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There’s nothing like a lazy sprawl on a reclining deck chair on a sunny August afternoon, a tall glass of lemonade in one hand and the book of Proverbs in the other.

Save for another day the rigors of plodding through the book of Lamentations or the heady doctrines of St. Paul. Proverbs allows you to read only a verse or two of its practical, experience-sculpted wisdom. Then you can close the book and dream of how its keen observations help you glimpse the way our Creator holds us and our world in such a steady, meaningful embrace.

Want an example? How about this: “If anyone loudly blesses a neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse” (Prov. 27:14, TNIV).

God created night owls and morning glories. Why?

I’ll tell you why—I don’t know. He just did.

Here’s the thing. There’s this morning glory, you see. Up at the crack of dawn and on top of the world. If he felt any better he’d get taxed double on it. Heartily and LOUDLY he greets his neighbor: “SHALOM ELEHEYNU, YAKOV!”

Pity his night-owl neighbor! He dragged his weary carcass out of the sack and hasn’t “thawed out” yet because Starbucks won’t be invented for two millennia.

“Schlomo, don’t shout.”


“Schlomo, simmer down. Even my hair hurts, and the neighbors will throw shoes from their bedroom windows. . . .”

Still today millions of morning-glory spouses, parents, and friends, in all innocence, inflict such untold suffering. The bedroom door slams open, “GOOD MORNING, SLEEPYHEAD. TIME TO GET UP! IT’S A BEEEYOOOTIFUL DAY . . . YAKKETY, YAKKETY. . . .”

Night Owl experiences the words “RISE AND SHINE,” spoken in blessing, as a particularly painful curse. So Night Owl naturally responds in kind. A chagrinned Morning Glory slinks off, appalled by such unexpected, unmerited rudeness.

Let’s kick it up a notch. The proverb observes that a blessing given in the wrong way or at the wrong time can come across as a curse. So can any form of good news—it can connect as anything but.

Try adding to this starter list of good news gone bad:

  • really boring preaching;
  • personal testimonies with folks themselves, not God, at the center;
  • teaching the Canons of Dort to third-graders;
  • lecturing teens with that furiously wagging, self-righteous finger;
  • high-pressure evangelism;
  • “reassurance” that a catastrophic event “was God’s will, dear”;

ignoring your neighbors except to sneak an annual Easter service invitation into their mail slot.

If we don’t keep a keen eye out for how God has wired us, then we can easily communicate what is good in a way that comes out very, very bad.

 With any well-intended message, monitor carefully how what you say will be received and perceived by the person to whom you’re talking. Remember that it’s the road to which all curses lead that’s paved with your good intentions. So be sure to tune your words carefully to their receiver. He or she will quietly bless you for it.

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