We are well into advent now, rounding third and headed home. Yet because of how the days fall on the calendar this year, the fourth advent Sunday is still six long days from Christmas. A lot of events are done, but there are more on your schedule, especially ones with the people who tend to get on your nerves the most…family. That presents a significant challenge, because with strangers, you can’t predict as well what they’ll argue about, and you may never see them again. With the ones God has chosen for your permanent “neighbors,” you’ve seen the show a thousand times.
In a week of final preparations and feasting, even for a week with siblings at home from school all day every day, Solomon provides some counsel for the prudent.
The vexation of a fool is known at once,
but the prudent ignores an insult.
Vexation refers to the spleen in the pot, foolishness is like the fire that makes the complaints simmer. Vexation is what pets your feathers backward, what puts salt in your tea. It could be about the state of democracy, it could be about the state of dinner. It could be about the commute, it could be about your comment. And because of how the proverb runs, vexation isn’t only generic grumbling in your presence, vexation may be insulting to your person.
I have said much about not being angry or ungrateful, this is about how to absorb it.
But…she’s wrong! But…others will get the wrong impression if I don’t make a public correction! But…you don’t know how insulting my brother has been for years!
The New Testament version goes even further: love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), which Peter uses as prep for the following imperative: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Prudence and love like this are not pushovers, just the opposite. This sort of wisdom and care is unable to be pushed over into an irritated puddle of retaliatory goo.
Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.