Christmas Dinner

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I have a favorite proverb: Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is, then a fatted ox, and hatred with it. That’s a code yellow proverb for sure, a saying that tells us something about the way the world works.

I think we all know what the proverb is referring to. We’re talking Christmas dinner with the extended family including that loud uncle who is critical of everyone and everything. But the Book of Proverbs focuses not on what we know but on what we can learn from what we know. Thinking about that meal, the book observes the way of the fool. It warns its readers (I code this saying orange): The mouths of fools are their ruin and their lips are a snare to themselves. It seems the fool sabotages his and everyone else’s enjoyment of life. The fool talks on and on and in the end Proverbs says, A fool’s lips bring strife.

But now comes the big question. What do the wise do differently? In a saying I code blue (the color of the wise) Proverbs describes the style of the wise this way: One who spares words is knowledgeable, one who is cool in spirit has understanding. The point is stated in a backward way but the basic idea is easily grasped. The meal (and life) of the wise and those around them is pleasant because she or he lets others do the talking.

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