Showing partiality is not good,
because some people will turn on you even for a piece of bread.
Whoever trusts his own heart is a fool.
Whoever walks in wisdom will survive.
Whoever gives to the poor lacks nothing.
Whoever ignores the poor receives many curses. (Proverbs 28:21, 26-27 GW)
(Context—Proverbs 28:17-28 GW)
People are fickle. This includes you and me. Driven by emotion or in reaction to changing situations, we change our minds. We make commitments and decisions but don’t follow through with them. We change because life changes around us.
We set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. When we’re let down—even when we fail to keep our own expectations—we tend to blame others. We’re fickle but there’s often good reason for it. Of course, we can also be capricious and unreliable—just like everyone else.
How can we avoid or overcome this fickle factor in life? Great question but there’s no easy answer—only a difficult one.
A prevailing thought is to focus on what you can control not what is beyond your control. This can be a good starting point but it leaves us with another question—what is really in our control? Our self? Self-control alone is a big challenge.
Every day is full of variables way beyond any person’s control—the weather, world events, the progression of time, people—those involved in our life and billions of others in the world, the universe, and so many other things.
So, the only possible domain of control is our own life. But we are impacted by the people and events surrounding our life every day. If we try to escape all of it, we isolate ourselves and whatever flaws and challenges within us are heightened by our isolation.
Isolation is not a viable option. We need others. None of us are self-sufficient enough to live on our own, independent of others. Self-sufficiency is a fantasy. We are far more dependent on others than we like to admit.
Can you imagine what it would be like if all 7.7 billion people on earth tried to live independent of each other? It would be chaos. No, it would be worse than chaos.
Self-sufficiency is a fantasy
What is in our control?
So, what’s the point of all this? We’re back to the question—what is in our control? The answer is difficult only because we are more prone to being self-absorbed than self-controlled. Delving into our selected verses from Proverbs 28 will give us some insights.
Looking at verse 21 first—Why is showing partiality not so good? It speaks to the inconsistent and unreliable impact of moral relativism—fickleness when determining what’s right or wrong.
Moral relativism is fickleness about what is right or wrong
What happens to other people and how they respond to their life situations is beyond our control. Whatever we hope to gain or avoid when showing favoritism or partiality sets us up for unrealistic expectations of others.
As made clear throughout Proverbs, trusting in anyone other than the Lord is unwise, or as it says here in verse 26—Whoever trusts his own heart is a fool. Wisdom is gained by trusting in the Lord.
When we trust in the Lord and live according to the wisdom He gives us, we can be confident of a more consistent and reliable outcome with others. Why? Because we choose to trust the Lord and His direction rather than the fickle whims of people and the world around us.
When life is more stable than when we trust in our own limited judgments and perceptions, we can be confident of God’s provision for our everyday life. This leads to contentment and frees us to be generous with others.
Generosity and contentment enable us to give freely without expectations. When I give to others without expecting anything of them, I’m less likely to be judgmental of them.
I have no expectations of them—why they’re in need, what they will do with what I give them, or how they will make it further without my help. All of that is beyond my control.
Contentment frees us to be generous with others
My trust in the Lord frees me from the fickle factor of my expectations of others and their expectations of me.
Trusting in the Lord frees us from the fickle factor of our expectations of others and their expectations of us. It also frees us from the fickleness of moral relativism and frees us to be generous with others.
If you struggle with what seems to be fickleness in life with people, the world around you, or within yourself—seek to grow in trusting the Lord in all things and all ways in your life. He alone is not fickle!
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