Gleanings from the proverbs: Better Ugali and Mboga with love than with Nyama and hatred

Proverbs 15:17: Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

A  simple meal of Nsima and chibwabwa/ (Ugali with mboga), mere salad for the entrée? If love unites the hearts at the table, it can be a feast! But if there is hatred present, even prime filet mignon disappoints! A few green, leafy vegetables enjoyed with love is more pleasant than a steak dinner with resentment. The rule holds true for dry cooked corn (magwaza) as well, if there is peace instead of fighting (Pr 17:1).

The Preacher, King Solomon, taught wisdom by comparisons. By showing one thing better than another, he taught wise priorities. In this case, you should value love more than dinner fare and material things. Emphasizing love and peace is more important than picking the right restaurant and spending extra money. Even the very poor can be happy.

How wise are you? Knowledge, understanding, and good judgment rank and prioritize goals and daily efforts to maximize your life and the lives around you. The get-ahead-at-any-cost or the I-would-rather-be-rich mentality of the world is destructive. How many “successful” men and women suffer from depression? Here is the cure! Learn it today!

If a poor man gave the proverb, who often settled for meals of herbs, the lesson would likely be despised. However, it was written by the richest king of his era, who could choose any culinary possibility every time he sat for a meal. He enjoyed meals every day that a poor man could not even imagine, yet he exalted love and peace above them.

Have you ever had a meal with bitterness, hatred, contention, or resentment there? Do you remember the tenseness? The stress? And how it ruined what should have been a pleasant event? You may not even remember what you ate for the pain of the atmosphere.

Have you ever had a wonderful meal with just a few simple things, because you loved the persons you were with, and they loved you? A salad or snack was plenty, because of the atmosphere. You may not remember what you ate for the sweet pleasure of the company.

Many families have meals with strife and tension. It becomes a habit, and they do not even know their error. Pain becomes a family tradition. The conversation is negative and critical; the children may sarcastically cut each other; and some are sullenly silent in quiet rage. No one truly wants to be there. These things should never be in a Christian home.

Bitter envying and strife are from hell (Jas 3:14-16), and peace and gentleness are from heaven (Jas 3:17-18). It is the privilege and duty of saints to pursue love and peace.

Modern greedy societies emphasize material things as the measure of success. But Solomon taught here in these few words that the good life is not dependent on what you have, but rather the love you share. Godliness with contentment is great gain (I Tim 6:6), but this inspired wisdom from heaven is too much for the world’s educated to grasp!

Many measure an evening by the status of the restaurant they visited, the number of courses, or the creativity or expense of the entrée. But the more important issue should be the company and the relationships among them. Then the menu does not even matter.

How many meals have contentious women spoiled (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 27:15-16)? What memories do their children have? How often will they come for dinner with an overbearing, critical, and odious mother waiting for them? What will the meals be like? Pity the husband, who cannot leave and move away! See the comments on 17:1.

Since women generally prepare the meals, and a good meal even from simple ingredients takes much effort to plan, purchase, prepare, and clean up, it should be the role of men to make sure the family loves one another and is at peace. Husbands! Fathers! It is your duty to correct offenders, mend injuries, settle grievances, keep peace, and promote love.

Brethren dwelling together in unity is precious (Ps 133:1-3); but when it is enjoyed over a meal, it is truly special, no matter what is served. It is fellowship of a heavenly sort! Seek the joy and unity of Pentecost and its fellowship from house to house (Acts 2:46)!

What will you do today to correct and perfect relationships in your home? With love in all directions, what is on the table becomes quite irrelevant. Have you offended others? Have they offended you? Are you harbouring bitterness? The remedies are simple, by the grace of the Lord Jesus (Pr 19:11; Matt 5:23-24; 18:15-16; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-15).

Make yourself a feast! Seek peace, and love one another – no matter what you eat!

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