Proverbs, Chapter 21, Verse 2 (Amplified Bible)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts.
Did you ever read How to Win Friends and Influence People? Dale Carnegie gives some great illustrations of the truth of Proverbs 21:2. One is the story of “Two-Gun” Crowley, a killer arrested after a fire fight with 150 New York City lawmen in 1931. He was in fact a murder but went to his death in the electric chair claiming that this sentence was what he got for “defending” himself. In the second anecdote, Carnegie recounts how Al Capone stated:
I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter
pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the
existence of a hunted man.
Then, Carnegie provides a quotation from Lewis Lawes, “warden of New York’s infamous Sing Sing prison for many years.” This is a quotation I should keep pinned on the lapels of my heart:
Few of the criminals in Sing Sing regard themselves as bad men. They are just as human as you and I. So they rationalize, they explain. They can tell you why they had to crack a safe or be quick on the trigger finger. Most of them attempt by a form of reasoning, fallacious or logical, to justify their antisocial acts even to themselves, consequently stoutly maintaining that they should never have been imprisoned at all.
I have two very important reasons for keeping this insight always present:
- I must avoid deceiving myself about my own righteousness or lack thereof. As I often quote from a former pastor of mine, “the terrible thing about self-deception is that it is so darn deceptive.” (I don’t give this pastor’s name because as it turned out he himself had a big problem with deception, self directed or otherwise)
- I must constantly recall that someone very close to me can repeatedly harm me and others under her influence and never recognize that she did anything wrong.
The book of Proverbs offers some great insight on this matter.
As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who is without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22; Amplified Bible)
Might a fair woman without discretion be dangerous? Jesus added some essential advice found in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 6:
Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces.
I grew up in a rural community and worked for several years on my uncle’s farm. If you want to get seriously mauled, just try aggravating a full-grown sow. As the cliche goes, modified for the present context, “Fighting with a fool is like wrestling with a pig, everybody gets dirty, but the pig enjoys it.”
Hmm?? This reflection certainly ends up far from the introductory sentence, but then again perhaps it simply comes full circle.
The take away?? I think it goes something like this: “Trust neither your own righteousness nor your own wisdom, and keep a healthy distance from swine, in whatever guise you might find them.”
I must add in closing that upon reflection this all seems somewhat harsh and not politically correct at all. Will it win me any friends? Hmm??