Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Thorough Program

In modern schools, we tend to focus on a single subject such as arithmetic or English or reading, analyzing every aspect of that subject.   Isolating the subject in such a manner makes it easy for the teacher to explain and enables the student to quickly gain an understanding of the basic principles involved.   Unfortunately, isolating the subject in such a manner makes it more difficult to understand how it relates to other areas of life, and students are left wondering why they were forced to study subjects such as algebra or the parts of speech.   It is not uncommon to hear someone say they have never used algebra since they finished the class, not understanding that every arithmetic computation they have ever made, whether adding the prices of things they are buying, or computing the gas mileage on their car is dependent on the principles of algebra.    As a result of such isolation of subjects, modern employers complain that graduates today lack critical thinking skills, i.e. the ability to relate principles they learned in school to what they are trying to accomplish at work. 

Proverbs uses an ancient method of teaching than has proven effective in hundreds of cultures for thousands of years.   Life seldom focuses on just one point, and everything that happens affects and is related to other actions and events.  In a similar manner, Proverbs jumps from one subject to another, usually dealing with only one or two aspects of the subject before switching topics.  Because no subject tis isolated, the students are less likely to compartmentalize things, and thus are more flexible in their thinking. 

Fearing the student will not get a complete understanding of a subject modern teachers tend to try to group all the proverbs about a single subject together , because it makes it easier to teach in the modern programs.     To help understand how completely proverbs integrates the various teachings into daily life, let’s look at the teachings on anger that we started in the previous post.  Let’s just see what we learn about anger by going through the book. 

“A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.” (Proverbs 12:16)  A fool makes his wrath known to everybody, because as we see in Proverbs 14:3, “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”  They use their anger like a club to get their way. 

Proverbs 14:17 tells us, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.”   People who lose their temper easily do and say foolish things without thinking about the consequences.  Smart people think about the results of what they say, according to Proverbs 14:29.  “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”  People who are quick to make judgments and get angry promote stupidity. 

Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”  An agreeable pleasant response to people diverts their anger and makes them more willing to listen.  A confrontational approach only makes them angrier and less willing to listen.  One’s own attitude determines how he will approach others.   Proverbs 15:18 tells us, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”  When we are angry we tend to say things that make matters worse.

Proverbs 16:32 tells us, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”   As we saw in Proverbs 14:29, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”  His wisdom keeps him from losing his temper and doing or saying stupid or hurtful things, as Proverbs 19:11 tells us.  “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”  Because he doesn’t get mad, he is able to reduce the conflict, earning respect from others.  His self-control makes him more valuable than others at whatever he might do.   Proverbs 20:3 tells us, “It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.”  Fools keep stirring things up.

A person with a hot temper does really stupid things that get him ito trouble.  Proverbs 19:19 warns, “A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.”    Because he doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions when he is angry, sooner or later he will get mad and get in trouble again. 

Just as a pleasant and agreeable response to a person will defer their anger, a gift or reward for something  iverts attention from one’s anger, making it easier to deal with them, according to Proverbs 21:14.  “A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.”

Proverbs 21:24 tells us that a person who uses his pride and anger like a club to get his way lacks respect for God and for other people.  “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.”  As proverbs 14:3 tells us it is a foolish attitude, and proverbs 22:8 warns, “He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.”  Sooner or later, people will get fed up, and his anger and threats will not stop people.  He will have to suffer the consequences for his actions. 

Don’t associate with people who are hot tempered or constantly angry, because they will constantly stir up your anger and you will begin to have the same angry attitude they have, according to Proverbs 22:24-25.  “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”  That angry attitude will cause you the same trouble it causes them. 

Proverbs 27:3-4 tells us, “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.  Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”   A fool’s wrath over unimportant details is terrible burden.  It becomes physically or emotionally abusive, with them making outrageous demands in their anger, and if it turns to envy, becomes even worse.   In a marriage, it can become unbearable.   Proverbs 21:19 says, ”It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”  It would be better to live in the dessert alone than to have to constantly put up with a mate’s anger.    It would be better to be homeless than to have nice house but be constantly fighting, as Proverbs 25:24 tells us.  “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. “  What would be a minor problem in someone you are not married to becomes a real annoyance when you have to deal with it every day, as Proverbs 27:15-16 tells us.  “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.  Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.” 

Proverbs 29:22 warns, “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”  As we have already seen an angry person says and does things that anger others, foolishly doing things that get him into trouble, and often violating God’s commands.  As proverbs 30:33 tells us his actions and attitude will surely cause fights.  “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.”

By simply teaching one proverb at a time, we can teach all these principles to our children in portions they can assimilate.  Because they are intermixed with various other subjects they will begin to see them as integral parts of life rather than some isolated subject.   The subject will have been thoroughly covered in the process.  

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