A Proverb for Today — Proverbs 30:33

“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” (Proverbs 30:33).

Some of the visual imagery of Proverbs is a lot of fun.  What is like churning butter or wringing someone’s nose? 🙂

The 30th was a couple of days ago, so this is a little late, but I was unwell, so you’ll have to bear with me.  Please don’t wring my nose for it!  🙂

The general idea here is that some things come naturally.  If you wring someone’s nose, of course it is going to bleed.  If you churn milk, of course it will produce butter.  And if you keep forcing wrath or anger, do you think it will do anything but bring strife?  If you give way to wrath yourself, or continually behave in a way that tempts someone to anger, you are generating strife.

Note:  You never MAKE anyone angry, nor does anyone MAKE you angry.  That’s a silly lie the world uses to excuse sinful anger.  People choose to respond in anger, or not to respond in anger.  No one has enough control over you to make you be angry.

But people certainly do tempt others, even strongly tempt others, to sin in anger, and that generates strife.

There is another application of this verse that has been on my heart in recent months.  Sometimes, even if you are doing nothing wrong, you may be “forcing wrath,” in a way.  Sometimes you have to recognise that a person is set on wrath, and any attempt to reduce it is instead going to incite more.  It may be that even the best-intentioned action will simply stir up more wrath.

In a sense, this application has a counterpart in one of Jesus’ teachings:

Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

This verse follows some instructions on how and when to rebuke a brother.  The implication is that, if you know a person won’t receive it, don’t do something that is just going to lead to conflict and a rejection of your true rebuke.

When you are talking about speaking the truth and telling someone what they need to hear, or doing good to someone, it seems faithless and depressing to say, “It won’t do any good, it will just make him mad anyway.”  But Jesus told His disciples that if it is going to do harm and just generate conflict, sometimes it is necessary to not “force wrath” rather than to “cast pearls before swine.”

Romans 12:18

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Sometimes, the only thing that makes peace possible is to keep your mouth shut and walk away, even if what you would say is 100% true and the person really needs to hear it.  If you can’t talk to someone, you can’t talk to them.

It doesn’t matter how much they need it if you know they aren’t going to hear it.  How can you know that?  Well, you certainly don’t always know it.  But that doesn’t stop us from using our best judgment in the matter.  This is an evaluation the Lord Jesus told us to make, and one that fits well with this Proverb.

Other Posts on Proverbs.

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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