#GrowWise. The Greatest Gift We Can Give to Another Person

January 20, 2015

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Proverbs 20:5  (read the whole chapter)

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but one who has insight draws them out.



I will always remember the words of one of my mentors to me after a long and challenging conversation. He said, “John David, you are a very complex and complicated person,” to which he added, “and that’s about the nicest thing I can say about you.”

Whether he meant that as a compliment or not, the longer I live the more I know it is true. And if you are honest, it’s true about you too. We are complex, complicated people. We have the capacity for incredible goodness yet the possibility of profound self deception. Today’s text says as much,

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters. . . .”

In short, at times it can be next to impossible for me to know the purposes of my own heart. I need help. I need wisdom. Left to myself, my own inner complexities can lead to a veritable hairball of confusion. You too? ;0)

“But one who has insight draws them out.”

What I need most is a person of insight. What I most need is a friend.

Years ago I read a book by Eugene Peterson (a literary mentor of mine) called Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians. In the book, Peterson walks through 1-2 Samuel and the life of David. In one of the chapters he writes about friendship through the lens of the relationship between Jonathan and David.

“Each of us has contact with hundreds of people who never look beyond our surface appearance. We have dealings with hundreds of people who the moment they set their eyes on us begin calculating what use we can be to them, what they can get out of us. We meet hundreds of people who take one look at us, make a snap judgment, and then slot us into a category so that they won’t have to deal with us as persons. They treat us as something less than we are; and if we’re in constant association with them, we become less. And then someone enters our life who isn’t looking for someone to use, is leisurely enough to find out what’s really going on in us, is secure enough not to exploit our weaknesses or attack our strengths, recognizes our inner life and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, confirms what’s deepest within us. A friend.”

Then Peterson quoted the great Jewish theologian, Martin Buber.

The greatest thing any person can do for another is to confirm the deepest thing in him, in her—to take the time and have the discernment to see what’s most deeply there, most fully that person, and then confirm it by recognizing and encouraging it.

We are prone to think of “insight” as some kind of mystical quality possessed by the few. The truth? Insight comes to those willing to take the time to “see into” something or someone; people who will “take the time and have the discernment to see what is most deeply there.”

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but one who has insight draws them out.

Those people are few and far between. The good news: you can be one of those kind of people today. I can too. It’s the greatest gift we can give to another.

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 21.


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

10 Responses

  1. Sunday night I happened to trip across a movie from 1941 called “Meet John Doe”. It is a stunning movie that is well done in many ways, but it is also steeped in blatant Christianity–at the end, the main character is stopped from jumping off a building at midnight on Christmas Eve because of the broken state of humanity when he is reminded that 2000 years ago another “John Doe” died for the broken state of humanity . Basically, the movie explores the premise that “If every John Doe gets to truly know their neighbor, the world will be transformed in more ways than any political machine can ever hope to accomplish.”

  2. This one really hit home with me. I’ve gone back and reread it several times today. This is the kind of friend I want to be with everyday people. I have had a few friends in my life that slowed down enough to “find me” and it meant the world to me. It actually changed my life. This article will encourage me now that it’s time for me to be the one to take the time and find out what is most deeply there with others. Love this.

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