Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
The best-known and most often memorized verses in Proverbs three have to be verses five and six. While those verses are awesome, this verse really caught my attention this morning.
Solomon says that two things should not be allowed to leave me; two things should be kept as close as I can — kindness and truth. I could speculate about why these two things and not more, but it would only be speculation. Kindness, my concordance tells me, could also be translated as goodness or faithfulness. Rather than try to narrow the field to one answer to the “So which one is it?” question, I will choose to accept that it can mean all three. The word for truth pretty much means truth. So, I should be doing something with kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and truth. What?
Solomon gives three things I should do — technically one thing I should not and two that I should.
First, I should not allow kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and truth to leave me. These four are, by way of note, some of the most polite guests. If I make them even a little bit unwelcome, then they are heading for the door. And, because I am a fallen man, these four are guests in my nature. Fallen man is not, by nature, kind, good, faithful, and true. Fallen man is cruel, evil, faithless, and deceptive. Kindness, goodness, and faithfulness are, if memory serves, listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. This means that kicking them out is kicking out the Holy Spirit. And He is sufficiently courteous to leave me to my own devices if that is what I really want. Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is the Truth. So, I need to cling to Jesus and the Holy Spirit and not do anything that would push them out of my life.
Second, Solomon says I should bind them around my neck. Interestingly, Jesus (Truth) says that His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30) and a yoke was worn over the shoulders on the neck. All of the things that I think about the Holy Spirit and things being wrapped around the neck are metaphors and not, to my recollection, in the scriptures, so I will leave those be. Of note, scarves in various forms have been around for pretty much ever and are as useful for warming the neck in cold conditions as for blocking harsh sunlight in sweltering conditions.
Third, Solomon says I should write them on the tablet of my heart. It is interesting to me that God said He would write His Law on the hearts of people (Hebrews 8:10) and that He desires truth in the inner man, i.e. the heart (Psalm 51:6). This part could go on for pages as Jesus is said to dwell within us as is the Holy Spirit. Truth and kindness and goodness and faithfulness take up residence within the believer in the Persons of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In short, God enters into my heart and sets up shop.
Solomon’s instructions come with a promise in verse four. If I obey Solomon’s counsel then I will find favor and good repute with God and man.
I think that I should apply this as follows:
- I need to watch my life for signs of goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and truth. So long as they are present, all is well.
- I need to make sure that God is welcome in my heart. This means, in practical terms, that God should be free to talk to me whenever and however and about whatever He chooses and He needs to have carte blanche to rearrange or toss out entirely the things in my heart that displease Him.