6Don't accept an invitation
to eat a selfish person's food,
no matter how good it is.
7People like that take note
of how much you eat.
They say, “Take all you want!”
But they don't mean it.
8Each bite will come back up,
and all your kind words
will be wasted.
Ever get something caught in your throat? Wow, I hate when it happens! We cough, gag, and hack to get it out. The metaphor in today’s proverb says something like that happens with dishonest people. And wisdom, we come to understand, is about being skillful and successful in one’s relationships. It is prudent to avoid the offer of a selfish person. I learned this lesson fresh out of my university days.
I grew up in a small town. It is a setting where you come to rely on one another. I don’t recall ever experiencing deeply cynical or deliberately insincere circumstances. The adults, from what we kids could see, behaved themselves. They were mostly civil to us or simply grumpy with our youthful exuberance. So I was in for a shock one day in my new urban home. A lady down the street hired me to repair her leaky porch roof. It had a deck on top and she wanted to walk on it like a balcony. My advice was that I could patch the deck with hot-tar and gravel, but she could not walk on it without causing new leaks. What she wanted would require a much more expensive solution. She insisted the cheaper solution would work and was willing to pay. Eventually I gave in to her pleas and did the job. Imagine my naïve surprise when she blamed me for the new leaks and threatened legal action. I learned a wisdom lesson that day. Not everyone who speaks invitingly actually means it. If it seems insincere, avoid it!
Lord of our life; give us loving hearts and discerning minds. Help us escape the trap of insincerity, flattery and greed. We want true happiness and satisfaction, not the empty promises of empty souls. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Dr. Wood is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at The King's University and Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty. His research is on urban ecology, campus sustainability and food insects. John was born in Japan, grew up on a clear-cut in western Washington State and attended North Park University in Chicago. He has written and spoken widely on caring for creation to church and campus groups. His recent publications include: How Then Shall We Eat? Insect-Eating Attitudes and Sustainable Foodways; Stewarding the gift of land: Christian campuses as land management models; and Sustainable Missions: Ethical Principles for Holistic Practice in a Broken World.