Proverbs 15:17 Better a meal of vegetables where there is love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
I have experienced the first half of this and observed the 2nd half. Actually, I have experienced food just not tasting very good in a high stress situation of interpersonal tension, but fortunately not much within my own family. In any case, the focus of this Proverb is that intangibles are ultimately more valuable than the luxuries we so often set our hearts on. Solomon compiled Proverbs, and his other book, Ecclesiastes, really majors on this theme. He lived in what was the ultimate luxury of his day, yet he confused love with sex and also failed to realize that love for God has got to be the foundation of it all. To use a fairly modern phrase, he was looking for love in all the wrong places. We are created to love God and love our neighbor, having appropriate fellowship with both, but we all too often get it wrong. We want to love ourselves, but when we cut God and our neighbor out of the picture, we can’t even do that very well. As I tell people frequently, being self-centered never leads to genuine happiness. To go back to the verse here, being focused on what you’re eating to the exclusion of relationships is ultimately empty.
I was raised in a family where I don’t think I ever doubted that I was loved, and that is a huge blessing. I experienced romantic love and rejection as a young man, but then God matched me up with my wife, who has been a marvelous fountain, a deep-running river of love on many levels, and that has been incredible. Again to go back to the Proverb, it’s no wonder she’s such a good cook! The temptation for me is to focus on just our relationship, but that is just a modified form of self-centeredness. My foundation has got to be loving God in response to His love for me, and then loving all those around me, in differing ways, of course, as an outgrowth of His love in me. I am marvelously blessed in my home environment, but I am to let God’s grace flow through me to all those around me, rather than trying to keep it to myself. I know from experience that the ultimate satisfaction and joy is in being used by my Lord as an extension of His love, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. We face all sorts of challenges every day, but You intend those as opportunities for Your love and grace to be manifested. Help me be so in tune with You that I indeed make the most of every opportunity, (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5) for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!