Balancing Act

Covid Flag 3

We are surviving the “Age of Covid” guided by ancient wisdom preserved for us in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs. Today we are looking at one of the book’s favorite sayings, I say favorite because it repeats the same basic idea again and again as in this example:

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, But an accurate weight is his delight

Using our color code system, shade that saying yellow because yellow identifies facts that are true for everyone everywhere. 

This proverb addresses business dealings in which a scale can be adjusted or switched to cheat a customer, for example in a trade involving grain. But I believe the point about scales is repeated so often because it expresses an idea that goes beyond mere weights and measures. The initial point is that commercial cheating begins with the scale one brings to a marketplace. But the real point is deeper. Wrongdoing exists as intent before it takes expression in deeds. 

With its focus on intention, Proverbs describes the fool’s orange coded plan to “deal sharply” and hints at its consequences this way: 

Diverse weights and diverse measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord. 

The habitual intention of the wise is quite different and their dealings receive a different evaluation (color code this one blue, the marker of the wise): 

Honest balances and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work.

In an unusual step, the people who gathered the proverbs attached a special promise and warning to this matter of intention:
One who walks in integrity will be safe but whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the pit.

A New Year’s Prescription

Covid Flag 3

The Book of Proverbs presents a plan of survival for the age of Covid rooted in ancient wisdom. It offers the collected experience of humankind gathered in useful aphorisms. I am applying these sayings to the challenges of our time by means of a unique color coding system.

Some Proverbs simply describe the way the world works. I color these sayings yellow. For our consideration today here are two of my favorite descriptive proverbs:

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones

A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but passion makes the bones rot

These yellow coded sayings should not be read as advice. They offer the oldest written medical observations on record and as such they tell us what is true: Health of body begins in the mind. The question (as always) is this, given the undeniable reality Proverbs describes, what does the wise person do (color code blue) and what is the way of the fool (color code orange).

For Proverbs, the wise display an identifiable pattern in their self talk and in their communications with other people that helps maintain wellbeing: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body”. But the health of the fool is poisoned by a different kind of speaking. Proverbs says “Their speech is like a scorching fire.” If the ancients could log on to some of our social media in these covid days I fear they might judge ours to be an age dedicated to self-destruction.