Category Archives: Love


Proverbs 31:10, 28 

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies….
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

This last chapter of Proverbs has provided the male contributors to Proverbial Thought with several opportunities to reflect on the blessing of a good wife. Perhaps that is something all husbands should do more frequently. Perhaps by taking stock more often husbands would be prompted to praise their marriage partners instead of taking them for granted.

This challenge applies to our children too. How often do children fall into the same trap as their father and fail to appreciate just how blessed they are by their mother? This does saddle fathers with additional responsibility. If children see their father taking their mother for granted then it seems inevitable that they will fail to truly value the blessings they receive from their mother.

Marilyn and Reuben copySo here in my final entry as a contributor to Proverbial Thought I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife Marilyn. It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude. In two months we will celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I look back on those thirty-five years I know that God has blessed me beyond anything I have ever deserved in a wife, and I thank Him for what I consider to be an arranged marriage. When God chose us for each other He knew what He was doing. He always does.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19: 3-6 NIV)


Beyond Criticism

Proverbs 29:1 

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (NLT)

Following the Rules

Few of us enjoy being criticized, told off, corrected or reproved. What is important, however, is the manner in which we react when faced with criticism or reproof. Take the Pharisees, for instance. These were a group of people who wrote the book on criticism. They had so many rules, you would have thought that they would have walked around heads hung in shame, given the impossibility of compliance.  But they didn’t. They walked around heads held high, proud in the fact that they were rule keepers, not rule breakers. And in their pride they criticized everyone who did not reach their high standards of perfection.

Valid Criticism

What the Pharisees considered perfection was a falsehood, a lie. Jesus was an exposer of lies. When He came to the attention of the Pharisees they invested heavily in using their laws and rules to bring Him down. But they failed miserably because their criticism had no validity. And while the Pharisees were experts at dishing out criticism, they were unable to accept being under the spotlight and told that they were wrong.


You could argue that it is simpler to live without rules. That is what infuriated the Pharisees about Jesus. He didn’t just break the rules, He lived as if there were no rules. The problem was that they had become blind to reality through their obsession with a legalistic approach for the one thing that could have brought them freedom, and life. God didn’t send Jesus to earth to write a new book of rules, but to show God’s true character to humanity. Jesus came because humanity had it wrong and has still got it wrong. God does not sit up in heaven criticizing us, but loving us. And if we can truly surrender to that Love then we will find freedom from criticism, and freedom from criticizing.

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” (Matthew 15:10-13 NLT)

The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’

Kiss Me Kill Me

Proverbs 27:6

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

It Makes Sense

This is one of those proverbs we can look at and agree with. We all know it makes sense. It is much better to have friends who will be honest with us even when it hurts, then friends who will just pamper and flatter us even when we are clearly in the wrong.

The trouble is something making sense doesn’t guarantee we will follow the advice. In this case there are multiple reasons why we ignore this advice, our society is much more comfortable with flattery, even when it’s false, than truth; it can be hard to receive truth from a friend; we can find it difficult to speak truthfully to our friends in case they decide to ditch us.

First Things Firsts

To see more meaningful relationships we need to be ready to be examples. We need to be people who are good at taking criticism, and also brave enough to give it. Many people misread the plank in the eye parable. They use the excuse that as they will never be perfect, and therefore always have impaired vision, they cannot challenge other’s behaviour. I have even heard parents say that they cannot challenge their wayward ward because they were just as bad when they were children. But we only need to read to the end of the parable to see Jesus intention –

Matthew 7:5 (emphasis mine) ‘You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ 

We are to be wounded and we are to wound. And all the better our friendships shall be for it.

People Preferences

Proverbs 22:2

The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.
Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Personal Preferences

We all have people we like more than others. This is why we have friends and families. There are just some people we like having around more than other people.

There is nothing wrong with liking some people more than others. Even Jesus had close friends (see His Twelve Disciples, and of those Peter, James, and John who were His closest friends).

The real danger comes when we show preferences for others for selfish reasons, when love for others is not the primary cause.


We must remember that God sees all people equally: as His loved children.

He does not love one more for having money and possessions or for not having money nor possessions.

God cares most for those who express their love and devotion for Him, yet He still shows love and grace to all people in some fashion.

We should do likewise, and, in fact, we are commanded to.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James 2:1-4, ESV

Our Great God, thank You for Your love and grace. Help us to live out that love and grace with all people, regardless of wealth or social standing. Help us to love everyone as You have loved us through the cross.

I’ll Stay Where I Am

Proverbs 21:12

“The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.”


A sin “that doth so easily beset” us is the sin of envy. In other words, envy is something most humans battle with on a regular basis, especially when they live paycheck-to-paycheck. Envy is an ever-present danger.

In a world where most people do their best just to get by, it is hard not to envy the rich and famous with their Hollywood “cribs,” their sports cars, their exotic vacations, the best clothes, and the best-looking friends and temporary spouses. If given the opportunity, many of us would exchange our house for theirs in a heartbeat. On the surface, which is all we normally see, everything seems better on the other side of the fence.

Envy, however, is a blindfold over the eyes of wisdom.

Seeing Clearly

See with discerning eyes and “consider” the house of the wicked. Is it really all it is made out to be? Is it really worth desiring over a life filled with suffering, sacrifice, and want? What does the wicked have that should entice the righteous?

My favorite Shakespearean sonnet is number 29. It speaks of a man feeling sorry for himself, hating himself, and wishing to be like others “more rich in hope.” Yet, in the end, he sees the truth: that love makes one more wealthy than the richest of kings.

shakespeareWhen in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Love Possessed 

No one knows for sure to who’s “love” Shakespeare was referring. I am thankful that he did not get specific, for when I read Sonnet 29 two different loves come to mind: the love of my wife, and the love of God.

When I consider the house of the wicked, as Solomon suggests, I see a lot of “stuff.” What I don’t see is love without lust, peace without prescriptions, or comfort without consequences. Why would I exchange the unconditional love of a godly wife for conditional, revolving-door relationships that evaporate the soul?

But even more, when I remember the love of God, I would rather be a pauper than a king. His love brings everlasting wealth, the likes of which the wicked will ever know. Why should I desire to leave the house of the Lord for one which will be “overthrown”?

Evil Neighbors

Proverbs 21:10

10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.
10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them. (NIV)

Wild Neighbors

Several years ago my parents bought their first house. By this time, we were a fairly good Christians, and we were looking forward to meeting new neighbors.

One of our next door neighbors proved more difficult to know. Most weekends they would have loud, wild parties with drugs and alcohol; both the parents and the daughter would take turns throwing these parties. They would let their lawn grow wild. Even their dog frequently escaped and ran wild around the neighborhood.

No matter what we said or how many times the authorities were called, they persisted in their wild behavior. They had no concern about their neighbors being kept up all night, having to look at their uncared-for property, and dealing with their dog.

Two Paths

This verse tells us one thing: it is not good to pursue evil and not care about others. Not only will others not like us, but our life may be more bitter and difficult than we might care to admit.

However, the Bible tells us another thing, something my parents have lived out well: no matter how evil our neighbors may be, we must still love them.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Galatians 5:14

An evil neighbor is not a reason to be evil to others, even to those who are evil to us. Instead, we must rise to God’s standard, and we must give love and mercy where we receive evil and no mercy.

Good Lord, keep us from the evil we are so apt to commit against each other. Help us to grow in Your love and mercy toward others.