Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster. (NLT)
The person who courts sin marries trouble; build a wall, invite a burglar. (MSG)
Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction. (ESV)
Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction. (NIV)
To me, this is a proverb about relationships. Many people have experienced the joy of good relationships. Unfortunately, far too many people find relationships painful and difficult. This proverb tells us that there are two approaches to distancing ourselves from people and neither of them works. The first approach is to quarrel with everyone. There are times when it is important to argue, but the person who quarrels all the time assumes they are right and is filled with pride. Their motive is not to find a better way, but to isolate themselves from anyone not willing to go their way. Unfortunately, this leads to separation from people and from God.
I had to think about the second half of this proverb a while. Multiple translations helped. In the extreme, we all fall into one of two categories, open or closed. Open people are generous and trusting. Their focus is on others and in their wealth of relationships is both their prosperity and protection. Closed people are stingy and suspicious. Their focus is on themselves and they find comfort in isolation. To preserve their isolation, they build walls and add multiple locks to their doors. Unfortunately, this makes them even more vulnerable. Solomon says this is a sure way to seek destruction.
In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus tells a parable that I think relates to this proverb. The rich man’s fields produce a bountiful crop. His goal is to preserve it for himself, so he builds big barns to store it all. Once the crop is protected he dies. This rich fool was greedy and unwilling to share his stuff. How often are we just as foolish when we are unwilling to be generous in relationships with others?
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (NLT)
A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (MSG)
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (ESV)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5 NIV)
I pray that you will choose to rejoice today. The joy in your heart and the smile on your face are effective ways to tear down the walls and open the doors to the relationships that bring life. This is a message to me as much as anyone. Circumstances are rarely what we would like them to be. Our bodies hurt and things that used to be easy have gotten difficult. In spite of that, we know that the God who loves us is with us.
For my grandchildren:
Smile and search for ways to bring joy to the people in your life.