Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.”
Often, what we remember can be a help or a hindrance.
The ability to recall facts studied, aids in learning. It helps us to pass our tests in school. It aids us in our business dealings. Events recalled can also be used as a weapon.
Some will keep a scorecard of all the wounds they have ever suffered. They record by whom, when, how often, and how deep. These play over and over in their mind till one day it comes to fruition. Then, there may be a nuclear explosion of temper, anger, hurtful words, and possibly physical violence.
Or, they may plot a calculated attack to destroy the object of our hatred literally.
Conversely, others choose only to remember the good things said and done. Kindnesses, words of comfort, encouragement, and advice given are all spoken in love.
How is it that one can be so hurtful and remember only the bad things while others, who suffered the same hurt, can bypass the hatred and give kindness, longsuffering, and love in return?
Our text provides us with an insight into what I call a ‘sanctified memory.’
The ‘just’ in this verse means a righteous man, a saved child of God, one who has the Holy Spirit living in them.
‘Blessed’ here, means to be prosperous, or be in abundance.
We may not be able to escape what many call the ‘human condition,’ but we can apply biblical principles in how we deal with one another. Our text today reveals an elementary yet profound truth.
“You are what you think.”
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
Jesus expounded on this truth.
Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
If we were to fill a glass with a substance and continue pouring, it would overflow with whatever we put in it. The same principle applies to our hearts.
Whatever we find to be in abundance will overflow at some point in time.
For the one who stores and scores their hurts, offenses, and wounds, they will erupt in such a manner that may even surprise them. Jesus taught us further on this subject.
Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
My first response when I am hurt, offended, or wounded is to retaliate or seek vengeance. I have learned to neglect that first response and put it through God’s filter.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Also, if I sit and reflect on the one who has hurt me, or is setting out to ruin me, I try to understand why. It may be that I was the last in a long line of hurts, and I was the one to whose hurt or offense put them over the edge.
I may have reminded them of someone who hurt them deeply. There may be a need for forgiveness and healing. Unless I apply some biblical principles to this quickly, it may do more harm.
First, the spirit with which we respond to the situation, matters.
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
If you and I will respond with a soft answer to accusations and anger, it not only helps to diffuse the accuser, it aids in my calmness. Responding in kind will only cause it to escalate.
Secondly, there are unknown facts that brought this one to such a state. A history of abuses, or wounds that never healed, all taken and never dealt with, culminating in a nuclear explosion that can be damaging and sometimes lethal.
We only know a fraction of what brought that person to this point.
Thirdly, extending grace and mercy will always be the best response. There are exceptions in situations of ‘tough love’ where our response keeps us from becoming an enabler to the destructive behavior.
But mostly, our response of grace and mercy will open the door for forgiveness, healing, and restoration.
Lastly, I must extend the love I would want for myself.
1 John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
If I store up forgiveness, I would want to be extended toward me, and I have it ready to give whenever the need arises. But, if I keep a running tally of all the offenses, hurts, and wounds, anger turns to bitterness, and when it runs over, many others will be injured by it.
Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
Let us lay up treasures of good things regarding all those in our lives. Your pastor, the staff, another church member, your spouse, children, or a family member. It may be a coworker, neighbor, or someone on social media that singled you out.
Whomever it may be, we can ask ourselves, “How would Jesus respond if He were here?”
Therein lies the path to our answer.