Daily Proverbial, 19 August 2011

Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. Proverbs 25, verse 12.

In today’s ‘modern’ America, you see tattoos and piercings everywhere, especially on young people. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have two tattoos but no piercings; piercings hold no allure for me. All three of my kids have piercings, two of them in the ears, and one in ears (several) and a nose piercing. One kid pierced their own lip but let it fill in when it literally became a pain to care for it. Lately, my son has been badgering me to get a tattoo, and I’ve been resolutely responding, “no.” His sisters waited until they were 18 to get theirs so that it was their own adult decision andresponsibility. I think it’s only reasonable that he should wait as well. He keeps telling me “it’s a Christian symbol” but I’m afraid his arguments are falling on deaf ears. In this, I’m hoping my rebuke is wise and his ears are listening.

What do you think of the proverb tying jewelry and adornments to loving correction? How can someone upbraiding, rebuking, or correcting my behavior be a thing of wealth and beauty? There are so many messages we could learn from these few simple words. Wisdom is more valuable than gold; wisdom is beautiful like gold. A wise man’s opinion is valuable; a wise man’s rebuke is more than just an opinion. Those who listen to wisdom receive great value; those who open their ears to rebuke are wealthy in spirit. Rebuke has great value.

They all seem like simple lessons, but to be honest, they lack the flair and showy language that is used in other verses. They lack, that is, unless you consider that the figurative language was specifically chosen to make a point, and it’s a point that I hope resonates with younger people today. Words spoken in loving correction are valuable things that adorn our lives like fine jewelry. They complement our looks; they complete our image. Where we want to accentuate our features or maybe draw attention away from them, loving and wise rebukes teach us how to move past those desires, how to learn from them. When we take those words to heart, we get to wear wisdom like fine jewelry. It is polished, shining and beautiful, and is something that other people see. If we wear it well enough, it might draw others to us, or open avenues for communication and sharing.

Like objects of beauty, God uses the words of good people who care for us to demonstrate His love and to help impart it into our lives. It may not always feel like love, but someone who doesn’t care for us won’t give us a second thought when we’re in crisis or trouble. Those who do will confront us. When that happens, it’s good to remember that God’s Spirit is moving between us, working His will in our lives by moving our hearts to love others. And when that happens, we can be sure that God’s spirit is adorning our lives like beautiful jewelry, something to treasure and something to share and wear in the world.

My friend, Karen, said today, “words are seed. What crops will you plant today?” I like that phrase and will work to remember it because it’s so very true. Our words are like seeds, like apple seeds if you will. Remembering yesterday that words aptly spoken are like apples of gold, with every one we speak in love we are like Johnny Appleseed, planting good seeds so that others might be nourished and fed long after we are gone. The seed-words we plant, too, are like fine gold and fine jewelry. They are a testament to what we believe and what we hold most dear. We get to wear and share them to others who want them too.

Knowing all that, I’m still not sure that I’m completely down with the idea of all the body piercings and tattoos that fascinate my kids and their generation. And I’m still against my 15 year old getting one without my consent. I hope he understands, and I hope he knows that, in God’s good time, where will be a time for it. Some of what I see in youth seems too confrontational to me, too self-focused, yet I have to tread carefully in saying that. As I said, I have two tats myself and would like to get at least one more, maybe even two. They are statements about what I believe – both are inspirational – and they are artwork that I want to show to the world in my own way. Others may rebuke me for those things, but that’s ok. Some do so in love, and when that happens it’s like wearing a fine necklace or gold jewelry. Given today’s generation, it could even be one of those puka shell necklaces. As long as it’s done in expression of Godly beliefs, that’s not such a bad thing after all.

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