good through a difficult quest. In this, they bought the truth and refused to sell it even in the midst of overwhelming odds and constant temptation.

Is your life any different? Think about it!

No, we constantly need to buy the truth and that isn’t easy. It is a lifelong never ending process. We need tools. We need wisdom, discipline and understanding. Understanding without wisdom is little more than hollow knowledge. Wisdom imparts understanding of truth; understanding needs wisdom to apply the truth. Discipline without wisdom and understanding is little more than stress. It is going through the motions for no good reason. Wisdom without self-discipline and understanding is an empty lesson. It is good words spoken to an empty room, honesty without action.

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” That too is from the Lord of the Rings, inscribed on the ring of power. It is the opposite of truth, wisdom, discipline and understanding. Truth is good and the opposite of truth is a lie. Carrying this logic further, then, the opposite of truth must not be good. The opposite of truth is to be found, brought, and bound in the darkness. The opposite of the truth is evil.

Extreme? Not really. Evil takes many forms. Isaac Newton learned that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every small truth there is a small lie; for every large truth, there are large lies. Exchanging one for the other exchanges wisdom for folly, discipline for sloth, and understanding for darkness. Exchanging the truth for a lie is to wear the one ring and in the darkness be bound.

I’m not a big fan of fantasy, and I found the Lord of the Rings books to be long and dull reading. But I was mesmerized by the movies, reveling in the morality play shown on a grand scale. Our lives may not be the struggle between epic forces and armies of hate…but then again, ask any single parent struggling to keep their kids safe, or an alcoholic fighting off the demons of temptation, or a lonely traveler trying to fend off the blues. I bet they will tell you that their lives are no walk in the park, that sometimes it seems like a titanic struggle just to do simple things, just to stay on the straight and narrow. Is that any different than fighting off the power of the one dark ring? You decide. Me, I choose to follow the little men into Mordor.

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