Proverbs 9 and family gatherings

Proverbs 9:7-9, “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”
Matthew 10:13-14, “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”

“Shake off the dust of your feet”—”for a testimony against them,” as Mark and Luke add (Mr 6:11; Lu 10:11). By this symbolical action they vividly shook themselves from all connection with such, and all responsibility for the guilt of rejecting them and their message. Such symbolical actions were common in ancient times.

When combining these verses, particular wisdoms emerge.

(1) It is innate (and good) for us to want to correct each other and help each other grow.
(2) Some people have tendencies that have been labeled as “generational curses”. (Perhaps you’ve experienced bad manifestations of this at family gatherings.)
(3) Some of those people recognize those bad tendencies within themselves and decide that they want these bad tendencies to end with themselves. So they do the psychological, emotional and spiritual “work” (self-reflection, Bible study, self control, etc.) that will transform them and erase the curses. (“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2) They are the ones who are open to good Proverbs 9 corrections because they find good purpose in transformation. And the end goal of that work is that they are just nice and positive and fulfilled all of the time.
(4) But others are defensive and have “eraser phrases” (e.g. “You think that you know more than me?” “You think that you are perfect?”, etc.) that just continue the curses. Or they take things that you say personally and not just as intelligent analysis, and you end up in an uncomfortable emotional psychodramatic trap. These people fall into the “wicked/mocker” category in Proverbs 9. It is wise then to recognize that an intelligent conversation with these people is not possible (after a number of tries) and therefore the “dust on the heels” verse needs to be applied. Perhaps not totally, for the sake of family gatherings, but at least to the point where you recognize not to correct or even give a statement that might be taken as a correction or criticism. These people are not capable of engaging in deep, exploratory conversations (which for the intelligent, peaceful person are fun) and therefore it is unwise to try to have one of those with them. But those kinds of conversations are God mandated and therefore are our natural tendency. And shallow conversations might be boring. Therefore, unfortunately, that kind of person we need to for the most part shut out of our radar, because even shallow conversations will lead to depth for a deep person.
(5) Therefore, just hang out with nice people who gravitate towards depth, and be nice and deep yourself.
(6) And if you must associate with toxic people (e.g. for family or work reasons), recognize their buttons, don’t push them, and decide whether or not you can play by their rules.
(7) Keep pursuing God and His ways as we participate in our own sanctification process 🙂

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