When Winning Isn’t Winning

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

Today I am going to look at this scripture in Proverbs 11:17:

17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

This was one of those scriptures that I read and it touched on something deep inside of me. Let’s start by looking at the some of the original Hebrew words in the Blue Letter Bible. The word merciful is hesed. This means in a good sense, zeal towards anyone, love, kindness. The word cruel is akzari. This means fierce or savage. Webster’s 1828 defines savage as wild or untamed. The word troubleth is akar. This means: to roil water. According to Webster’s 1828, roil means to render turbid by stirring up the dregs or sediment.

The second portion of that scripture sounds awful. But if I am just being honest, I would say I lean more on the akzari side than the hesed side. This is perhaps why this scripture struck a chord in me. I desire greatly to be more merciful in my actions and thoughts. For most of my life I have always felt the need to defend myself or excel at proving my point. I poise myself to win every battle or argument I ever enter. From the world’s perspective this doesn’t sound all that bad. But when it comes to my Christian walk it has often cost me many sleepless nights, strained relationships and precious time lost waging numerous mental and/or emotional wars. If someone wronged me, I wanted them to know they wronged me. My weapon of choice was often one of two extremes, the silent treatment or an explosion. All this, to me, falls into the cruel bucket. There have rarely been points where I let mercy win. And looking back, I can say firsthand that I have experienced the resulting “troubling of my flesh”. That stirring deep withing that brings up all the junk and nasty stuff. That stirring that never brings peace or calm. Yes, I might win the argument, but often at a cost. What if I turned my zeal for “winning” into a zeal for loving on others? Isn’t this what Jesus came to show us? In the world’s eyes he lost, but because of his mercy we can live in freedom. I want to do that for others. And as this scripture says, when we are merciful it is good for our own soul.

Final Thoughts…

Lord, please show us all the places where we need to learn to choose being merciful over being cruel. We don’t need anything else to trouble our soul or flesh; there is enough of that in the world already. Holy Spirit please tweak something inside of us the moment that we consider doing or saying anything that falls into the cruel bucket. We break off any curses or judgments we have ever passed over ourselves or anyone else. We rebuke all spirits of pride and anger that try to choose the cruel path for us. Jesus, we thank you for your sacrifice so that we no longer have to live under these burdens or spirits. We release the peace, joy and mercy that you desire for us to live in and pass on to others.