Today's chapter is called Spite, Encouragement, and Hindering Behaviour (love the Australian spelling!).
Focus Verse: Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. (Proverbs 31:12, The Message)
Oh boy. The title of this chapter hit me even before I started reading it. I know that it's in poor fashion for writers to fall back on the whole "_______ is defined as _______," but when I did a search of the definition of spite, I came up with synonyms like cruel, unkind, malicious, mean, nasty, hurtful...all kinds of words that you definitely don't associate with being amazing! Sarah points out that the words even leave a bad taste in your mouth and make you feel sick in the stomach.
Even though Proverbs 31 is referring to the relationship between a husband and wife, Sarah makes a great point of saying that the way you habitually treat others will be the way you treat those most precious to you in life. So, even if you want to treat your significant other or closer family and friends sweetly, if you're mean and spiteful towards your coworkers or strangers, then it's easy to carry this behavior into your close relationships.
What's the opposite of spite? Encouragement! Sarah showed the Amplified Bible's translation of Proverbs 31:12- She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her. Doesn't that sound so much nicer than the other translation? Even though both of them are essentially saying the same thing, the tone and words in the Amplified translation is much more pleasant.
Encouragement enriches people's lives. Enriching adds value to something and makes it better than it already was. How do we do that? Sarah believes that if you want to make the life of someone else better, you need to have a great life yourself. I fully agree! I've noticed that when I'm moody and feeling sorry for myself and like my life is the pits, I tend to be short and rude towards others. I definitely don't add value to or make anything better than it was! She also points out that you can't live your life through the life of another because you can't enrich someone else's life when you have no life of your own. So, get a life! =)
Now, what do we mean by hindering behaviour? I may be a little off target with my interpretation (and if so, Sarah, please correct me!), but I took this to mean nagging and just dragging people down overall. I asked my husband if I'm a nagging wife, and his answer was "You have nagged, but you're not constantly nagging." Eek. I need to pay close attention to Proverbs 21:9 that says "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman." (Amplified Bible). Double eek! Guess I have some work to do!
Sarah points out that there are times when restrictions and discipline are necessary, but don't get to the point where you're hindering someone else's growth. She also says that a good relationship will empower you to be the best version of yourself. Again, I fully agree! We are to bless and serve those who are closest to us because of our love for them. God has blessed us so that we will be a blessing!
I want to quote the last two paragraphs out of the chapter because I really enjoyed them:
God's desires for your life are superabundance and far more than you could imagine. He does not bless our selfishness, though. God will bless His children so that they will superabundantly bless others, not hinder them all the days of their life. God may bless you with a promotion so you can give more to missions. Or He may bless you with many friends so you can be an encouragement and strength to them. The Lord may bless you with a thriving company that can, with integrity and grace, influence governments and other business people...Always remember that is why our Heavenly Father empowers you to prosper. It is for the benefit of the community. If you are blessed, make sure you are using that blessing for others.
Today's challenge is to empower and enrich the lives of those closest to you. Sarah suggested sending an encouraging text, giving them a quick call, or even offering a service to them. This only takes a minute and can make a huge difference in someone's life!