Proverbs 13:15 ESV
Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.
Stories are the fundamental way people understand reality. Math and numbers may describe reality, but for the human mind, stories define reality. In other words, math is setting; stories are setting, plot, character, and theme combined. Thus, when we’re encountering the people around us, we tend to construct characters for them, using their actions, their words, their reputations to assemble a picture of who they are, in order to understand what they’ve done, what they’ll probably do, and what that means for us. That means that when a person shows good sense, we trust them to keep showing good sense… and when a person betrays our trust, we will be very slow indeed to give it to them again.
Some of you will doubt my thesis- that people view the world as stories-, but it is true nevertheless. Think about it. What are stories? They are reproductions of reality, sometimes with a large or small dose of fictional elements, which give us an understanding of some small portion of the reality they reflect. The Bible, for instance, does not encompass every single scientific minutia, but the stories in it provide an understanding of the why of creation, of morals and hard decisions, and of God Himself (and His relation to man).
None of us know everything. Some part of your life is, in part, a mystery to you, whether it’s why your sister prefers her hair the way she does, whether your new acquaintance is telling the strict truth, or what actually caused your kid to smear his face with mud and run around screaming at the top of his lungs. Among the most mysterious parts of life is the motivation of each person you meet. God alone, after all, knows man’s heart; God alone can tell you with perfect certainty why you do what you do, let alone why anybody else does what they do (Matthew 9:1-7). How, then, do we understand this imperfectly perceived world?
We make stories. We assemble the bits and pieces we know- their face, their deeds, their voice, their words, what others say, how we feel about them, how we think people usually act- and we build that into a schema, into a character. What, then, happens when this person displays good sense? What happens if he displays treachery?
Consistent wisdom in the past assures us of consistent wisdom in the future, at least in theory. True, wise people can do foolish things, but the pattern stands. This proverb points out the natural result of this assurance: a man who you think will show good sense in the future is a man you can rely upon, particularly if his good sense is of the Biblical kind, which value morality as the highest form of practicality.
Treachery, meanwhile, is nearly definitionally inconsistent. Treachery is when a person breaks from the pattern you thought you knew in a way which harms you or harms those they have a responsibility to. Such actions would prompt any of us to ask this question: if he can break trust once, why should I believe he won’t break it again? Therefore, treachery breaks the possibility of trust, and, barring true repentance and forgiveness, brings ultimate ruin to the man who practices it.
Unfortunately, the greatest form of treachery, the one we all practice, is that of sinning against the God who made us, to Whom our allegiance is due (Genesis 1:1). We all sin; we all know that we will all sin in future (Romans 3:10-11). The only hope we have is in the saving grace of Christ, who knew no sin, who knew no treachery. He alone is perfect; He alone can save us from the sin we so consistently turn towards. He is, too, the origin of wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31). From Him is all goodness and wisdom and beauty; to Him also are the same rendered as tribute (Isaiah 6:3). Let us therefore heed the words of this Proverb in imitation of Him (Genesis 1:26); let us remember always that in Him dwells all good sense and in Him is no treachery found.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.