Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wisdom Wednesdays - Happiness



Everyone wants to be happy, right?  

This week, I discovered that Proverbs shows us how.
Which of you takes pleasure in living?
Who wants a long life to see good things?
[If you do,] keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceiving talk;
turn from evil, and do good;
seek peace, go after it!

 (Proverbs 34:12-15)
1.  Keep your tongue from evil.  The Torah calls it "lashon hora", the evil tongue.  It includes gossip, slander, spreading rumors, and even complaining.  

I recommend reading Proverbs daily in order to determine what evil is.  This book mentions words, the tongue, and lips many times.  We can learn much from a study of this.  Bible Gateway is a great resource.  Just type in a word, hit search, and every verse that contains the word will pop up for you.

We live in a day where good is evil and evil is good.  In example, just turn on the tv and watch a  sitcom.  You'll see people being mean, disrespectful, vulgar, etc.  This is supposed to be funny? This is thought to be good? To G-d, it is evil.  Children, and adults, are learning to speak evil to each other.  The commercials for these shows are worse because the most offensive parts are put in your face before you can even turn the channel. 

2.  Keep your lips from deceiving talk.  What does that mean? Plain and simple -- don't lie -- tell the truth.  It also means we are to be straightforward in our conversations and say what we mean.  We're not to beat around the bush, trying to hide the truth, or embellish it for our personal benefit.   

3.  Turn from evil.  There's that word again. The Torah is G-d's instruction manual on what evil is.  I recommend an in-depth study of that also.  You'll be amazed to learn that many things the churches teach are evil.  It's been a big eye-opener for me. 

We are living in an evil time, Gail-Friends. I read today, that churches in California are now being required to provide employees with health coverage that includes abortion.  It just chills my soul to think that the government requires people to do evil things.  

It also horrifies me that homosexual preachers are being glorified in our local news, especially since the massacre in Orlando.  When I see that, I turn from it (by turning the channel).

It horrifies me that a prominent Baptist preacher in Orlando said, "Gays are welcome here.  You don't have to change."  It also saddens me that he does not understand repentance, which means to turn away from evil (sin).  By teaching them that they can stay the same, he is perverting the gospel, and leading them astray.  That is evil.

4.  Do good.  One of the most important teachings of Judaism is to love your neighbor, and it is called "doing a mitzvot". This is lived out by always being aware of others around us, and looking for ways to help or bless them.  This includes those in our own homes.  My husband, Rabbi Jem, is such a fine example of this, both at home and in public.  

This also applies to doing the good things taught in the Bible.  Keeping His commandments is a doing good, and shows G-d that we love Him and others.

5.  Seek peace and pursue it.  I prize peace above everything.  We like for our home to be a peaceful place for us and for those who visit.  Soft, peaceful music fills our home most of the time.  Evil tv shows and movies are not welcome in this place of peace.  

We're also to seek and pursue peace in our spirits.  By keeping my mind on what is good, true, lovely and of a good report, I can keep my mind at peace.  This is difficult when I watch the news, so I keep that to a minimum.  I listen to just enough to stay informed about my community.  The national news is mostly propaganda, so I prefer to read about it on the internet.

Seeking peace in relationships is also important.  I've learned to avoid people who are prone to gossip or complaining.  I learned a good lesson from an elderly lady at the nursing home one day:

Miss Ellie and I sat at the table waiting for lunch to be served, and chatted happily together.  Another woman joined us and immediately began to complain about every thing -- the food, the nurses, the weather.  Miss Ellie tried to guide the conversation back to more positive things, but could not.  Finally, she said, "I'm too happy for you," and rolled her wheelchair to another table.  

I learned from that and think of it often.  Some people are determined to make lemons out of lemonade.  I've learned to avoid them.  Proverbs reinforces this lesson and says those who obey Him are wise, and those who do not, are fools.

 
Wisdom is a TREE OF LIFE to those who grasp her; 
whoever holds fast to her will be made happy.
(Proverbs 3:18) 
 
There's that word again -- happy.  ADONAI loves us and wants us to be happy.  Obeying Him is the key.
 
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