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Big trouble in a little life

Proverbs 11:17

 “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

I grew up in a place where everyone seemed to be fighting to survive. They were all very mean. But we will discuss this momentarily. First of all, this verse from Proverbs displays results for our actions in two different areas. It would be expected that they would, instead have opposite effects on the same part of our being but that is not the case. The first half of the verse states that the merciful does good for their soul. That means that when we are merciful to others, then our minds, wills, and emotions are stable and peaceful knowing that we have done what was right. However the second half of the verse threatens our physical health. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I was around very mean people when I was younger. It seemed as though everyone was afraid of being taken advantage of, so they all became extremely defensive and bitter. They would display this bitter resentment and fear through their words and actions. They would speak great swelling words about what terrible and violent things they would do to anyone who dared attack them. They would bar their windows and fence their yards; they would constantly watch for would be criminal activity against them. They were in fear basically and had no idea how to deal with that fear in a godly manner. This fear would cause them to be cruel. The term translated as “cruel” in this verse means cruel, harsh, fierce, savage and it means to pronounce a sentence of death. This is exactly how I would describe the words and actions of many of the people I grew up around. They were anything but kind and merciful. It seemed though that no matter how aggressive they were with their mouths or actions, they always had drama… something bad happening in their lives. That is precisely what the result is expected to be according to the verse. Those who are cruel cause trouble for their own flesh. The word for trouble here is the Hebrew word “akar” and it means to afflict, to bring evil upon, and to disturb. According to the verse, this “trouble” comes upon the flesh of the cruel one. The term for flesh here can mean any blood relation or on any food or it can mean physical flesh by bringing an ailment. Understanding what all of these terms really mean, I can  understand why most of the people that I grew up around have so many health and family issues. Further, I personally take this as a warning for myself to choose mercy- not only for the sake of those who will receive my mercy but also for my own sake. In essence this verse alerts us to the truth that mercy is love and love never fails but where there is engaging in the same actions as the wicked one, one can expect wicked results. 

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