A Proverb a Day… Day 22

Read Proverbs 22

When I see someone, regardless of age, acting out in some way, I feel like I can come up with the solution to fix them. Have you ever thought this before? When I see someone acting out to get attention or throwing a temper tantrum, I want to take them aside and have a talk with them so I can analyze the problem and then together, we can work to fix it. This thought is flawed on so many levels, but I often want to psychoanalyze myself and others, though I’ve no formal training and little factual basis for my opinions, just my instincts.

Within psychology we learn that there are different types of behaviors: learned and innate. These are just what their names describe: one set of actions you’re born knowing how to do (sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, etc.) and another you learn over time (social cues, artistic skills, how to play games, etc.). Much of how we act is a direct result of the behaviors we’ve learned throughout our lives.

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost.

This is probably one of the most popular scriptures, especially when someone’s kid has gone off the rails. I’ve spoken with mothers who were holding onto this verse because they didn’t know what else to do. In some cases the kids turned their lives around and in others the kids didn’t. But I think Solomon was pointing to a much deeper truth in this verse; he’s talking about learned behaviors.

What you accept as truth and what you believe is right will influence your every action and decision. 

Let’s go back into today’s Proverb and think about what could be motivating the actions described in some of the verses.

Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
    and bullying anger sputters into nothing.

We’re all born with sin, it’s an innate behavior; no one had to teach us to sin. Bullying anger is a learned behavior. Somewhere along the way this person decided that bullying was the way to get what he or she wanted. This was likely modeled for them, they saw it work, and proceeded to do the same to fill a lack they perceived in their own lives. This person, whether intentionally or not, was trained up to bully and hurt others.

Generous hands are blessed hands
    because they give bread to the poor.

Here’s a contrary example. Generosity is a learned behavior, it goes against our selfish, sinful nature. Somewhere along the way, this individual learned that generosity is a good thing. Maybe they experienced the giving heart of someone else during a time of lack, which caused them to change their ways. Or maybe their parents modeled this behavior for them and they decided to follow suit. This person was trained up in the way of generosity.

What are some learned behaviors that heavily influence your life? These can be positive or negative. I’m diligent and a hard-worker, but I struggle with trusting and connecting with others, all of which are learned behaviors. I’ve been trained up in these ways. I continue to operate in my diligence while, at the same time, I have to learn how to trust. I have to open up those untrusting places within myself and give them over to God, allowing him to heal those things. I have to unlearn some of the cynical thoughts I have come to believe.

Let’s choose to sit in the light of God’s perfect love and allow him to teach us the ways in which we should go. Let’s submit to the learning, unlearning, and relearning processes and see how our lives are enhanced and transformed.

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