Be Assertive But Kind

Proverbs 11: 16b-17 draws two pairs of contrasts. But the pairs also contrast.

The first pair is timid and aggressive. To be timid is a negative attitude and stance toward life. You let things happen to you. To be aggressive (I don’t know Hebrew, but today we might well call it assertive) is to go out into the world making things happen

The other pair is kind and cruel. Kind, of course is the positive attitude and cruel is the negative.

So Proverbs, Wisdom teaching, tells us that we should be strong and go out and accomplish, but we should do it in such a way as to not trample down others doing it.

This sounds much like the teachings of Jesus, who took most of his teaching directly from Proverbs, who expected people to be strong, to be aggressive. But at the same time he taught that we should put others ahead of ourselves. We should think about the other person in the relationship or the situation. What’s in it for them–not what’s in it for us.

We have had cycles of preaching throughout the 2,000 years of Christendom that has told people, especially poor people, to be timid, meek, humble (in the sense of servitude, not the sense of strength yet putting others before us). That teaching has led to some horrible revolutions in the past. It’s a teaching ignored by the terrorists who call themselves part of Islam.

Is it an attitude we have? There are many today who believe in aggressive in its negative connotation and cruel, at least in attitude toward others. I’ve met several.

I pray we cultivate having a strong personality–one that’s so strong and confident that we can gladly put others before us.

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