By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“Proverbial Goodness!” (first in a series of four articles focusing on ancient proverbs from the Bible and other cultures.)
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and good.”-(Proverbs 15:3)
My grandmother once said to me, “there is goodness all around you.” All I had to do was pause long enough to see. She was right then and still is. So, as I have come to trust the sayings of my elders I also realize I’ve become one… an elder that is… but more noteworthy is the embracing of the phrases and words of the ‘ancients’ and how their compilations of smart sayings did then and continue to guide human hearts, minds and spirits.
This week’s column and the three to follow will focus on those ancient proverbs from the Bible alongside other cultures we don’t live very well without. These proverbs have been around a long time… from as early as 3000 B.C. in China to a similar list in Egypt just as old… along with the proverbs of the Old Testament attributed to King Solomon and have been recorded to guide the human journey. And don’t forget the life lessons in the conclusions in Aesop’s fables or the one-liners of Will Rogers or W.C. Fields. Lessons learned and lessons shared are lessons worth remembering. Faith matters as we all believe in something or someone… and hopefully as an outcome that faith will seek the good in each of us and for the good of all of us.
So, what exactly does a proverb do? Think of an open window… as a proverb comes first from an oral tradition… words coming into our homes and lives providing a visible image of a people’s history, culture and purpose being passed on from generation to generation. They are used to reinforce arguments, illustrate ideas, and deliver messages of wisdom, warning, inspiration, consolation, and celebration. They are the ‘big-picture-good-for-life’ reminders to the whole human family… and over time… they’ve become a part of our everyday speech.
Consider words like this… from Proverbs 11:25… “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that? Everybody wins. It starts somewhere and when everybody takes part there is no ending to the possibilities to come while offering a certain emotional security to all.
Or ponder a moment this African proverb… “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” None of us gets through this life very well all by ourselves. And maybe that’s one of the key ingredients along the proverbial path… the idea that community has power over individualism and at the same time the power of community is rooted in the efforts of the individuals comprising that community. No wonder we remember the words of Lau-tzu spoken over 2500 years ago… “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”… or as my mother would say… “you won’t get where you are going by staying where you are.” Proverbs then speak to all of us… each and everyone of us… for the sake of all of us.
In my heart of hearts I believe and trust that God has planted this proverbial goodness in all four corners of the globe… for all of us to stumble over… as in many respects the course of human history has been a product of trials and errors coupled with curiosity and daring deeds. God is faithful. God sees the detail. Images of good and evil linger. Light reveals what hides in the darkness. My grandmother was right. “There is goodness all around you.” Look again and be glad!
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. Follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Please send your comments and / or questions to [email protected].