God’s Little Instruction Book is taking us back to Proverbs today, but unlike the past two forays into the Nation of Proverbia, this verse isn’t a stand-alone saying with no necessary connection to its neighbors. It’s part of a larger admonition from Solomon to a person he calls “my son,” encouraging him to pursue wisdom and eschew evil. That’s right: it’s context time.
Today’s verse from God’s Little Instruction Book is a staple of inspirational literature. You may be familiar with it and the two verses preceding it; you may even have memorized one or more of them. As the book of Joshua opens, Moses has just died, and immediately God commissions Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. That’s where we find the verse of the day, Joshua 1:9.
This is a momentous occasion, fam. No, not Valentine’s Day: today we are breaking new ground. For the first time on Chocolate Book, we are cracking open the book of Ecclesiastes.
So if yesterday’s verse forced me to admit what I don’t believe but maybe I should, then today’s verse forces me to admit what I don’t do but I definitely should. Man, God’s Little Instruction Book is eating my lunch.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chucked the intro for today’s post. What’s worth saying? What words are going to be of actual benefit to you, the reader, and what words are just vacuous self-indulgence? Why even bother? I don’t know. Due to logistical necessities, we are back in the God’s Little Deconstruction Book series, and there’s nothing to do but move forward.
So, what verse does God’s Little Instruction Book have for us today? It’s none other than Proverbs 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” And this is one verse where taking a bird’s-eye view of its context will not lend us any particular insight into its meaning. There do exist passages in Proverbs which are not simply successions of maxims and wise sayings, but chapter 16 is not one of them.
Today’s verse from God’s Little Instruction Book is a single simple imperative sentence from Hebrews. As he’s wrapping up his letter, the author writes, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). If we zoom out and survey the rest of Hebrews 13 for context, we won’t find any additional insights into the struggle between greed and contentment. The verse in question is situated among commands to stay faithful to your spouse and to be kind to strangers and prisoners, and the meat of chapter 13 is encouragement for the Jewish Christians who’ve earned the disdain of their fellow Jews for following a crucified Messiah. Verse five is the only verse about not making your bank account your best bud! So, what we’re going to do instead is zoom out even further and consider the contrast between greed and contentment in the New Testament epistles.