Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:9-10 (ESV)
It is just so hard to talk to her about anything. No matter what I say, she has done it better, or knows more about it, or has never had a problem like that before. The window to an intimate friendship is being slammed shut. I no longer want to share thoughts or ideas with her, much less feelings or concerns. Why should I? What I say doesn’t matter and she knows what is best anyway. Like a walnut that is too hard to crack, I can’t get past the shell of “expertise” that surrounds her.
Maybe you have some walnuts in your life too. People who are hard to be around. People encrusted with shells of arrogance, negativity, and judgment. I just recently learned that walnut trees are poisonous. These nut producing trees emit a substance that kills everything that is planted around them.
Just as walnut trees are toxic, so are some people. Proverbs calls them “scoffers.” Scoffers love to set stuff on fire and watch it burn. Scoffers destroy. Scoffers refuse to listen and learn. Proverbs 9:8 tells us it is futile to try and correct a scoffer.
Walnuts are always going to be poisonous.
On the contrary, as I read this passage in Proverbs, I am reminded of how important receptiveness is in our lives. Like the chorus of a song repeated after each verse, Proverbs 9:7-12 resounds with the refrain for us to be open to instruction. The wise man will listen. The wise man will learn. The wise man will be supple. The wise man will flourish.
You see, the wise man is a marigold. Marigolds help other plants near them grow. Marigolds sustain. Marigolds nurture and nourish. Marigolds make every plant around them thrive.
Personally, I hate being wrong and I’m not always the most receptive to correction, but I don’t want to be a walnut. I don’t want to be poisonous to all those who are around me spreading discouragement and negativity.
I want to be like the wise man who when given instruction, “he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).
I want to make those around me flourish.
I want to be a marigold.
Things to Ponder:
What areas of your life might need some “cracking”?
Where can you be a marigold?
Maybe you need to pray for the walnut trees in your life and ask for God to bring you some marigolds.
If you want to read more about the marigold effect and teaching: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/marigolds
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.