Scripture:  It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor. Proverbs 14:21 (NLT)

Observation: The sources of contempt and of compassion (14:21). “The person who despises his neighbor sins.” One must not assume superior airs and look down upon a neighbor regardless of his destitute condition. A person of low estate has a claim for love and pity, and it is a sin to withhold them from him for selfish reasons (Lev 19:18). On the other hand, “the one who is gracious to the humble, happy is he.” The merciful disposition is an evidence of a soul’s communion with the God of mercy (cf. Matt 5:7). [Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series (Pr 14:21). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.]

Application: In the book of Proverbs such contempt of the poor is contrasted as sinful with the virtuous compassion of the good.  One of the characteristics of a Christian person is his/her desire to build others up, to help others reach the stature of Jesus Christ, to help them reflect the image of Jesus.  That’s is why it is so uncharacteristic of a Christian husband or wife to belittle, humiliate, or put their spouse down, both in public or even in the privacy of their home.

The dictionary definition of belittling is to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.  As noted , one of the synonyms is to depreciate, that is, to take away their value.  Another word that we use is to devalue or to invalidate your spouse.  This is something critically important in marriage.  Let’s see home this hurts and destroys a relationship.

In Ephesians 5:33 Paul emphasizes the difference between husbands and wives by telling husbands to “love their wives,” and to the wives to “respect their husbands.”  Paul understood that one of the most important emotional needs is the need for respect and affirmation, to feel valued, appreciated, admired, encouraged by his wife.  As a wife, you need to express those feelings verbally and regularly.  Hearing those words from his wife will build him up, encourage him to go out and fight the battles of life for his family, strengthen him in the face of discouragement, stress, and even failure.

As a husband, you build your wife up and show her that you love her when you listen attentively to her, when you spend time with your children, playing, praying, and reading to them, when you help around the house, when you are completely honest and trustworthy with her.  If you look down on her as if she were inferior, when you lecture her instead of giving her a simple answer, or when you tell her she’s dumb, stupid, ignorant, or worthless you are stealing her God-given worth from her.

The text for today tells us it is a sin to belittle our neighbor – which our spouse is, but instead God blessed those who help the poor – and that includes our spouse.  Do all in your power to build your spouse up. . . both of you will be blessed as a result.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, help me to be the kind of spouse that builds their spouse up.  And may our words and actions become a blessing to them and as well as to us.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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