CYNICS may ask, why don’t people follow the advice of numerous proverbs and maxims of forethought available for centuries? Instead, they conclude that these are only used after some rightful venture has gone “horribly wrong.” When, for instance, a person gambles and loses all they have, including their house, why didn’t they remember the old Scottish proverb which declares “willful waste leads to woeful want?” But if the gambler knew this well-worn saying, what good might have been done. So, are the maxims of morality useless because people disregard them? For Christians and Jews, the Book of Proverbs is a great example. Yet, what about other religions and philosophers?

We know that Christianity was born among Jewish converts by an acclaimed Jewish Rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth, whose disciples believed Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God. So, it would not be surprising that many of our Lord’s teachings were based on the early Jewish writings of Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms. Later we see these same truths in the Jewish commentary called the Talmud. So, here is one to consider:

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel (10 BC – 70 AD) said, “All my life I have been raised among the wise, and I have found nothing better for the body than silence. The essential thing is not studying but deed. And one who speaks excessively brings on sin.”[1]

This Rabbi who lived during the time of Jesus knew what King Solomon said, “A person who talks too much gets into trouble. A wise person learns to be quiet.[2] Rabbi Gamliel may also have heard what Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Beware you, Pharisees, and you other religious leaders – hypocrites! For you tithe down to the last mint leaf in your garden but ignore the important things – justice, mercy, and faith. Yes, you should tithe, but you shouldn’t leave the more important things undone.”[3]

[1] (Pirke Avot) Ethics of the Fathers 1:17

[2] Proverbs 10:19 – Easy to Read Version (ERV)

[3] Matthew 23:23 – Living Bible (LB)

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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